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POC-Founded Fintech Raises $1.8M In VC To Help The Food Truck Industry

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The global food truck market was $3.93 billion in 2020, according to Grand View Research. Three friends from Virginia Tech, Sofiat “Sofi” Abdulrazaaq, Lemaire Stewart, and Kyle Miller, are taking advantage of that growth. The trio loved street food. After falling in love with a food truck’s delicacies, they wanted to return, but they had trouble finding the truck again because trucks move around.

The initial idea for Goodfynd was to solve the threesome’s problem of keeping track of a food truck that they liked. The team started building an app but soon found that food truck entrepreneurs had other needs, too.

When Covid-19 hit, the triumvirate initially thought their startup was done for, but opportunities soon became apparent. However, they needed money to build out their platform. As cofounders of color, who didn’t have a network that included investors, they had to meet investors in other ways. Luck is when opportunity meets preparation. This skilled team was ready.

Because food trucks take a fraction of what it costs to launch and run a brick-and-mortar restaurant, chefs are diverse, representing all races, genders, and social-economic levels. Entrepreneurs don’t need a college degree or to speak English to operate a mobile food business. The subsector is outpacing the broader foodservice industry even during the pandemic and is expected to continue to grow at a faster rate.

Like many food truck owners, the trio is diverse, with immigrant backgrounds. But the team is uniquely skilled to build a fintech platform. Abdulrazaaq was a product manager and is a lawyer, and her cofounders’ skills include web development, engineering, and UX design.

“D.C. has a robust food truck market,” said Abdulrazaaq, cofounder and CEO of Goodfynd. Office workers, retail employees, students, and out-of-town visitors partook of the offerings. Goodfynd released its first fintech product in January 2020. Three weeks later, the DMV (The Washington metropolitan area including D.C., Maryland, Virginia) shut down due to Covid-19 restrictions.

“Everybody [the three cofounders] went home and were like our business is over,” said Abdulrazaaq. “People weren’t even going out to get take out. We just wasted six months developing something that now has no merit.”

However, within a couple of weeks, regulations started to come out about what and how consumer-facing businesses could do. It was clear that food trucks fit squarely into those regulations. “Our business accelerated rapidly,” said Abdulrazaaq. “The pandemic propelled our business forward.”

Before the pandemic, many food trucks were located on city streets—close to offices and retail businesses. With so many Americans working from home, mobile food vendors were no longer within proximity of consumers. This challenge was an opportunity for food truck entrepreneurs to meet consumers where they were now located.

Most businesses can’t just pick up and go, but food trucks can. “They could go into neighborhoods where consumers lived, to parks and parking lots,” said Abdulrazaaq. Consumers must be outside when they pick up food, so timing is everything. “Our business skyrocketed. Goodfynd’s value proposition made things easier, more convenient, and more technologically efficient.”

As people of color, raising money without a referral from their network was difficult, so they didn’t even try early on. They raised money in what might seem atypical compared to how white men from Ivy League schools do who don’t have to bootstrap it.

For the first couple of years, the triumvirate funded the business themselves. They didn’t have friends and family who could afford to give or invest in the startup, which would have sped up the development process. They paid for things like hosting out of their own pockets. In 2018, while still working day jobs, they built an app so consumers could find their favorite food trucks, which frequently changed locations. By 2019, they were ready to launch Goodfynd and commit to working full time.

“Truck owners loved the service but wanted more,” said Abdulrazaaq. It wasn’t just consumers who had pain points; the operators did, too. You might think that their needs are simple because food trucks are small. “Operations are super complex, involving between seven to 10 different programs to manage their businesses,” she said.

They joined an accelerator—Lighthouse—to develop a fintech platform. Without needing to give up a piece of the company or pay the money back, Lightspeed grants founders $25,000. The three-month program was super intense. The startup received legal and financial services, help with testing, connections to mentors, and more.

Because the Goodfynd team is all techies, they could do the development work themselves and use the $25,000 for infrastructure. “We didn’t have lives in order to accomplish that,” said Abdulrazaaq. All they did was work.

While the company started by focusing on the nation’s capital, the world is its oyster. The platform isn’t limited by geographic location. “We’re not limited to a specific area,” said Abdulrazaaq. “Food trucks are all over the world.”

“We didn’t go to Harvard and have a network through the college we went to,” said Abdulrazaaq. White men can raise money on an idea. “We had to prove we had traction, revenues, and industry trends would continue in our favor.” Knowing from firsthand experience how hard it is for women and POC to raise venture capital, Lolita Taub, an operator and investor, developed a tool to match underestimated founders with investors.

The Goodfynd cofounders filled out the form and were matched with Diana Murakhovskaya of the Artemus Fund. Typically this VC invests in later-stage companies. Abdulrazaaq had another call at the time but, as luck would have it, the meeting was canceled at the last minute, and she could join the call with Murakhovskaya. What the team thought was a casual get-to-know-you conversation turned into an investor call.

“She [Murakhovskaya] asked the toughest questions,” Abdulrazaaq. “I felt unprepared and I thought I had blown it.” But there was a great vibe and, at the end of the conversation, Murakhovskaya said she would talk to her partners. The rest, as they say, is history.

The fund came in as one of Goodfynd’s lead investors and made intros enabling the startup to close a $1.8 million seed round quickly. Valor Venture co-led the round with additional capital from Accion Venture Lab and strategic angel investors.

The investment will be used to double down on their fintech tools.

What alternative ways can you meet investors?

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Dune: Awakening is an open world survival MMO

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Dune: Awakening made its debut at The Game Awards as an open world survival massively multiplayer online game.

The game from Funcom and Nukklear looks beautiful, full of very detailed imagery of the desert planet Arrakis, also known as Dune. The game asked for beta signups, but we got no other information. Survival is the key word. Dune is a very deadly world, with sandworms and an unforgiving climate.

You can see places in the trailer like the city of Arakeen by day and night, as well as desert biomes and more. It’s not clear when it is coming. With luck, it will be close to the second Dune movie coming in late 2023.

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Rumors confirmed, Street Fighter 6 kicks off in June 2023

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Fighting Game fans are excited now that Capcom announced that Street Fighter 6 is coming to PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S and PC on June 2, 2023. The game was initially announced in February 2022, but that reveal did not include a specific release date beyond 2023.

The trailer at The Game Awards focused on new mini games and the international setting. In addition to the 18 previously announced fighter, the trailer also confirms that several new fighters — Dee Jay, Manon, Marisa and JP — that will join the game’s roster.

Notably, the June 2 release date for Street Fighter 6 may be a strategic choice for Capcom. June is the very beginning of Q3.

The last installment of the franchise — Street Fighter V — released nearly seven years ago so fans have been eager for another installment. A day before The Game Awards, the game’s June release date was leaked via the PlayStation Store.

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5 Things to Do Now to Propel Your Business in 2023

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Entrepreneurship is a daily leap of faith. In times of economic uncertainty, that leap may feel like a dive off a cliff. We are in one of those times. It likely will take months to fully re-adjust to the forces that have pummeled the world’s economy, and to entrepreneurs, months can feel like years.

With the right playbook, entrepreneurs can survive and thrive in whatever economic scenario. Here are five things you can do to propel your business ahead now and through the difficulties of business cycles for years to come.

1. Learn the lessons of more challenging times

A rocky economy presents a unique opportunity to make tough decisions about the business plan. Everything is open to reexamination. How has the market changed? Are your customers facing challenges that create new opportunities for your solutions? How do new conditions change your assumptions, and what actions do you need to take in response?

Critically evaluate your product roadmap. Is this the time to pivot or become more aggressive with your current plans? Prioritize the highest margin features that are achievable in the next twelve months. Push out projects that don’t make that list, and re-assign resources accordingly. Re-assess pricing. Even as inflation tiptoes back from the highest levels in forty years, raw material and transportation costs remain way up. What will impact your customers if you adjust the pricing or add surcharges to offset these costs, at least temporarily?

It’s been a rough year for hiring. Many companies took the talent they could get. If there are employees or gig workers who would fare better in a different job, now is the time to let them go. Make tough-minded corrections that will pay off overall — corrections that might be avoidable in less challenging times.

Related: How to Turn Inflation and Recession into Your Largest Business Opportunity

2. Tighten your grip on cash

Venture capitalists are pulling back. In the third quarter, Crunchbase reported that funding for startups in U.S. and Canada fell 50% year-over-year. Valuations are down across the board. If you are fortunate enough to be a later-stage startup that benefited from VC largess in 2021, make your last raise last longer than intended.

Keep your dry powder dry, and put off going for another round until the markets even out. Reemphasize the basics for early-stage companies with less market validation and greater distance between now and a potential exit. Delay all capital expenditures. Leverage the hybrid work model if possible, to reduce rent and other office expenses. Continue with Zoom or Google Meet. Now is not the time to rack up travel costs. Re-negotiate fees and terms with service providers. Seek credit terms with key suppliers, in a word, bootstrap.

3. Talk to customers, in person. Now.

How have the business needs of your customers — whether paying or beta — changed over the last 18 months? Are there benefits to your solution that have more recognized value now? Nearly every business, for example, from corporates to startups, has been forced to re-learn the lessons of supply chain management. Startups that can help their customers make better business decisions based on artificial intelligence (AI), reduce costs by improving inventory management or protect against out-of-stock scenarios by identifying and building relationships with new, more local sources of supply will have an edge.

Related: Finding Validation in Serving Customers

4. Non-dilutive capital

According to PitchBook, venture capitalists are showing greater interest in portfolio companies “whose satellite, robotics and software tools can do double duty” in military and commercial markets. International conflicts are one reason, of course.

Another is that the defense and military security industries are generally viewed as recession-proof. Our firm routinely encourages portfolio companies to consider non-dilutive funding from the Small Business Administration — grants to support cutting-edge technologies range from $150,000 to more than $1 million.

Navigating the application process isn’t for the faint of heart. A startup must be realistic about the work involved, but in many states, there are resources to help. Besides the funding, severe responses to agency requests for proposals are reviewed and evaluated by technologists. At a minimum, this can be terrific feedback and a great source of industry contacts.

5. Blue-chip cultures attract blue-chip talent

Company culture can be an asset or a liability. An inclusive, rich culture helps key hires say yes. Finding stakeholders that believe what you believe and are aligned with your team’s values significantly improves the odds that they will stick with you in good times or bad.

After months of “great resignation” fever, the over-heated demand for talent may be cooling off. Maybe offers aren’t as fast or grand as they were a year ago. Maybe Twitter won’t be the only advanced technology business to let people go. Regardless, the search for great talent isn’t a faucet that a young company turns off and on. A startup might modulate the timing or the number of hires but stand at the ready to recruit and filter for culture fit.

Related: 3 Ways to Stay Competitive in the War for Talent

With the right mindset and intentional approach, an entrepreneur can make 2023 a year to strive and thrive. As Yogi Berra, my favorite baseball player of all time, said, “Swing at the strikes.” In business, like baseball, the right swing can turn even the most challenging pitch into a hit.

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URGENT: CYBER SECURITY UPDATE