Welcome to Startups Weekly, a fresh human-first take on this week’s startup news and trends. To get this in your inbox, subscribe here.
Hey Jane, a digital health startup that scales access to abortion pills, makes sense. It’s a direct-to-consumer pharmacy that aims to meet consumers where they are, which is especially important as the pandemic’s extended stay continues.
Hey Jane’s core product has significant red tape to deal with. It’s main product, abortion pills, are banned or restricted in several states. Add in the fact that Roe v. Wade is set to be overturned, and the world’s future could clash with the startup’s mission to expand healthcare. Hey Jane pretty much underscores the potential — and promise — of telehealth startups. But it also operates at the heart of an over-politicized issue.
Earlier this month, I wrote about how digital health startups are bracing for a post-Roe world. Then, Hey Jane co-founder Kiki Freedman said that the overturn makes abortion care via mail “now likely to be the most viable form of access for most of the country.” A hurdle, she expects, will be a lack of education among consumers on medication-induced abortions. The majority of abortions performed in the U.S. are via medication, except she says that a minority of people are educated about the nuances of medical abortion. “It’s imperative that we continue to educate people about this safe, effective and common abortion option,” she wrote in a statement.
But now I want to do a follow-up to these next-day reactions. Next week, I plan to interview Freedman for TechCrunch’s Equity podcast and ask her about how to build a company when the mission may be irreversibly challenged by our government; we’ll talk about the origin story, and how they plan to pivot in the future. I want her to tell me what the world is getting wrong about telemedicine’s ability to answer the biggest questions in health right now, and where startups could fit into the solution going forward. Also, are they actually raising a growth round? For the answers, make sure to tune into the Equity episode wherever you get podcasts, and, heck, why not start now?
In the rest of this newsletter, we’ll talk about another round of startup layoffs, why your MVP isn’t the MVP, and a fintech company betting that it can make even your local credit card crave some Netflix & Chill time. As always, you can support me by forwarding this newsletter to a friend or following me on Twitter or my blog.
More layoffs in startupland
There’s unfortunately more where last week came from. Tech workers experienced another hard week of layoffs and hiring freezes, coming from startups such as Section4, Latch and DataRobot. We rounded up some of the known workforce reductions in one post.
Here’s why it’s important: Impact was felt across industries ranging from education to security, as well as stages from a post–Series A startup to a recently SPAC’d business. To me, that signals just how pervasive this pull-back truly is, regardless of what phase your company may be in. It’s not just the cash-rich tech unicorns that are cutting staff; it’s the early stage startups, too.
- Tech layoffs don’t happen to companies, they happen to people
- Need advice on navigating a tough startup market? Start here
- How many unicorns are just piñatas filled with expired candy?
- Top Twitter execs, including heads of revenue and consumer products, are out following Musk deal
- The half-billion-dollar profit swing that led to Better.com’s myriad layoffs
Your MVP is neither minimal, viable nor a product
I’ve been thinking about this headline from Haje Jan Kamps for the past week because it challenges one of those preconceived startup notions that everyone else happily adopts without too much of a fight. Aka, my sweet spot (and my weakness). In this op-ed, Kamps gets into why MVP is “such a profound misnomer” and what to focus on instead.
Here’s why it’s important: Kamps’ new framework, and series of questions that you should be asking your first product, should make the complexities of MVPs a little more approachable. And II’ll end with his kicker:
“I don’t have a suggestion for a better name for MVP, just don’t fall into the trap of thinking of it as a product, being viable or, necessarily, being small, simple or easy. Some MVPs are complex. The idea, though, is to spend as little of your precious resources as you can to get an answer to your questions.”
- A venture firm gets rewarded for selling at the market top
- ‘Move fast and break things’ is a bad idea for health tech startups
- More money doesn’t mean more growth, and other startup myths
Jay-Z’s Queen A
For the deal of the week that may have flown under your radar, I choose Altro! Co-founded by Michael Broughton and Ayush Jain, this fintech startup believes that credit access should be free — so it found an atypical way to help people build credit.
Here’s why it’s important: Altros, which raised an $18 million Series A this week, helps folks build credit through recurring payment forms such as digital subscriptions to Netflix, Spotify and Hulu. It stands out because a lot of banks targeted toward low-income, historically disenfranchised people want to circumvent credit scores altogether — while Altros wants to tweak access to an established system. I highly recommend reading Mary Ann’s story about the company’s origins, fundraising journey and spotlight — and subscribing to her newsletter, The Interchange.
- Sequoia’s Jess Lee explains how VCs think about their deals
- Fueled by the remote work revolution, Deel more than doubles valuation to $12B with new raise
- Gusto raises an extension round, following Faire as unicorns react to a changing market
Across the week
- Snag tickets for next week’s event: TechCrunch Mobility, a three-day hybrid conference featuring top investors, founders and thought leaders of the automotive industry. I’ll be there, but more importantly, they will be there.
- If you missed last week’s newsletter, check it out: “The Great Resignation, meet the Great Reset.”
- Big shout-out to my colleague Mary Ann on the launch of her fintech newsletter “The Interchange.” Subscribe so you can flex early adopter status on the industry’s new can’t-miss weekly column.
Seen on TechCrunch
- Average startup CEO salary is $150,000 in 2022
- Tiger Global, hit by $17B in hedge fund losses, has nearly depleted its latest VC fund
- Canoo warns it may not have enough funds to bring EVs to market
- Freada and Mitch Kapor are ‘stepping back’ from Kapor Capital
- The iPod is dead
- Bitcoin’s bid to become the ‘one chain to rule them all’
Seen on TechCrunch+
- Pitch Deck Teardown: Dutch’s $20M Series A deck
- The stock market is down, but these 4 tech companies prove there’s still good news out there
- The SaaS sell-off is steepening
- Terra’s UST crash will make life harder for crypto as regulation looms
Until next time,