When Jessica Toh, co-founder and CEO of Huckleberry Labs, was pitching a venture capital investor recently – via Zoom video naturally – Toh glanced at her computer screen and worried something seemed off.
"The other person looked so still," she said. "I thought she was frozen."
Toh was forced to make a split second decision. Should she pause and see if something was wrong or keep going as if nothing was amiss? She opted to plow ahead with the presentation she had delivered hundreds of times for her app that helps monitor the sleep patterns of babies, but it was hard to concentrate when she thought she might be speaking to herself.
"What I didn't realize is how that was coming across in the way I was talking," she said. "It turned out the investor wasn't frozen but just was really still."
Toh did not receive the check. And, when she asked for feedback, was told she did not come across as passionate about what she was building. "That was a shock because everyone else can see how passionate I am," said Toh. "I realized when it's over Zoom it's so hard to have that personal engagement and things come across in a different way."
Toh's experience illustrates the pitfalls of fundraising in the COVID-19 era. After a decade of ever rising valuations put founders in the driver's seat, everything suddenly changed in March when investors literally locked their doors and retreated to triaging their existing portfolio.
Markett's Franky Bernstein, in more social times.
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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<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://dot.la/media-library/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzI3MzY0OS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNzY2MDM1MX0.QEuZGTPO-hQeDjY0DE8YJ2Kej7fFdACnErWzvCpLvOw/image.jpg?width=980" id="8d2c5" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8c29b58d478d9ef13655e213ffae8a90" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
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.<p><a href="https://www.onupkeep.com/" target="_blank">UpKeep</a>, 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."</p><p>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.</p><p>"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.</p>
Los Angeles may extend shelter-in-place directives until August, says county health official<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://dot.la/media-library/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzI3MzYzOS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTE2MDQ3OH0.8SsIb7kUNYHLhSGzsxUiRBMEQd75L0Gnl8bsMRbBJSs/image.png?width=980" id="0fa20" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="b03901f7608a01aea8d5d0f02c3d6392" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Now Trump weighs in on Elon Musk's defiant move to open a Tesla plant early<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://dot.la/media-library/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzI3MzMyNC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxOTAxOTQ4OX0.KNXEiNukPzNReeVRUf3Ntd-lhTsix_CuVd33Qy4W6gM/image.jpg?width=980" id="b2b27" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="79f2d38d535393cc507416f82c953e35" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
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