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RenoFi brings next-generation renovation loans through a new fintech platform

It’s been called the HGTV effect, but now more than ever, homeowners have become emboldened renovators. After buying his first home, Justin Goldman, Co-Founder, and CEO of RenoFi, quickly realized that purchasing a home is no longer the end all — it’s merely the first step in the homeowner’s journey.

The inspiration behind RenoFi

Not long after purchasing his first home and deciding to remodel, Goldman’s renovation project became stagnant due to a lack of loan options available. At the time, it seemed the only way to finance your home renovation was through a cash-out refi or a home equity loan. But these loans require that you have equity to tap, which can take a decade for recent homeowners to build up. With his entrepreneurial mindset, Goldman realized an anomaly in the market: Americans finance nearly every major expenditure in their life, except renovations.

“Every other major purchase in our life has a purpose-built financial tool that goes along with it. You buy a car; you get a car loan. You go to medical school, you get a med school loan, you buy a house you get a mortgage. But when it comes to major home renovations, most people use cash, and our thesis is it’s because there’s no purpose-built financial product for it,” said Goldman.

That’s when RenoFi Loans were born. Goldman created a solution that bases the loan on the after-renovation value instead of the home’s current value. This made it possible to increase borrowing power by more than 3x, allowing users to tackle their whole renovation wish-list at once, at the lowest possible cost.

RenoFi is not a lender, but rather a fintech platform that partners with lenders to make it possible for them to offer the next generation of renovation loans.

The company has partnered with lenders like Ardent Credit Union in Philadelphia, to help homeowners borrow the right amount of money at the lowest possible rate for their home renovations. “RenoFi enables us to fill a need that isn’t being met with traditional home improvement financing options,” said Rob Werner, President & CEO of Ardent Credit Union

Helping homeowners navigate the new normal

Goldman saw more demand for RenoFi Loans in May than any other month in the company’s history. He assumes it’s because people have been sheltering in place with plenty of time to identify the things they want to change in their homes. Additionally, with the work from home movement exploding, many are considering a move to the suburbs to ensure they have the space necessary to work from home comfortably. These new suburban home purchases will be homes formerly owned by aging baby boomers likely in need of some renovation love.

Goldman believes RenoFi is well-positioned to help homeowners, contractors, loan originators, and realtors in this new normal. He realizes that people are going to want to hold onto their savings during the recession, and RenoFi’s access to financing gives them that option.

AFTER photo (right) designed by Naomi Stein and photographed by Raquel Langworthy

Advice for Entrepreneurs

RenoFi was co-founded by Goldman, Robert Shedd, and Lee Miller. As an entrepreneur and repeat-founder, Goldman has led multiple companies through challenging times and learned many lessons along the way. He started his first company, OrderUp, in college during the early years of the internet. The company, which was later acquired by Groupon, taught him how critical it is to build something special that people truly need. He then went on to start BetDash.com and Zoomer (YCombinator S14) with Shedd.

When it comes to looking for capital, Goldman partners with investors who understand what is needed at different stages of growth and has the resources and relationships to provide hands-on help throughout the journey. “Sam Landman from Comcast Ventures is someone we actually met when fundraising for our previous startup. During the ideation phase, Sam was someone we leaned on for feedback and he helped us shape the idea even before he invested. It goes to show how important it is to build and maintain relationships which is something first-time founders sometimes have trouble grasping.”

In our Founder Spotlight series, entrepreneurs from our portfolio companies share insights about the problems they’re working to solve, tips on how to build new companies, and valuable advice to new entrepreneurs.


RenoFi brings next-generation renovation loans through a new fintech platform was originally published in The Forecast on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Players on Pause: How to Keep High-Performance Teams Motivated

Andre Iguodala shares insight on how team members can stay focused during the COVID-19 shutdown.

By Andre Iguodala, Venture Partner at Comcast Ventures’ Catalyst Fund

On March 11, I didn’t even have a chance to get out of my uniform, before hearing the basketball season was suspended. Within hours, I was coordinating travel to be with my family, learning how to set up teammates for remote conditioning, and working with fellow investors at Comcast Ventures as we assessed how to help our portfolio companies respond to the COVID-19 crisis. Over the next several weeks, I’ve been able to experience what it takes to keep high-performance teams motivated. It’s about fostering the right culture of camaraderie and embracing the process, which starts with being in the right state of mind.

Mindfulness From the Very Start

Right now, most “high performers” are concerned with the uncertainty of their future — not being able to predict wins or losses regardless of how highly skilled they are. During this time, the only thing we can control is ourselves, more specifically our state of mind. It drives everything around us, including our home environment, digital interactions, and decisions. So much of our stress comes from wanting this moment to be something other than what it is, instead of just embracing it for exactly what it is. By instituting daily practices to solidify a mindful approach, we will all be clear-headed and ready to perform when it’s game time again and businesses around the globe start to open back up.

My team holds Zoom workouts five days a week. At the beginning of each session, we meditate for five minutes to become centered. We acknowledge and appreciate the opportunity of simply being there, and we set the mood. Through deep breaths, we calm our minds and bring back focus. Our virtual workouts are a mix of pilates, yoga, biking, and other drills. Even though we are not physically together, we are all alert and connected.

Our present reality draws similarities to a team facing tough times. Think of a team midway through a season with wins that are few and far between. The team has to muster up the mental fortitude to accept that another loss may be inevitable. And yet, you must continue to show up. So you ask yourself, how does one stay motivated and upbeat through turmoil? I’ve been in this situation more than once in my career, and as I look back I’m actually thankful for the insight I gained through those tough times. Here’s what I learned and what I’m doing today:

  • Get the most out of myself and those around me
  • Don’t let noise be a distraction
  • Embrace being in an underdog position and let the hunger prove to myself and the team that we can still win

If losing is still what ends up being the outcome, then so be it. With the appropriate mental framework, a loss isn’t a loss, it’s a lesson.

Culture of Winning and Camaraderie

The thing players who retire or leave the game miss the most is camaraderie. They miss their teams, the shared bus rides, the grueling practices. During the COVID-19 shutdowns, digital businesses can carry on with remote work, but that’s not the same for professional athletic teams — we require physical proximity. The restrictions are forcing us to come up with creative ways to build a strong remote team culture and camaraderie. It starts with structure and a routine where everyone’s individual circumstance is taken into consideration.

Some of our players didn’t have home workout gear or hoops at home. We had to make sure everyone could participate in virtual workouts, sending weights, bands, and even basketball hoops out to players. At the same time every day, no matter the time zone, we are all committed to joining a virtual workout where we see each other on video. We challenge each other, talk a bit of smack as we would in person, and stay engaged as a team. Even without the physical courts, “work” remains a place of fierce competitive passion. We continue to work with the same fire and intention to win. I see this with hospitals and healthcare workers. I see this in many startups and neighborhood small businesses determined to make it through.

Managers of high performing teams need to ask themselves –

  • Do my teammates have the right equipment at home to succeed?
  • Do they have family obligations we need to consider?
  • Does anyone need extra support?
  • Do we have all the structures in place to ensure we succeed together?”

The Warriors were a prime example of what foundational culture can achieve. All the top talent wanted the opportunity to be a part of that culture because, in the end, we all want to do what we love to do and be rewarded for it. The culture we built allowed us to withstand the toughest times.

Play the Long Game and Enjoy the Process

Business people are used to operating in environments where they get feedback and results quickly, especially in tech. Milestones, product launches, winning customer deals… growth happens on a quarterly cadence, if not monthly, and under the scrutiny of customers, investors, and advisors. But, sports are not like that. It’s a grind. Success takes years. Nobody turns around a team that is in the midst of a crisis in two quarters. Kobe would say that all he focused on was the process. There are so many debates about how and when the world will recover from the impacts of the pandemic — it’s going to be a grind — we all need to find the motivation and vision to play the long game here and even joy in the process that lies ahead.

A key part of making progress is in setting forth a plan. Use this ‘break’ in routine to find balance and assess what’s important in life. It’s interesting to see how my fellow athletes are thinking differently about their lives and about their future. They are adjusting financially and taking this time to learn how the business of basketball works. They are thinking about management and investing. They are learning about different sectors beyond the game including media, technology, real estate, and more. Many players don’t think about life outside of basketball until later in their careers. The COVID-19 ‘break’ from the game is forcing players to think about other interests, strengths, and opportunities. I’m working on this myself. I have 2 kids in the house, I create a schedule where I am with the kids for a couple of hours, and then focus on basketball and training while making sure I join meetings with the investing team at Comcast Ventures, where I serve as a Venture Partner on the Catalyst Fund.

The days can feel never-ending as they blend into each other. Do what you need to do in order to internalize this process. One of the things that really helps me adapt is journaling. I put pen to paper, which I haven’t done since college — I know I’m dating myself — but writing helps me focus on a pattern of activity to reach short and long term goals over time.

Being a professional athlete, one quickly accepts the fact that tough times are the norm. Media scrutiny, egos, team continuity, personal identity (at the end of one’s career) — all play a role in the constant battle of finding true mental and physical balance. The current COVID-19 pandemic is forcing us to compete harder than many of us ever have — not toward an end score, but for that balance that builds strength as individuals and as high performing teams.

On April 16th, Comcast Ventures’ Forecast Labs held a Town Hall for our founders. The recording of “Keeping High-Performance Teams Motivated During the COVID-19 Recovery” is now available on the Forecast Labs content page.


Players on Pause: How to Keep High-Performance Teams Motivated was originally published in The Forecast on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Leading Through a Crisis: A Practical Guide for Founders

Fatima Husain is a Principal Investor at Comcast Ventures and Catalyst Fund

As COVID-19 swept over the startup landscape, early-stage investor Fatima Husain spent hours on calls with first-time founders, veteran entrepreneurs, and large tech company executives. The result is a practical guide for founders stabilizing companies and preparing for the next two years.

Listed below are the three main areas that have been top of mind for leaders as they adapt to the new normal, operate with integrity, and find opportunities to succeed: Over Index on Trust. Prepare for the Worst. Focus on What you Can Control.

Trust is foundational and communication is key

Successful companies are built on trust. Over-communicate and share information proactively with stakeholders: your team, users, and investors. Create an environment that promotes the sharing of ideas and makes people feel safe and welcomed to speak up.

Ikrima Elhassan, Kite & Lightning Co-Founder & CEO

“The best advice I received is that hearing ‘I don’t know’ can be more comforting than hearing educated guesses at this time. Internally, we are over-indexing on radical candor in team-wide discussions, doing 360s of the business, and providing frequent updates as the situation develops to all stakeholders. While it’s obvious how important it is to take care of your team, don’t forget that everyone has a spouse, parent, or child who might be severely impacted. So anticipate, respect, and prepare for those second-order effects.” — Ikrima Elhassan, Co-Founder & CEO, Kite & Lightning

Model the ‘worst’ case scenario

Understand your macro-level market scenarios, translate that to revenue impact and decline, and stress test your balance sheet. It is critical to understand the absolute worst-case scenario — and for some companies that may mean 0% expected revenue for the next few months. Make sure to model for 24 months of runway (or the maximum possible) as we are going to see further market corrections and changes to consumer behaviors.

Decide on your contingency plans: start with what needs to be paused, followed by what opportunities can be created. If workstreams are paused, make sure to tell your team why and explain how resources can be reallocated. If layoffs are inevitable, treat those impacted with the care and respect they need. And remember to provide those remaining on the team, the motivation and guidance needed to succeed.

Stabilize to the ‘New Normal’ and Focus on What You Can Control

Now is the time to build enduring capabilities. Adjust the team’s focus, business plans, and operations to reflect the new reality. Work with your organization’s leaders and advisors to re-assess (and if needed, radically change) your 2020 strategy and product roadmaps. It is important at this time to double down on what you can control — and that does not need to be, nor should it be restricted to defensive actions alone — find opportunities for offense. Are there ideas or pivots you have thought about but not had the bandwidth to explore? Now may be a good time to pause, look back, and take stock of current and future opportunities for the success of your business.

Sarah Paiji Yoo, Blueland Co-Founder & CEO

“Given we sell hand soap and cleaning products, we are in the small minority of businesses that have seen an increase in demand. In order to meet this unexpected growth and service our customers in a timely manner, we have shifted much of our marketing team over to fulfillment and customer service. Everyone is in an all-hands-on-deck mode, willing to wear widely different hats for the time being. And despite this increase in pressure on our operations, we have decided to take steps to slow down e.g., instituting split shifts in our warehouses to keep our teams safe and de-risk longer-term disruptions.” — Sarah Paiji, Co-Founder & CEO, Blueland

Having a framework and examples of how others are approaching these difficult challenges today can help us make strides in the right direction. For more leader quotes and advice, read the full article on Linkedin.


Leading Through a Crisis: A Practical Guide for Founders was originally published in The Forecast on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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COVID-19 Resources and Tools

Comcast Ventures’ portfolio companies respond to the needs of consumers and businesses during the COVID-19 crisis

Start-up founders and their teams are known to move fast, forge partnerships, and tap unlimited creativity to do what they do best — solve problems. Their commitment to building technology and offering services and products that improve the way we work and live is more important now than ever before. Here are some ways our portfolio companies are responding to COVID-19.

Promoting Health and Wellness

K Health is a medical app using AI to give immediate answers to health questions and access to primary care. The company is offering 14-days of free access to consult with U.S. doctors in addition to a risk assessment and information about testing centers near you. Use this link and code: COVID19.

Shine is an award-winning app created for people with anxiety and depression. Since coronavirus started to take over the headlines, the founders noticed an influx of users engaging in anxiety-related content. In response, and in partnership with Mental Health America, Shine launched a free, responsive destination for people to take care of their mental health during the coronavirus pandemic. Join hundreds of thousands of people already visiting Virusanxiety.com.

Supporting Small Businesses

https://medium.com/media/8b8c26b705948e93d675aa87366c48ab/href

Camino Financial expects COVID-19 to hit small businesses hard. The team is meeting with business owners to help them face short and long-term challenges by assessing financial stability, providing access to bridge loans, and giving expert advice. The company’s motto is — “No Business Left Behind.” Resource links can be found in this CEO Community Letter

Lendio is the largest small business loan marketplace in the U.S. and is seeing a record volume of businesses seeking loans during the COVID-19 crisis. In the week following the World Health Organization’s declaration of the coronavirus pandemic, small business owners requested more than $1.6 billion in capital through the Lendio platform alone. The Lendio blog highlights important information here: “Everything you need to know about SBA COVID-19 loans”

SevenRooms is a data-driven hospitality platform that combines operations, marketing and guest engagement tools to help operators maximize profits, build brand loyalty, and enable personalized guest experiences. With so many restaurants navigating mandated closures, SevenRooms is offering a direct digital ordering solution for delivery and pick-up orders called Direct Delivery. For 90 days, restaurants can use the technology platform for free to generate revenue, increase profit per order, and boost order frequency: SevenRooms Direct Delivery

Providing Services to Communities in Need

Because Market offers direct-to-consumer bladder protection and personal care products for older adults. The risk of serious complications and death from COVID-19 is higher in older age groups, and several states have called on millions of older adults to stay at home. Because Market is making it easier for those at-risk to avoid busy stores with bare shelves by providing bladder protection products in addition to hand sanitizers and wipes. The team is offering a free trial. Visit becausemarket.com or call (855) 231–4448.

Blueland creates direct-to-consumer, eco-friendly cleaning products and soaps that help reduce plastic waste. The company has seen an increase in sales in recent weeks. For effective removal of bacteria and viruses, here’s Blueland’s advice.

Do I Need To Use Antibacterial Or Disinfectant Cleaning Products?

Hippo Insurance brings homeowners closer to a modern home insurance experience with an efficient online purchase experience using trusted data sources, a smart home device kit included with every policy, and more coverage for possessions like electronics and home offices. Hippo believes in bringing together home wellness with its home insurance for even more protective benefits for today’s homeowners. The team has created a comprehensive online toolbox focused on helping people maintain a healthy, functioning home during recent COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders: coronahomecare.com.

Nextdoor is a local hub for neighbors to communicate and help one another. In March, Nextdoor’s engagement grew with global daily active members increasing more than 80% month over month. The company launched two new features to make it easier to ask for help, find neighbors in need, and organize volunteers: Nextdoor Help Map and Groups

Nextdoor Groups and Help Map

Promoting Financial Security

Acorns encourages financial wellness by giving consumers an easy-to-use way to set aside and invest spare money. The Acorns team is providing answers to questions about how to strategically save or invest during this period of market volatility. Find insight into topics like navigating unemployment benefits to knowing risks of selling stocks here: The Grow Acorns Blog

Quantifind is a data science company focused on financial crimes applications. Their machine learning platform is able to detect a rise in fraud, scams, and ensuing money laundering as the COVID-19 crisis escalates. The Quantifind team is offering the use of its Batch API for free to financial institutions, allowing them to triage daily alerts and focus resources where there is the highest risk. Read more about it on Quantifind’s blog.

Helping us Stay Productive

How To Use Hive To Work From Home, Quarantine | Hive

Hive is a project management and workplace productivity solution. As people move from the office to the home, Hive has seen a 74% increase in use of its platform in cities hardest hit by COVID-19. The team is providing information on how to streamline emails and run efficient remote meetings as well as offering 2 months of service for free to the CV community. Reach out to peyton.zere@hive.com.

Modsy is an online design platform that takes photos of your space and creates 3D digital renderings that consumers can actually shop from. With many offices closed and workers trying to balance work and home life, Modsy has created blogs on topics like setting up a home office to ways to be productive while working from home. The team is offering the CV community 15% off design packages with this code: COMCAST15

Keeping us Informed

dot.LA is a tech-focused media site providing news to entrepreneurs in the Los Angeles area. In addition to its tech focus, Dot.LA is now offering continuous coverage on the coronavirus pandemic. Its reporters are following the latest health reports, government orders, and what local companies are doing to help those impacted by the virus. Read dot.LA for free.

Tape provides video-over-sms technology. Since the coronavirus outbreak, Tape has seen a 10x increase in use. The team is helping universities, political campaigns, churches, and organizations get face-to-face information out quickly and safely during the COVID-19 crisis. Tape is providing a video library of coronavirus tips and offering free use of the platform for public health announcements: TryTape CoronaSupport

Comcast Ventures is a venture capital firm with a 20-year history investing in consumer, enterprise, and frontier technology companies. We are all in this together — helping people, businesses, and communities survive and soon thrive during this unprecedented time.


COVID-19 Resources and Tools was originally published in The Forecast on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Startup Battlefield bonus: Application deadline extended one week

This one goes out to all the early-stage startup founders. Whether you’re overwhelmed by the state of the world, overworked — or procrastination is simply an intrinsic part of your DNA — it matters not. Here’s reason to smile. We’re giving you an extra week to apply to compete in Startup Battlefield during Disrupt 2020. Fill out your application before the new deadline expires on June 26 at 11:59 pm (PT).

This is your moment to grab a double fistful of opportunity and step into a global spotlight. The virtual Disrupt 2020 represents our largest viewing audience and our biggest launch platform ever — more investors, more media and more, well, everything. If you’re chosen to compete in our premier pitch-off, you’ll go up against some of the best early-stage startups around the world.

Here’s what’s at stake: Massive exposure that can — whether you win the battle or not — change the trajectory of your startup, a launch article on TC.com, a 6 week mini-training program with TC editorial, all the perks of a Digital Disrupt Digital Pro pass (and then some) and a shot at $100,000, the Disrupt cup and all the bragging rights.

You’re eligible to apply if your company is early stage, has an MVP with a tech component (software, hardware or platform) and hasn’t received much, if any, major media coverage. Note: TechCrunch does not charge any application or participation fees or take any equity. We accept founders from all backgrounds, geographies and industries.

Veteran TechCrunch Battlefield editors (such a picky bunch) review every application and select startups that meet their discerning standards for innovation and growth potential. The virtual competition takes place during Disrupt 2020, which runs from Sept. 14 – 18.

Feel that flop sweat building up? Don’t stress. All competing founders receive weeks of free expert coaching from TechCrunch. Your pitch, demo and business model will shine like never before on game day.

Startup Battlefield consists of two rounds. Each team has six minutes to pitch and demo to our panel of TC editors, expert VCs and top entrepreneurs. Each team also faces a six-minute Q&A. Out of the original cohort, a handful of teams will move to the finals — on the last day of Disrupt — and pitch again to a new set of judges. They’ll choose one team to take home the title, the cup and the $100,000 prize.

Let’s take a peek at what other opportunities Battlefield competitors enjoy.

  • Exhibit in Digital Startup Alley and demo your product to hundreds of people
  • Network with CrunchMatch, our AI-powered platform. Use it to set up virtual 1:1 meetings with investors, media, potential customers or any other startup influencers
  • Exclusive access to Leading Voices Webinars: Hear top industry minds share their strategies for adapting and thriving during and after the pandemic
  • A launch article featuring your startup on TechCrunch.com
  • A YouTube video promoted on TechCrunch.com
  • Free subscription to Extra Crunch
  • Free passes to future TechCrunch events

You’ll also join the likes of Vurb, Dropbox, GetAround, Mint, Yammer, Fitbit and other members of the Startup Battlefield Alumni community. This impressive group, comprised (so far) of 902 companies, has collectively raised $9 billion and generated 115 exits.

Rejoice, you have one extra week to apply to compete in Startup Battlefield at Disrupt 2020. The new deadline expires on June 26 at 11:59 pm (PT). Don’t wait another minute. Make the most of this extended opportunity.

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at Disrupt 2020? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

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How TOMS Shoes Founder Rebalanced Life and Work

June 11, 2020

For more than 20 years, TOMS Shoes founder Blake Mycoskie has built and sold successful companies. But it was a recent battle with depression that led him to reevaluate his priorities and, ultimately, create a new company. Now his latest startup, Madefor, harnesses his personal awakening to a science-backed approach to creating habits that reinforce wellness.

Later in the show, we talk with Samara O’Shea, author of “For the Love of Letters” and “Note to Self,” about the value of renewing the lost art of writing letters.

Want to explore more of the world of FOMO Sapiens? Follow Patrick McGinnis: FacebookLinkedInInstagramTwitter. Download the free FOMO Sapiens Handbook and more at www.patrickmcginnis.com.

HBR Presents is a network of podcasts curated by HBR editors, bringing you the best business ideas from the leading minds in management. The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Harvard Business Review or its affiliates.

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