Startup of the week:
Who they are: Muzmatch
What they do: They make a dating app that helps Muslims around the world find other Muslims with similar values.
Why it’s cool: Casual dating isn’t really a thing in traditional Muslim culture, says Muzmatch’s Muslim co-founder, Shahzad Younas. Instead, if you’re a young person, your family typically takes on the responsibility of finding you not just a significant other, but a potential spouse. And it’s not always an easy task to find someone who matches your cultural and religious values — especially in today’s world, where Muslims are scattered in communities across the globe.
That’s where Muzmatch comes in, Younas says. The app is where old-school values meet modern technology. Members use it to identify people who share their values — for example, members can specify on their profile how often they pray, or whether they wear a headscarf. And they can do it in a traditional way. Women can choose someone, typically a family member, to act as a chaperone or “Wali,” who oversees all conversations between the woman and her potential matches, to make sure nothing inappropriate happens.
Where they stand: Muzmatch launched in the United Kingdom, and now is part of Mountain View-based startup accelerator Y Combinator’s current class — they’ll have their demo day later this month. So far the app has matched more than 6,000 people, including a couple in Uganda (turns out they were the only two people in the country who had signed up for the app).
What will they think of next?
Your DNA dictates nearly everything about you, from your eye color to your height. But what if it controlled more than that — what if your genes controlled everything from the way you exercise, to the wine you drink, to the type of scarf you wear? Now that has become a reality thanks to Helix. Like 23andMe, Helix sells a DNA testing kits that lets users send in a sample of their saliva to have their genetic makeup analyzed. But Helix takes it a step further. The San Francisco-based company runs an online marketplace that sells a variety of products customized for their customers’ DNA.
For example, Vinome suggests wine based on the types of flavors you’re genetically predispositioned to like (the company also asks you to fill out a flavor questionnaire, and rate past suggestions, so it can better learn your preferences). DNAFit offers a variety of fitness and weight-loss solutions personalized to your genetic makeup. And Dot One takes your unique genetic code and weaves the pattern into a scarf (using the colors of your choosing).
But it will cost you. The Helix DNA testing kit is $80, and the scarf is $149.99, for a grand total of $229.99.
Run the numbers:
There’s been a lot of talk recently that runaway tech company valuations, inflated by freewheeling investor spending, will have to come back to Earth at some point — leading to “downrounds” where startups are forced to slash their valuations in order to raise more cash, be acquired or go public. And that has indeed happened, to companies like Rocket Fuel, Blue Apron and Cloudera. But according to a new report by venture capital database PitchBook, it’s not happening nearly as drastically as some experts had feared.
In fact, the median late-stage, pre-money valuation hit an all-time high of $83.3 million during the first half of the year, according to the report.
“It was thought that the enormous valuations might come down as activity declined from the back half of 2015 to this year, but that hasn’t been the case as capital continues to be available across all stages at record levels,” the researchers wrote. “VC valuations have continued to climb higher, despite being surrounded by an exit market that hasn’t yet proven it will be able to handle to amount of value that has been created.”
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