NFX named top investor in Silicon Valley

Despite the talk of doom and gloom in the Valley, there is plenty of money going into great companies. Many early stage deals are still getting done by savvy investors who see opportunity in the right spaces. So who should entrepreneurs go to to seek seed funding?

The list below is by no means comprehensive, but highlights some firms that are especially active, and have great deals they funded in early stages. The list was compiled based on primary research through talking directly to five Silicon Valley based entrepreneurs who raised seed financing and five Silicon Valley based venture capitalists.

Disclosure: Silicon Valley is a small world, so I do own equity in some of the companies that these firms also hold equity in. I also currently work for a Social Capital company.

NFX Guild: Run by valley legends James Currier, Stan Chudnovsky and Gigi Levy-Weiss, NFX demo days are attended by all of the top investors in the Silicon Valley. Success Stories include: Honeybook, Honor.


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Kwik raises $3 million to take on Amazon Dash buttons

Amazon Dash buttons have been gaining traction and Kwik thinks there is room for a competitor. The Tel Aviv-based startup has designed a similar product and is working with Domino’s, Budweiser, Huggie’s and other brands to make it as easy to order pizza as pressing a button — literally.

And the team is announcing that Norwest Venture Partners is leading a $3 million seed round to help Kwik fulfill their vision. The startup hopes that this capital will help them move beyond their beta-testing in Israel and expand to the U.S.

“Consumers like the convenience and simplicity of smart buttons,” said Sergio Monsalve, partner at Norwest Venture Partners. “This market is too big for only one player.”

Monsalve also believes that Kwik’s approach, which lets brands choose their delivery and payment partners, will encourage more companies to sign up for Kwik. “Their open ecosystem will enable the growth of many businesses, all along the supply chain.”

The buttons are free for consumers, but Kwik makes money by taking a cut of each transaction. Kwik acts as a liaison between the delivery and fulfillment partners.

Founder and CEO Ofer Klein told TechCrunch that he believes “any product which is a repeated service” is ripe for button-making. Coffee, pet food, or even taxis could all be ordered with just a tap.

Klein argues that physical buttons are more convenient than using a smartphone app. Some people, including senior citizens who may be less internet-savvy, like the simplicity of ordering a repeat transaction in just a tap. Klein said that early adopters are his targeted demographic, however.  

Perhaps we are reaching peak laziness, but Klein insists that “people would like to just not think” and see their pizza and beer arrive.


This article originally appeared on Techcrunch

Zengaming gets $2.8M in funding to expand its social network for the esports business

Competitive gaming is growing quickly, and one of the sites trying to make your dreams of going pro a reality is building up to serve the future of esports.

Zengaming, a social network for gamers looking to make a name for themselves in the esports world, has raised $2.8 million in funding. Crown Resorts Limited, a casino and entertainment company, led the round as it pushes further into the video game space. Other investors include financial firms NFX Guild, 500 Startups, iAngels, and Foundation Capital along with angel investors Barak Rabinowitz and Shmueli Ahdut. Zengaming will use this influx of cash to bring on new talent and to expand its support for important esports games like Dota 2, League of Legends, and Starcraft. Pro gaming is on pace to generate $463 million in revenues this year primarily from sponsorships and marketing, and Zengaming is trying to position itself as a strong link between that money and the players.

“We are extremely excited about this financing round,” Zengaming chief executive Jimi Gecelter said in a canned statement. “When we started zengaming, we knew that we were answering a real need within the esports community: a professional network to find and interact with other players.”

Like LinkedIn, Zengaming wants its members to see the site as a path to future income. The idea is that you can compete in games and your results will show up on Zengaming and other teams might notice and recruit you based on your profile. Additionally, the site also hosts sponsors who may want to connect with top players for potential sponsorships. The company claims it now has more than 1 million active users for the military shooter Counter-Strike alone. It is actively testing communities for Dota 2, Rocket League, and more.

“Even we were surprised by how widespread our success was, gaining such an impressive amount of active users within a year,” continued Gecelter. “Partnering up with Crown, which has already hosted the biggest eSports tournament in Australia, with professional teams such as Cloud9 and Virtus.Pro, is an important strategic step that will help zengaming continue its expansion, and position itself as a leader in the esports industry.”


This article originally appeared on VentureBeat