Career Opportunities in the Utah Ecosystem

Grow: business intelligence platform for SMBs.

Director of Product & UX 

 

SaltStack: Automation platform

Director of Engineering 

 

Owlet: Smart sock monitoring babies vitals

FP&A Manager 

 

Cotopaxi: outdoor brand with a  mission to make a positive impact on the world

VP of Product Design 

 

Mobichord: Telecom Service Management company

Customer Success Manager 

 

Artemis Health: Analytics platform that helps self-insured employers fix their benefit programs.

Inside Sales Manager 

 

Brainstorm: enterprise-level software training and cloud-based solutions

Manager, Strategic Initiatives

 

MX: Software platform for financial instituations

Head of Demand Generation 

 

BambooHR: HR platform

Director of Communications 

 

Lucid: Web-based diagramming and flowchart application

Customer Success Manager

Weave Communications

Excited to see the $17MM Series C round announced for Weave Communications. The company is one of the few Y-Combinator graduates in Utah and has attracted an impressive investor syndicate from A Capital Partners, Homebrew, Crosslink Capital, Pelion Venture Partners, and now, Catalyst.

Healthcare practices are faced with competition from increased market saturation. Relationships with providers are becoming key differentiators between practices and patients are demanding convenient technological solutions to interact with care providers.

Weave has developed a cloud-based communications platform that drives efficient and meaningful interactions with patients in a clinical practice. Through integrating patient information with communication technologies, Weave is able to display critical information regarding an individual during a telephone discussion, text messaging interaction, or email communications to provide better situational awareness.

Nav: Democratization of Business Credit

The cost of business and personal credit problems, including a lack of transparency, leads to higher loan costs and declines, vendor issues and lost business. Understanding credit is foreign and confusing for small business (SMB) owners due to a lack of understanding of how personal credit in conjunction with their business’s credit impacts overall credit worthiness. 

According to Nav's research, 72% of small business owners don't know where to find information on their business credit score. Without understanding both aspects of a business’s credit, SMB owners are not equipped to make the best decisions possible. 62% turn to personal savings when they need business funds. 

With a lack of transparency in the space, Nav has built a SaaS platform to help SMBs know its credit, improve its credit, and find financing opportunities. The platform has three components: a dashboard with personal and business credit reports in one spot, tools to build and improve credit, and a marketplace in order to match SMBs with the right financing product based on its credit and business profile. With the level of engagement and empowerment that the platform provides to SMBs, it is no surprise that Nav was listed in CB Insight's Fintech 250 list.

Not only is the opportunity interesting but the founders had the right experience to tackle the problem. Levi King, CEO, is a serial entrepreneur with experience in the space as a Co-Founder of Funding Universe and Lendio. Before starting Nav with Levi, Caton Hanson owned a law firm that focused on helping business owners understand their business credit, business plan, and financial outlook. 

The company made some waves when in the Utah ecosystem when the legendary firm who invested in Google,KPCB led Nav's Series A. Since the A, the company has continued to attract top tier investors such as Goldman Sachs. Not only have high quality investors been interested in the company but Nav has been successful in building a strong and experienced team. With talent like Greg Ott as President (former VP of Marketing at Intuit and CMO at Demandbase), Scott Schlegel as VP of Engineering (Second web developer for LinkedIn and former VP of Software Engineering at OC tanner), and Jaquelynne Elliott as VP of Finance (Previously at Qzzr, BambooHR, and Mercato Partners) the team is prepared to scale. 

 

Owlet: A New Parent's Best Friend

Nothing is more frightening for a new parent than the horror stories that we hear about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). The explanation from the Mayo Clinic describes SIDS as an "unexplained death". Sometimes the cause of death is discovered later and is labeled as Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID). In 2014, there were about 3,500 SUID and 1,500 SIDS cases in the United States. SIDS is the leading cause of death in infants 1 to 12 months old. Yet, we don't know the cause. This is where Owlet comes in.

Owlet provides an infant health platform consisting of hardware and software. The hardware product is a sock that acts as a pulse oximeter to monitor heart rate, oxygen level, sleep quality, and skin temperature. The sock connects with a base station that acts as the primary alarm and mobile software that displays activity. Owlet has been abundantly clear that its device does not prevent SIDS or any other causes of infant mortality. However, traditional baby monitors alert parents to noises coming from the infant, but fail to monitor any vital health signs. 

The Company and its founders are passionate about providing products that allow parents to enjoy parenthood and minimize the anxiety of a newborn. Despite not having any red alerts in using the product with our youngest child, we found the experience to significantly reduce our newborn anxiety and offered a magical product experience. Like many users, we stopped using the sock at 12 months of age and rather than let it sit on a shelf, I lent the product to a good friend of mine as he welcomed a newborn into his family. In the first weekend of using the product, the system had a red alert due to low oxygen. The parents were able to bring the newborn to the hospital and start addressing the issue. This type of experience isn't uncommon. The Company receives amazing stories of the product alerting the parents of concerning signs that have led to diagnosis of tachycardia (Just last week, US Weekly published such a story). An experience like that will build true brand loyalty and advocacy. 

Kurt Workman, Jordan Monroe, Zack Bomsta, and Jacob Colvin founded the Company as BYU students to address the SIDS epidemic. With many doubters along the path, the company has been able to build one of the fastest growing companies in Utah, raised venture capital from investors such as Eclipse Ventures, and has been listed as one of the next billion-dollar startups in Forbes Magazine. 

 

July 2017 - Job Highlights in Utah Tech

Still an exciting time to be part of the Utah venture ecosystem. We had yet another article highlight the activity here.  Join the fun and see a few highlighted opportunities listed below:

Simplus - HR Manager - Ambitious and experienced HR professional.

Owlet Baby Care - VP of Engineering - Product development experience in consumer electronics. 

Teem - Customer Success Manager - Making best friends out of customers.

Chatbooks - Social Media Manager - Huge opportunity to work with one of the coolest social brands. 

Cotopaxi - VP of Impact - Oversee the social impact and humanitarian efforts.

Why the Point of the Mountain is the Wrong Location for the Homeless Resource Center

Salt Lake City has been unique in the care it has provided for the homeless community. The controversial location of the road-home downtown has led to the HB441 bill and organization of a committee of stakeholders to assess new locations for homeless resource centers. A noble cause and demonstration of the caring community that we have in Salt Lake City. However, some contemplated locations could be devastating for our communities.

The committee has until the 30th of March to identify the third location. In evaluating potential sites, the committee is tasked to identify a new site near public transportation and groceries. The resource center must also fit with the existing environment.

On March 28th, just 2 days before the decision, Mayor Troy Walker of Draper City has announced to the public that he intends to volunteer 2 sites in Draper. The timing feels intentional and potentially motivated by political reasons. Regardless of the weakness in the process, it's important to evaluate why the two Draper locations would be inappropriate. 

As you can see in the map below, the closest grocery store is Harmon's on Bangerter Hwy. Traveling from Location G2 would require crossing I-15 and Location G1 would require traveling along the frontage road. This presents safety issues. Both locations are not at a convenient distance and about 2 miles away. 

Public transportation is non-existent in the area. This does not allow the intended community to easily travel to the contemplated locations.

The locations don't meet the criteria of public transportation and groceries. In Mayor Troy Walker's announcement, the point has been made that criteria may be met in the future as the communities grow. This is dependent on community growth and the underlying factors.

The area is viewed as one of the larger growth opportunities in the Salt Lake City. This is largely due to the relocation of the prison and the near-by economic development. Both could be depressed by the homeless resource center.

Most of the growth has been seen in south Draper and in Bluffdale City. The opportunities that moving the prison presents for the area has attracted families to experience similar community growth that Lehi has seen over the past 10 years. Locating to either proposed location is already making residents nervous about safety issues and community problems that would interrupt the family-friendly community that residents moved here for. The safety issues and public service problems are real for residents. Both locations are on the Draper and Bluffdale border. Draper has larger resources but this area is on the edge of the city. Relocating here would require a lot from Bluffdale City. Bluffdale is a young community and unequipped to address the issues that would arise. 

Another large reason for community growth has been driven by the economic growth. The technology community has set significant roots in Lehi at Thanksgiving Point and has created an impressive number of jobs. Employees are electing to move to neighborhoods closer to the workplace. The sacrifice of residency trends is alarming enough but there is even more lost potential from companies looking to move to the point of the mountain. Thanksgiving Point is crowded and companies looking to attract employees from Salt Lake County and Utah County will be forced to expand into Lehi. Keeping the homeless community out of Draper would offer a huge opportunity for Draper and Bluffdale to attract companies and drive further residency growth. 

The Utah State Prison location has already seen interest from companies inside and outside of the state. While the cause is noble, there are few places in the state like this that could drive significant economic growth by continuing to nurture the expanding technology business community. Establishing a homeless resource center would create a similar economic drag that The Gateway has seen. This would be a significant loss for Salt Lake County. 

There may be some political reasons for the Mayor and City Council to support this decision but at significant costs to the resident families and businesses. An open house will take place on Wednesday, March 29th from 5:30pm till 7:30pm at Draper Park Middle School — 13133 South 1300 East Draper, Utah. This will be the last meeting before the committee’s decision on the location.

If you have concerns or oppose of the Draper locations, please attend the open house or sign the petition. Also, please express your concern to the committee at info@homelessfacilitysite.org.

 

Overview of Utah Venture - Q1'17


The Utah venture ecosystem is growing and receiving more attention (Forbes Article) everyday. We are seeing more interested investors from outside of the state that are watching and meeting with local companies. 

I wanted to highlight some activity that we have seen in the first Quarter of 2017. Please note that this isn't a comprehensive list and only includes deals that were either publicly announced or approved by the CEO of the respective company. The transactions are listed in chronological order. 


InsideSales.com - Provider of a sales automation and predictive analytics platform. 

  • $50MM in Series F led by Polaris Partners putting the post-money at $1.65bn. 
  • Existing venture investors include Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, Hummer Winblad, U.S. Venture Partners, Microsoft Ventures, Salesforce Ventures, Epic Ventures, and Zetta Venture Partners.

Chatbooks - A subscription-based service that prints custom photo albums from the pictures already posted to Instagram, Facebook or stored in a mobile camera roll.  

  • $11.5MM in Series B led by Aries Capital Partners.
  • Existing investors include Signal Peak Ventures, Kickstart Seed Fund, and Peterson Ventures.
  • They also make awesome videos. Watch the original.

MarketDial - Provider of A/B testing software for brick-and-mortar retailers, c-stores, and restaurants.

  • $1.95MM in seed funding in a deal led by Peterson Partners with Kickstart Seed Fund and Tallwave Capital participating. 
  • The Company won the Start Madness pitch competition at the Silicon Slopes Summit in January of 2017. 

Sales Rabbit - Mobile-first SaaS platform for field sales 

Canopy Tax - Practice management platform for tax professionals.

  • $20MM in Series B funding led by Pelion Venture Partners with existing investors particpating.
  • Seed round and Series A were led by NEA with EPIC Ventures, and Deep Fork Capital participating. 

Big Squid - Developer of a predictive analytics and machine learning platform designed to facilitate faster decision making.


Again, not comprehensive but a short list of some exciting companies and activity in Utah. 

White Helmets

A story of hope and compassion. I'm a bit behind in watching the Oscar winning documentary but found the film to be inspiring. The movie tells the story of an organization of volunteer rescue workers amidst the Syrian conflict. 

In watching the movie, it was clear that the individuals in the organization demonstrated deep and unbiased concern for those around them and selflessness enough to act despite the risks. The workers are always running towards bombs and danger with the motto "to save one life is to save all humanity". This courage to act for others regardless of demographic or likelihood of survival, exemplifies some of the best qualities that we can develop.

It is encouraging that the film focused on the beauty in humanity that is found amongst tragedy rather than the conflict itself. Check it out on Netflix or at https://www.whitehelmets.org/en

Source: http://medium.com/@sirjrg

Homesick

They always say home is where the heart is. If that were true, I haven’t been home in a long time now.

It has been many years since I came home from Hungary. It was and probably will be the most adventurous and rewarding experience in my life. I was not born there and did not spend my childhood there but I learned to love and understand life in Hungary.

Photo by artJazz/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by artJazz/iStock / Getty Images

It is sights like this that make me homesick. I miss walking these streets during the summer as the people fill the sidewalks and ice cream vendors sell their amazing fagyi. Conversely, I used to love the winters and seeing a white blanket of snow giving the architectural landscape an added beauty.

Above all else, I miss the language and the people. Without the language the people could be seemingly unfriendly because of the language barrier but speaking in their tongue opens a whole new world. A world of laughter and rich history that rivals all others. The language itself is intricate and difficult but worth learning. 

I could go on for hours and I probably will write more on Hungary frequently because of my love for home.

Source: medium.com/@sirjrg

Diligence

Below is the typical list of diligence we’d look for.

  • Monthly historical financial statements (Previous 3 years and audited, if available)
  • FY-to-date monthly historical financial statements
  • Dashboard/metrics (ARPU, Churn, CAC, LTV or other key indicators company is tracking)
  • Monthly financial forecast for the current and coming year 
  • Investor business plan, executive summary, or slide deck
  • Current cap table in sufficient detail to extract primary owners and valuations of each round
  • Latest filed articles of incorporation
  • Copy of latest 409(A) valuation (as available)

Understanding that you may not have 3 years of operations or other items, I’d be happy to discuss and work with what you do have available.

Analyzing CAC

It is essential to understand unit economics for this topic. We are going to be talking about how to analyze sales efficiency based on metrics such as CAC, LTV, or ARPU. Let's dive in.

There are a few ways to analyze CAC at the unit level to gain insight into the business. The first tool is the Unit CAC Ratio. This ratio allows the user to understand the total return of each client. This is calculated by dividing LTV by CAC. It is essentially showing how many times that customer spend is returned over the lifetime of the relationship with the customer. We are looking for a Unit CAC Ratio of 3x or greater as sign of a strong return in unit terms and the ability grow profitably. A ratio of 2.5x is also acceptable but returning under 3x over the lifetime of a customer would require the Company to build an extremely efficient sales process. A weak Unit CAC Ratio places more emphasis on volume of customers due to a smaller profit made on each account.     

Unit Ratio: Lifetime Value of the Customer / Customer Acquisition Cost for the Customer.

Another crucial unit level analysis is the CAC Payback ratio. This is calculated by dividing CAC by ARPU. Simply put, this allows an understanding of how many months it will take to recover customer acquisition spend on a customer-by-customer basis.

CAC Payback: Customer Acquisition Cost / Average Revenue Per User 

In the aggregate, (similar to the Unit CAC Ratio) an analyst is able to gain an understand of sales efficiency and the ROI for each dollar spent on customer acquisition. We calculate from the company's Income Statement. This is calculated by dividing the annualized growth of quarterly gross profit by the previous quarters sales and marketing spend. This also allows us to understand the average time in years required to earn back CAC investments. What we are presenting is the amount of profit that the new relationships obtained in the quarter will provide in a year. Dividing this by the related sales & marketing expenses help us understand how many years are required to recover the cost. Capital efficient businesses recover in under a year, yielding a ratio greater than 1. 

Aggregate CAC Ratio: ((Most Recent Quarter's Gross Profit - Previous Quarter's Gross Profit) x 4) /                                            (Previous Quarter's Sales & Marketing Expenses)

These metrics are all good tools to understand sales efficiency. While they are all important to focus on, it may make more sense to emphasis each metric at different stages of a venture. As an operator or an investor, you may decide that figuring out the unit economics and individual customer profitability is the most important for your early stage venture. Later stage companies in SaaS tend to focus on the Aggregate CAC Ratio due to popularization of this approach by Josh James when he was at Omniture (referred to as the Magic Number) and the white papers written by Bessemer

LTV

Now for the ever important LTV. This is metric drives at the total value of a customer relationship. LTV is calculated by multiplying the average revenue by the lifespan of a customer. For consumer companies this may be calculated by multiplying the average revenue per transaction by the average number of orders that a consumer participates in. For software or recurring revenue business models, LTV is calculated by multiplying Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) by average customer life span. The simplest way to calculate the average life span of a customer is by dividing 1 by annualized churn. 

This can be a powerful tool in understanding your business and customer relationships but it can also be manipulated and act as a distraction. Bill Gurley does a wonderful job discussing the dangers of LTV obsession in his post, dangerous seductions

LTV: ARPU x (1 / customer churn rate)

Understanding Runway

"What is the burn?"

Common question and utterly confusing without context. Burning cash means that the company is still unprofitable and is cash flow negative. The burn refers to the cash leaving the business. Early stage companies are almost expected to experience this for the first few years of business and it is very rare to see a young company growing at a fast pace and maintaining profitability. It is still common to see large growth stage companies and even public companies still burning cash. This is largely due to the level of investment that they are deploying into growth. Regardless of company stage, monitoring cash is vital to the success of a company. 

There are two ways to understand the burn rate using different financial statements.

The Balance Sheet approach is a longer term calculation and is calculated by subtracting the cash balance at the end of the year from the cash balance at the beginning of the year. We would simply convert this annualized burn to monthly burn by dividing this figure by 12. 

The Income Statement approach is accomplished by calculating Earnings Before Depreciation and Amortization (EBDA). EBDA is calculated by finding the earnings (loss) and removing any depreciation or amortization that may have been included. We understand that interest and taxes are necessary cash expenses and need to be included in our cash burn but depreciation and amortization does not impact cash. 

Burn Rate-

Balance Sheet Approach: (Cash at the Beginning of the Year - Cash at the End of the Year) / 12

Income Statement Approach: Monthly Earnings (aka Net profit/loss) Ignoring Depreciation and Amortization

Awesome. Now we understand burn. This doesn't tell us much on its own. In using the burn, we are able to understand how much gas we have in the tank before we need to raise more capital or become cash flow positive. The best way to accomplish this is calculating months of runway. 

We are able to calculate our months of runway by dividing cash by monthly cash burn. The volatility of cash burn in some ventures can make it challenging to rely on this calculation. Therefore, using an average monthly cash burn based on the past 3 months is a better approach. 

Months of Runway: Ending Cash Balance / (3 Month Average Cash Burn)

The cash burn and months of runway calculations help operators and investors understand the capital needs of a business. From a fundraising standpoint, a single round of financing should offer 18-24 months of runway. With these tools, operators can calculate the necessary round size.

We all know that we get a few more miles when our gas tank hits empty. For ventures, empty means 6 months of cash. In working with ventures, I have noticed that the best venture-backed management teams have a signed term sheet just before they reach 6 months of remaining runway. This allows management enough time to evaluate deal terms and make the best situation. It seems that mistakes are made and poor deal terms are taken when fundraising starts around the 3 months of cash. Give yourself time and always leave a little in the tank before filling up.

Be smart and understand your cash. 

Churn, Baby, Churn

The ever important and sometimes depressing topic of churn. Simply put, churn is existing business lost. This can be measured based on customer count or revenue. The measurement will be based on the business model.

Client churn is based on customer count and is sometimes referred to as logo churn. It is presented in a percentage by dividing lost customers by the prior periods total. It can either be simply calculated on a monthly basis to gain a high level understanding or it can be drilled down deeper in an effort to more accurately investigate retention issues. This is accomplished by grouping customers into cohorts. This will serve as the base of customers and as months pass, you are able to track who is still transacting and further investigate why others are not. Logo churn is especially good for consumer companies to understand given the repeatable nature of the business model.

Simple Client Churn: Lost Customers / Prior Period's Customer Base

Cohort Churn: Customers in Cohort No Longer Transacting / Selected Customer Cohort

Churn based on revenue is sometimes referred to as dollar churn and is an important KPI for business models that target enterprise customers. This churn metric can be stated in a gross or net manner. Gross dollar churn is MRR lost as a percentage of revenue and is calculated by dividing MRR lost in a month by MRR recognized in the previous month. Net churn is giving the business credit for the expansion of customer relationships to offset MRR lost in the month. This is calculated by subtracting upsell MRR from MRR lost during the period and then dividing that by MRR at the beginning of the month. Negative churn refers to a company that has more upsells than MRR lost, demonstrating a negative net churn. The two dollar churn methods are very different and have their place for use. Commonly you will see a company experience gross churn with negative net churn, suggesting that the company has found product/market fit with a specific target market and is intentionally churning out customers. 

Gross Dollar Churn: MRR Lost / Previously Recognized MRR

Net Dollar Churn: (MRR Lost - Upsell MRR) / Previously Recognized MRR

Churn is an important part of a business and can offer extraordinary insights into target markets. No one expects to have zero churn in a business but investors expect reasonable churn based on the target market. In a consumer business, churn can be reasonably experienced up to 30%. Churn at 20% is acceptable for SMB business. The highest standard is 10% for enterprise but should be acceptable to all parties given the sales cycle and expected stickness of the product. 

Lots of ways to look at churn but they all make sense for different times and businesses. 

Cost of Acquiring Customers

Understanding the cost of acquiring a user/customer is essential to understanding the unit economics of a venture and building a successful business. This data offers a better understanding of which demographics are the most profitable and how efficient the sales engine in the business is.

As the name suggests, this metric is intended to include all of the costs in acquiring a user/customer. It can be challenging to accurately portray CAC in a single metric when there are multiple target markets (e.g. SMB & enterprise) or sales strategies (e.g. paid marketing & organic acquisitions) for an organization.

In addressing CAC for multiple target markets, it is important to look at each demographic separately. It is especially important to view the market segments individually because the cost to acquire an SMB client is going to be very different than an Enterprise client. The sales cycles for each segment are going to have different approaches and length of time. Trying to look at these in a combined metric is most likely going to inflate SMB cost above where it should be and present the Enterprise CAC better than it actually is. For this reason, we need to complete individual studies to understand each segment.

Calculating CAC takes time and effort but can be crucial data in understanding the viability of the venture. This stand alone metric provides insight but is a powerful piece of data when used in different ratios.  That will be further discussed in a later post.

As examples, the calculations for blended and paid CAC can be seen below:

 

Blended CAC

Total Acquisition Costs / Total Amount of New Customers

 

Paid CAC

Total Acquisition Cost / New Customers Acquired by Paid Marketing

 

Companies often overly focus on top line growth at all costs but analyzing the unit economics and associated CAC spend provide insight into the scalability  of the business. 

Source: https://medium.com/@SirJRG/cost-of-acquiri...