This week in N.Y.C. funding news: SoulCycle, Shufflrr, Mass Appeal
Erin Griffith published a version of her upcoming feature “Of Vice and Men” in her column this week. In it, she cleverly refers to venture capitalists as “the new Masters of the Universe” who ought to be “acknowledging the negative effects of their disruptive technologies.”
These masters, she suggests, are just as guilty of killing jobs as their snooty older cousins — private equity professionals.
As I try to keep my own column as brief as possible, I ask you — New York Business Journal readers — what your thoughts are.
Do venture capitalists lack empathy? Are there too few billionaire playboys with hearts of gold and a savior complex like Bruce Wayne? Or, are there too many hotshots not giving a second thought to the negative effects of their technological breakthroughs, like pre-arc reactor Tony Stark? Please send me your feedback.
Speaking of doing good, my startup shoutout goes to SoulCycle for its SoulScholarship program, which brings fitness and education to underserved communities. The initiative impacted more than 250 students last year alone. The next round kicks off this week with students from Urban Assembly Institute and Opportunity Charter School.
“Giving back to the community has been a cornerstone of our brand and we were inspired to bring the SoulCycle experience to underserved adolescents and help them to find joy in movement,” CEO Melanie Whelan tells us.
The mission started in N.Y.C., but is also offered in Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles and Chicago. The goal is to bring the joy and benefits of fitness to underserved adolescents. During the 10-week program, students take complimentary SoulCycle classes two times a week and participate in health, nutrition and job readiness workshops.
At the conclusion of the program, eligible students participate in SoulMentorship, a program that keeps students connected through riding, mentorship and supportive discussions. After the student’s one-year commitment, they may ride at SoulCycle complimentary as they wish.
THIS WEEK’S VC DEALS
The five-year-old company, known for its exercise bikes with tablets that stream live spin classes, is reportedly seeking $120 million in capital. This would give the company a valuation of $1.2 billion ( ht Bloomberg). New York-based Peloton previously raised about $120 million from venture and private equity backers.
The personal finance app committed to helping everyday people achieve their goals raised $12 million in Series A funding. Northzone, Anthemis Exponential Ventures, Industrifonden and Rocketship VC all participated in the round. Based in New York and Stockholm, Qapital encourages its users to save for things they aspire for by turning everyday habits and guilty pleasures into opportunities to save.
The platform for digital collecting clinched $6.75 million in funding from strategic angels. Alongside the funding, Quidd unveiled a new partnership with Cryptozoic Entertainment to roll out digital collectibles from hit animated shows like Rick and Morty, Adventure Time, Steven Universe, The Powerpuff Girls, and other Cartoon Network shows.
Universal Music Group led the $6 million Series A round round, and was joined by Evolution Media, Jon Jashni, Charles King, Michael Kassan, Usher, Steve Stoute, Karen Lauder and White Owl Capital. Rapper Nas (pictured above), who invested six-figures into the New York company in 2013, returned for this round as well.
Touted as the world’s first B2B platform connecting real estate professionals to capital, investments and services, RealConnex closed a $3.5 million financing round. Silver Portal Capital, a boutique real estate investment and merchant banking firm, led the effort.
The experiential marketing technology company also raised a $3.5 million Series A funding round. This brings the total capital raised to $5.5 million. M-ND’s funding will be used to bolster the company’s technology, as well as open offices in London, Sydney, Dubai, and Kuala Lumpur. The company specializes in turning online customer interactions into real-world experiences. Clientele include the Philadelphia Eagles, Lexus and Marriott.
The startup received a six-figure investment . The exact number has not been disclosed. Shufflrr allows users to automate the creation, distribution, updating, broadcasting and tracking of all marketing resources, regardless of file format. The company grew 100 percent in 2016 and secured several new clients, including US Bank, Lenovo, and Celgene.