How Squarespace Built a Great Startup

 

Squarespace is the New York City-based startup that allows clients to easily build their own beautiful websites. Founded in 2003, Squarespace has now grown into one of the hottest startups in NYC.

Squarespace Started in a College Dorm Room

Squarespace was founded by Anthony Casalena in his dorm room at the University of Maryland. The original tool was a way to allow Anthony to easily build his own website. After sharing the tool with his friends and family, Anthony was soon able to raise $30,000 to start the company. For the next four years, Casalena was the only employee at the company. By 2007, the company was generating $1 million in annual revenue. 

From Small Beginnings to a $1.7 Billion Valuation

By 2010, Squarespace had raised $38.5 million in Series A funding and had grown to 30 employees. Four years later, the company closed a second round of Series B funding worth another $40 million. The following year in 2015, the company had reached $100 million in annual revenue and had grown to over 550 employees. Then last year in 2017, Squarespace secured an additional $200 million in secondary market funding in a round that saw the company valued at $1.7 billion.

Simplicity is Key

By simply dragging-and-dropping content into pre-arranged templates, Squarespace allows users to easily make their own beautifully designed websites. For more ambitious users, Squarespeace also allows them to create templates which can then be sold to other users who want to purchase the design. Templates come with tutorials on how to optimize for SEO and even include how-to setup guides for e-commerce. As of 2016, the company was hosting more than 1 million pages.

Expanding and Earning Kudos

Since its founding, Squarespace has grown to over 830 employees. The company has also grown from its NYC-based roots to also having offices in Portland, Oregon and Dublin, Ireland as well. As a vote of confidence, Squarespace also hosts its own website on the platform. Since 2012, the company has been voted one of Crain’s Best Places to Work in NYC and last year was named one of Fortune’s 50 Best Workplaces for Parents.

Furthering the Market Share

As of 2016, the company has also started selling domain names. This put the company on an even more head-on trajectory with rivals like GoDaddy. But Squarespace has fared well. Since then, the company has managed to embrace the e-commerce trend and has also found ways to fully integrate both PayPal and Stripe in order to make online transactions across the platform more seamless.

Today, more-and-more Squarespace is making its presence in the web-hosting industry felt. Few would have guessed the company would ever come so far after starting in that university dorm room all those years ago.


NYC Startup Funding, Month-end Wrap-up: February 2019

February continued a solid start to the year for NYC-based startup funding. Below are five of the largest rounds of funding closed by NYC-based startups over the course of February 2019.

Aetion - $27M
Date: 2/5/19
Round: Series B
Industry: Healthcare, Enterprise Software
Lead Investor: N/A
Company: Founded in 2013, Aetion is a healthcare technology company that provides analytics and evidence for the improvement of patient care. The company's patented rapid-cycle analytics™ and the Aetion Evidence Platform™ deliver real-world evidence for life sciences companies, payers, and at-risk providers. To date, Aetion has raised over $74.6 million after three rounds of funding.

Chainalysis - $30M
Date: 2/12/19
Round: Series B
Industry: Fintech, Cryptocurrency, Financial Exchange
Lead Investor: Accel
Company: Founded in 2014, Chainalysis is a company designing and developing anti-money laundering software for Bitcoin businesses. According to Chainalysis, its products include, 'REACTOR, an interactive and investigation tool that identifies offenders, visualizes data, and shares results with people and organizations, and API, a transaction based risk scoring solution that contains source and destination of funds to measure risk.' To date, Chainalysis has raised more than $47.6 million after four rounds of funding.

VAST Data - $40M
Date: 2/26/19
Round: Series B
Industry: Data Storage, Software
Lead Investor: N/A
Company: Founded in 2016, VAST Data is an enterprise data storage infrastructure provider. According to VAST Data, their mission is to, 'bring an end to decades of complexity and application bottlenecks that have been caused by mechanical media and by the complex tiering of data across different types of storage systems.' To date, VAST Data has raised more than $80 million after three rounds of funding.  

HiberCell - $60.8M
Date: 2/7/19
Round: Series A
Industry: Biotechnology
Lead Investor: ARCH Venture Partners
Company: Founded in 2016, HiberCell is a biotechnology company specializing in the development of novel therapeutics to prevent relapse and metastasis. According to HiberCell, 'We are the first company exclusively focused on therapeutically modulating the biology and mechanisms of tumor dormancy.' To date, HiberCell has raised $60.8 million after one round of funding.

YieldStreet - $62M
Date: 2/26/19
Round: Series B
Industry: Fintech, Financial Services, Wealth Management
Lead Investor: Edison Partners
Company: Founded in 2015, YieldStreet is an investment platform allowing investors to effortlessly participate in curated investments with low market correlation and high yield, across litigation finance, real estate, and other alternative asset classes. To date, YieldStreet has raised more than $178.5 million after five rounds of funding.


NYC Startup Funding, Month-end Wrap-up: January 2019

2019 picked up right where 2018 left off for NYC startup funding. Below are some of the largest rounds of funding closed by NYC-based startups over the the last month.

Kustomer - $35M
Date: 1/24/19
Round: Series C
Industry: CRM, SaaS, Enterprise Software
Lead Investor: Battery Ventures
Company: Founded in 2015, Kustomer is a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software company. Rather than focusing on tickets, Kustomer is a platform which allows users to focus on their customer service and customer relationships. To date, Kustomer has raised over $73.5 million after four rounds of funding.

The Farmer's Dog - $39M
Date: 1/15/19
Round: Series B
Industry: E-commerce, Pet Food Products
Lead Investor: Insight Venture Partners
Company: Founded in 2014, The Farmer's Dog is a high-quality dog food manufacturer that delivers healthy and balanced freshly made dog food. The Farmer's Dog uses only human-grade USDA ingredient and customized its meal plans for each dog based on their individual profile. To date, The Farmer's Dog has raised more than $49.1 million after three rounds of funding.

Stelexis Therapeutics - $43M
Date: 1/8/19
Round: Series A
Industry: Therapeutics, Healthcare
Lead Investor: Deerfield Capital Management
Company: Founded in 2017, Stelexis Therapeutics goal is to develop novel drugs and to utilize its proprietary platform of targeting per-cancerous stem cells in order to become the leading cancer therapeutic company in the world. To date, Stelexis Therapeutics has raised $43 million after one round of funding.

Andela - $100M
Date: 1/23/19
Round: Series D
Industry: Recruiting, Software, Training
Lead Investor: Generation Investment Management
Company: Founded in 2014, Andela aims to address the global tech talent shortage by recruiting Africa's top software developers. Over the past four years, Andela has hired more than 1,000 developers from over 100,000 applicants, and was also named the 'Best Place to Work in Africa'. To date, Andela has raised more than $181 million after six rounds of funding.

Infor - $1.5B
Date: 1/16/19
Round: Private Equity Round
Industry: Cloud Data Service, Enterprise, Information Technology
Lead Investor: Koch Equity Development and Golden Gate Capital
Company: Founded in 2002, Infor provides enterprise software and services worldwide. Infor is the largest privately held technology provider in the world and has acquired over 40 other software companies since its founding in 2002. To date, Infor has raised more than $4 billion in funding.


Bowery: The Incredible Indoor Farming Startup

Recently, NYC-based indoor farming startup Bowery raised an additional $90 million in Series B funding. The funds will be used to continue Bowery's revolutionary approach to solving the world most pressing agricultural needs.

The Need for Better Farming

According to a recent study conducted by the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization, by the year 2050 global food production will need to increase by more than 60% to feed with world’s growing population. Couple with this the fact that the world has lost more than one third of its arable land in the past 40 years, and it’s easy to see why indoor sustainable farming startup Bowery is so popular.

A Modern Solution for a Modern Problem

Bowery is a NYC-based indoor farming startup that uses lights, technology, robotics, and carefully controlled environments to grow produce that may be an even healthier option and better tasting option than organic. According to company CEO Irving Fain, "We grow with no pesticides, herbicides or insecticides, no agrochemicals at all. And we're able to grow 365 days a year, independent of weather."

A Better Choice

Bowery also offers opportunity to grow produce in an urban setting where no other such farmland is available. In a statement outlining the benefits of Bowery, the company remarked, “traditional agriculture uses 700 million pounds of pesticides annually, and fresh food takes weeks” and sometimes longer to land on the table. During this long trip from the field to the table, lots of bad things can happen to the food, including contamination. By contrast, if food is grown in a Bowery facility just over the river in New Jersey it’s a much shorter trip in to New York City.

Less Environmental Impact

Along with the potential health benefits, Bowery also comes a plethora of environmental benefits as well. According to Mr. Fain, one square foot of growing space within a Bowery indoor facility is more than one hundred times more productive than one square foot of arable land. Bowery farms also use 95% less water than traditional farms, and cut down on transportation costs, while simultaneously eliminating chemical pesticide use. All of this adds up to a more efficient and environmentally beneficial farming process.

Higher Quality Produce

Along with all these benefits, the food Bowery produces also seems to taste better as well. It’s kale leafs are reportedly softer and its arugula has a more peppery flavor. According to celebrity chef and investor Carla Hall, "I visited the farm and tasted the food. It moved from a concept and an idea that is sustainable to deliciousness." Currently the company grows baby kale, butterhead lettuce, arugula, mixed kales and basil and is available at NYC area Whole Foods, as well as several high-end restaurants including Craft and Temple.

Investors are Interested

For all this investors have taken note. Just last month in December of 2018, Bowery closed a $90 million round of Series B funding led by GGV Capital and GV (Formerly Google Ventures). Previously GGV also led Bowery’s $40 million Series A funding in 2017, that time in collaboration with General Catalyst. This latest round of funding may be in response to SoftBank’s recent $200 million investment in Silicon Valley competitor, Plenty. To date however, Bowery has raised more than $141 million after five rounds of funding.

Whether or not indoor farming will become the standard going forward remains to be seen, but with companies like Bowery that possibility looks all the more promising.