“We are at the beginning of the beginning—the first hour of day one. There have never been more opportunities. The greatest products of the next 25 years have not been invented yet.” - Kevin Kelly in the Next 30 Digital Years (HT Sidewalk Labs)

It’s easy to be excited about Urbantech now. Three years ago, there was a small fraction of the activity and interest. But this is academic. If you are a founder trying to raise money or acquire new customers, it’s still hard to build an Urbantech startup.

For example, 60% of the investors we surveyed have a strong fear of companies that have government as their primary customer. At the same time, 30% of the investors expressed interest in investing in companies that sell to local governments. This is actually substantially better than it was three years ago.

For founders, concerns about hiring are never far behind funding. We’ve noted growing comfort with distributed teams, perhaps because Urban.Us is distributed. But we were surprised that more than 50% of the teams we surveyed indicated that they have team members in more than one city. VC dollars are still very concentrated in just a few regions, but they’re helping pay for talent in many more cities.

We dig into these and other responses in our Summer 2016 Urban.Us Network Survey.

[News] Didi Chuxing’s Acquisition of Uber China is a fascinating end to Uber’s expansion in China. The Information believes this means we can expect more aggressive Uber expansion in the markets like the United States and India.

[Insights] Uber vs Tesla? We’re already getting a glimpse of the next generation of rideshare. Long-term, robots might replace drivers, but Alon Bonder explores some other interesting potential rideshare dynamics.

[Insights] Govtech Business Models. Govtech Magazine talks with startup founders (including Seamlessdocs and One Concern) about how they can build high-growth businesses with government as their primary customer. Read more at Govtech.com.

[Insights] AIHVAC (Artificial Intelligence for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning). Google is using Deep Mind (now of Alphago fame) to dramatically improve the efficiency of its data centers and reduce GHG emissions. Read more on the Deepmind blog. (HT Dan Myers)

[Insights] Billion Dollar Startup Launch Video. Unilever’s acquisition of Dollar Shave Club may be the best example of fantastic investment in single-piece creative content to launch a B2C startup. DSC’s CEO has some wise words on creative content and startup launches.

[Insights ] A Capability Maturity Model for Cities. Anthony Townsend explores Dublin’s capability maturity model as a reference for how governments can plan to adopt tech as they adjust their roles to serve citizens.

[Insights] Hardware startups are easier and harder. K9 offers a detailed view of why they think hardware startups as 3x harder than software startups. Bolt counters that it’s never been easier to build a hardware company. They’re both right.

Hardware will continue to be a core part of Urbantech because so many opportunities exist to move from “open loop” to “closed loop” control. In most cases, this is likely to require sensors and actuators. The Summer 2016 Urban.Us Network Survey suggests that other investors may share this view.

[Insights] AirBnB impact on neighbors offers an important perspective on the growing complexity of operating startups in highly regulated environments. This isn’t as simple as incumbent hotels pushing back against a disruptor. More from Next City.

[Insights] Supply and demand for founders and an argument against VC investments in smart guns. It’s true that public goods are funded by non-financially oriented investors. But it’s often true that public goods can be bundled with other goods to help sneak public benefits into the world.

[Startup Update] Citymart is working with Philadelphia and Long Beach to find new solutions. Philly is looking for smart city solutions, and Long Beach wants solutions to encourage tech innovation.

[Startup Update] Mark43 launches the South Bay Regional Public Communications Authority center in Hawthorne (it’s also home to SpaceX).

[Startup Update] Radiator Labs received their first third-party performance report from NYSERDA. The two buildings evaluated achieved a 41% reduction in heating load!

[Opportunity] Amazon Launchpad is a startup-focused marketing and retail program for consumer-ready hardware products. They’ve just announced a new Services Hub for startups to seek prototyping, manufacturing, and operational providers.

Urban.Us is a qualified referral partner, so if you are interested in selling your product with Amazon Launchpad, let us know and we’ll be happy to help.

[Opportunity] Urban-X, the Urbantech accelerator from MINI and HAX, is accepting applications until September 6.

[Opportunity] GCT Hub Preview. We’re excited about the opening of one of the first dedicated workspaces for the Urbantech community. The Blocpower team will soon call it home, and we know a few more teams are evaluating GCT Hub. On Thursday, you can preview the GCT Hub space before it officially opens.

Fun fact: GCT Hub’s Executive Director, Robinson Hernandez, has long been a supporter of tech, cities, and government. He’s spent more than a decade in NYC government working most recently working with small businesses. And before that, he worked with Shaun at Govworks!

Hope you’re having a great summer.

Best,
Shaun, Stonly, Anthony, Mark, and Sonam

Special thanks to Urban-X by Mini and HAX, New York City Economic Development Corporation, Amazon and Autonomy.Paris for working with us to make the Urbantech ecosystem better.

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