Coronavirus Updates: Trump Jumps Into Musk Tweetstorm; L.A. May Extend Lockdown Until August; UpKeep's $36M Raise

Here are the latest headlines regarding how the novel coronavirus is impacting the Los Angeles startup and tech communities. Sign up for our newsletter and follow dot.LA on Twitter for the latest updates.

  • Now Trump weighs in on Elon Musk's defiant move to open a Tesla plant early
  • Los Angeles may extend shelter-in-place directives until August, says county health official
  • UpKeep raises $36 million Series B as maintenance services startup in demand amid COVID

    UpKeep raises $36 million Series B as maintenance services startup in demand amid COVID

    Ryan Chan, UpKeep founder and CEO, says the pandemic has only made UpKeep more attractive as companies put a greater emphasis on cleaning and maintenance.

    UpKeep, a mobile platform that helps companies streamline maintenance requests, announced Tuesday it has raised $36 million in Series B funding. Though it is a difficult time for many companies to fundraise, Ryan Chan, UpKeep founder and CEO, says the pandemic has only made UpKeep more attractive as companies put a greater emphasis on cleaning and maintenance. "I feel fortunate that we are in a space that is growing because of this," Chan told dot.LA. "We were able to raise at very favorable terms, but for a lot of companies it's very difficult to raise right now."

    Chan certainly does not want to be seen as gloating. "We got lucky, but through no fault of our own," he added. Though UpKeep is a Los Angeles company, it turned to New York-based Insight Capital to lead the round. Existing investors Emergence Capital, Battery Ventures, Y Combinator, Mucker Capital, and Fundersclub also participated.

    "COVID-19 is bringing the importance of maintenance into the spotlight, underscoring UpKeep's mission," Deven Parekh, Managing Director at Insight Partners, said in a statement. Upkeep says it saw 206% revenue growth last year and has signed with notable brands including Unilever, Siemens, DHL, Thermo Fisher Scientific, McDonald's and Jet.com.

    Los Angeles may extend shelter-in-place directives until August, says county health official

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    Los Angeles County may extend stay-at-home orders for the next three months, ending sometime in August, according to Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer during a Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday. California began loosening stay-at-home rules last week, reopening trails and providing retailers with the ability to sell merchandise through curbside services.

    But Ferrer warned Tuesday that further loosening of the rules will be slow. And that would only change if there was a "dramatic change to the virus and tools at hand." "Our hope is that by using the data, we'd be able to slowly lift restrictions over the next three months," she said, according to the L.A. Times. But without widely available therapeutic testing for the coronavirus or rapid at-home tests that would allow people to test themselves daily, it seems unlikely that restrictions would be completely eased.

    Now Trump weighs in on Elon Musk's defiant move to open a Tesla plant early

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    This won't come as a surprise: President Trump joined in on the Twitter debate about Elon Musk reopening his Tesla Inc. plant in Fremont, Calif. "California should let Tesla & @elonmusk open the plant, NOW," Trump wrote in a tweet Tuesday. "It can be done Fast & Safely!" Musk tweeted on Monday that Tesla would ramp up production at its only U.S. car plant, and risked being arrested after county officials ordered the company to stay closed. The billionaire entrepreneur has slammed California's strict reopening plan, saying his company has a right to manufacture cars and make money.

    Musk wrote in an email to employees, in documents reviewed by Bloomberg News: "Just wanted to send you a note of appreciation for working hard to make Tesla successful. It is so cool seeing the factory come back to life and you are making it happen!!" Over the weekend, Musk stated he would move Tesla and his rocket company SpaceX out of the state unless restrictions were lifted, prompting one California lawmaker to tweet "F*ck Elon Musk."


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    How To Startup Part 7: Scaling Your Business

    Spencer Rascoff

    Spencer Rascoff serves as executive chairman of dot.LA. He is an entrepreneur and company leader who co-founded Zillow, Hotwire, dot.LA, Pacaso and Supernova, and who served as Zillow's CEO for a decade. During Spencer's time as CEO, Zillow won dozens of "best places to work" awards as it grew to over 4,500 employees, $3 billion in revenue, and $10 billion in market capitalization. Prior to Zillow, Spencer co-founded and was VP Corporate Development of Hotwire, which was sold to Expedia for $685 million in 2003. Through his startup studio and venture capital firm, 75 & Sunny, Spencer is an active angel investor in over 100 companies and is incubating several more.

    How To Startup Part 7: Scaling Your Business
    Image by SvetaZi/ Shutterstock

    Congratulations – you’ve found a startup idea, learned how to name your business and successfully pitch to investors and employees, survive a downturn, build a Minimal Viable Product and find Product-Market Fit. Now it’s time “to scale," which is just tech-speak for growth.

    When scaling your business, you are setting the stage to enable and support growth in your company for the long run. While rapid growth can be exciting, founders often place their focus on achieving it quickly and lose focus on what matters most. Scaling a business is very difficult, which is why the scaling stage should be thoroughly mapped out. When planning, here are the most important things to consider.

    Hiring and Structuring Your Team

    So you just raised your Series A or B, and now you’re looking to expand your team for the scaling stage. First, you need great leaders at the key functional areas of your company: product, engineering, marketing and sales. Of course you’ll also need great leadership at the other more support-oriented functional areas – HR, legal, finance, corporate development – but these can come slightly later. Once you have leadership in place in the core functional areas, the scaling stage requires a great recruiting function which allows the company’s headcount to grow. Recruiters are like flag-carriers or drummers in the infantry of an army.

    In addition to having great recruiters, it’s important at this scaling stage that the relationship between the three core teams – product, engineering, and sales & marketing – is excellent, since this can make or break a company. Issues almost always arise when there is a lack of trust, failure to assume positive intent, lack of respect for other people’s functional areas and big egos.

    Remember that employees who passionately share your vision and feel valued will work hard to help your business thrive. You’ll be able to grow by retaining and attracting top talent, who are loyal, feel fulfilled by their work, and as a result, work harder and smarter.

    Building Your Go-To-Market Strategy

    So you’ve come up with a startup idea, named the company, raised money, launched a minimum viable product with product-market fit and hired a team with enough organization and motivation to keep the company going. Great work, but you aren’t done yet. Now you need a go-to-market (“GTM”) strategy.

    Think about a recent product you bought or an app you downloaded. How did you discover the company? Have they been able to retain you as a customer or user? Maybe you saw a TikTok from an influencer about the product or were referred to a business from a friend. These are examples of conscious GTM strategies devised by the company.

    A go-to-market strategy is a step-by-step plan created to successfully launch a product to market. GTM helps you define your ideal customers, coordinate your messaging and position your product for launch. Examples of GTM strategies include creating referral programs for early users to bring in new ones, utilizing channel partners to push a product or service through an existing sales network and mobilizing social media influencers to promote a new product.

    Product and Strategy Iteration

    Once your product is on the market, you must continuously look for ways to improve it. Here are several common places to look for ideas for improvement:

    - User activity. By following how people use the product, you can gather useful data such as what features are used most frequently, which are most avoided, and any unexpected uses of a feature.

    - User problems. Even if you think your product is perfect, users will find problems for you. Learn what the major challenges holding back growth are and figure out how to solve them.

    - TAM expansion. Ask yourself if there is a new product or feature that will expand your total addressable market.

    - Cost and efficiency. Determine whether the benefit of developing a feature or product makes sense from a financial and efficiency perspective.

    Other Resources

    Looking for more info on scaling? I’ve had some great conversations with successful CEOs about their growth stories and scaling advice on the Office Hours podcast. Listen to my chat with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella to learn more about the importance of a mission-driven team and leadership mindset plus my talk about growth through adversity with Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield.
    https://twitter.com/spencerrascoff
    https://www.linkedin.com/in/spencerrascoff/
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    B Capital Group’s Raj Ganguly on Investing in Global Tech

    Minnie Ingersoll
    Minnie Ingersoll is a partner at TenOneTen and host of the LA Venture podcast. Prior to TenOneTen, Minnie was the COO and co-founder of $100M+ Shift.com, an online marketplace for used cars. Minnie started her career as an early product manager at Google. Minnie studied Computer Science at Stanford and has an MBA from HBS. She recently moved back to L.A. after 20+ years in the Bay Area and is excited to be a part of the growing tech ecosystem of Southern California. In her space time, Minnie surfs baby waves and raises baby people.
    B Capital Group’s Raj Ganguly on Investing in Global Tech
    Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

    On this episode of the L.A. Venture podcast, B Capital Group co-founder and partner Raj Ganguly talks about the new early-stage fund B Capital closed this week, as well as his outlook for startups in this rocky investing environment.

    B Capital’s new $250-million, early-stage fund launched on Tuesday. The firm writes checks of between $250,000 to $8 million from its venture fund. From its growth fund, it writes checks of between $10 million and $100 million. Since launching, the group has backed 130 founders and now has over $6 billion in assets under management.

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    Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

    Christian Hetrick

    Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

    Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

    LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

    The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

    From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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