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On June 23rd, California's Largest Subscription Economy Event Comes to Culver
The Recurring Revenue Conference, hosted by Sutton Capital Partners, returns to Culver City on June 23 for the first time in two years with a new hybrid live and virtual model.
The conference, which centers on Software as a Service (SaaS) and its connection to Fintech, started in 2015, after Sutton Capital Partners co-founder Peter Cowen attended Salesforce’s annual DreamForce conference in Northern California and recognized the need for a companion event down south.
“There were 150,000 people at the pulse of what's going on,” Cowen recalled. “You leave that micro environment and people didn't even know what recurring revenue was. Even smart, capable software people, investors and the like.”
2022 Recurring Revenue Conference
At the time, there weren’t any events in Southern California specifically dealing with this growing side of the technology business, offering entrepreneurs who were new to the space an opportunity to learn. It was Nancy Hammerman, Sutton’s co-founder, who first suggested the concept for the conference.
By this point, Sutton Capital Partners were already embedded in the software and technology scene in Los Angeles as angel investors and limited partners in a number of local early-stage funds. (Cowen is also a professor at UCLA’s business school.)
Cowen and Hammerman saw the conference as a way to spotlight new trends in the industry, surface founders and startups with exciting new ideas and business models, and to grow a local community of like-minded founders, investors, and other entrepreneurs.
“We look at the conference as a wonderful way to stay connected with the tech community on the specific focus of SaaS and subscription businesses, but also to watch the cross-fertilization---you might have an ecommerce merchant talking with a SaaS founder in completely different verticals,” Hammerman said.
Bringing together individuals from different corners of the tech world to foster greater collaboration and innovation has always been at the heart of the project. But what neither co-founder could have been predicted was how Los Angeles would find itself at the dynamic center of the SaaS world.
“Southern California has always been a hotbed of creativity, with the entertainment community out here,” Cowen said, noting that the emergence of the influencer economy has upended the traditional Hollywood studio model as the main barometer of success in Tinseltown. “The power of these influencers can really be measured in marketing. Many companies in Southern California now are coming in and offering influencers as a channel.”
Attendees at the Recurring Revenue Conference (Photo via Sutton Capital Partners)
“We have really enjoyed great entrepreneurs who can articulate so clearly not only strategies but actual, usable tactics that can bring immediate, measurable results,” said Cowen. “Among my favorites have been Perry Wallack, co-founder of Cornerstone OnDemand, who talked about how to keep great talent; and Kevin McGibben, CEO of LogicMonitor, who discussed key interviewing techniques to optimize hiring. And of course, there are always discussions about when and how to raise capital. Alan Rich, serial entrepreneur, talked about how empowering it was to self-fund initially, which gave him more control in the early stages.”
Beyond marketing and promotion, the financial and funding side of the business has also shifted dramatically.
“When we started seven years ago, there wasn't that strong of a venture community here,” Cowen noted. “The tech people had always been in Los Angeles, despite recent articles claiming that the city is only newly a tech hub. But on the business end of things, the number of businesses being founded and headquartered in Los Angeles were few and far between. Now, fast-forward, you have serial entrepreneurs; and you've got serial entrepreneurs who have funds. You've got lots of funds, period, not just the ones popping down from Silicon Valley.”
And when it comes to SaaS specifically, the changes have been even more dramatic and propulsive: a boon for revenue, but compounding exponential stressors for founders. These are the kinds of challenges that the conference attempts to address through ongoing education and refinement.
The Recurring Revenue Conference returns June 23rd to Culver City. (Photo by Sutton Capital Partners)
“The whole software industry has become so SaaS-centric, it's replaced the legacy systems that were out there,” Cowen said. “Now it's become much more sophisticated, because companies need to compete against other scrappy SaaS companies. The flywheel effect sees the next round of SaaS startups scaling faster than their predecessors, and LA has been by far one of the largest beneficiaries of that.”
Somehow the conference covers all of this ground and more within the span of a single day, through a combination of keynote speeches, informative panels, breakout sessions, and of course networking opportunities.
This year’s agenda includes an opening panel focused on leading edge analytics and AI, with moderator and CRM pioneer Jon Ferrara in conversation with two leading customer insight company founders: Emad Hasan of Retina and Saumya Bhatnagar of Involve.ai.
Another key theme, raising capital, will be the focus of the returning Meet the Money panel, featuring 3 of the most active and well respected VCs in Southern California: TX Zhou of Fika Ventures, Alex Rubalcava of Stage Ventures and Minnie Ingersoll of TenOneTen Ventures. Another hot panel will center on valuation trends and the impact of the recent stock downturn on funding, and features some surprising data.
“We think the conference is very much the style of LA,” said Cowen. “It's informative, it's meaty and it's easy to follow up and talk to somebody.” Turns out one of the S’s in SaaS actually stands for schmooze.
Venue information: Hilton Los Angeles Culver City
For tickets and info: Recurring Revenue Conference
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“If you get the chance, make sure to test drive a Toyota.”
I’m walking down a row of booths at Electrify Expo at the Long Beach Convention Center on a hot June day. I thank the red-shirted brand ambassador and scurry towards the nearest e-scooter.
Sorry, Toyota. I’m not here for the cars.
Electrify Expo—the biggest outdoor electric vehicle festival in the U.S.—took place this past weekend and e-scooters, e-bikes and other micro EVs took center stage.
At an event focused on electrification, more than half of the companies represented were in the micromobility space. And there’s a good reason for that.
According to industry leaders, electrification means significant room for growth in the market as American consumers emerge from the dark years of the pandemic and seek out more active and eco-friendly modes of transportation.
Only 6% of bikes sold in the U.S. are e-bikes, compared to a rate of 17% in Europe and 50% in the Netherlands, said Claudia Wasko, vice president and general manager of Bosch eBike Systems, at the event’s Industry Day.
“Last year, 2021, in Europe, almost 6 million e-bikes have been sold; just in Germany, 2 million e-bikes have been sold. And in the US, not even 1 million. But this shows us the huge potential we still have,” she said.
Industry speakers also praised European countries for their adoption of comprehensive micromobility infrastructure.
“If you drive around Los Angeles… you'd have a tough time being on an electric bike or an electric scooter or even one of our mopeds, that can hit speeds of 60 miles an hour,” said Joseph Constanty, director of global strategy at Niu. “You still feel out of place when a huge Ford Ranger F-150 comes riding up right next to you and you're dwarfed by it. It's an infrastructure problem.”
Companies are banking on a cultural shift as Americans get out of their cars and onto an e-bike, moped or e-scooter.
Jesse Lapin, chief operating officer of Magnum Bikes, suggested that it’s less of a shift and more of a return. Americans ride their bikes as children and then abandon them in the garage as soon as they turn 16. However, driving itself might be going out of style; millennials are driving less than their elders and Gen Z is in no rush to get in the driver’s seat (of a car). And who can blame them? Gas prices have hit record highs with no sign of relief on the horizon.
What are they gonna do, take the bus? JackRabbit Mobility is hoping they take a micro e-bike instead, with a 24 pound, 20 mile-per-hour device marketed to college students and other casual riders. But why stop with one? Lapin sees the future American garage filled with not one, but two e-bikes as the market diversifies.
“E-bikes truly are the best way to communicate and to connect people with other people, people with places, people with views. It's the best way to visit national parks; it's the best way to get out there and connect with yourself,” he said.
And there’s one other advantage to micromobility: It’s hella fun. And with a looming recession and two years and counting into a pandemic, American adults with disposable income just want eco-friendly toys that go zoom. Or at least that’s what the industry is banking on.
It’s true: When I’m flying around the test track on an e-bike and I hit the throttle, getting that coveted 28-miles-per-hour, I feel like a kid again.
Provide a mode of transportation that you can charge from the comfort of your one-bedroom apartment, one that’s fun, good for the environment and lets you fly past stopped rush hour traffic on Venice Boulevard?
Cars could never.
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Three months after opening its new headquarters in Santa Monica, micromobility startup Veo is expanding its fleet and its footprint. As of last week, riders have been able to cross the municipal boundary between Santa Monica and L.A. and take trips north to Will Rogers State Beach, south to Marina Del Rey and east to Mar Vista.
“It’s good to see more people able to actually commute from Santa Monica to a nearby neighborhood…because in the past, we [did] see a lot of people stopped at the boundary,” said Veo CEO Candice Xie.
A screenshot shows Veo scooters' new availability on the west side of the city of L.A.
Still, riders will not be able to ride all through the city of L.A. The city of L.A. has only granted them permits for 500 vehicles. Xie said they’re focusing on expanding the boundaries of where their mostly Santa Monica-based users are already indicating they want to ride.
As part of the expansion, the company is adding a mixed fleet of 400 e-bikes and 100 standing scooters.
Enterprising riders who venture beyond the new, expanded geofenced zone can expect to receive a warning text message and for their vehicle to come to a slow stop. In addition, they will not be allowed to leave the e-scooter or e-bike outside of the zone without incurring a penalty that starts at $15.
Currently, it costs riders $1 to unlock and $0.33 cents per minute to ride (plus tax and fees). Residents of Santa Monica and Los Angeles who qualify can apply to ride at a reduced rate through Veo Access, where riders pay $5 per month for unlimited 30 minute rides.
Xie said that the permit approval process for the city of L.A. took longer than originally anticipated and that this new expansion will happen in phases, with the next phase anticipated in two to three months.
Veo is the seventh micromobility operator currently permitted in the city of Los Angeles, joining rivals Bird, Lime, Wheels, LINK (Superpedestrian), Lyft and Spin.
Veo’s expansion comes at a precarious time for the shared micromobility market. Earlier this month, Santa Monica-based Bird laid off 23% of its staff. Layoffs were also reported at both Superpedestrian and Voi this week.
However, Xie said that Veo is doubling down on both the greater L.A. area and California as a whole, as it recently launched in Berkeley and intends to move into Santa Clara and San Jose soon. As other companies lay off workers in pursuit of profitability, Xie said Veo is expanding.
“We're still hiring from the community and want to increase our exposure and also have more local talent join us.”
Correction: An earlier version of this post stated that Veo vehicles were already available in Santa Clara.
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