C2V Jan 2021 Notes from the Trenches

After a turbulent 11 months, culminating in a bout of (ahem) insurrectile dysfunction, it seems we might finally be on the upswing. With vaccine production and distribution ramping up and talk from both political parties of unity, collaboration, and a move to the center that (hopefully) brings with it a return to a more rational, civilized approach to settling ideological disagreements, we thought it would make sense to take stock of the new administration’s initial actions and what they might mean for the world of tech startups.

The top priorities thus far appear to be a more aggressive pandemic response, re-engaging with our allies while dialing back various trade wars, and putting decades’ long efforts to reduce the human impact on the environment back on the rails.  

  • An end to the pandemic will of course have the most immediate and pronounced effect on any company that is tied to travel, hospitality, events, and other sectors that involve close personal contact. This will be a particular boon for Kambr, our airline revenue management software company, which was able to onboard multiple new customers during the pandemic and, having recently closed a new funding round, is poised to see that growth accelerate.

  • The end of the pandemic will also have a marked impact on global manufacturing and supply chains, as will the end of populist, anti-trade rhetoric and activity. This will benefit all manner of consumer goods and hardware companies, including C2V companies, Rens (sustainable apparel), Somatic (commercial cleaning robotics), Tarform (electric mobility), StepOne Tech (automotive flex-fuel conversion tech), and Civ Robotics (construction surveying robotics).

  • Finally, and perhaps most profoundly (particularly in the long-run), the renewed environmental focus at the federal level will provide a further boost to all manner of eco-friendly products (e.g., Rens) and emissions-reducing tech (e.g., StepOne and Tarform). This has been a core focus for C2V as there has been a clear secular trend toward eco-friendliness at the consumer and enterprise levels, and we’re excited to see what a further policy boost will mean for these sectors.

C2V’s Newest Investment - Blutag

Another secular trend that we’ve been keeping an eye on (independent of pandemic or policy developments) is the rise of voice-driven ecommerce. In 2019, 10.8% of all digital shoppers in the US made purchases using smart speakers, and voice commerce is on track to hit $40 billion by 2022, growing twice as fast as mobile commerce.

The bulk of voice-based shopping thus far has been through Amazon Alexa, as independent retailers lack the skill set to participate in this changing consumer behavior. Enter Blutag, a turnkey SaaS solution that connects to existing e-commerce platforms and delivers rich voice commerce experiences on Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Blutag’s product offering also includes an ML algorithm that provides a variety of insights on customer behaviors, product bundling, and other tools to help users grow AOVs and customer retention. 

Blutag currently covers roughly 90% of the ecommerce market via integrations with most of the major DTC platforms (e.g., Shopify, Google Shopping, etc.). The company has already seen excellent traction with big brands (Bloomingdales, L’Oreal, FreshDirect, Rothy’s, Nomad), which have reported increases of 11% or more in shopping cart sizes from customers who place orders through their smart speakers.

The company offers a free version in addition to 3 subscription tiers, allowing retailers to try out the platform before upgrading to the more scalable subscription versions, which brands can install themselves from the company’s website.

We are thrilled to welcome Blutag to the C2V community!

Portfolio Company Highlights

Before closing out the January newsletter, we wanted to discuss something we were recently asked about. C2V is incredibly proud of our diverse founders. Their wide range of backgrounds and experiences is what makes them so unique. As we head into 2021, we want to focus on highlighting them, not only from the vertical perspective, but also their individual profiles. 

While we don’t have demographic-based targets, we think our approach to finding the best companies organically creates healthy diversity and inclusion within our founder community. Among our 17 portfolio companies, only 4 were founded exclusively by white, American men.  Our diverse founder group includes multiple black, Indian, female, and Asian founders, as well as a range of nationalities from Ukraine, to Vietnam, and many places in between.

We believe it's important to continue having conversations around diversity, as well as elevating those voices and ideas which often go unheard. For another perspective, check out this article with insights from C2V founder, Kristen Sonday.

Press & Social Updates

  • Just last week, Kambr announced some major news. They recently closed their latest seed round of $3 million, bringing their total funding to $7 million. As they continue to expand, so does their team, with the addition of Sean Moriarty as CTO. At a time when the airline industry is in flux, Kambr’s exceptional value proposition has allowed the company to secure contracts with 5 global airlines.

  • In a recent article with Sportscasting, Cleveland Browns’ quarterback, Baker Mayfield, credited his improved performance to Beam. Their clean, innovative products are favorites among top athletes. As a Beam partner and investor, Mayfield is one of many who has discovered just how incredible their products are and has incorporated them into his daily life. 

  • StepOne Tech Ltd. has been recognized by The Deloitte Technology Fast 50 as one of the top 50 fastest growing technology companies in Finland. In addition, CEO, Tuomo Isokivijärvi, will be featured as their keynote speaker, discussing the challenges of scaling up a cleantech company, implementing new technology for global markets, and building the right team. 

  • Bloomberg Law has partnered with Paladin to provide pro bono lawyers with 90 days of complimentary access to their platform. This partnership will provide attorneys with access to a vast array of research services, as well as other resources that are critical in achieving the best outcome for their clients.

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