ID.me closes $19M led by FTV Capital

This article originally appeared on the Washington Post and can be found here

Signing into web pages is almost universally known as one of the most annoying parts of the Internet.

Most people either have keep a separate list of every password needed to log into each different platform, or use one or two passwords for everything, something that security experts say emboldens identity thieves.

A number of gigantic technology companies are trying to find a simpler way.

Companies like Facebook and Google let users log into multiple products with the same username and password. And a growing pool of companies is gunning to create a system that works across numerous products. Providing this sort of identity verification across various web pages requires certain certifications, attracting a limited pool of mostly large technology companies including Verizon and Symantec.

But alongside these big companies, a little start-up called ID.me is betting on the the idea of an all-encompassing electronic sign-in. Originally founded as a sort of military-focused daily deals company, then named TroopSwap, the company now has a $19 million war chest to focus singularly on managing people’s identities.

“We think it’s a fundamental problem that digital identity is in the hands of two advertising companies, Facebook and Google. That clearly is not OK,” said chief executive Blake Hall.

“What we really want to do is create a ubiquitous ID network whether its ID.me or somebody else.”

ID.Me said Wednesday it has raised $19 million from FTV Capital, a San Francisco-based private equity firm, with another $21 million planned for later. Financial details were not disclosed, but Hall says the company making the investment would not have a controlling stake in the business.

Blake’s company is building an online network where people — or the businesses that ID.me contracts with — can upload specific forms of credentials needed to identify an individual for a specific purpose. For most problems, that involves a relatively limited pool of identifying factors, minimizing the amount of sensitive data that might be exposed.

ID.me embarked on this new line of business in 2013 after experimenting with other business models in its early days. After the TroopSwap daily deals business sputtered, the company re-branded as TroopID, with a new plan to make it easier for troops to identify themselves online to claim things like medical benefits.

That toe-hold in the market for online authentication services preceded the broader market the company is now targeting.

Hall says the new funding will be used to build out a sales and marketing force that went largely ignored in the company’s early days.

The young company has 253 customers, most of whom are large e-commerce sites that use ID.me’s technology to identify millions of users. Hall declined to disclose financial details, but said the company’s revenue more than quadrupled last year and is projected to be “in the eight figures for sure.”

ID.me closes $19M led by FTV Capital

Brad Harrison on Venture Studio

Brad Harrison recently had the opportunity to sit down with Dave Lerner on Venture Studio, where the two discussed investment philosophy, NY tech, Olapic, and much more. We highly recommend giving it a listen (37 minutes).

Dave is a serial entrepreneur with 3 exits, angel investor in 70+ companies and the host of Venture Studio, a popular podcast where I interview some of the most interesting investors and personalities in NYC tech and beyond. He is also the Director of Entrepreneurship at Columbia University, Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship at Columbia Business School and was the Director of Columbia’s Venture Lab for seven years where he spun-out 70+ technology start-ups based on university research.

 

Brad Harrison on Venture Studio

Digi International Acquires IoT Cold Chain Provider FreshTemp

Original post can be found here.
Acquisition Broadens Temperature Monitoring and Adds Digital Task Management Solutions for the Cold Chain and Food Industry

MINNETONKA, Minn., Nov. 2,  2016  –  Digi International®, (NASDAQ: DGII, www.digi.com), a leading global provider of machine-to-machine (M2M) and Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity products and services, today announced the purchase of FreshTemp, a provider of  temperature monitoring and task management solutions for the food industry. The acquired technology will continue to be supported, as well as leveraged within the Digi HoneycombTM solution, to create an advanced portfolio of products for the cold chain market. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Founded in 2011 by CEO Jeff Rieger, FreshTemp has been a pioneering company in creating technology, services and domain expertise in complete food safety and operations management for commercial kitchens. With this acquisition, Digi Cold Chain Solutions will expand its temperature monitoring solutions to incorporate digital task management capabilities to replace traditional manual logbooks and simplify daily restaurant tasks. Organizations will be able to streamline manual operational checklists and provide insight to managers on how well their teams are adhering to restaurant guidelines. As part of the acquisition, Mr. Rieger and FreshTemp employees will become part of the Digi Cold Chain Solutions team.

“Our solution sets are extremely compatible and I’m excited to be able to leverage the market presence and scale that Digi offers our customers,” said Jeff Rieger, founder and chief executive officer of FreshTemp. “Together, we’ll be able to accelerate the adoption of our solutions and support the growing demand for technology that ensures businesses are serving safe and quality food.”

“We believe the cold chain market represents a large underserved market that can take greater advantage of wireless sensor networking and IoT capabilities,” said Ron Konezny, president and chief executive officer, Digi International. “We’re going to leverage all avenues – organic growth, partnerships, and acquisitions – to further establish Digi as the expert in providing easy to use and ROI generating cold chain solutions.

Since its introduction, Digi Honeycomb has been deployed in a number of leading quick service restaurants, and has established itself as a leading solution through partnerships such as those with TELUS, Canada’s fastest-growing national telecommunications company.

Digi Honeycomb is an automated food temperature monitoring service that encompasses front-of-house and back-of-house environments to alert users if the proper temperature is not maintained. FreshTemp’s core product line as well as task management capabilities will be made available through Digi Cold Chain Solutions.  As a result, organizations in the food industry will be able to address major operational challenges. For more information visit: http://www.digi.com/cold-chain-solutions.

About Digi International 
Digi International (NASDAQ: DGII) is a leading global provider of business and mission-critical machine-to-machine (M2M) and Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity products and services. We help our customers create next-generation connected products and deploy and manage critical communications infrastructures in demanding environments with high levels of security, relentless reliability and bulletproof performance. Founded in 1985, we’ve helped our customers connect over 100 million things, and growing.

Digi International Acquires IoT Cold Chain Provider FreshTemp

Beyonce Invests in Sidestep

This post originally appeared on TechCrunch and can be found here

Joining celebrity investors like Snoop Dogg, Ashton Kutcher, and Justin Bieber, Queen Bey is bringing her supreme business skills to the tech world. Beyoncé and the management company she started called Parkwood Entertainment have invested $150,000 into Sidestep, an app for buying concert merchandise and skipping the line to pick it up at the show.

Sidestep originally started selling t-shirts and posters for Beyoncé on her Formation World Tour. But after two weeks of seeing its success, Beyoncé and Parkwood invested in Sidestep’s seed round of funding.

Sidestep CEO Eric Jones tells me they “wanted Beyoncé’s tour to be very focused on tech”, and liked the idea of “a tiny scrappy startup doing the biggest tour in the world.”

beyonce_store

Beyoncé previously invested in WTRMLN WTR, a watermelon beverage company. She’s believed to have ties to juicing machine maker Juicero, though that company refuses to talk about their relationship. [Update: Beyonce helped start vegan food company 22 Day Nutritionas well.] She’s also a stakeholder in streaming service Tidal thanks to her agreement to give it early access to her music. With her investment in Sidestep, though, she could directly help artists earn more money.

Musicians hoping to get rich off skimpy streaming royalties are kidding themselves. The real money is in using streaming to get famous and then selling concert tickets and merchandise.

But due to long lines and, you know, wanting to actually see the show, many people avoid buying t-shirts and other merch at concerts. That’s where Sidestep steps in.

The startup lets you order tour merchandise before, during, or even after the show from its smartphone app. You can then Sidestep the merch booth line, flash a QR code at the dedicated pickup spot, and grab your items in seconds. Or you can have them delivered to your home. This way you can be sure to get whatever stuff you want in the right size with no fear of wasting time or it selling out.

Along with Beyoncé gear, you can buy merch from artists like Guns N’ Roses, Fall Out Boy, Selena Gomez, and Weezer via Sidestep. The startup gives artists a ton of data about who’s buying, and keeps a 10% service fee charged to the customer.

logo

Sidestep has raised a total of $1.7 million from Beyoncé and other investors including actor Jared Leto, former Lady Gaga manager Troy Carter and Cross Culture Ventures, and the previous CEO of the LA Dodgers. The app has done over $2 million in sales, up 10X from last year. The company competed in TechCrunch’s 1st And Future sports startup hackathonearlier this year. 

Sidestep will have to compete with other merchandise startups like Merchbar, an Amazon-like webstore, and Yoshirt, which lets fans design custom items with a band’s logos and photos. and some people might rather stand in line than pay 10% extra. But with streaming royalties still unable to make up for the drop in album sales, artists will do whatever they can to sell more shirts, and these startups could flourish.

Meanwhile, top performers like Beyoncé who invest will start stackin’ money in Silicon Valley, not just Hollywood.

Beyonce Invests in Sidestep

Bloglovin’ Embraces Influencer Marketing With Sverve Acquisition

This article was originally posted on TechCrunch by Anthony Ha. 

Bloglovin’ is announcing the acquisition of marketing startup Sverve, a move that should the expand monetization options for writers using the Bloglovin’ platform.

The New York-headquartered company offers an aggregator where consumers can find and follow fashion and lifestyle bloggers, and where those bloggers can reach and stay connected with a new audience. CEO Giordano Contestabile (who joined last year through the acquisition of his startup Finale) already helps writers monetize through native ad campaigns, but those are “very bespoke, high-end campaigns” and only accessible to the most popular bloggers.

Sverve, meanwhile, has built a self-serve platform connecting brands and influencers for marketing campaigns, and then helping them track the results. These campaigns aren’t limited to blogs, either, but can also involve promotion on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.

As a result of the acquisition, Sverve is being renamed Activate by Bloglovin’, with CEO Rohit Vashisht becoming president of the rebranded business. Bloglovin’ creators should be able to sign up today, and over time, the company plans to introduce more integrations between the two platforms.

 “It’s not going to be contained to a few influencers, not even a few hundred,” said Vashisht (pictured aboce with Contestabile). “Our goal is to bring those opportunities to the hundreds of thousands of influencers in our network. [Bloglovin’ says it has 750,000 registered bloggers.] Brands can pick and choose influencers, but there will also be automated campaigns where hundreds of influencers can start promoting a brand’s message.”

The financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed. Contestabile said it was primarily a stock deal — Sverve investors are becoming Bloglovin’ shareholders, and Vashisht is joining the company’s board of directors. According to CrunchBase, Sverve raised less than $1 million from 500 Startups, FundersClub, Scout Ventures and others.

“Helping influencers succeed is a part of our mission, and we really feel this acquisition will allow us to do more of that,” Contestabile said.

Bloglovin’ Embraces Influencer Marketing With Sverve Acquisition

THE MIGHTY 25: VETERANS POISED FOR IMPACT IN 2016

Happy to share this list (originally posted here) courtesy of We Are The Mighty. What makes me even more excited is the fact that some of our founders are on the list. They are Blake Hall of Id.me, Taylor Justice of Unite US, John Roger Jr. of Local Motors, and Jeremy Gocke of Ampsy.

Cheers to 2016 everyone!

Within the worlds of politics, business, advocacy, and media there are veterans who continue to serve in a wide variety of ways.  Men and women who once fought the nation’s wars now shape the American landscape by doing everything from building cars with 3D printers to creating fashion trends, from making major motion pictures to passing laws.

The editors of WATM (with inputs from a proprietary panel of influencers) scanned the community and came up with a diverse list of those with the highest impact potential in the year ahead.

Here are The Mighty 25 for 2016:

mcchrystalSTANLEY MCCHRYSTAL — CO-FOUNDER, THE MCCHRYSTAL GROUP

After a legendary career as an Army special operator, highlighted by effectively re-organizing JSOC and leading the war effort in Afghanistan, General McChrystal accelerated into the normally pedestrian world of business consulting. The same drive that made him an effective leader has informed the McChrystal Group‘s innovative approaches to the problems facing their clients. The company’s offices outside of DC feel like those of a Silicon Valley tech startup rather than a traditional Beltway firm, more Menlo Park than K Street, and he’s aggregated a hyper-talented team — including a number of veterans — who are changing the way consulting is done. McChrystal also serves as the Chair of theFranklin Project at the Aspen Institute, advocating for a “service year” as an American cultural expectation. Watch for him to keep the press on there this year.

RELATED: Stan McChrystal talks about his inspiration for the Franklin Project

MoultonS-MA06DSETH MOULTON — CONGRESSMAN FROM MASSACHUSETTS

Seth Moulton’s reluctant entry into politics was spurred primarily by his experiences as a Marine across four tours during the Iraq War – a war he didn’t believe in. After getting his MBA at Harvard and working for a start-up for a while, he decided to run for Congress as a Democrat inMassachusetts’s Sixth District. His first year in office was punctuated by efforts to improve veteran health care through the VA. He also opposed attempts to block Syrian refugees from entering the country. Expect more impact from this veteran lawmaker as his comfort level goes up in 2016.

commissioner-suttonLOREE SUTTON — NEW YORK CITY MAYOR’S OFFICE OF VETERANS AFFAIRS COMMISSIONER

Retired Army Brigadier General Loree Sutton was appointed as New York City’s VA commissioner just over a year ago, and she hit the ground running, leveraging her experiences at places like the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury and the Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center at Fort Hood to solve the immediate issues facing Gotham’s veteran community. Her approaches to resilience, using a “working community” model that scales problems at the lowest level, have proved very effective in dealing with issues like claims backlogs and appointment wait times. Her successes in 2016 could well inform how other cities better serve veterans going forward.

TMTM GIBBONS-NEFF — REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST

TM Gibbons-Neff served as a rifleman in 1st Battalion, 6th Marines and participated in two combat deployments to Helmand Province, Afghanistan before entering Georgetown University to pursue his English degree. He graduated this year and went from working as an intern atThe Washington Post to earning a spot as one of their full-time reporters. As part of the Post’s national security staff, TM has reported on everything from the ISIS threat to the San Bernadino shootings. Watch for his reach to grow in 2016 as he continues to hones his already substantial journalism skills.

nickNICK PALMISCIANO — FOUNDER, CEO, RANGER UP!

After serving as an Army infantry officer, Nick Palmisciano came up with the idea of creating a military-focused clothing company while earning his MBA at Duke University. He founded Ranger Up! in 2006, and since that time he has led the way in leveraging the power of user-generated content and social media to create a brand that is as much identity as apparel to the company’s loyal consumer base. Nick also walked the walk by deliberately hiring veterans to staff Ranger Up!. Watch for his star to rise this year with the release of “Range 15” — an independent horror-comedy produced in collaboration with fellow military apparel company Article 15 — hitting theaters in May.

mat_bestMAT BEST — PRESIDENT, ARTICLE 15 CLOTHING

Article 15‘s motto is “hooligans with a dream,” and that atmosphere permeates all of the company’s products and productions. Mat Best brought the same attributes that made him an effective warfighter to the marketplace and those have made him a successful entrepreneur, but even more important to the military community is how his unapologetic brio has shaped attitudes around the veteran experience. Mat and his posse are the antithesis of the “vets as victims” narrative; these guys live life on their terms and that lesson has been prescriptive for legions of their peers looking for fun and meaningful ways to contribute at every level. Mat has meteoric impact potential this year as the star of the movie “Range 15,” which Article 15 co-created with Ranger Up!.

Craig-MullaneyCRAIG MULLANEY — STRATEGIC PARTNER MANAGER, FACEBOOK

After graduating West Point and studying as a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University, Craig Mullaney served in the Army for 8 years as an infantry officer, including a combat tour in Afghanistan. After he got out he was on the national security policy staff of President Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. He also served as the Pentagon’s Principal Director for Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia Policy and later on the Development Innovation Ventures team at the U.S. Agency for International Development. He is the author of the 2009 New York Times bestseller The Unforgiving Minute: A Soldier’s Education. This year he’ll continue his influence in his role as strategic partnerships manager at Facebook, and among his duties is convincing global influencers and business executives to maintain personal Facebook pages.

david_choDAVID CHO — CO-FOUNDER, SOKO GLAM

This West Pointer and infantry officer took his Columbia MBA and joined his wife in the cosmetics business. Their company, SoKo Glam, specializes in introducing Western customers to Korean cosmetics, beauty trends, and skincare regimens. David’s wife Charlotte scours the market for the best deals to bring to the U.S. while he handles the details around the business including biz dev and accounting. Together they have built SoKo Glam into an international player in a very short time. SoKo Glam also contributes to the veteran community by donating over 40 percent of profits to the USO.

279280-largeSARAH FORD — FOUNDER, RANCH ROAD BOOTS

Texas born and bred, Sarah Ford was a Marine Corps logistics officer who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. After leaving active duty she received her MBA from Harvard and used that knowledge (along with a Kickstarter campaign) to launch Ranch Road Boots, a company founded on, as their website states, “love—for freedom, West Texas and a hell-bent determination to craft good-looking, well-made footwear.” Sarah continues to honor the branch in which she served; Ranch Road Boots donates a portion of all sales to theInjured Marine Semper Fi Fund.

taylor_justiceTAYLOR JUSTICE — CO-FOUNDER AND CHIEF BUSINESS OFFICER, UNITE US

Taylor Justice honed the grit he now brings to the business world during his days on the football team at West Point. Along with co-founder Dan Brillman, an Air Force tanker pilot, he’s created software that helps organizations to navigate the “Sea of Good Will,” the 40,000 organizations dedicated to helping veterans that have historically presented a challenge because of their sheer number and dizzying overlap. The Unite US site uses what the company describes as “interactive, proximity-mapping technology” to match vets to the services they need — sort of like Yelp for the military dot-org ecosystem. As the Sea of Good Will continues to grow in 2016, the demand on Unite US’s expertise is sure to increase.

Robert_A._McDonald_Official_PortraitBOB MCDONALD — SECRETARY OF VETERANS AFFAIRS

This year Secretary McDonald continued his attempts to leverage his successes in the private sector to solve the daunting problems facing the VA. As he promised at the outset of his tenure he has remained very visible, even going so far as to broadcast his cell phone number to large crowds during his speaking engagements. In 2016 watch for his leadership to be focused on the West Los Angeles VA campus where a recent settlement in favor of improving veteran healthcare in the region has introduced as many challenges as it has created the potential for real change across the entire agency. (For more on that issue check out vatherightway.org.)

MV5BMjEyMzE5NDkzM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjkzNDE4NTE@._V1_UY317_CR72,0,214,317_AL_MARTY SKOVLUND — FREELANCE WRITER AND FILM PRODUCER

Marty Skovlund has made his mark in media by bridging the gap between compelling content and deserving veteran causes. His company, Blackside Concepts, spawned six subsidiary brands — all high impact — in only three years. The sale of Blackside in 2015 has freed him to focus on his third book and various film and video projects, including a show idea that involves veteran teams racing across the world for charity. With the luxury of bandwidth, watch for this talented former Ranger to continue to build his portfolio in 2016.

blake_hallBLAKE HALL — CEO, ID.ME

Blake Hall’s company, ID.me, first came to light among the military community as an easy way for veterans to verify their status to obtain discounts and services, but his ambitions live well beyond that utility. “We want to become an inseparable part of Internet identity,” Hall told The Washington Business Journal last spring. His strategy focuses on the twin prongs of identity: portability and acceptance, and if he continues his path of cracking those codes, ID.me has the potential to be ubiquitous in e-commerce, national security, and inter-agency coordination in 2016.

RELATED: Blake Hall guest appearance on 3 Vets Walk Into A Bar ‘Can ISIS be stopped?’ episode

jim_murphyJIM MURPHY — FOUNDER AND CEO, INVICTA CHALLENGE

After serving as a Marine Corps infantry officer in Iraq, Jim Murphy earned his MBA at the University of Southern California. During his studies he interned at Mattel, and that exposure sparked an idea. TheInvicta Challengecombines online gaming, action figures, flash cards, and graphic novels to create a one-of-a-kind learning experience. The prototype, called “Flash & Thunder,” profiles Turner Turnbull’s actions on D-Day, but it’s not just a history lesson. It’s an interactive leadership challenge that brings history to life. While the Invicta Challenge is a natural for school-aged audiences, its unique presentation could also prove effective around military centers of excellence. With more games in the hopper, 2016 could be a year where Jim shifts into the next gear.

Jared_LyonJARED LYON — CHIEF DEVELOPMENT OFFICER, STUDENT VETERANS OF AMERICA

Jared Lyon went from a life beneath the waves as a Navy submariner and diver to a life of the mind as a student and academic. In the process of making that transition he became an ambassador for other student veterans. While the Post-9/11 GI Bill is arguably the best military benefit in history, trying to use it can present roadblocks — both academic and environmental — that can keep qualified veterans from earning their degrees. As Jared enters his second year on SVA‘s professional staff watch for him to continue to make life easier for those who’ve followed him back to school.

14388721TYLER MERRITT — CO-FOUNDER, NINE LINE APPAREL

Tyler Merritt founded Nine Line Apparel with his brother Daniel, also a former Army officer. From the start Savannah-based Nine Line was built with a specific purpose in mind, as expressed in the company’s mission statement: “It’s about being proud of who you are, what you wear, and how you walk through life . . . We don’t apologize for our love of country. We are America’s next greatest generation.” After one of Tyler’s West Point classmates lost three limbs fighting in Afghanistan in 2013, Nine Line added a foundation that gives a portion of proceeds to severely wounded veterans and their families.

portrait_amberAMBER SCHLEUNING — DEPUTY DIRECTOR, VA CENTER FOR INNOVATION

After five years and multiple tours to Iraq as an Army Engineer focused on counter-IED ops, Amber Schleuning returned to school to study post-conflict mental health. She’s held a wide variety of consulting and advisory roles with both public and private organizations including the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict andCOMMIT Foundation. As VACI‘s Deputy Director, Amber is in charge of building a portfolio of partnerships with creative, innovative, and disruptive organizations to ensure effective services are available to veterans.

nate-boyer-800NATE BOYER — PHILANTHROPIST, MEDIA PERSONALITY

After multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan as a Green Beret, Nate Boyer left active duty in 2012 and made the unorthodox move of returning to college to play football. His success as the Texas Longhorn’s long snapper led to a pre-season bid with the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks. Although he was ultimately released by the team, the exposure helped him with other elements of his Renaissance Man portfolio, specificallyWaterboys.org, a not-for-profit dedicated to providing clean drinking water to remote regions of Africa. This year Nate is poised to increase his impact with “MVP,” an organization formed with Fox Sports personality Jay Glazer that partners professional athletes with special operators to deal with the common challenges of career transition.

bradharrisonBRAD HARRISON — FOUNDER AND MANAGING PARTNER, SCOUT VENTURES

The same drive that got Brad Harrison through Airborne School and earned him his Ranger tab has served him well in the private sector. After honing his tech chops while working as AOL’s Director of Media Strategy and Development, he pivoted into the venture capital space where he’s been able to use his passion for technology, media, entertainment and lifestyle to assist fledgling businesses. His company, Scout Ventures, has quickly blossomed into one of the premier angel-to-institutional investment firms in New York.

execs_brad2BRAD HUNSTABLE — FOUNDER AND CEO, USTREAM

Brad Hunstable started Ustream in 2007 to connect service members to family and friends, but his vision has grown since then to include everybody, everywhere. Ustream is now the largest platform for enterprise and media video in the world with clients including Facebook, NBC, Cisco, Sony, Intuit, NASA and Salesforce. Ustream’s product suite is evidence of a company that intends to be a tool for both broadcast networks and citizen journalists. As more and more organization turn to video for effective impact, look for this West Pointer’s company to grow even more in 2016.

BfhMNnACUAAAq9yJESSE IWUJI — PROFESSIONAL RACECAR DRIVER

Jesse Iwuji started racing cars on a whim during his last semester as a midshipman at the Naval Academy, once Division I football was over for good. Since that time he’s moved up the ranks of American stock car racing, balancing time commitments at the track and juggling sponsors with his duties as a Navy surface warfare officer. Most recently he’s partnered with the Phoenix Patriot Foundation. “We dedicate each race weekend to a wounded veteran and his family,” he said. Jesse plans on getting out of the Navy at the end of his current tour to pursue bigger things as a NASCAR driver. He hopes to move up to the K&N Pro Series soon, driving a bigger car in front of bigger crowds. After that he wants to make it to the Xfinity series and, finally, the Sprint Cup.

RELATED: Navy officer feels the need for NASCAR speed

Even_HaferEVAN HAFER — CEO, BLACK RIFLE COFFEE COMPANY

Evan Hafer always cared about a good cup of coffee regardless of where his Army duties took him, even when serving with the Green Beret in a variety of hostile regions. He founded Black Rifle Coffee — a “small batch roasting” company — this year with a simple motto:  “Strong coffee for strong people.” In a commerce ecosystem known more for hipster baristas and progressive causes than unflinching patriotism and weapons expertise, BRCC is unique. (It’s doubtful any other coffee company would call a product “AK-47 Blend,” for instance.) BRCC’s attitude has caught on with the veteran audience; look for more warfighting grinds as well as a growing inventory of merchandize with a similar type-A tone in 2016.

imagesBRIAN STANN — PRESIDENT AND CEO, HIRE HEROES USA

Brian Stann has been labeled a “hero” in a couple of phases of his life, most notably when serving as a Marine Corps platoon leader in Iraq — actions that earned him the Silver Star — and winning titles as an ultimate fighter, including the WEC Light Heavyweight Championship in 2008. After announcing his retirement from the UFC in 2013 the Naval Academy alum assumed the role of President and CEO of Hire Heroes USA. Hire Heroes focuses on three different elements of the veteran hiring equation: empowering vets to find great jobs by building their confidence and skills, collaborating with military leaders and transition coordinators to build awareness of the company’s capabilities, and partnering with more than 200 companies, like Comcast and Deloitte, to find vets great jobs. This year Hire Heroes could emerge as the vet job board of choice as the company works to improve on its already impressive metric of 60 hires per week.

gockeJEREMY GOCKE — FOUNDER AND CEO, AMPSY

There are veterans who work in the tech sector, and then there are veterans like Jeremy Gocke who carve the leading edge of the tech sector. After getting an “Accelerator Finalist” nod at SXSW in 2014, the West Point grad and former Army Airborne officer founded Ampsy to slow the rate at which content falls into what he calls the “social media abyss.” Ampsy has a suite of social aggregation tools designed to improve a brand’s reach across the Twittersphere by solving what the company website calls “a major leakage problem in the customer acquisition and retention funnel.” Look for Jeremy to continue to stay ahead of the digital pack in 2016.

John_B_RogersJOHN B. ROGERS, JR. — CEO AND CO-FOUNDER, LOCAL MOTORS

Former Marine Corps infantry officer John B. Rogers, Jr.’s love of automobiles is only rivaled by his hatred of inefficient processes, which is why he created Local Motors, a company that uses Direct Digital Manufacturing (a.k.a. “3D printing”) to build cars. “Car manufacturers have been stamping parts the same way for more than 100 years,” he said. “We now have the technology to make the process and products better and faster by linking the online to the offline through DDM.” With the upcoming launch of the LM3D — the company’s first 3D printed car model — 2016 has the potential to be huge for Local Motors. Can you say “microfactory”?

Honorable mention:

DAKOTA MEYER — Never Outgunned, TIM KENNEDY — “Hunting Hitler,” JAKE WOODTeam Rubicon, MIKE DOWLINGvatherightway.org, ZACH ISCOL —Task&PurposeBRANDON YOUNG — Team RWB, MAURA SULLIVANDepartment of Defense PA

THE MIGHTY 25: VETERANS POISED FOR IMPACT IN 2016

Residential Real Estate Platform Nestio Lands A $8M Series A Round

This article was originally posted by TechCrunch and can be viewed here.

Nestio, the NY-based leasing and marketing platform for residential landlords, announced today that is has raised $8M in Series A funding.

The round was led by Trinity Ventures, and had participation from previous investors including Freestyle Capital, Joanne Wilson, and TechStars.

The platform, which originally launched as a tool for renters to find apartments, has now grown into a full service tool for landlords and brokers, allowing them to manage inventory, track leads, and advertise listings – all while communicating in real-time with consumer-facing websites like Trulia and Zillow.

Impressively, Nestio is now is responsible for originating half of New York City’s rental listings, and has already generated over $20 million in additional revenue for clients. While still just live in NYC, the company plans to use this new funding to expand to Boston, Chicago, Miami, and Washington, D.C.

Caren Maio, cofounder and CEO of Nestio, explained that these cities were chosen because current NYC customers own property in these cities, and have been asking to use the product at their other rental properties. By having customers onboard in these new cities from day 1, the company should have a head start as it begins its nationwide expansion.

Beyond expansion, the new funding will also be used to develop Nestio’s product roadmap as well as bulk up the sales, marketing, and engineering teams.

The company also announced that they are bringing on Scott Wolfgang, formerly of Quotidian Ventures (and former Hootsuite board member) as CFO.

Residential Real Estate Platform Nestio Lands A $8M Series A Round