Roundup: News from Everpath, Haiku Deck, Planetary Resources & More
No IPOs or blockbuster funding rounds so far this week, but check out some interesting tidbits from Techstars grads Everpath and Haiku Deck; Planetary Resources; Portland-based startup Househappy; and more.
—Everpath, a 2013 Techstars Seattle company making an online education platform, raised $950,000 from angel investors in Seattle and the Bay Area. The startup is targeting independent instructors in areas such as business coaching and technology training. “Right now, instructors are building their own platforms, or being forced to offer their courses on marketplaces that dilute their brand,” cofounder and CEO Sandi Lin says in a statement. “Everpath’s solution enables instructors to integrate video instruction into their own website, retain ownership over their content, charge for access, and develop direct relationships with their students.” Dave Schappell, director of business development at Amazon Web Services, introduced the company—whose founders are former Amazon employees—at Techstars Demo Day in October and said he is investing, as is Dan Shapiro.
—Seattle startup Haiku Deck‘s alternative to PowerPoint has been successful as an iPad app, with more than 800,000 downloads since launching in August 2012. Now the company is delivering its software—which allows people to make quick, photo-heavy presentations—to a larger audience with a free Web app. The company is rolling out a private beta version that it says works on any device with a browser. Haiku Deck, which went through Techstars in 2010, raised $3 million last spring from investors including Trilogy Partnership, Madrona Venture Group, and Founder’s Co-op. Check out this profile of the company in which I described Haiku Deck’s offices as “dorm room-like.” The company has been growing and has new, more spacious digs in Fremont.
—After raising more than $1.5 million on Kickstarter for what it calls the world’s first crowd-funded space telescope, Planetary Resources, the Bellevue-based company that wants to mine asteroids, is teaming up with NASA to tap the crowd on an effort to spot near-Earth objects. Under an agreement with the space agency, Planetary Resources says it will “design and implement crowdsourcing algorithm challenges” aimed at detecting potentially hazardous asteroids in space. The company says it will help make sky survey data available online, and support contests developed and managed by NASA to encourage citizens to participate in this effort.
—Mark your calendar: the Boao Forum for Asia, a major economic confab, will be held in Seattle next year, marking the first time the gathering of government, business, and academic leaders will take place in North America. The event is slated for Sept. 4-6, 2014, and about 400 delegates are expected to discuss “Innovation and Sustainable Development.” Sponsors include the Trade Development Alliance of Greater Seattle, the Washington State China Relations Council, and the US-China Clean Energy Forum. No word yet on who will be attending, but past speakers and participants include Chinese President Xi Jinping and Bill Gates.
—Househappy, a Portland startup building a photo-driven online real estate marketplace, has taken a $1.5 million Series A investment from Jeff Greenberg, an executive at Skechers, the footwear brand. Househappy is entering a crowded marketplace with some well-established players.
—In other online real estate news, Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff was named Ernst & Young National Entrepreneur of the Year in the services category. In a news release, Rascoff was recognized for “overcoming initial industry reluctance” to Zillow.