Fresh Capital

Collaborative Fund Pulls a Yuri, Offers Blanket Investment in All Brooklyn Beta Startups

Collaborative Fund Brooklyn Beta

“It’s a similar approach to Ron Conway and Yuri Milner’s deal with Y Combinator,” Collaborative Fund founder Craig Shapiro told Betabeat this afternoon, on his way to a board meeting. Mr. Shapiro, whose firm has invested in Kickstarter, Simple, TaskRabbit, and Codecademy, was referring to the blanket investment Collaborative Fund just announced–offering $50,000 a piece in all five of the startups to come out of Brooklyn Beta‘s “Summer Camp,” an incubator of sorts.

(Last January, Mr. Milner and Mr. Conway launched the Start Fund to plunk $150,000 into every new Y Combinator startup.) Read More

Funds and Fundability

Collaborative Fund Nabs Three New Investors and Partners With Code for America

collaborative img

Los Angeles-based Collaborative Fund, the socially-minded seed stage fund, has been ramping up in New York for about a year. Skillshare’s Mike Karnjanaprakorn is an advisor, while analyst Sebastien Park is CEO Craig Shapiro’s right-hand man. Now the fund is announcing three new investors, including Meetup’s CEO Scott Heiferman and RecycleBank cofounder Ron Gonen in New York as well as OpenTable cofounder Chuck Templeton in San Francisco.

“Right now we have no institutional capital invested in the fund, only exceptional individuals,” Mr. Shapiro said in an email. “I believe this allows us to be more agile and aggressive in pursuing our mission.

“This fund is, in a sense, a lean startup; we’re entering into a new market and validating the idea with founders. I want to first prove that we have a brand and investment strategy that is correct and show that we can return significant capital before evaluating the idea of increasing the amount of capital we are investing.” Read More

Do It For Me

Brother, Can You Spare Some Time? Zaarly, TaskRabbit and the Rise of the Convenience Economy

Illustration by Oliver Munday

Chad Miller likes to think of running errands for strangers on TaskRabbit as a quasi-religious experience—or at least as close to spiritual as a gay former Southern Baptist from West Texas is likely to find in New York. Mr. Miller is a 38-year-old Columbia graduate who acts, writes and works full-time managing outreach for the university’s Arts Initiative. He signed up for TaskRabbit as his “tertiary job” in September, shortly after the Boston-based startup launched in New York.

“This is going to be incredibly gay as I’m saying it,” Mr. Miller laughed, “but it’s very hakuna matata, Disney-fied—you put it out there and you get a little back. The karma piece is really nice.”

Along with a bumper crop of like-minded companies, such as Zaarly, Fancy Hands and Agent Anything, that have entered the New York market in the past year or so, TaskRabbit offers an updated play on Craigslist for the iPhone-era: buyers post the dirty work they want to get done and nearby “Rabbits” bid on the jobs. Service requests range from the sophisticated—“Motivate me to write a book :)” read a recent TaskRabbit request from Midtown—to the menial. “$50 for a Massage,” a Zaarly user on the West Side posted in November. “General massage,” the ad elaborated, tersely, in the description. For the most part, however, Rabbits are asked to perform domestic drudgery: assembling Ikea furniture tops the list.

It’s easy to see why democratizing the personal assistant might do well in New York, a city largely unburdened by hang-ups about, say, paying $20 to avoid wasting time in a Laundromat, even when one’s budget barely permits it.

In the past three months, Mr. Miller has made a little over $2,000 on the kind of irksome chores overextended urbanites are eager to slough off on someone else, including driving strangers to JFK, waiting in line for hours to save someone’s seat for a Conan taping and lugging furniture to a fourth-floor walk-up. The money’s nice and all, but to hear Mr. Miller tell it, the appeal doesn’t sound far off from “Love thy neighbor.” Read More

Visiting Dignitaries

Craig Shapiro of Collaborative Fund and GOOD Talks BankSimple, Drudge Report, Socially-Conscious Investing, and the Start-Up He’d Most Like to See

Mr. Shapiro.

Craig Shapiro, former president of GOOD magazine and current CEO of the socially-conscious Collaborative Fund, has a place to leave his shoes in New York now. Collaborative is invested in multiple start-ups in the city, including Kickstarter, BankSimple, and SkillShare, and its New York connection is getting stronger–SkillShare founder Mike Karnjanaprakorn recently announced he’d been brought on as a venture adviser. Collaborative is on the verge of hiring its second New York employee, a junior scout sort of position, which Mr. Shapiro says he’ll announce in about two weeks.

There’s some history there, too–Mr. Shapiro learned much of what he knows about start-up investing from Josh Kushner of Thrive Capital. He also invested in New York-based Give Real (alongside early Facebook investor Eduardo Saverin) which attempted peer-to-peer ecommerce on social platforms; it flopped, much to Mr. Shapiro’s dismay.

“I really loved that idea,” he said wistfully over tea at an open-air cafe on Prince St., where Betabeat met with him yesterday morning, where he riffed, at our request, on design, investing and changing the world. Read More

Funds and Fundability

Do GOOD, Make Returns: Collaborative Fund Ramps Up in New York

michael karnjanaprakorn

Idealistic New York entrepreneurs take notice: Collaborative Fund, the socially-minded seed stage fund started late last year by Craig Shapiro, former president at GOOD Worldwide, is ramping up its New York presence. Michael Karnjanaprakorn, co-founder of Collaborative Fund-funded Skillshare, just announced he’s officially advising and scouting for the fund in a role similar to what Chris Poole does for Lerer Ventures and Zach Klein does for Founder Collective. Read More