The Landing is bringing shoppable social and collaboration to interior design

Monetizable mood boards might sound like the moonshot idea that no one asked for, but when you think about it, the vision is already informally happening in various corners of the internet. A young generation of users shops with community in mind, whether that’s buying merchandise from your favorite influencers or giving into those Instagram advertisements after spending way too much time on the grid.

As more users think of shopping as a social, digital-first activity, The Landing, a seed-stage startup coming out of stealth, is hoping to win over those who have an affinity for designing homes and spaces. On The Landing, users can create, and shop from, room designs to help furnish their homes.

Image Credits: The Landing

“There’s no contextually rich, visual shopping destination, where you could curate and discover and share and shop all in one place,” co-founder Miri Buckland said. The Landing hopes to be that destination.

Started by Buckland and Ellie Buckingham, The Landing is launching with $ 2.5 million in financing, in a round led by Aileen Lee at Cowboy Ventures. Lee will be taking a board seat. Other investors include Dara Treseder, the CMO of Peloton; Manish Chandra and Tracy Sun, the founders of Poshmark; Unshackled; Designer Fund; and Progression Fund.

The Landing began as a pandemic pivot. Buckland and Buckingham were always interested in solving the pain point of contextual furnishing for users, but began by physically moving people into apartments and helping them set up different furniture. Then, the pandemic hit and limited the ability to do high-touch services. Buckingham says that this was “potentially the best forcing function” to focus on what kind of business The Landing wanted to be.

“I don’t need to be the person moving into your apartment with a couch,” she said. “It was about the importance of empowering creativity and empowering individuals to create digital and physical spaces.” That’s when they dropped the moving service business, and instead used furnishing as a vector to solve the problem of contextual and social e-commerce.

It’s a smart idea that has not gone unnoticed. Houzz, a Sequoia-backed home improvement startup, connects users to products from third-party retailers as well as services from architects, designers or contractors. There’s also Modsy, which has raised north of $ 70 million to date, which helps users virtually redesign their homes.

Buckingham worked for Modsy when she was at business school, where she first started noticing that she disagreed with the startups’ main thesis.

“Their motto was basically a digital rendition of an existing human service,” she said. “And I came away from the experience not super convinced that the service model was the scalable, future answer to consumerization of access to design.” She noticed that the younger generation was looking for a self-serve, customizable answer.

Miri Buckland and Ellie Buckingham, the co-founders of The Landing. Image Credits: The Landing

The Landing is launching with creative tooling capabilities, which allow users to build and design spaces within its platform. In the coming months, the team is focused on adding a social layer atop the design tool, with features like profiles, discovery, fede, and commenting.

The Landing’s Slack channel is currently being used to discuss these features and what is most in-demand from early users.

The founders aren’t worried about a lack of demand, or only being a platform for the few times that people furnish their homes throughout their lifespan. As Buckland pointed out, people browse Zillow all the time, and have Reddit channels about dream homes, creating designs and more. The startup is aiming to serve that population as well — the dreamers and not just the realists.

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Splice gets $55 million for its software bringing beats from bedrooms to bandstands

Splice, the New York-based, AI-infused, beat-making software service for music producers created by the founder of GroupMe, has managed to sample another $ 55 million in financing from investors for its wildly popular service.

The GitHub for music producers ranging from Hook N SlingMr Hudson SLY, and Steve Solomon to TechCrunch’s own Megan Rose Dickey, Splice gained a following for its ability to help electronic dance music creators save, share, collaborate and remix music.

The company’s popularity has made it from bedroom DJs to the Goldman Sachs boardroom as the financial services giant joined MUSIC, a joint venture between the music executive Matt Pincus and boutique financial services firm Liontree  in leading the company’s latest $ 55 million round.  The company’s previous investors include USV, True Ventures, DFJ Growth and Flybridge.

“The music creation process is going through a digital transformation. Artists are flocking to solutions that offer a user-friendly, collaborative, and affordable platform for music creation,” said Stephen Kerns, a VP with Goldman Sachs’ GS Growth, in a statement. “With 4 million users, Splice is at the forefront of this transformation and is beloved by the creator community. We’re thrilled to be partnering with Steve Martocci and his team at Splice.”

Splice’s financing follows an incredibly acquisitive 2020 for the company, which saw it acquiring music technology companies Audiaire and Superpowered.

In addition to the financing, Splice also nabbed Kakul Srivastava, the vice president of Adobe Creative Cloud Experience and Engagement as a director for its board.

The funding news comes on the heels of Splice’s recent acquisitions of music-tech companies Audiaire and Superpowered, creating more ways to improve and inspire the audio and music-making process. Splice is also pleased to announce that Kakul Srivastava has joined the company’s board.

Steve Martocci at TechCrunch Disrupt in 2016. Image Credits: Getty Images

Splice’s beefed up balance sheet comes as new entrants have started vying for a slice of Splice’s music-making market. These are companies like hardware maker Native Instruments, which launched the Sounds.com marketplace last year, and there’s also Arcade by Output that’s pitching a similar service. 

Meanwhile, Splice continues to invest in new technology to make producers’ lives easier. In November 2019 it unveiled its artificial intelligence product that lets producers match samples from different genres using machine learning techniques to find the matches.

“My job is to keep as many people inspired to create as possible,” Splice founder and chief executive Steve Martocci told TechCrunch.

It’s another win for the serial entrepreneur who famously sold his TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon chat app GroupMe to Skype for $ 85 million just a year after launching.

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How Some Startups Are Bringing Manufacturing Work Back to Life

The art of running a successful manufacturing company, once thought doomed to history, is experiencing a revival — but not the revival the industry expected.

From Steel to Rust

America’s “Steel Belt” used to be a point of pride for the country. Manufacturing towns in the northeast churned out “Made in the U.S.A.” products with both quality and efficiency, and consumers were happy to buy them. Eventually, the Steel Belt degraded and became the Rust Belt as manufacturing jobs and companies moved overseas.

Common belief says the fall of the Rust Belt happened during the late 1970s and 1980s, but the roots of the region’s issues go back much further. Jobs in the Rust Belt began to decline in the 1950s, long before the economic turmoil of later years would bring manufacturing communities crashing down. Labor pressures from new industries drew talent that formerly went to manufacturing jobs, companies moved overseas, and factories closed shop.

Since then, members of manufacturing communities have desperately searched for revival. President Trump won votes in Rust Belt states in 2016 by declaring that he would bring jobs back to the region. Actual results have been mixed, however, with Rust Belt States showing initial gains in the first few years of Trump’s term but losing more than 25,000 manufacturing jobs from January to September last year.

Taken at face value, manufacturing appears to be in a continuous decline that began 70 years ago. Beneath the surface, though, the manufacturing industry has quietly joined the revolution of technology and entrepreneurship that has catapulted the global economy into a new era. Manufacturing has found its renaissance in a place no one thought to look.

Examining the Rise of the New Manufacturing Sector

Despite its reputation as an old-school industry, manufacturing has grown into something that workers from the Rust Belt’s 1980s struggles would barely recognize. 

Research from Deloitte’s 2020 Manufacturing Industry Outlook reveals an industry consumed by disruption. According to Deloitte, manufacturers will contend with a variety of monetary and policy challenges this year and in the decade to come, but new avenues of innovation will provide new opportunities for growth.

Resilience and flexibility will be key drivers of that success. Corporate social responsibility and environmental conscientiousness, once opponents of all things manufacturing, now empower manufacturers to enjoy both the goodwill of the masses and the perks of more regulatory-insulated operations. Digital solutions, including smarter supply chains and employment assistance, create new partnership opportunities. 

The most agile manufacturing companies will rise above the rest over the next decade, and the trend has already begun. Manufacturing today creates millions of indirect jobs adjacent to the industry. Modern manufacturing success means looking beyond the constraints of the past and imagining what the future of manufacturing can be.

How Can Manufacturing Companies Thrive?

As manufacturers explore unfamiliar territory, several companies adjacent to and within the industry are helping them navigate.

TeamSense

Employee communications can be a huge struggle in the manufacturing industry. Workers are hesitant to give employers too much access to their personal phones, and rightly so. To help combat that issue, TeamSense uses a text-based solution to make employee communication easier than ever. Their platform allows for secure messaging without employees needing to download an application to their personal phones. While TeamSense was originally created to be a Covid symptom screening tool, they’re evolving with the times and moving on to help solve the important issue of communicating more efficiently in the manufacturing industry. 

FourKites

Manufacturers cannot thrive without effective supply chain management. Chicago-based FourKites understands this problem and uses modern tools like machine learning to help manufacturers reduce operating costs and increase efficiency. Since FourKites opened its doors in 2014, the company has raised more than $ 100 million in funding. In the next year, FourKites plans to double its customer base, add 100 new employees, and attract more technical talent to bring efficiency and transparency to the manufacturing industry.

Drishti Technologies

In the manufacturing world, automation puts people on guard. No one who works in the industry wants to hear about machines taking human jobs, especially the workers at the heart of manufacturing operations. Fortunately, Drishti Technologies envisions a different sort of automated future. Founded by Prasad Akella, a man who led GM’s collaborative robotics efforts in the 1990s, Drishti uses a combination of machine learning and computer vision to help production lines spot errors early. With tech like this, manufacturers can limit mistakes and keep more of their revenues by spending less on replacing and repairing products.

The manufacturing industry has dealt with struggles that would have crippled other industries years ago. Despite all the challenges, though, manufacturing remains an essential component of a functioning society. Top manufacturers and new entrants into the manufacturing industry recognize that today’s volatility is not a sign of decay but the first step toward an exciting future.

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