Urban Compass with a $360 Million Valuation from Investors

Hadi Aboukhater Urban CompassIn a recent article by Bloomberg, Urban Compass Inc. has just received a $360 million valuation after receiving $40 million from investors. The New York startup’s revenues have jumped 10-fold in the last year, so investors are keeping a keen eye on this company. Urban Compass is a tech startup that makes buying and renting apartments easier in New York City. They list properties and connect real estate agents with people searching for apartments. This app is beneficial for both brokers and people searching for apartments. Users are able to get down to precise specifics on what they want when looking for apartments, and brokers are easily able to connect and maintain in contact with clients through the mobile application.

Ori Allon, co-founder of Urban Compass, states that their services are about to expand to such cities as Boston, Chicago and San Francisco. Urban Compass is attempting to take the dishonesty out of searching for an apartments and make the entire process a more transparent and effortless.

Allon and Urban Compass’ CEO, Robert Reffkin, are experienced when it comes to business and finance. Allon has already sold companies to Google and Twitter, while Reffkin was the chief of staff for Goldman Sachs. Their latest round of investments have been from Thrive Capital, Founders Fund, .406 Ventures, and the CEO of American Express, Kenneth Chenault.

Urban Compass currently employs close to 150 people as they are moving to a new office location in Union Square. Half of the staff is made up of licensed real estate sales people, as Allon hopes to reach over 200 licensed real estate sales people within the next year. The brokers are easily able to use Urban Compass’ software to maintain relationships with clients and keep tabs of their hectic schedules. Searching for an apartment in NYC is hectic, so it’s about time that better software has come out to fix this industry with many holes in it.

This blog post is based off of this Bloomberg article.

AgTech to Invest in Booming Agricultural Biotech Companies

Hadi Aboukhater Agricultural BiotechA brand new $50 million dollar venture fund is being established in Davis, California to invest in the early stages of agricultural biotech companies. This fund is being called the AgTech Innovation Fund and it is structured as a limited partnership (LP). AgTech Innovation is looking to invest $250,000 to $500,000 in the initial startup fund for a group of companies in agricultural biotech, and more is to be promised to these companies depending on their degree of success. One of the managing partners of this new fund is John Selep who is a retired technology executive and tenured member of the Sacramento Angels (an angel investing group coming out of Sacramento, California). The other managing partner is Julie Morris who was the original chief financial officer of Marrone Bio Innovations Inc In Davis, CA.

Selep said that this was a good time to invest in these agricultural technology companies. The surrounding area around Davis, CA are a enormous amounts of growing agricultural technology companies and the biggest investors in the bay area are not concerned with how the technology works or the causes; however, they have noticed some interesting happenings regarding the industry.

AgraQuest, founded by Pam Marrone, was a biotech company bought by Bayer CropScience for $425 million in 2012. Her next company closed the Sacramento regions first successful initial public offering in decades with a net of $56.4 million. Another agricultural biotech company in Davis named BioConsortia raised $15 million in their round of funding. Davis is only part of the puzzle in this vast growing industry that is agricultural biotech. Selep is also looking in the Central Valley and Northern California, but Davis is the starting point. AgTech will use resources at the University of California Davis to expand their research and findings. Even though, there is a lot of talking about this fund, AgTech is yet to be actually created. The Sacramento region is booming with companies that are developing seed technologies, as well as farming and sustainability innovations in technology. This fund is not only looking at these technologies as opportunities, but more so towards vast sustainability in the global food production as well as major improvements in the quality of our soil, water, and energy.