#DealMonitor – Embedded Capital investiert in bezahl.de – Finabro bekommt Millionen – Creandum setzt auf Passionfroot


Im #DealMonitor für den 4. 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.

INVESTMENTS

bezahl.de
+++ Embedded Capital, der neue Fonds von Ramin Niroumand und Michael Hock, sowie Marco Schnabl investieren 5 Millionen Euro in bezahl.de. Das Startup aus Köln, das 2018 von Lasse Diener und Ulrich Schmidt gegründet wurde, kümmert sich um Forderungs- und Zahlungsmanagement. “Im Automotive Umfeld konnte sich die Plattform mit ihrem ganzheitlichen und vertikalen Lösungsansatz bereits zum Branchenstandard für Forderungs- und Zahlungsmanagement entwickeln”, teilt das Unternehmen mit. Angel-Investoren wie Rolf Christof Dienst, Carlo Kölzer, Kai Siersleben, Gerhard Cromme und Carl-Peter Forster investierten zuvor bereits in bezahl.de. 70 Mitarbeiter:innen arbeiten derzeit für bezahl.de.

Finabro
+++ Lansdowne Partners, Venpace, Nikolaus von Bomhard, Maciej Kranz und Altinvestoren wie Uniqa Ventures investieren 5 Millionen Euro in Finabro. Das InsurTech aus Wien, das 2017 von Sören Obling gegründet wurde, setzt auf betriebliche Altersvorsorge (bAV).  “Ziel ist, mithilfe der digitalen Lösung die Verbreitung betrieblicher Altersvorsorgeprodukte zu beschleunigen und somit einen Beitrag zur Stärkung der Pensionssysteme zu leisten”, teilt das Unternehmen mit.

Nostos Genomics
+++ 42CAP, Frontline Ventures, Amino Collective, Entrepreneur First, Konstantin Mehl (Kaia Health), Robert Fenton (Qualio), Mark Evans (Kindred Capital) und Acequia Capital investieren 5 Millionen Euro in Nostos Genomics. Das Berliner Unternehmen, das 2018 von David Gorgan und Rocío Acuña Hidalgo gegründet wurde, kümmert sich um die KI-gesteuerte Erkennung von Erbgut bedingten Krankheiten. “Our variant interpretation platform enables genetic testing labs to give more people with genetic diseases a clear and fast diagnosis”, teilt das Unternehmen mit.

Passionfroot
+++ Der schwedische Geldgeber Creandum und einige Angel-Investoren investierten bereits im Dezember 3,4 Millionen US-Dollar in Passionfroot – siehe Linkedin. Das Startup aus Berlin, das 2021 von Jennifer Phan, Jens Joseph Mannanal und Michelle Tian gegründet wurde, richtet sich an die Creator Economy. Das Unternehmen verspricht dabei: “We bring everything from your creator business at a glance for your financial and mental wellbeing”.

506
+++ Siegfried Milly und Alexander Zrost, die Gründer der Infoniqa Gruppe sowie Leo Strohmayr (Ex-Invest-Vorstand) investieren 1 Million Euro in 506. “Mit den nun verfügbaren Mitteln wird nicht nur die Produktentwicklung beschleunigt, sondern auch der weitere Ausbau bei Marketing Data Projekten im DACH-Raum vorangetrieben”, schreibt das Unternehmen. Das Startups aus Linz, das 2020 von Gerhard Kürner und Andreas Stöckl gegründet wurde, positioniert sich als “Marketing Data Science-Vorreiter für datenschutzkonforme Analyse, Visualisierung und Aktivierung von digitalen Besucher- und Kundendaten”.

SK Gaming
+++ Der Lebensmittelriese Rewe investiert in SK Gaming. “Esport hat sich in den vergangenen Jahren sehr stark entwickelt und erreicht eine junge, aktive Zielgruppe, der sich REWE unter anderem auch als attraktiver Arbeitgeber präsentieren will”, teilt das Unternehmen mit. Das Kölner Unternehmen, das 1997 von Alexander T. Müller gegründet wurde, nimmt unter anderem an Games wie League of Legends, Clash Royale, FIFA20 und Hearthstone teil. Deutsche Telekom, der 1. FC Köln und Daimler investierten zuvor bereits in das Unternehmen. Mehr über SK Gaming

Immozy
Angel-Investoren wie Heiko Hubertz investieren eine mittlere sechsstellige Summe in Immozy. Das PropTech aus Hamburg, das 2021 von Ralf Baumann gegründet wurde, setzt auf einen Matching-Algorithmus, um passende Immobilien zu finden. “Das Angebot richtet sich primär an Privatpersonen, die eine Immobilie zur Selbstnutzung kaufen möchten und im aktuell schwierigen Marktumfeld oft kaum zum Zuge kommen”, teilt das Unternehmen mit.

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

Foto (oben): azrael74

#2cap, #506, #aktuell, #amino-collective, #berlin, #bezahl-de, #creandum, #e-sports, #embedded-capital, #entrepreneur-first, #finabro, #fintech, #frontline-ventures, #hamburg, #immozy, #insurtech, #koln, #lansdowne-partners, #linz, #nostos-genomics, #nx-technologies, #passionfroot, #proptech, #rewe, #sk-gaming, #uniqa-ventures, #venpace, #venture-capital, #wien

‘Thin file’ loans startup Koyo closes $50M Series A led by Force Over Mass

Koyo, a fintech startup using open banking to offer loans to people with poor credit histories, has closed a Series A funding round of $50m in debt and equity led by Force Over Mass, with participation from existing investors Forward Partners, Frontline Ventures and Seedcamp. New investors in Koyo include Force Over Mass, Matt Robinson (founder of GoCardless, founder of Nested), and angel investors from the banking and lending sectors.  It last raised $4.9 million in 2019. With many sectors of the population having racked up debts during the pandemic, Koyo is likely to benefit from this underclass of consumer, normally rejected by the main loans companies.

The startup says it uses Open Banking data (bank transactions), rather than credit agency scores to underwrite risk for lending to consumers. In other words, it looks at how customers spend their money on a day-to-day basis, rather than what a credit agency says about them. The idea is to offer attractive rates and cheaper borrowing to a usually underserved market, usually known as ‘thin file’ customers (short or no credit history) or ‘near prime’ customers. The near-prime market equates to c13-15m people in the UK.

Thomas Olszewski, Koyo’s founder and a former VC with Frontline Ventures in London and Cavalry Ventures in Berlin, said in a statement: “Koyo launched at the start of the global pandemic and has proven that innovative use of open banking data results in better risk decisioning and ultimately has enabled us to grow the business during one of the toughest economic times the UK has faced. I’m proud to have continued to give many people in the UK access to competitively priced credit, during a time where most traditional lenders were quick to scale back their lending.”

Filip Coen, Force Over Mass partner, said, “We invest in companies that combine transformational technology with strong business models, and Koyo indexed strongly in both of those departments. Koyo has built a first-class foundation over the last 18 months of operation, and we’re excited to be part of its future”.

#bank, #banking, #berlin, #cavalry-ventures, #economy, #europe, #fintech-startup, #forward-partners, #founder, #frontline-ventures, #gocardless, #koyo, #london, #massachusetts, #matt-robinson, #nested, #open-banking, #seedcamp, #tc, #united-kingdom

Collectiv raises $16M Series A to connect food producers directly with kitchens

In the modern world, we tend to like to know where our food comes from and this has massively influenced professional kitchens. For decades, food suppliers have sat on one side and distribution channels (restaurants and the like) on the other. But large wholesalers in the middle have traditionally crushed producers on prices and late payments. Professional kitchens can circumvent this by going direct to food producers. But they can’t manage hundreds of direct relationships. It’s just not been possible. Until the Internet.

Collective Food is a new startup that addresses this with a new take on the food supply chain model. It directly sources products from suppliers, unlocking price advantages for both suppliers and buyers, it says. Its competitors include Brakes, Bidfood, and Transgourmet.

It’s now raised £12M / $16M in its Series A funding round led by VNV Global, along with VisVires New Protein (VVNP), Octopus Ventures, Norrsken VC, and existing investors, including Partech, Colle Capital, and Mustard Seed. Frontline Ventures was the earliest investor in 2017.

Launched in 2019, Collectiv so far operates in the UK and France. It operates by sourcing food directly from producers, disintermediating the wholesaler middleman, and delivering straight to professional kitchens. Customers include restaurants, hotels, catering firms, meal-kit companies, and dark kitchens. The company claims that this approach generates 50% less CO2 emissions than traditional supply methods better prices, fresher products, transparency, traceability, and more reliable service.

Customers include Big Mamma Group, The Hush Collection, Dirty Bones, Megan’s, Crussh, Butchies, Cocotte, Tossed, and Fresh Fitness Food. 

Collectiv founder Jeremy Hibbert-Garibaldi said in a statement: “We’re being pushed by a combination of strong tailwinds: end-consumers demanding a better understanding of provenance; cities implementing air pollution regulations that limit large freight; a post-Covid hospitality industry desperate to improve margins but with limited staff availability to facilitate this in-house. Combined with our innovative model, we’re able to set our sights on not only becoming a European leader in food distribution over the next few years, but even a global one.”

Björn von Sivers, Investment Manager at VNV Global, said: “Collectiv’s innovative managed marketplace connects a fragmented supply of producers with the very fragmented demand of professional kitchens, creating improved transparency amongst other clear network improvements for all stakeholders.”

In his former profession as a Forensic Accountant, Hibbert-Garibaldi came across the business model for Collective after he investigated one of the largest supermarket chains in the UK and their food wholesale leg, mainly for violations of codes of conduct, such as how they were behaving with their suppliers. “I quickly realized that food supply chains were broken, with too much opacity and malpractice, and at the end of the day not benefiting any sides of the marketplace,” he said.

Engrained with a passion for food from his French and Italian origins, he quit his job and spend months in restaurant kitchens to understand the problems they faced: “I wanted to understand why it was so hard for them to source good products, know exactly where their food was coming from, and receive these products reliably and sustainably whenever they needed them. Using this I built my case study to get out to investors and start the business.”

It remains to be seen if Collectiv can scale, or take a chunk out of the vast food supply chain industry, but if it ends up appealing both to suppliers and distributors it will be very interesting to watch.

#bjorn-von-sivers, #brakes, #europe, #food, #france, #frontline-ventures, #investment-manager, #leader, #octopus-ventures, #series-a, #supply-chain, #supply-chain-management, #tc, #united-kingdom, #vnv-global

#DealMonitor – Localyze sammelt 12 Millionen ein – Blockpit bekommt 8 Millionen – Edyoucated sammelt 2,1 Millionen ein


Im aktuellen #DealMonitor für den 7. Juli werfen wir wieder 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.

INVESTMENTS

Localyze
+++ Blossom Capital, Frontline Ventures und Angel-Investoren wie Andrew Robb (ex-Farfetch), Des Traynor (Intercom), Hanno Renner (Personio), David Clarke (Workday) und Michael Wax (Forto) investieren 12 Millionen US-Dollar in Localyze. Das Startup aus Hamburg unterstützt “Unternehmen bei Herausforderungen rund um die globale Mobilität von Mitarbeitern”. Gemeintr sind damit alle Prozesse rund um Themen wie Relocation, Visumsverlängerungen bis zu Transfers zwischen Niederlassungen. Localyze wurde 2018 von Hanna Asmussen, Lisa Dahlke und Franzi Löw gegründet. “Localyze wird das zusätzliche Kapital dafür nutzen neue Märkte zu erschließen und die Produktentwicklung zu beschleunigen. Darüber hinaus sollen weitere Mitarbeiter für die Bereiche Engineering, Produktdesign und Marketing eingestellt werden”, teilt das Unternehmen mit.

Blockpit
+++ Middle Game Ventures, Fabric Ventures, Force over Mass Capital, Tioga Capital, Avaloq und Altinvestor Venionaire investieren 10 Millionen US-Dollar in Blockpit. Das FinTech aus Linz, das 2017 von Florian Wimmer, Mathias Maier, Gerd Karlhuber, Patric Stadlbauer und Gert Weidinger gegründet wurde, möchte Anleger mit seiner Software Cryptotax bei der Steuererklärung im Hinblick auf ihre Krypto-Assets unterstützen. 18 Mitarbeiter:innen wirken derzeit für die Jungfirma.

Edyoucated
+++ Earlybird Venture Capital, First Momentum Ventures und mehrere Angel-Investoren investieren 2,1 Millionen Euro in Edyoucated. Bei Edyoucated dreht sich alles ums Lernen. “Durch eine einzigartige Kombination aus personalisierten digitalen Lernpfaden und Experten-Mentoring erhalten Mitarbeitende genau das richtige Lernprogramm, angepasst an Vorwissen und die strategischen Ziele Ihres Unternehmens”, teilt das Startup mit. Edyoucated wurde 2019 von David Middelbeck, Jan Papenbrock, Marius Vennemann und Jannik Weichert in Münster gegründet. Edyoucated war bereits in unseren Pitch-Podcast zu Gast. Hört mal rein.

cubemos 
+++ Business Angels aus dem CDTM Netzwerk investieren 1,5 Millionen Euro in cubemos. Mit dem Unternehmen aus Taufkirchen werden Audits und Zertifizierungen digital. “Unsere Software bietet dabei einen zentralen Ort, an dem auditrelevante Daten automatisiert aggregiert und zugänglich gemacht werden”, teilt das Startup in eigener Sache mit. cubemos wurde von Andreas Franz, Patrick Bilic und Christopher Scheubel gegründet.

IoT Venture
+++ Die BMH Beteiligungs-Managementgesellschaft Hessen und der Venture Capital-Geber Mobility Boost investieren 1,2 Millionen Euro in IoT Venture. “Beide Investoren übernehmen im Rahmen einer Kapitalerhöhung Beteiligungen in Höhe von sechs Prozent an der IoT Venture GmbH”, teilt die Jungfirma aus Darmstadt mit. Das 2016 gegründete Unternehmen bietet Hard- und Software auf Basis von LPWAN-Technologien an.  Zudem bietet IoT Venture mit Marken wie It’s my bike eigene Produkte an.

Achtung! Wir freuen uns über Tipps, Infos und Hinweise, was wir in unserem #DealMonitor alles so aufgreifen sollten. Schreibt uns eure Vorschläge entweder ganz klassisch per E-Mail oder nutzt unsere “Stille Post“, unseren Briefkasten für Insider-Infos.

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

Foto (oben): azrael74

#aktuell, #avaloq, #blockpit, #blossom-capital, #cubemos, #darmstadt, #e-learning, #earlybird-venture-capital, #edtech, #edyoucated, #fabric-ventures, #fintech, #first-momentum-ventures, #force-over-mass-capital, #frontline-ventures, #hamburg, #iot-venture, #its-my-bike, #linz, #localyze, #middle-game-ventures, #munster, #taufkirchen, #taxtech, #tioga-capital, #venionaire, #venture-capital

Localyze raises $12M for a SaaS that supports cross-border hiring and relocation

Y-Combinator-backed Localyze has nabbed $12 million in Series A funding led by Blossom Capital for a SaaS that supports staff relocations and hiring across borders.

Previous investor Frontline Ventures also participated,with a number of angel investors joining the round — including Andrew Robb (ex-Farfetch); Des Traynor, co-founder and CSO at Intercom; Hanno Renner, co-founder and CEO at Personio; David Clarke, former CTO at Workday; and Michael Wax, CEO of Forto.

In the first quarter of 2021, the Hamburg, Germany-based startup — which was founded in 2018 by a trio of women: CEO Hanna Asmussen, COO Lisa Dahlke, and CTO Franzi Löw — saw a record 300% revenue bump.

Localyze’s current roster of customers include the likes of Free Now, Trade Republic, Babbel, Thoughtworks, Tier Mobility, DeepL, Forto and Personio.

The startup suggests the pandemic-triggered rise in remote working is helping to drive demand for relocations as employees reassess where they want to be physically based. Its SaaS aims to streamline immigration-related admin tasks like visa applications; work and residence permits and registration; as well as providing help with housing and banking in the destination country.

“It was very interesting, we did of course see a negative impact from COVID-19 in 2020 but the main reason why we never worried about our business model is that we knew the businesses have never been the only driver of relocations,” Asmussen tells TechCrunch.

“We did a survey among the internationals we relocated and 98% stated that they wanted to relocate, and weren’t forced by the company. I of course believe that some people will choose not to relocate but at the same time, the increased flexibility [of remote working] opens many more doors for other people to relocate — and also for different time frames.”

To date, Localyze says it’s helped more than 2,000 people from over 100 countries relocate internationally. But it reckons that’s just the start.

“Relocation is becoming a benefit at some companies, and the overall number of people moving across borders during their working life is increasing drastically,” argues Asmussen.

Before COVID-19 hit and reconfigured so much of how we live, almost two million people relocated for work within Europe each year. But Localyze cites a PwC study on mobility in the global skilled workforce that suggests employee relocation is set to increase by 50% as we emerge from the pandemic.

“While the percentage of the global skilled workforce that is mobile — meaning that they work or worked abroad — is currently still very low, around 20% I think, it is expected to grow to up to 80% in the next decade,” she suggests. 

Localyze’s SaaS is designed to simplify and support staff relocations or cross-border hiring, offering digital tools to automate admin and case tracking, helping companies and employees navigate what can be complex, bureaucratic and even stressful immigration requirements.

“We developed a software that automates large parts of the relevant processes around global mobility,” explains Asmussen. “The core of our technology is a pipeline system that maps out all possibilities of how the employee can enter a country and matches the pipeline with the characteristics of that employee (e.g. nationality, family status or education). This guarantees that the employee gets all the relevant information throughout his/her process and that our case managers can focus on more individual questions.

“One big advantage of this pipeline system is that we built a no-code solution to manage it. Together with our CMS to edit the content of the steps, we are able to quickly expand the usability of our software to new countries and use cases.

“On the HR side our software helps to manage and track the process of all employees with the ease of mind that we notify them about changes or required actions. The HR manager can simply add a case, or transfer information over through our integration with their HRIS and we take it from there.”

Asmussen says the core of the platform is the automation of the paperwork with the startup supplementing that by providing a level of (human) support — in the form of case workers, who can field users’ questions and/or troubleshoot issues.

Case types its platform handles — such as obtaining a new visa, getting an extension etc — get broken down into a series of individual tasks that need to be carried out (and checked off), with the individual set of ‘dos’ determined by the characteristics of the person (origin, family, salary, etc.).

So essentially it’s built a decision tree with 30-50 variations per country, based on the specificity of each set of rules.

“The employee is seeing this as a personalized set of to do’s in her/his dashboard and can then go through them,” notes Asmussen, adding: “The case managers are there for questions and to give additional guidance when problems occur.

“Thanks to the automation engine, we can operate at 80% gross margin today.”

Localyze also offers a “pre-check” feature that give companies the opportunity to get information on a case that’s being considered — such as showing information on applicable conditions like the salary limits associated with a role when it comes to the visa of a new hire and the timeline that may be involved — to  make it easier for them to understand the complexity of a case. (Which may in turn help them make an informed decision on a start date for a particular hire.)

The startup says it’s been seeing growth rates hitting, on average, more than 30% month-on-month, as employer demand for its services accelerates.

The Series A funding will be used to capitalize on growing demand by expanding into new regions — with Localyze saying it will start by focusing on “major hubs” for international talent, in Ireland, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands and the UK, so it can target more high-growth companies with offices across Europe.

Currently it has over 120 customers — and it’s expecting that to double by the end of the year.

It also predicts existing accounts will expand in value — with Asmussen saying it’s closing larger ACVs (annual contract value), and seeing existing accounts “grow strongly” over time. (It offers tiered pricing for the SaaS, based on usage.)

Europe remains the primary focus for its business currently — with all cases it supports entailing helping customers relocate staff to the region (“from all over the world”) and within Europe itself. 

“The predominant destinations are Germany, Ireland, Spain and the UK,” says Asmussen. “With the funding, we want to accelerate our expansion in the UK, Ireland, Netherlands, Portugal & Spain, besides our core market Germany. We’ve been operating in these markets for a while and now look at strengthening our go to market across Europe.”

She says Localyze’s 25-strong team will at least double by the end of the year, with the startup planning to hire across all teams — with a particular focus on expanding engineering and product to keep pace with the scaling business; and beefing up sales and customer support capacity to support its continued growth.  

On the competitor front, Asmussen names Estonia-headquartered Jobbatical as its closest rival for relocation support with the same digital focus.

She also points to Topia as providing some competing services — but says it has more of a focus on software for HR professionals and integrating partners vs Localyze providing both a HR and an employee portal plus the ‘glue’ of its “automation engine”.

Localyze also argues it differentiates vs “more traditional” relocation agencies (e.g. Cartus and Graebel), per Asmussen, because it offers “end-to-end support” in a fully digital form — giving users “full visibility and transparency at all times”, as she tells it, and helping to streamline and simplify processes in “what has previously been a complex and confusing space”.

Increased flexibility of work and and mobility of the global workforce looks set to be one firm (and typically welcome) legacy of the pandemic — one which Localyze already had a handle on supporting, putting it in a strong position to scale its SaaS as demand steps up in the coming years.

Rising levels of employee mobility may, in turn, make subscribing to a software service that assists relocations and cross-border hiring more of a ‘must have’ than a ‘nice to have’ for more types of businesses — especially as competition for talent heats up given the rising opportunities of remote work.

“In 2021, companies will need to define how they are going to operate post-COVID-19, and many companies keep locations as part of their people strategy. Yet they try to offer more flexibility in terms of location choices, which in many cases results in the creation of different talent hubs and a mix of remote with in-person hubs/offices. This means increased operations across borders and more employee mobility, both long and short-term, because people will make use of these options,” Asmussen predicts. 

Commenting on the Series A in a statement, Blossom Capital’s Ophelia Brown added: “Access to the very best talent is a huge consideration for businesses of all sizes, but for high-growth enterprises, it’s absolutely crucial that nothing gets in the way of being able to tap into the skills and abilities of staff anywhere in Europe. Localyze removes all of these barriers. Instead of being bogged down by the costly and lengthy relocation processes, enterprises can concentrate on the job at hand and their employees can feel confident and secure that their relocation – often one of the biggest decisions they’ll have to make in their career – is dealt with efficiently and without a hitch.”

#blossom-capital, #cartus, #europe, #farfetch, #forto, #frontline-ventures, #germany, #hamburg, #hanno-renner, #human-resource-management, #ireland, #localyze, #ophelia-brown, #personio, #personnel, #recent-funding, #saas, #software-as-a-service, #spain, #startup-company, #startups, #telecommuting, #united-kingdom

Humaans raises $5M seed to make it easier for companies to on-board and manage staff

Humaans, a London-based HR startup, has raised $5 million in seed funding to accelerate the development of its employee on-boarding and management platform. Backing the round is Y Combinator, Mattias Ljungman’s Moonfire, Frontline Ventures and former head of Stripe Issuing, Lachy Groom.

A number of other investors, made up of seasoned entrepreneurs and startup operators, also participated. They include LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner (via Next Play Ventures), Stripe COO Claire Johnson, Figma CEO Dylan Field, Intercom co-founder Des Traynor, former Workday CTO David Clarke, former Benchmark GP Scott Belsky, Notion COO Akshay Kothari, Qubit co-founder Emre Baran, Evervault CEO Shane Curren and Stripe head of security Gerardo Di Giacomo.

Founded by former Qubit employees Giovanni Luperti and Karolis Narkevicius, Humaans came into existence formerly in April 2020 after the pair quit the product agency they had founded together. With a soft launch the previous year while bootstrapping, and with validation from early users, Luperti and Narkevicius decided they had found enough product-market fit to focus on the startup full-time.

“We bootstrapped Humaans by reinvesting capital from the previous businesses we co-founded,” explains CEO Luperti. “After gaining initial commercial traction, we decided to raise capital and brought a number of investors and operators onboard, and joined Y Combinator”.

Pitching itself as a central hub for employee on-boarding and management — or a single source of truth for staffing — Humaans aims to play nicely by integrating with other existing SaaS used across the “HR stack”. This is because scaling companies are increasingly rejecting all-encompassing HR software and using the best modern SaaS offerings for various different functions.

“Companies are frustrated with poorly integrated HR stacks, making processes slow while exposing them to compliance risks,” says Luperti. “This is why the adoption of point solutions is increasing dramatically. Companies are adopting what’s best based on their needs and stage of growth to address their people needs”.

For example, a company may choose an applicant tracking system, a performance management system, contract management software and an employee engagement platform, and so on. “This makes the ‘all-in-one’ model antiquated, creating the opportunity for a solution like Humaans to emerge. We’re building a layer of infrastructure for all employee data”.

This is seeing Humaans attempt to bring together the full HR stack and automate processes like on-boarding, off-boarding and compensation management with fast workflows that can be set up not dissimilar to an IFTTT or Zapier-style type of interaction model.

Image Credits: Humaans

“If you ask around, most employees dislike their HR software,” says Luperti. “HR tools have historically been clunky, slow and not good at providing a good user experience. Existing players focused more on sales and acquisition than retention through product. But HR buyers today are more sophisticated than ever and have an appetite for best in class. We’re building the Slack of HR… an employee management platform that’s both delightful and very powerful”.

To that end, Humaans says it grew 3x in the past few months and is popular amongst distributed companies, such as Pleo, ChartMogul, Bombinate, HeySummit and Pento.

Adds the Humaans CEO: “There are two segments of existing players: those targeting SMEs, and those working with corporations. Serving the companies in the middle is the opportunity we’re going after”.

#europe, #frontline-ventures, #fundings-exits, #humaans, #human-resources, #lachy-groom, #moonfire-ventures, #recent-funding, #startups, #tc, #y-combinator

Despite Brexit and COVID-19, Irish investors remain bullish

Ireland’s technology scene has come in leaps and bounds in the last decade, with a growing VC scene, plenty of startups and tech giants attracted by the nation’s favorable tax incentives and talent pool.

Google, Facebook, Slack, Microsoft and Dropbox each have a European headquarters sited in Dublin. As the EU’s only remaining English-language speaking hub, Ireland is attracting more diversity in its founders than ever before, plus the tech diaspora is returning to its roots as the ecosystem matures.

We surveyed five local VCs to find out if they had any wisdom to share with TechCrunch readers who are considering hiring, investing or founding a company in Ireland this year.

VCs in Ireland don’t stray far from home, but there are plenty of great deals to be had there anyway. A small domestic market means Irish startups think internationally from launch, and there are high-quality seed opportunities. Top-tier American VCs like Sequoia are placing bets on Irish companies, sometimes even at a pre-seed stage.

The coronavirus pandemic has not really impacted many investment strategies — aside from the switch to Zoom calls instead of meet-and-greets — but it has made hiring more challenging, given the competitiveness of the local labor market. Still, top engineering talent is cheaper there than in the U.S., which means entrepreneurs can create great companies with less overhead.


We just launched Extra Crunch in Ireland. Subscribe for access to all of our investor surveys, company profiles and other insider coverage for startups everywhere. Save 25% off the cost of a one-year Extra Crunch membership by entering discount code IRISHCRUNCH.


We spoke with the following investors:


Andrew O’Neill, principal, Act Venture Capital

What trends are you most excited about investing in, generally?
We are seeing high-quality seed opportunities that are leading with exciting developer-first/bottoms-up go-to-market strategies in both security and enterprise software. The shift left in security is very well-publicized, but we feel the cultural element of developers truly caring about security and implementing it at design phase is still only beginning … and it’s hugely exciting.

What’s your latest, most exciting investment?
It’s a B2B SaaS design tool, in the world of Figma, Sketch and Invision App … and has some very interesting angels. It is only just complete and not announced yet … and we have not talked to any PR agencies yet, but would be happy to pitch an exclusive to you 😉

Are there startups that you wish you would see in the industry but don’t? What are some overlooked opportunities right now?
As a domestic market, Ireland is very small … so by its very nature, we do not see the same level of great B2C as the U.K. The expertise … and second, third-time consumer-tech founders are not as common, but there are still of course huge opportunities in the consumer space and companies like Buymie are proving it can be done in Ireland.

What are you looking for in your next investment, in general?
Like every investment: The people that truly understand the pain point, have passion around the product, have the patience and grit to keep going, and finally the potential for this company to become a category creator.

Which areas are either oversaturated or would be too hard to compete in at this point for a new startup? What other types of products/services are you wary or concerned about?
No competition means no market … however there are high volumes of startups empowering remote working, productivity tools and HR tech focused around company culture metrics etc. … but that said, there is a wave of change happening around the future of work that no one has a crystal ball on, and new category winners will still emerge.

How much are you focused on investing in your local ecosystem versus other startup hubs (or everywhere) in general? More than 50%? Less?
Very focused on Ireland and more than 50% … we can invest in Series A and B across Europe, but we invest at seed exclusively in Ireland.

Which industries in your city and region seem well-positioned to thrive, or not, long term? What are companies you are excited about (your portfolio or not), which founders?
Enterprise software startups have always been well-positioned for success within Ireland, and that has only increased with the secondary effects now appearing from the result of great talent coming out of large MNCs driven by 20+ years of FDI. Act has invested in over 120 companies and over half is in enterprise software. We are excited about seeing a new emerging amount of repeat founders in our portfolio (and Ireland) like Barry Lunn in Provizio, and Cathal McGloin in ServisBOT.

How should investors in other cities think about the overall investment climate and opportunities in your city?
When we looked at all the data in Ireland recently, there has been a 115% increase from €401 million to €860 million invested per annum over the last four years. So the market size has doubled and we are seeing some very exciting seed companies, which bides very well for the future.

Do you expect to see a surge in more founders coming from geographies outside major cities in the years to come, with startup hubs losing people due to the pandemic and lingering concerns, plus the attraction of remote work?
Personally, I do expect to see even more great startups coming out of the south like Cork and Limerick and the west in Galway, but I don’t foresee startup hubs significantly losing people due to the pandemic and remote work.

Which industry segments that you invest in look weaker or more exposed to potential shifts in consumer and business behavior because of COVID-19? 
It’s obvious that there are now serious questions around the level of future of business travel, given how people have been forced to rethink and adapt how they do business. This industry shift alone will create both big winners and losers long term.

How has COVID-19 impacted your investment strategy? What are the biggest worries of the founders in your portfolio? What is your advice to startups in your portfolio right now?
Not hugely, given the long-term timeframe we consider when investing. The bigger question around changing consumer behaviors, the acceleration of e-commerce adoption and digital transformation is something we are of course taking into account. Our advice is always bespoke and contextual to the individual startup, and only given when asked.

Are you seeing “green shoots” regarding revenue growth, retention or other momentum in your portfolio as they adapt to the pandemic?
Yes, our portfolio has proven itself to be quite robust through COVID and companies like SilverCloud Health, Toothpic and Buymie are experiencing great tailwinds due to the current pandemic environment.

What is a moment that has given you hope in the last month or so? This can be professional, personal or a mix of the two.
Personally, seeing some incredibly talented founders with deep expertise at seed stage that are repeat founders. They know exactly what they want and need to do to go bigger this time around, and we believe they can get there much quicker than before.

 

Isabelle O’Keeffe, principal, Sure Valley Ventures

What trends are you most excited about investing in, generally?
AI/ML, cybersecurity, immersive technologies and gaming infrastructure.

What’s your latest, most exciting investment?
Getvisbility and Volograms.

Are there startups that you wish you would see in the industry but don’t? What are some overlooked opportunities right now? What are you looking for in your next investment, in general?
Companies that are really creating defensibility using the technology. Companies creating new markets.

Which areas are either oversaturated or would be too hard to compete in at this point for a new startup? What other types of products/services are you wary or concerned about?
Ride-sharing, on-demand delivery, payments and challenger banks.

How much are you focused on investing in your local ecosystem versus other startup hubs (or everywhere) in general? More than 50%? Less?
We invest more than 50% in our local ecosystem versus other startup hubs.

Which industries in your city and region seem well-positioned to thrive, or not, long term? What are companies you are excited about (your portfolio or not), which founders?
The industries that will continue to thrive include: financial services, property and construction, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing and Big Tech. We’re very excited about some of our portfolio companies including VividQ, Admix, Buymie, Nova Leah and WarDucks.

How should investors in other cities think about the overall investment climate and opportunities in your city?
Dublin and Ireland have a growing and prosperous tech ecosystem and there are plenty of great investment opportunities there.

Do you expect to see a surge in more founders coming from geographies outside major cities in the years to come, with startup hubs losing people due to the pandemic and lingering concerns, plus the attraction of remote work?
Yes I would agree that we will see some of this happening. However, I do think that once there is a vaccine that we will see the return of cities and people will naturally be attracted back there.

Which industry segments that you invest in look weaker or more exposed to potential shifts in consumer and business behavior because of COVID-19? What are the opportunities startups may be able to tap into during these unprecedented times?
We have seen limited impact of COVID on some of segments that we invest into. The opportunities exist for companies operating in the future or work including remote working, e-commerce, on-demand grocery delivery, cybersecurity, gaming and immersive technologies.

How has COVID-19 impacted your investment strategy? What are the biggest worries of the founders in your portfolio? What is your advice to startups in your portfolio right now?
COVID has not really impacted our investment strategy bar the fact that we have had to get comfortable with a lot of the process being conducted via Zoom. We have not shifted away from certain sectors or industries as we have tended to invest into areas that are relatively unaffected. The biggest worries for founders in our portfolio are around raising their next round of funding, hitting key milestones, achieving a repeatable go-to-market strategy and hiring great talent.

My advice to startups in my portfolio now is to keep a very close eye on burn, ensure that if they are going out to fundraise that they realize it can take at least two months longer than they originally anticipated and to continue to be working on the product and technology at times when sales have slowed down as when they emerge from this period they will be in a much stronger position with their products and technology and the sales will follow.

Are you seeing “green shoots” regarding revenue growth, retention or other momentum in your portfolio as they adapt to the pandemic?
Yes we have “green shoots’ regarding momentum in Buymie, which is an “on-demand grocery delivery” company who have seen a surge in demand for the service due to the pandemic. Getvisibility, which is a cybersecurity company, has also seen a surge in interest from companies in the financial services, and pharmaceutical and defense industries as they adapt to their employees working from home and where there are greater risks of cyberattacks.

What is a moment that has given you hope in the last month or so? This can be professional, personal or a mix of the two.
I think the moment for everyone recently has been the announcement that we could be closer to a vaccine than we originally thought and that we may be able to resume normal life next year.

 

Nicola McClafferty, partner, Draper Esprit

What trends are you most excited about investing in, generally?
Future of work/consumerization of enterprise, machine-learning applications.

What’s your latest, most exciting investment?
Sweepr — automation of customer care for connected homes.

Are there startups that you wish you would see in the industry but don’t? What are some overlooked opportunities right now?
True AI, digital health.

What are you looking for in your next investment, in general?
Global ambition.

Which areas are either oversaturated or would be too hard to compete in at this point for a new startup? What other types of products/services are you wary or concerned about?
E-scooters.

How much are you focused on investing in your local ecosystem versus other startup hubs (or everywhere) in general? More than 50%? Less?
~20%.

Which industries in your city and region seem well-positioned to thrive, or not, long term? What are companies you are excited about (your portfolio or not), which founders?
Software application, AI, machine learning, life sciences. key companies, WorkVivo, Manna Aero, Open, Sweepr, Roomex and Evervault.

How should investors in other cities think about the overall investment climate and opportunities in your city?
Unfortunately seed stage is dramatically underserved by local players. Hiring can be challenging given competitiveness of labor market with large tech MNCs. However deep entrepreneurship culture, global thinking from day one, incredibly strong pool of technical talent from Irish universities. It’s also a key destination of other European founders. Brexit opens even more opportunity for this.

Do you expect to see a surge in more founders coming from geographies outside major cities in the years to come, with startup hubs losing people due to the pandemic and lingering concerns, plus the attraction of remote work?
Startup economy will likely become a bit more distributed around the country but this will be a positive. Cities like Dublin, Cork and Galway will however remain strong hubs.

Which industry segments that you invest in look weaker or more exposed to potential shifts in consumer and business behavior because of COVID-19? What are the opportunities startups may be able to tap into during these unprecedented times?
Travel tech extremely challenged but the best companies will survive and huge winners will emerge in the COVID recovery when travel returns. Big opportunity to accelerate enterprise SaaS adoption and automation as budgets have shifted dramatically to digital infrastructure and cost-cutting and productivity becomes key focus.

How has COVID-19 impacted your investment strategy? What are the biggest worries of the founders in your portfolio? What is your advice to startups in your portfolio right now?
Strategy remains largely intact with some further reserves used to support companies. For those businesses very directly impacted (e.g., travel) — concern is visibility and timing of recovery that is largely out of founder control. Other concerns include cash runway in times of uncertainty — how will the market view performance for future fundraise; in big enterprise how to adapt your sales model for a remote world.

Are you seeing “green shoots” regarding revenue growth, retention or other momentum in your portfolio as they adapt to the pandemic?
Most definitely. As tech businesses most have been very adaptable and are responding to customer needs as they change. After a slow Q2 many businesses rebounded very well in Q3 and have returned to strong growth. Early churn has been flushed out already.

What is a moment that has given you hope in the last month or so? This can be professional, personal or a mix of the two.
Announcement of the vaccine! Path to recovery is nearing.

 

Michelle Dervan, partner, Rethink Education Management, LLC

What trends are you most excited about investing in, generally?
I am deeply specialized in education technology investing. Interested in seeing tailored Zoom alternatives for the classroom, tech-enabled vocational training programs, corporate learning solutions for the distributed workforce.

What’s your latest, most exciting investment?
Crehana, an online skills training platform serving Latin America.

Are there startups that you wish you would see in the industry but don’t? What are some overlooked opportunities right now?
Upskilling and reskilling programs for displaced workers.
Shorter, cheaper training programs and credentialing for middle-skills jobs.
Software to help high school students prep for college and career.
Effective remediation programs that can help students catch up on lost learning during COVID.

What are you looking for in your next investment, in general?
Outliers in terms of evidence of product market fit, proof of efficacy, impact baked into the business model, team with unique understanding of the problem and ability to execute against it.

Which areas are either oversaturated or would be too hard to compete in at this point for a new startup? What other types of products/services are you wary or concerned about?
K-12 supplemental apps, games, content.
Tech bootcamps.
Corporate LMS.

How much are you focused on investing in your local ecosystem versus other startup hubs (or everywhere) in general? More than 50%? Less?
80% U.S.-focused, 20% outside of the U.S.

Which industries in your city and region seem well-positioned to thrive, or not, long term? What are companies you are excited about (your portfolio or not), which founders?
Ireland has traditionally had a very strong e-learning/edtech startup sector. Exciting growth companies include LearnIpon, Learnosity, Alison, Touch Press. Early-stage companies include Avail Support, Zhrum, Robotify.

How should investors in other cities think about the overall investment climate and opportunities in your city?
Dublin is a really vibrant startup ecosystem. Young population. Lots of government supports to encourage entrepreneurship. Excellent experienced talent pool coming out of multinationals and existing startups. English speaking. Great connectivity to rest of Europe/U.S.

Do you expect to see a surge in more founders coming from geographies outside major cities in the years to come, with startup hubs losing people due to the pandemic and lingering concerns, plus the attraction of remote work?
I recently relocated to Dublin after 10 years in NYC. There has been a mass exodus from cities like NYC and SF during the pandemic as the economics of living there plus the space constraints, etc. no longer make sense in a prolonged period of WFH and while most amenities are closed. Dublin is also a high-cost location so will likely also see some exodus although I think to a lesser extent.

Which industry segments that you invest in look weaker or more exposed to potential shifts in consumer and business behavior because of COVID-19? What are the opportunities startups may be able to tap into during these unprecedented times?
The COVID environment has caused a mass acceleration in the adoption of education technology across all age groups from K-12, higher education to corporate and workforce learning. This was already a secular trend albeit at a much slower pace of adoption. I believe that the prolonged period of reliance on a tech-enabled learning experience and the potential need to revert to this in the future will have a lasting effect on how we teach and learn.

How has COVID-19 impacted your investment strategy? What are the biggest worries of the founders in your portfolio? What is your advice to startups in your portfolio right now?
Our investment strategy has not been impacted by COVID. We are seeing a greater degree of opportunity and interest in our sector. The biggest concerns for founders are unpredictability in the sales funnel, potential delays to purchasing decisions and resultant cashflow implications. Even for companies that have been net beneficiaries of the COVID environment, it has injected a very high degree of unpredictability and that is very stressful for founders.

Are you seeing “green shoots” regarding revenue growth, retention or other momentum in your portfolio as they adapt to the pandemic?
Yes, as mentioned above.

What is a moment that has given you hope in the last month or so? This can be professional, personal or a mix of the two.
Biden’s election and the list of people that he is evaluating for Education Secretary and for his cabinet.

 

Will Prendergast, partner, Frontline Ventures

What trends are you most excited about investing in, generally?
We take an opportunistic approach to investing at Frontline and are open to any number of different trends within the B2B space. Generally, we are excited to back founders working on:

  • Complexity in the software/product development stack: As more and more businesses become software businesses and software products become more complex there will be a layer of tools that abstract away that complexity and provide connections between them. Software using other software will be an exciting space in the decade to come, facilitated by many API-first companies.
  • Embedded finance: We are excited by fintechs that are helping non-financial institutions leverage their customer base to provide financial products. Open banking is an enormous enabler of embedded finance.
  • Process augmentation rather than process automation: There are a number of key skill gaps emerging in many different sectors right now and software is emerging as the bridge for companies to handle the shortfall. These are products that help highly skilled workers maximize their productivity.

In the current environment, we are also highly interested in startups that are broadly targeting the key trends below brought on by COVID-19:

  • Hospitals and clinics seek to increase efficiency and reach patients remotely.
  • Banks cautious as financial crime grows.
  • Remote employee management tools for HR and finance teams.
  • Debt collection automation due to SME liquidations.

What’s your latest, most exciting investment?
We recently invested in a German business that aims to become the Moody’s of financial crime.
Since 2008, large banks have become less willing to transact with regional retail banks. They were unfairly deemed “too risky” in their portfolio. This company aims to create a fundamental shift in the industry — from old school box ticking compliance to data-driven ways of determining the risk. We are very excited to increase fairness and transparency between banks, which will inevitably create more value to the end consumer.

Are there startups that you wish you would see in the industry but don’t? What are some overlooked opportunities right now?
B2B payments are undergoing a renaissance at the moment with companies like Bill.com dominating in the public markets. As fintech creeps into more aspects of the product stack, payments is just the first part to produce huge winners. Solving the nuts and bolts of business finance is still a hugely overlooked opportunity for both large and small companies.
We’d also love to see more companies dedicated to reducing the CFO burden at SME and enterprise level. From real-time payroll to treasury and employee pension management, so much of a CFO’s work is manual and time consuming.
We have supported companies that make a significant dent in the specific parts of the funnel (for example, Payslip — a global payroll automation platform), but we feel like there is more room for end-to-end automation in this realm.

What are you looking for in your next investment, in general?
We’re looking for challengers who seek out other strong minds; whether you’re a first-time founder building something that matters, or a seasoned entrepreneur that knows how hard it is to “make it.” In all of our investments, we prize self-awareness above all else in our founders; key to building great teams and scaling a global business. Ambition does not require experience. We’re looking to invest in pioneers across Europe from the world of tech, computer science and engineering, due to our own deep knowledge of technology. In return, we use our personal experience in building and scaling business across both sides of the Atlantic to help founders get off the ground — and go global.

Which areas are either oversaturated or would be too hard to compete in at this point for a new startup? What other types of products/services are you wary or concerned about?
Products that are being built specifically with the conditions created by COVID-19 today may find themselves in a wildly different environment in 18 months. We’re looking to speak to founders who see how things are now and have a strong opinion on how they’re going to affect things in the years to come.

How much are you focused on investing in your local ecosystem versus other startup hubs (or everywhere) in general? More than 50%? Less?
We support founders with global ambition across both sides of the Atlantic. Frontline Seed is a pan-European early-stage fund investing all across Europe. Frontline X is a growth-stage fund, for fast and frictionless U.S.-Europe expansion.
When we first started Frontline, the vast majority of our investments came out of Ireland. Since 2012 we have expanded our scope, and for the last few years have been very much pan-European and now invest across Ireland, the U.K., Germany, the Netherlands and Southern Europe.

Which industries in your city and region seem well-positioned to thrive, or not, long term? What are companies you are excited about (your portfolio or not), which founders?
U.S. tech companies like Amazon, Facebook, Google, Zendesk Hubspot (among many others) have a “pied-à-terre” in Ireland.
In most cases, top-class engineering talent is sourced more cheaply there than in the U.S., creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. They upskill great engineers, who then go on to create great companies.
We’ve seen startup developer tools thrive in Ireland as a result; an example of which is Tines.io. This Accel-and-Index-backed company was built by the world-renowned security team in Dublin.

How should investors in other cities think about the overall investment climate and opportunities in your city?
Ireland is a hidden gem — we’ve had the privilege of reaping the rewards. However, I suspect that the likes of Tines.io, Intercom and Stripe are stirring investor curiosity.
We’re already seeing top-tier U.S. VCs like Sequoia placing bets in Irish companies at a pre-seed stage, for example Evervault, one of our portfolio companies.

Do you expect to see a surge in more founders coming from geographies outside major cities in the years to come, with startup hubs losing people due to the pandemic and lingering concerns, plus the attraction of remote work?
As a global fund, part of our core belief is that great companies and exceptional founders can come from anywhere in the world. COVID-19 has had a significant and eroding effect on traditional “tech hub” models and we have seen founders of all walks of life realize that companies can not only run, but thrive in a remote world.
That said, we also believe that geography will continue to matter. Where you set up your HQ in Europe as a growth-stage B2B SaaS business expanding from the U.S. (for example) will continue to matter in a post-COVID world — because legal entities will continue to matter.

Which industry segments that you invest in look weaker or more exposed to potential shifts in consumer and business behavior because of COVID-19? What are the opportunities startups may be able to tap into during these unprecedented times?

  1. The closure of retail stores = tremendous growth in e-commerce. Companies big and small are vamping up their back and front ends, and attempting to get more visibility on their supply chain for better customer service.
  2. Payments transition online = more financial crime. Banks need tools that help them detect fraud.
  3. Consumers are tight on cash = HR departments want to provide more salary liquidity and help employees save for their pensions to create better financial wellness.

These are just to name a few.

How has COVID-19 impacted your investment strategy? What are the biggest worries of the founders in your portfolio? What is your advice to startups in your portfolio right now?
COVID-19 has not changed our investment strategy but it will have lasting impact on the way businesses are run and built. That said, the pandemic has given us a new filter: “How successful can this product/business model be in a post-COVID world?”
At the moment, our founders are most worried by engagement (maintaining company culture) and talent (team expansion, senior leadership recruitment).
Every company is different and we shy away from blanket statements, but what we do advise is that founders spend time to identify what working format works best for their company and that they listen carefully to their employees. How can you continue to grow your business, whilst maintaining and nurturing an inclusive and engaged company culture?
Also — while you can, shore up your balance sheet. Believe it or not, VC funding was at an all-time high in Europe last quarter. Go fundraise to extend your runway as much as possible. No one really knows what the next 12 months is really going to hold.

Are you seeing “green shoots” regarding revenue growth, retention or other momentum in your portfolio as they adapt to the pandemic?
Three companies in our portfolio stand out as pandemic green shoots:

  • Workvivo is designed to promote team culture and communication digitally. They have successfully raised a Series A midpandemic with U.S. investor Tiger Global to cope with demand from large customers.
  • Qualio is another portfolio company selling quality management software into life sciences and pharmaceutical companies. They blew out their Q2 targets and raised an $11 million Series A.
  • Signal AI: Media monitoring is an attractive proposition to PR and comms teams in turbulent times. Signal AI has recently partnered with Deloitte to produce COVID-19 curated reports on how the pandemic has and is continuing to affect supply chains, business, society and travel.

What is a moment that has given you hope in the last month or so? This can be professional, personal or a mix of the two.
Seeing how well the many teams in our portfolio focused on employee health, well-being and safety and how hard they have all worked to keep their companies going strong.

#draper-esprit, #ec-europe, #ec-investor-survey, #europe, #frontline-ventures, #ireland, #tc

Umba, a digital bank for emerging markets, raises $2M Seed funding to expand across Africa

Umba, a digital bank for emerging markets and aiming first at Africa, has secured a $2 million seed funding round from new investors including Lachy Groom, ex-Head of Issuing at Stripe; Ludlow Ventures; Frontline Ventures and Act Venture.

Currently operating in Kenya and Nigeria, Umba offers a digital financial service alternative to legacy African banks. Its mobile app gives customers a free checking account, free instant peer-to-peer money transfers, lending, deposits, BillPay and cashback. This is in contrast to the generally high-cost barriers found among traditional banking institutions in African countries.

Right now it’s available in Kenya and Nigeria, which have a combined population of over a quarter of a billion people.

Umba competes with Kudao, Carbon, Eversend and ‘Chip or cash’ methods.

Umba’s CEO, Tiernan Kennedy said: “From the outset we built our platform to serve multiple markets, currencies and payment infrastructures. This flexibility is an extremely important consideration as it’s much harder to upgrade your systems at a later date. For example, bank and debit card penetration is high in Nigeria, so Umba is deeply integrated into those payment methods, while across Kenya and East Africa mobile money is dominant so our platform is tightly integrated with those services, too.”

Ludlow Ventures Partner, Brett DeMarrais said: “Umba is the first investment we’ve made in the African market and it’s one we were excited to participate in. The team at Umba have an excellent service that drives down the cost of banking for their customers and democratizes access. The move away from physical branch infrastructure was already underway and it has accelerated this year. It’s clear the African market is maturing and that we’re entering a very interesting phase.”

The news comes shortly after Stripe’s $200M acquisition of Nigerian payment service startup Paystack as well as the acquisition of DPO Group for $288m and Sendwave for $500m, showing a booming ecosystem breaking records in venture rounds and acquisitions.

#africa, #articles, #bank, #banking, #brett-demarrais, #business, #ceo, #east-africa, #economy, #europe, #frontline-ventures, #kenya, #lachy-groom, #ludlow-ventures, #nigeria, #paystack, #stripe, #tc