Return and Expulsion – TechCrunch

Welcome to Startups Weekly, a fresh look at this week’s startup news and trends. To get this in your inbox, subscribe here.

The stakes aren’t just on Wall Street anymore—they’re in your group chats, book clubs, and that awkward shuffle that happens when everyone’s trying to get out the door at the same time at the end of class.

Community investment clubs are nothing new, but the renewed interest in decentralization and the glittering—albeit hangover—allure of getting in on the ground level of a rocket ship enterprise has created a new wave of crowdfunding efforts.

Individualism is out. Collectivism is in vogue. And this week brought a whole bunch of examples to prove just that point.

Let’s start with Stanford. Three years ago, a group of Stanford students started working with law firm Fenwick & West to find a legal structure that suits their needs: no accreditation requirement or hard limit on the number of people involved. The effort eventually became Stanford 2020, an investment club that raised $1.5 million for its debut fund. Fast forward to today, the leader of that club, Steph Mui, is trying to replicate that playbook in the form of a venture-backed startup. PIN, which stands for ‘strength in numbers’ recently raised $5.6 million in seed funding led by Initialized Capital, with investments from GSR, NEA, Industry and Canaan.

Mui credits the growing mindset around crypto-native DAOs as part of the reason investment clubs are of more interest these days. “We started before DAOs became really cool,” Mui said. “When we started, the DAO-like structure that we created around voting was more of a necessity from a regulatory perspective … now it’s actually a huge bonus.”

Moving from helping Stanford students invest in their peers to trying to help anyone with a community do the same is a big bet on the future of investing. As Mui said, when Stanford 2020 first launched, some reacted that it was not a surprising move for a privileged set of people to participate in a privileged asset class. This almost stopped the startup from existing entirely.

“What changed that divide for me was talking to literally over 100 groups … and realizing that’s not the case at all,” she said. “Now that I’m a founder, I realize that all startups have very different needs … all of these groups benefit from having community clubs of all kinds at their table because of the expertise they need.”

While interest is certainly cemented, hurdles exist, like when it comes to getting diverse beta users (and making sure startups want the club’s money in the first place).

For my full take – and to make this title really make sense – read my latest TechCrunch+ article co-written with my best friend Anita Ramaswamy: “Investment clubs are cool again, and maybe so is the community.” And to thank you for being a Startups Weekly subscriber, here’s a little TC+ discount for you: Enter “STARTUPS” at checkout for 15% off your subscription.

In the rest of this newsletter, we’ll look at the latest wave of Sequoia bets, an update on layoffs, and as always you can support me by forwarding this newsletter to a friend or follow me on twitter. I appreciate you!

The Sequoia wave

Despite the regional slowdown, Sequoia Capital India and Southeast Asia announced theirs the accelerator’s newest group of companies. The full list of companies is in history, but just know that the majority build for global markets, almost half have a presence in the US and European markets, and, unsurprisingly, have a pay-per-click game included.

Here’s why it’s important: The Surge program is becoming a force to be reckoned with, building a roster that may already have a useful stamp of approval for subsequent rounds. Alumni have raised more than $1.7 billion in follow-on funding, and 60% of companies in the first cohorts have gone on to raise their Series A and beyond. Past participants include Doubtnut, Khatabook, Bijak, Juno and Apna Club.

India's Captain Fresh raises $60 million, more than doubling valuation to $500 million in three months

Image Credits: Getty Images

The venture-backed are fighting back

Are you enjoying the good news? Great because we’re going to make a hard point and go into a new cut update.

Ocean Climate Technology

Image Credits: Getty Images

If you missed last week’s newsletter

Read it here: Return and Expulsion.” We’ve also recorded an accompanying podcast if you prefer a newsletter for your ears, “The evolving story of Black Girls Code offers a complex look at many different things.”

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Ok, that’s all from me. Drink some water, take care of yourself and remember that email can wait until Monday,


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