#DealMonitor – #EXKLUSIV ModMed übernimmt Klara – TripActions kauft Comtravo – Finn bekommt 50 Millionen


Im #DealMonitor für den 7. Februar werfen wir einen Blick auf die wichtigsten, spannendsten und interessantesten Investments und Exits des Tages in der DACH-Region. Alle Deals der Vortage gibt es im großen und übersichtlichen #DealMonitor-Archiv.

MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS

Klara
+++ Das amerikanische Software-Unternehmen ModMed übernimmt nach unseren Informationen Klara und legt für die Jungfirma rund 100 Millionen US-Dollar auf den Tisch. Das 2013 von Simon Bolz und Simon Lorenz in Berlin gegründete Startup entwickelt einen Kommunikationsdienst für das Gesundheitswesen, das Arztpraxen mit Patienten und anderen medizinischen Anbietern verknüpft. Seit einigen Jahren bearbeitet die Jungfirma von New York aus den amerikanischen Markt. Gradient Ventures, der Investmentableger von Google, Frist Cressey, FirstMark Capital, Lerer Hippeau und Stage 2 Capital, Project A Ventures, Atlantic Labs und Creathor Ventures investierten in den vergangenen Jahren mehr als 30 Millionen Dollar in Klara. #EXKLUSIV Mehr im Insider-Podcast

Comtravo
+++ Das amerikanische Unternehmen TripActions übernimmt nach unseren Informationen Comtravo und zahlt dabei 60 Millionen Euro für das Unternehmen, eine Buchungsplattform für Geschäftsreisen. Das Berliner Startup, das 2015 von Michael Riegel, Jannik Wässa und Marko Schilde gegründet wurde, sammelte in den vergangenen Jahren von Investoren wie M12, Endeit Capital, Creandum, Project A und btov Partners mehr als 35 Millionen Euro ein. Im Geschäftsjahr 2019 legte Comtravo beim Umsatz um 121 % zu und landete bei 36,8 Millionen Euro. Das Corona-Jahr warf das Unternehmen dann komplett aus der Bahn. “Wir planen mit einem Umsatzrückgang in 2020 aufgrund der Pandemie von rund 60 %”, teilte das Unternehmen zuletzt mit. #EXKLUSIV Mehr im Insider-Podcast

Tandemploy 
+++ Die US-Firma Phenom übernimmt Tandemploy. “Mit der Übernahme eröffnet Phenom bereits die zweite Niederlassung in Deutschland. Im vergangenen Jahr ging schon die Firma Talentcube aus München an Phenom über”, teilt das Unternehmen mit. Der Kaufpreis ist nicht bekannt. Das Berliner Jobsharing-Startup wurde 2013 von Jana Tepe und Anna Kaiser gegründet. “Der clevere SaaS Matching-Algorithmus des Unternehmens Tandemploy analysiert fähigkeitsbasierte Daten und vernetzt darauf basierend Mitarbeitende für eine Vielzahl an kollaborativen Arbeits- und Lernmöglichkeiten”, teilt das Unternehmen zum Konzept mit.

INVESTMENTS

Finn
++ Bisher uns nicht bekannte Investoren investieren nach unseren Informationen zeitnah rund 50 Millionen Euro in Finn. Wie andere Anbieter auch bietet das junge Unternehmen aus Münchzen, das von Max-Josef Meier (früher Stylight) gegründet wurde, Autos im Abo an. White Star Capital, Rubin Ritter, David Schneider und Robert Gentz (alle zalando), HV Capital, Picus Capital, Heartcore und UVC Partners investierten zuletzt 20 Millionen Euro in Finn. #EXKLUSIV Mehr im Insider-Podcast

FinMid
+++ Der englische Geldgeber Blossom Capital investiert nach unseren Informationen gemeinsam mit Altinvestor Earlybird rund 11 Millionen Euro in FinMid. Das Berliner Startup, das von den beiden ehemaligen N26-Mitarbeiter Max Schertel und Alexander Talkanitsa gegründet wurde, positioniert sich als “Financial services infrastructure for software businesses”. Earlybird Venture Capital und N26-Gründer Maximilian Tayenthal investierten zuvor bereits eine siebenstellige Summe in Finmid#EXKLUSIV Mehr im Insider-Podcast

Hivebuy
+++ Der Essener Geldgeber Cusp Capital investiert nach unseren Informationen rund 1,5 Millionen Euro in Hivebuy. Das Startup aus Berlin, das von Bettina Fischer und Stefan Kiehne gegründet wurde, positioniert sich als Procurement-Software für den Mittelstand. Hivebuy unterstützt “kleine- und mittelständische Unternehmen dabei, interne Einkaufs- und Bestellprozesse zu vereinfachen und gleichzeitig Transparenz und Compliance zu fördern”. Smart Infrastructure Ventures investierte zuvor bereits eine sechsstellige Summe in Hivebuy.  #EXKLUSIV Mehr im Insider-Podcast

Vivid Money
+++ Greenoaks Capital, Ribbit Capital und Softbank investieren 100 Millionen Euro in Vivid Money – siehe auch Handelsblatt. Die Bewertung des FinTechs liegt nun bei 775 Millionen Euro. Bei der letzten Investmentrunde im  April 2021 wurde das Unternehmen noch mit 360 Millionen bewertet. Die Berliner Neobank, die 2019 von Alexander Emeshev und Artem Yamanov gegründet wurde, sammelte bereits mehr als 200 Millionen ein. Das FinTech selbst bezeichnet sich als “Finanzplattform, die alle täglichen Bedürfnisse rund um das Thema Geld in einer App vereint. Egal ob Investieren, Banking oder Sparen”. Vivid Money ist derzeit in Deutschland, Frankreich, Spanien und Italien unterwegs. Mehr als 300 Mitarbeiter:innen arbeiten bereits für das Unternehmen. Mehr über Vivid Money

remberg
+++ Der Berliner Geldgeber Earlybird investiert gemeinsam mit Altinvestoren Fly Ventures und Speedinvest sowie einigen Angel-Investoren wie Personio-Gründer Hanno Renner, Celonis-Gründer Bastian Nominacher und Forto-Macher Michael Wax 11 Millionen Euro in remberg. Das Münchner Unternehmen, das 2018 von David Hahn, Julian Madrzak, Hagen Schmidtchen und Cecil Wöbker gegründet wurde, digitalisiert “Serviceprozesse von industriellen Maschinen mit dem cloud-basierten Asset-Relationship-Management System für Hersteller, Dienstleister und Betreiber”. Fly Ventures und Speedinvest investierten 2018 rund 2 Millionen Euro in das Unternehmen. Earlybird hält nun 16,4 % an remberg.

Cure
+++ airbnb-Geldgeber Craft Ventures, Abstract Ventures, J12 Ventures und J Ventures investieren 4 Millionen Euro in Cure. Das Berliner Startup, das von Ali El-Ali und Manuel Aberle gegründet wurde, positioniert sich als schneller Lieferdienst für Medikamente. Die Auslieferung erfolgt innerhalb von 30 Minuten. Zu den Wettbewerbern von Cure gehören insbesondere Mayd, First A, kurando, zuvor als Phaster bekannt, und Aporando. Mayd sammelte zuletzt bereits 30 Millionen Euro ein. 

Bonrepublic
+++ Die GoStudent-Gründer Felix Ohswald und Gregor Müller, Founders of Europe, Stefan Menden, venturecake, weitere Business Angels aus dem HR-Segment und Altinvestor APX investieren 750.000 Euro in das Wiener HR-Startup Bonrepublic. Hinter Bonrepublic, das von  Rico Fernando, Jakob Feigl und Vladimir Kim gegründet wurde, verbirgt sich eine cloud-basierte Plattform, die es Unternehmen ermöglicht, ihre Mitarbeiter flexibel für Erfolge, Weiterentwicklungen und erreichte Ziele zu belohnen.

Startup-Jobs: Auf der Suche nach einer neuen Herausforderung? In der unserer Jobbörse findet Ihr Stellenanzeigen von Startups und Unternehmen.

Foto (oben): azrael74

#abstract-ventures, #aktuell, #berlin, #bonrepublic, #comtravo, #craft-ventures, #cure, #earlybird-venture-capital, #fintech, #fly-ventures, #foodlabs, #founders-of-europe, #hr, #j-ventures, #j12-ventures, #klara, #modmed, #munchen, #neobank, #phenom, #quick-commerce, #remberg, #speedinvest, #tandemploy, #tripactions, #venture-capital, #venturecake, #vivid-money, #wien

General Catalyst, Abstract back Wanderlog’s $1.5M round for collaborative travel

Twin brothers Harry and Peter Yu grew up traveling all over, an aspect of their lives that continued even into their careers. What they didn’t enjoy was figuring out all the logistics, which has become more difficult during the pandemic: vacations that could be taken quickly now require more planning and even reservations.

“People travel differently, but the common denominator is that everyone uses some kind of document to plan and share their trip information,” Harry Yu told TechCrunch. “We saw a need for something that is better than spreadsheets and ‘copy-and paste.’ ”

So they launched Bay Area-based Wanderlog in 2019 to enable users to gather and record their travel plans. The free itinerary maker and road trip planner takes the best parts of Google Docs and Maps and enables users to import the information and map out the trip. You can even add lists of places you’d like to visit, and Wanderlog will recommend the best way to get there. Reservations can also be added, Peter Yu said.

Wanderlog demo. Image Credits: Wanderlog

The company announced Wednesday it raised $1.5 million in seed funding from General Catalyst and Abstract Ventures.

“Wanderlog has built a product that has a unique understanding of how users plan trips and share their experiences — it’s no surprise that people love using it,” General Catalyst’s Niko Bonatsos said via email. “General Catalyst is proud to invest in Wanderlog as they change the way we travel together, and we’re excited by the growth Peter, Harry and the entire Wanderlog team have achieved.”

The company, which was part of Y Combinator’s 2019 cohort, plans to use the new funding to expand its web and mobile app features, including offering restaurant recommendations, based on Google and Yelp reviews, for those who don’t want to do a bunch of searching and reading reviews.

The founders declined to share growth metrics, but said the platform is already facilitating thousands of trips per week. Customers are already sharing with the founders that the app is good for communication among a large group, where everyone can see what the plans are and discuss them, Harry Yu said. In addition, they just launched a subscription service and are seeing good early metrics.

Wanderlog is among a number of travel startups attracting venture capital dollars as travel restrictions have begun to ease amid the pandemic. For example, just over the past month companies like Thatch raised $3 million for its platform aimed at travel creators, travel tech company Hopper brought in $175 million, Wheel the World grabbed $2 million for its disability-friendly vacation planner and Elude raised $2.1 million to bring spontaneous travel back to a hard-hit industry.

 

#abstract-ventures, #apps, #funding, #general-catalyst, #harry-yu, #niko-bonatsos, #peter-yu, #recent-funding, #software, #startups, #tc, #travel-startups, #travel-tech, #wanderlog, #y-combinator, #yelp

Link-in-bio monetization platform Snipfeed raises a $5.5M seed round

The link-in-bio business is heating up as more mobile website builders compete for a coveted slice of real estate on a creator’s TikTok, Instagram, or Twitter. Linktree leads the space, securing a recent $45 million Series B raise to build out e-commerce features, but Beacons boasts competitive creator monetization tools with just a $6 million seed round in May. Now, Snipfeed enters the ring with its own $5.5 million seed round, including investments from CRV, Abstract Ventures, Crossbeam (Ali Hamed), id8, Michael Ovitz (founder of CAA), Michael Bosstick, Diaspora Ventures, and others.

Linktree has been around since 2016 and has more funding than its up-and-coming competitors. But for creators seeking to monetize their following, these newer platforms may be more attractive to some creators, since they already have built-in tools to help them monetize their followings. Linktree currently supports tipping on the platform for users subscribed to its $6 Linktree Pro platform, but Snipfeed offers a wider range of monetization options; some creators are making over $20,000 per month on the platform, according to CEO and co-founder Rédouane Ramdani.

Snipfeed started as a content discovery platform with 44,000 weekly active users — but when Snipfeed added a creator monetization tool to its platform, it became its most popular feature. So, in February 2020, with little to no funding left, the company completely pivoted to its current link-in-bio business. Since then, Snipfeed has amassed 50,000 registered users, with the user base growing 500% in the last six months (Linktree, for comparison, has over 12 million users).

Based in Paris and Los Angeles, Snipfeed’s 15-person staff is particularly interested in the “long tail” of creators, which it says encompasses over 46 million people.

“Content creator doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to be the next Addison Rae or a TikTok star,” explained Ramdani. “It means that you might be a doctor or lawyer, and on top of that, you’re going to have a TikTok where you explain how to file your taxes and that kind of stuff. They have this expertise, and they’re wondering, ‘How can I turn that into a side-hustle?’”

Image Credits: Snipfeed

In addition to a standard tipping tool, Snipfeed allows users to sell digital goods, like on-demand video, ebooks, access to livestreams, and one-on-one consultations. But Snipfeed’s biggest differentiator is its Cameo-like system for selling personalized content. For example, TikToker maylikethemonthh uses Snipfeed to sell asynchronous, video-recorded tarot readings. While asking a single, personalized astrology question costs $5, a more in-depth reading can cost up to $20 or $40.

Snipfeed is free to set up, but if you make sales, the company takes 15% — this percentage is inclusive of any transaction fees. Through Snipfeed’s referral program, creators can make 5% of sales from anyone they onboard to the platform (this comes out of Snipfeed’s commission).

“We decided to go with this model because we really want to have a relationship where we help the creators really make money. We only make money if they make money,” Ramdani said.

If a creator or celebrity were to sell personalized videos on Cameo, they’d lose 25% to the platform. Meanwhile, Beacons takes 9% of sales from its free version, and 5% from its $10 per month version, which offers more customization, integrations, analytics.

Image Credits: Snipfeed

Still, depending on the type of creator, the features that each link-in-bio startup offers might matter more than the cost. Beacons allows users to share a shopping-enabled TikTok feed, which could be huge a money-maker for creators that often share product recommendations with affiliate links, which give them a commission from sales. Ramdani said that astrologers have been particularly successful on Snipfeed, since fans can book a variety of asynchronous services at a wide range of prices. But these features could benefit any creator who can profit from answering followers’ specific questions — a chef could offer recipe ideas based on what’s in a fan’s fridge, or a life coach could make a personalized video if a follower requests advice.

With its $5.5 million in seed funding, Snipfeed plans to build out its e-commerce tools so that creators can sell physical products on their link-in-bio (Beacons and Linktree are also working on this with their recent funding rounds — but Beacons’ and Snipfeed’s seed rounds are small compared to Linktree’s Series B). The company also wants to develop educational content to show its users how to best monetize their platform — if Snipfeed can help its creators make money, then it’ll make more money too.

#abstract-ventures, #ali-hamed, #apps, #beacons, #caa, #crossbeam, #founder, #instagram, #lawyer, #link-in-bio, #linktree, #los-angeles, #michael-ovitz, #monetization, #paris, #real-estate, #social-media, #software, #tiktok, #video-hosting, #website, #world-wide-web

Pietra raises $15M from Founders Fund to help creators launch their own product lines

In the white-hot creator economy space, startups are increasingly looking to build paint-by-numbers platforms to help budding creators more easily execute on what were once seemingly insurmountable business challenges.

The ex-Uber team at Pietra is cashing in on this vision with a plan to build a backend for launching and scaling creator product lines.

The startup, which previously acted as a marketplace for jewelry sellers, has changed a bit since they announced a seed round from Andreessen Horowitz in early 2019. Now, the company has pivoted from hocking diamonds to building a broad platform for creators that are looking to scale sales of physical goods, from interfacing with suppliers, handling orders and fulfillment and setting up an online storefronts.

Pietra tells TechCrunch they’ve just raised a $15 million Series A led by Founders Fund with additional participation from Andreessen Horowitz, TQ Ventures and Abstract Ventures. The deal was led by Founders Fund’s Keith Rabois.

“We were initially focused on jewelry and luxury and the rise of creators in this luxury segment,” CEO Ronak Trivedi tells TechCrunch. “When we launched our beta last fall we had this platform that had evolved from a marketplace to a creator hub where any size creator could come in, use the platform, marketplace and tools to effectively launch a digital-first consumer business in the most efficient, cost-effective way possible.”

Pietra allows customers to shop around with a network of suppliers, find which one is best for them and move through the process from crafting samples through order fulfillment with a tech platform to guide them through the process. Trivedi says the ultimate goal is to “find the best suppliers in the world and try and bring them on the platform at the lowest minimum orders, so that it allows the most people to try to start a business.”

The startup is trying to help small creators scale their product distribution, but also handle all of the bits that can determine success when it comes to launching a brand in the first place, including building a pre-sale website and building up some attractive marketing images of products.

Early on, Pietra has a pretty distinct list of product verticals that they’re specializing in, including swimwear, makeup, apparel, fragrances and jewelry, among a few others. Overall, their platform seems pretty centered on the types of products that have been broadly successful with influencers who are looking to build out their first brands.

Pietra’s pricing depends on how many of their services you’re using and what the scale of your operation is, but most services are charged on a per-unit basis with the startup also taking a percentage fee on goods sold through their marketplace. The startup is also working on a Pro offering with differentiated pricing designed for slightly more established brands that are doing multiple production runs per year.

#abstract-ventures, #andreessen, #andreessen-horowitz, #ceo, #economy, #entrepreneurship, #founders-fund, #private-equity, #recent-funding, #startup-company, #startups, #tc, #uber

Shopify acquires augmented reality home design app Primer

In Friday acquisition news, Shopify shared today that they’ve acquired augmented reality startup Primer, which makes an app that lets users visualize what tile, wallpaper or paint will look like on surfaces inside their home.

In a blog post, co-founders Adam Debreczeni and Russ Maschmeyer write that Primer’s app and services will be shutting down next month as part of the deal. Debreczeni tells TechCrunch that Primer’s team of eight employees will all be joining Shopify following the acquisition.

Primer had partnered with dozens of tile and textile design brands to allow users to directly visualize what their designs would look like using their iPhone and iPad and Apple’s augmented reality platform ARKit. The app has been highlighted by Apple several times including this nice write-up by the App Store’s internal editorial team.

Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. Primer’s backers included Slow Ventures, Abstract Ventures, Foundation Capital and Expa.

There’s been a lot of big talk about how augmented reality will impact online shopping, but aside from some of the integrations made in home design, there hasn’t been an awful lot that’s found its way into real consumer use. Shopify has worked on some of their own integrations — allowing sellers to embed 3D models into their storefronts that users can drop into physical space — but it’s clear that there’s much more room left to experiment.

#abstract-ventures, #app-store, #apple, #apple-inc, #augment, #augmented-reality, #companies, #foundation-capital, #ipad, #iphone, #online-shopping, #paint, #primer, #shopify, #slow-ventures, #software, #technology, #tile

Weav raises $4.3M to knit together a universal API for commerce platforms

Weav, which is building a universal API for commerce platforms, is emerging from stealth today with $4.3 million in funding from a bevy of investors, and a partnership with Brex.

Founded last year by engineers Ambika Acharya, Avikam Agur and Nadav Lidor after participating in the W20 YC batch, Weav joins the wave of fintech infrastructure companies that aim to give fintechs and financial institutions a boost. Specifically, Weav’s embedded technology is designed to give these organizations access to “real time, user-permissioned” commerce data that they can use to create new financial products for small businesses.  

Its products allow its customers to connect to multiple platforms with a single API that was developed specifically for the commerce platforms that businesses use to sell products and accept payments. Weav operates under the premise that allowing companies to build and embed new financial products creates new opportunities for e-commerce merchants, creators and other entrepreneurs. 

Left to right: Co-founders Ambika Acharya, Nadav Lidor and Avikam Agur; Image courtesy of Weav

In a short amount of time, Weav has seen impressive traction. Recently, Brex launched Instant Payouts for Shopify sellers using the Weav API. It supports platform integrations such as Stripe, Square, Shopify and PayPal. (More on that later.) Since its API went live in January, “thousands” of businesses have used new products and services built on Weav’s infrastructure, according to Lidor. Its API call volume is growing 300% month over month, he said.

And, the startup has attracted the attention of a number of big-name investors, including institutions and the founders of prominent fintech companies. Foundation Capital led its $4.3 million seed round, which also included participation from Y Combinator, Abstract Ventures, Box Group, LocalGlobe, Operator Partners, Commerce Ventures and SV Angel. 

A slew of founders and executives also put money in the round, including Brex founders Henrique Dubugras and Pedro Franceschi; Ramp founder Karim Atiyeh; Digits founders Jeff Seibert and Wayne Chang; Hatch founder Thomson Nguyen; GoCardless founder Matt Robinson and COO Carlos Gonzalez-Cadenas; Vouch founder Sam Hodges; Plaid’s Charley Ma as well as executives from fintechs such as Square, Modern Treasury and Pagaya.

Foundation Capital’s Angus Davis said his firm has been investing in fintech infrastructure for over a decade. And personally, before he became a VC, Davis was the founder and CEO of Upserve, a commerce software company. There, he says, he witnessed firsthand “the value of transactional data to enable new types of lending products.”

Foundation has a thesis around the type of embedded fintech that Weav has developed, according to Davis. And it sees a large market opportunity for a new class of financial applications to come to market built atop Weav’s platform.

“We were excited by Weav’s vision of a universal API for commerce platforms,” Davis wrote via email. “Much like Plaid and Envestnet brought universal APIs to banking for consumers, Weav enables a new class of B2B fintech applications for businesses.”

How it works

Weav says that by using its API, companies can prompt their business customers to “securely” connect their accounts with selling platforms, online marketplaces, subscription management systems and payment gateways. Once authenticated, Weav aggregates and standardizes sales, inventory and other account data across platforms and develops insights to power new products across a range of use cases, including lending and underwriting; financial planning and analysis; real-time financial services and business management tools.

For the last few years, there’s been a rise of API companies, as well as openness in the financial system that’s largely been focused on consumers, Lidor points out.

“For example, Plaid brings up very rich data about consumers, but when you think about businesses, oftentimes that data is still locked up in all kinds of systems,” he told TechCrunch. “We’re here to provide some of the building blocks and the access to data from everything that has to do with sales and revenue. And, we’re really excited about powering products that are meant to make the lives of small businesses and e-commerce, sellers and creators much easier and be able to get them access to financial products.”

In the case of Brex, Weav’s API allows the startup to essentially offer instant access to funds that otherwise would take a few days or a few weeks for businesses to access.

“Small businesses need access as quickly as possible to their revenue so that they can fund their operations,” Lidor said.

Brex co-CEO Henrique Dubugras said that Weav’s API gives the company the ability to offer real-time funding to more customers selling on more platforms, which saved the company “thousands of engineering hours” and accelerated its rollout timeline by months.

Clearly, the company liked what it saw, considering that its founders personally invested in Weav. Is Weav building the “Plaid for commerce”? Guess only time will tell.

#abstract-ventures, #angus-davis, #api, #banking, #box-group, #brex, #carlos-gonzalez-cadenas, #commerce-ventures, #e-commerce, #ecommerce, #finance, #financial-services, #financial-technology, #fintech-infrastructure, #foundation-capital, #funding, #fundings-exits, #hatch, #matt-robinson, #money, #online-marketplaces, #operator-partners, #paypal, #plaid, #real-time, #recent-funding, #shopify, #startup, #startups, #stripe, #tc, #thomson, #upserve, #venture-capital, #weav, #y-combinator

Alloy raises $4M to build out its e-commerce automation service

Alloy Automation, a startup that was part of the Y Combinator Winter 2020 cohort, announced today that it has closed $5 million across two rounds, the most recent of which brought $4 million to the company in October of 2020.

The new funds were raised at a $16 million pre-money, $20 million post-money valuation, Alloy told TechCrunch.

The company’s latest fundraising was led by Bain Capital Ventures and Abstract, with participation from Color Capital, BoxGroup and a collection of individual investors, including Shippo’s Laura Behrens Wu.

TechCrunch spoke with co-founders Sara Du, CEO, and Gregg Mojica, CTO, about the round, their market and their experience in Y Combinator.

Du, a Harvard dropout, and Mojicam, who skipped college altogether, met after the former emailed the latter about speaking at an open-source conference. The event didn’t end up happening, but the pair stayed in touch. Du wound up running a small streetwear store, interested in automation and app-connecting tools like Zapier, which she found to be too simple, and MuleSoft, which she described as very expensive. Out of a desire for something in between that would let her connect apps, Alloy Automation was eventually born.

After a launch on Product Hunt in 2019 offering “complex automation made easy, and with no code,” Bryant Chou, a founder at WebFlow, put money into the company. Alloy was looking to build prosumer automation tooling and now it had material backing.

The startup then went through Y Combinator the next year, sharpened its focus to the e-commerce market and, as it has just announced, attracted millions more from a cadre of investors.

The shift to focus on e-commerce from a broader toolset came from customer pull, the co-founders said. After starting out with a number of integrations for Twilio, HubSpot and other services, the team, toward the end of their time in Y Combinator, noticed places in the e-commerce world into which their product fit neatly. Alloy’s tech was being used by Shopify and BigCommerce customers, helping make e-commerce a fertile area for the company, its co-founders said.

Alloy’s tech helps e-commerce players link services to help automate their shipping, marketing, analytics and other tasks. One example that Du provided TechCrunch was customers using Alloy to connect SMS functionality to fulfillment tools. Doing so might allow small e-commerce companies to automatically text customers when their order ships, for example.

During Y Combinator, the pair said that they might have been the youngest set of founders in their batch. But despite being what they described as not the hottest company in the batch, they skipped the accelerator’s well-known demo day, having already raised capital.

Du said that it’s not generally encouraged to skip demo day. But as Alloy has gone on to raise even more capital, the decision seems to have worked out for the company. The founders also cited a desire to stay in stealth as part of their reasoning for skipping the investor confab, telling TechCrunch that they wanted to stay quiet and build until they “really [had] something.”

Alloy’s $4 million round came from a relationship that started when the startup had shown off its tech on Product Hunt. Bain had contacted the startup then, stayed in touch, and later did due diligence on it by talking about Alloy with e-commerce startups in its own portfolio.

Why $4 million? Per its founders, Alloy had barely dug into its original $1 million round when it raised more, but as the pair want to build out their go-to-market efforts, the capital made sense.

The founders said they intend to raise a Series A for Alloy, but that their current capital could float them for two or three years; their startup is a COVID baby, they joked, and after having some investors pull out of their pre-seed round, Alloy is conservative with its capital.

Finally, let’s talk growth. Per the pair, Q4 2020 was good for Alloy. That’s not surprising, as they serve e-commerce companies, firms that love holiday-boosted fourth-quarters. The founders told TechCrunch that during the fourth quarter, their in-house Slack channel set up to note payments, signups and other positive occurrences went off chronically.

The team today is the co-founders, three engineers, a designer and a marketer, spread across four time zones, with workers in America, India and the Philippines. Alloy intends to hire sales staff, new engineers and a customer success denizen.

Alloy’s software costs from $200 to $1,000 per month or more, depending on need. Let’s see how far it can scale on its new capital base.

#abstract-ventures, #alloy-automation, #bain-capital-ventures, #e-commerce, #ecommerce, #fundings-exits, #recent-funding, #startups, #tc, #y-combinator

TrustLayer raises $6M seed to become the ‘Carta for insurance’

TrustLayer, which provides insurance brokers with risk management services via a SaaS platform, has raised $6.6 million in a seed round.

Abstract Ventures led the financing, which also included participation from Propel Venture Partners, NFP Ventures, BoxGroup and Precursor Ventures. Interestingly, the startup also got some industry validation in the way of investors. Twenty of the top 100 insurance agencies in the U.S. (as well as some of their C-suite execs) put money in the round. Those agencies include Holmes Murphy, Heffernan and M3, among others.

BrokerTech Ventures (BTV), a group consisting of 13 tech-focused insurance agencies in the U.S. and 11 “top-tier” insurance companies, also invested in TrustLayer. The funding actually marked BTV’s first investment in a cohort member of its inaugural accelerator program. 

TrustLayer co-founder and CEO John Fohr said the company was founded on the premise that verification of insurance and business credentials is a major pain point for millions of businesses. The process takes time and is not always trustworthy, which can lead to money lost in the long run.

To help solve the problem, San Francisco-based TrustLayer has used robotic process automation (RPA) to build out what it describes as an automated and secure way for companies to verify insurance. It sells its software-as-a-service either through insurance brokers or directly to the companies themselves.

TrustLayer says that companies that use its platform can automate the verification of insurance, licenses, and compliance documents of business partners such as vendors, subcontractors, suppliers, borrowers, tenants, ride-sharing and franchisees. (By verification of insurance, we mean confirming that a company is actually insured and not just pretending to be.)

Recent traction includes companies working in the construction, property management, sports and hospitality industries. Insurance fraud is a real and expensive concern for companies working in those spaces, according to Fohr, who noted that the seed round was “heavily oversubscribed.”

TrustLayer’s long-term goal is to work with dozens of the largest brokers and carriers in the U.S. to build out a digital, real-time proof of insurance solution for businesses of all sizes, across all industries. 

“The best analogy to describe what we do is calling us the Carta for insurance,” Fohr told TechCrunch. “We’re automating a process that is hugely painful and manual to help our carrier and broker partners provide better services to their customers and help companies reduce risk and make sure their business partners  have the right coverage.”

David Mort, partner at Propel Venture Partners, said that nearly every business relationship requires one or both parties to prove they have the insurance required for engagement. 

TrustLayer comes in by “attacking a messy, data-rich, and unstructured problem within the insurance industry that is a major friction source for commerce.”

Mort appreciates that TrustLayer is tackling the problem not by becoming the insurance broker, but by working with the incumbents as a software solution.

Propel is no stranger to investing in fintech, having backed the likes of Coinbase, DocuSign, Guideline and Hippo. Mort acknowledges that much of the innovation in fintech has historically focused on the banking industry while the insurance industry has been slower to innovate.

“The most interesting opportunities we see are around modernizing legacy infrastructure, reducing friction, and improving the customer experience,” he told TechCrunch. “More generally, insurtech companies are well-positioned for this market environment, where recurring revenue (or policies in this case) is valued, and more people are at home shopping for digital financial services. The need for insurance is only increasing.”

Meanwhile, Ellen Willadsen, chief innovation officer at Holmes Murphy and executive sponsor of BrokerTech Ventures, noted that TrustLayer’s expanded digital proof of coverage software “is seeing high adoption” among member agencies.

TrustLayer will use its new capital to (naturally) some hiring of sales, marketing and engineering staff. It also plans to team up with The Institutes RiskStream Collaborative (considered to be one of the largest blockchain insurance consortiums in the U.S.) and insurance carriers to build out its digital proof of insurance offering.

Per a recent TechCrunch data analysis and some external data work on the insurtech venture capital market, it appears that private insurtech investment is matching the attention public investors are also giving the sector.

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