TechCrunch+ roundup: eVTOL takes off, pivoting with agility, when to hire a lawyer
“Where’s my flying car?” is a staple of Gen X humor, since it reaffirms the cynical viewpoint that technology frequently fails to deliver on its lofty promises.
Until recently, electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicles were largely consigned to our imaginations. I can name more movies that feature flying cars than I can eVTOL companies, but that’s changing. The industry went from being speculative to competitive in a flash, thanks in large part to advances like composite materials and battery density. And strong investor interest.
Last year, boosters poured billions into eVTOL as companies like Joby Aviation, Archer and Lilium used SPACs to rake in cash to fund R&D and test flight programs.
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In a column for TC+, Ben Tigner, co-founder and CEO of electric aerial mobility company Overair, identified four trends that are changing how investors, entrepreneurs and the market are responding to expanding opportunities in eVTOL:
- An expanding competitive landscape
- Mainstream attention is increasing
- An emphasis on noise pollution
- Sustainable travel at the forefront
“I’ve been working in the aircraft development space for decades, but 2021 was different,” Tigner writes.
In January, we reported that Joby Aviation asked the FCC for permission to conduct air taxi flights around sightseeing points in San Francisco. When the time comes, I’m genuinely curious to find out how many of my friends will be interested in taking a Blade Runner-style tour of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge.
I’m not great with heights, so I’ll look forward to watching their videos.
Thanks very much for reading, and have a great weekend.
Senior Editor, TechCrunch+
Tortoise co-founder Dmitry Shevelenko: ‘You can’t do too many things at the same time’
From the outside, a startup that makes multiple pivots might look like it lacks direction.
In reality, changing course is usually the smartest bet, because it allows founding teams to leverage new technology and adapt to changing market conditions.
Transportation reporter Rebecca Bellan interviewed Tortoise co-founder Dmitry Shevelenko about his company’s transition “from using a hardware-as-a-service model to a take-rate scheme that gives it 10% of any sales made from its card payment-enabled bots.”
Pivoting is positive, says Shevelenko: “The most important thing with agility is actually being able to gracefully admit you’re wrong, or that you’ve learned new information and are adapting.”
Dear Sophie: Is there an easier route to L-1As and STEM O-1As?
I live in India and run a startup here, but most of my clients are based in the United States. I also have a Delaware C Corp we established before the pandemic.
We have three full-time contractors doing business development and sales in the U.S., and I still have a valid B-1/B-2 visitor visa.
As my company continues to grow, I’m considering coming to the U.S. with my family and purchasing a home. What are my best options?
—Intrepid in India
Don’t buy a breach or a bad reputation: A more effective approach to M&A due diligence
There are many layers to M&A due diligence, but none of that matters if you only identify liabilities after the deal has closed.
One way to tackle this information deficit: start early and add open source intelligence — publicly available information including from freely available and licensed sources — to the due diligence process.
Using public data allows suitors to start the process early, and since it doesn’t require information sharing or gaining access to the target company’s applications or networks, “initial evaluations can also be completed much faster than traditional cyber diligence, often within a period of a couple of weeks,” says David Etue, CEO of Nisos,
When should an early-stage startup hire a full-time lawyer?
Every company eventually needs legal advice, but when a few hours of a lawyer’s time costs almost as much as a shiny new laptop, most startups delay dealing with lawyers until it’s absolutely necessary.
Kristen Corpio, founder of CORPlaw, says it’s best to consider hiring in-house counsel when “it hurts a bit — when you start to feel stretched thin — rather than too early in your business’ lifecycle.”
“Unlike with some other roles that may need filling, you can find highly competent outside lawyers to bridge the gap as you grow into needing full-time support,” she writes.
How the US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is set to shake up BNPL in 2022
Integrating deferred payments with e-commerce has been a boon for acquisitive consumers and aspiring merchants. But in the United States, regulators are taking a second look at BNPL’s expanding loan market.
In December 2021, the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ordered five buy now, pay later providers to “collect information on the risks and benefits” of loans, citing concerns around accumulating debt, regulatory arbitrage, and data harvesting.
This move is bound to set in motion a regulatory wave that “will level the playing field in the long term,” writes Yaacov Martin, CEO and co-founder of Jifiti.
Infrastructure bill could promote lean construction via data capture
There’s a lot of excitement about construction tech among investors and entrepreneurs, but general contractors aren’t nearly as enthusiastic.
At active job sites, safety, speed and costs are top concerns, which makes it difficult “to secure organization wide buy-in for new tools,” writes Meirav Oren, co-founder and CEO of Versatile.
The recently passed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act contains $100M in funding for construction tech, but companies that hope to accelerate adoption need to learn how to collaborate with contractors:
- Avoid week-long training sessions
- Break away from pilots and proofs of concept
- Highlight the people-centric benefits of technology
- Recognize early adopters and pioneers
How to hire great engineers when you don’t have any technical expertise
Startup hiring has always been tricky, but recruiting technical talent is harder than ever.
Making the wrong hire could incur serious technical debt: make a bad bet, and you might even have to refactor, not something you want to explain in a board meeting.
Fortunately, smaller companies enjoy many advantages when it comes to landing new employees, starting with the fact that they can condense the typical interview process from a few weeks to a few days.
Marcelo Wiermann, head of the global recommendations engineering division at Delivery Hero, shares tactics for finding, engaging, assessing and hiring great engineers, “even if you do not have a technical background.”