Surprise, surprise! Many employees still hate meetings…even virtual ones.

As we all know, there’s been an unprecedented migration to remote work this year, due to the pandemic – and Owl Labs recently released a report that gives a peek inside the heads of all those folks who are now working from home. 

Apparently, we’re all feeling a little camera shy, and we’re burned out on meetings. Two-thirds of workers said they would like to have one clear day on their calendar when they didn’t have to attend any video meetings.

In this issue, we also take a look at how DocSend, a document-sharing platform, uncovered evidence of bias against female founders in the venture capital world. According to their data, investors are less likely to fund a startup when they realize it’s run by an all-female team. Keep reading to find out what other insights they gleaned from their study, and what those discoveries mean for Unvalley startups. 

Sports tech plays ball. One Mighty Middle city is now home base to a number of sports tech startups, and there’s opportunity in this sector for other cities between the coasts. The sports technology market was valued at $8.9 billion in 2018, and experts project that it will grow to $31.1 billion by 2024.

Get the details on these stories and more, in this week’s Spark:

  • 📢How Remote Workers Really Feel
  • 💸Inside VC Inequity 
  • 🏈Sports Tech Scores BIG

– Matt

P.S. I wanted to give you a heads up that we sold more than 200 tickets to Unvalley already, and we’re announcing more speakers tomorrow. We still have a few Early Bird tickets left, so… Grab your ticket>>


📢How Remote Workers Really Feel

Workers say they want to stay in their PJs. Working from home became the norm rather than the exception in 2020, and this year will go down in history as the year companies made substantial structural changes to support their remote workers. 

Owl Labs recently released a report that gives Mighty Middle companies insight into how American employees truly feel about working remotely during the pandemic. The biggest takeaway? Remote work is working

The stat from this report may be the secret to building successful remote cultures and recruiting top talent for many years to come. Here are a few quick numbers:

  • Employees like working remotely. Nearly 70% of survey respondents say they would be less satisfied if working from home was no longer an option after COVID-19. Nearly half of those employees say they would look for a new job that allowed remote work.
  • Remote work builds trust. In 2019, Owl Labs surveyed employees, and 82% agreed with this statement: “Working remotely would make me feel more trusted at work.” In their follow-up this year, Owl Labs asked those same employees if they did feel more trusted while working remotely during the pandemic. More than 75% of them said yes.
  • They still hate meetings. The vast majority of full-time workers (eight of ten) would like to have one day a week when they don’t have to attend any meetings (including video meetings).

The host of the Digital Workplace Podcast, Neil Miller, gave a thumbs-up to the Owl Labs report, saying it was “juicy and filling.”

Zuck is getting a new remote work czar. Remote work is now so prevalent that companies are hiring new talent to design unified, connected work-from-home experiences for employees. This week, Fast Company reported that Facebook is now recruiting for a new job title: Director of Remote Work

Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg has pledged that he will allow employees to continue to work remotely through summer 2021, and he wants to have half his worldwide workforce working remotely within the next 5 to 10 years. With job titles like this showing up, it’s a signal that companies are serious about making sure their employees can successfully work from home.

Already know your company’s remote culture is top-notch? There’s still time for your team to earn national recognition in the 2020 Powderkeg Tech Culture Awards. Applications take less than 15 minutes but the deadline is November 20th, so you need to move fast. Click here to submit your application.

💸Inside VC Inequity

Boardroom stereotypes hurt female founders. It’s well established that venture capitalists tend to get a bad rap for having a preferred “type” – typically male, white, and based in Silicon Valley, NYC, or Boston. 

Of course, more and more VCsare expanding beyond those stereotypes when they’re assessing tech companies. But recent data from document-sharing tool DocSend indicates an undeniable bias against women in the VC world. 

DocSend monitored hundreds of startups and thousands of visitors from investment firms, gathering data on exactly how investors reviewed pitch decks. The data showed that investors spent 24% more time reading the “product” slides of all-female teams, and 30% less time on the slides that asked for funding. Typically, the more time investors spend on “asking for funding” slides, the more likely they are to invest – so when women founders get shortchanged in viewing time on this type of slide, it leads to big inequities in the VC world. 

When investors reached slides showing that a startup was led entirely by women, they slowed down, and subsequently were far less likely to fund the startup. It’s helpful for all of us to be aware of this, so we can work together as a community to reduce inherent bias in tech and startups.

New Orleans is breaking through the bias. As a black woman, Sevetri Wilson doesn’t fit the stereotypical profile that VC companies tend to flock to – but her New Orleans-based company, Resilia, beat the odds. Resilia announced an $8 million series A funding round last spring, and the company has raised $10.4 million to date.

In this week’s Forbes article spotlighting Resilia’s funding success, Wilson shared that she initially reached out to well-known, larger name VCs, but realized almost immediately that she needed to target firms outside Silicon Valley who invested in more diverse founders. Wilson is one of the tech founders who helped transform New Orleans into the “Silicon Bayou,” – so Unvalley startups can learn from her experience.

On Twitter, Cultivation Capital shared the Forbes article, recognizing Sevetri Wilson and Resilia’s investors.

Want to hear from more diverse voices in the VC world? Powderkeg’s upcoming Unvalley virtual conference will feature Monique Villa, an investor for Mucker Capital who helped secure funding for Resilia. Mucker has a reputation for investing in SaaS companies outside Silicon Valley. Grab your (virtual) seat for Unvalley here.

🏈 Raising Scores in Sports Tech

VC firms are giving sports tech a kick. Stadia Ventures, a St. Louis-based VC firm, recently announced their investment in two LA sports startups for its accelerator program: Obsesh, a platform built to connect fans with sports athletes and influencers, and Polpo AI, a tool that helps live sports content providers protect against online piracy. 

Stadia Managing Director Brandon Janosky commented on the new deals, saying, “While we love having founders from across the globe join us in St. Louis, Denver, and Frisco, Texas, we are thriving in an environment that enables a higher volume of high-profile industry experts to easily spend time with the founders in the program.”

No false starts in these VC deals. Will Ventures is also setting out to invest in innovative sports tech companies, with its $50M war chest. Founding partners Brian Reilly and Isaiah Kacyvenski will be focusing their energy on two main buckets within the world of sports tech innovation: media and content, and health and wellness. There are several Unvalley companies in Will Ventures’ portfolio.

Right now there’s a huge field of opportunity for Mighty Middle cities that want to play the game growing sector. In 2018, MarketsandMarkets™ valued the sports tech sector at $8.9 billion and projected that it would grow to $31.1 billion by 2024. 

Want to get in the game? Add these sports-tech startups to your fantasy VC roster:

Don’t take your eye off the ball – find Unvalley sports tech companies that are the perfect fit in the Powderkeg directory.


Top fundings, acquisitions, and IPOs between the coasts. 

Atlanta, GA

  • Flock Safety, a neighborhood watch company, announced it has closed $47 million in a Series C round. Meritech Capital led the round and joined existing investors.
  • Shotcall, a platform and marketplace for gamers, announced it has raised a $2.2 million seed round. Initial Capital and New Stack led the round with contributions from Lerer Hippeau.

Austin, TX

  • Maidbot, a company pioneering commercial service robotics, announced it closed a Series B round. Reckitt Benckiser led the round with participation from Octave Ventures and others.
  • Spruce, a provider of lifestyle services to the multifamily industry, announced that it has raised $8 million in Series A financing. Houston-based Mercury Fund led the round with participation from Sweat Equity Partners.

Denver, CO

  • Flyreel, an AI solution for residential and commercial property insurance, announced it has closed $10 million in Series A financing. IA Capital Group led the round with participation from insurtech provider Guidewire Software and Gradient Ventures.

Indianapolis, IN

  • SmarterHQ, an Indianapolis-based marketing software firm, announced this week it has been acquired by New York City-based tech firm Wunderkind.

Potomac, MD

  • Curbio, a home renovation technology company announced it raised $25 million in a Series C funding round. Comcast Ventures led the round with participation from existing investors, Camber Creek, Brick & Mortar Ventures, and Second Century Ventures.

Salt Lake City, UT

Tampa Bay, FL

  • Knack, a peer tutoring platform for college students, announced it has raised $1.5 million in a seed funding round. The round was co-led by Precursor Ventures and Tampa Bay Lighting owner and Fenway Sports Group Partner, Jeff Vinik.


Know someone looking for a new gig? The economy is unpredictable right now, but startups in the middle of the country are still hiring. 

We have a few of our Top Powderkeg Picks below:

Austin, TX

  • RigUp, an energy workforce marketplace, is hiring a demand generation specialist, A director of IT, a sales manager, and many other roles across all departments.
  • Disco, an e-discovery tool, is hiring an email marketing manager, senior software engineers, data operations specialists, and more.  

Detroit, MI

  • StockX, an online sneaker marketplace, is hiring several data and software engineers, CSRs, operations specialists, and more.
  • Censys, a digital risk management company, is hiring a software architect, an SDR, and several engineering roles. 
  • Guardhat, an industrial workplace safety startup, is hiring a senior sales executive, DevOps engineer, a systems architect, and more. 

Indianapolis, IN

  • Zotec Partners, a medical billing and practice management platform, is hiring for a software engineer, CSR’s, and a product support analyst. 
  • OneCause, a charitable fundraising solution, is hiring for several onsite event managers and SDRs. 

Multiple Locations or Remote

  • Toptal, a tool for sourcing freelance talent, is hiring backend engineers, SDRs, associate product managers, and more. 
  • Aha!, a product roadmap and marketing planning platform, is hiring Ruby engineers, customer success managers, and several marketing roles.

Need to optimize your resume for opportunities like these? Get feedback using our new resume review tool.


Get the lowdown on even more compelling companies, stories, and events to help you reach your full potential…

  • In a recent article, Mary Grove, Partner at Bread and Butter Ventures in Minneapolis, shares her thoughts and experience on the important lessons in leadership gained from her time at Google. You can also hear more from her at Powderkeg’s Unvalley 2020 Conference on Dec. 17th. Read it here>> 
  • Do you know a college student looking to learn a new skill over Winter Break? Check out Eleven Fifty Academy’s Online Winter Coding Experience. This free 5-week course takes you through the fundamentals of JavaScript, Python, and more. Last day to enroll is Friday, November 20th. Sign Up>>
  • Here at Powderkeg, we recently announced our all-virtual conference, Unvalley 2020. A 2-day virtual conference featuring some of the best in tech, leadership, and innovation in the Unvalley. It’s all going down December 17-18. Grab your ticket>>

Are you looking for more news in tech between the coasts? It’s free to sign up for our hand-curated newsletter, The Spark, delivered to your inbox each week with the tech news outside Silicon Valley you need to know. Sign up here!