Corporate training startup Attensi — which originally emerged out of Oslo, Norway — has raised $26 million from New York-based Lugard Road Capital, DX Ventures (a VC fund backed by Delivery Hero), and existing shareholder Viking Venture. The new funding will be used to expand in North America and Europe.
Attensi uses a ‘gamified approach to corporate training, putting employees into 3D simulations of their workplace and work processes. Its competitors include companies like GoSkills, Mindflash SAP Litmos Skilljar.
With the pandemic shifting all office work to remote, digital training platforms like this stand to benefit.
This is also yet another recent example of how US VCs are ‘going hunting’ for startups in Europe, putting pressure on local VCs.
Attensi co-founder and co-CEO, Trond Aas said in a statement: “With gamified simulation training, we have combined the best of workplace psychology with our expertise in simulations and gamification to create a new category of training solutions.”
The company claims it’s experienced a 63% CAGR in annual recurring revenue. Its clients include Daimler Mercedes Benz, Circle K, Equinor, BCG, and ASDA.
Doug Friedman, a partner at Lugard Road Capital, said: “We could not be more excited to be investing in the Attensi team as they work to forever change and improve corporate learning and development through their Attensi solutions.”
One of the biggest gripes about investing apps is that they are not acting responsibly by not educating users properly and allegedly letting them fend for themselves. This can result in people losing a lot of money, as evidenced by the number of lawsuits against Robinhood.
Today, an eight-year-old company that has been focused on nothing but financial education is now offering trading and banking services in the U.S..
Over the years, London-based Invstr has built out an educational platform with features such as an investing Academy. It’s created a Fantasy Finance game, which gives users the ability to manage a virtual $1 million portfolio so they can learn more about the markets before risking their own money for real. Via social gamification, Invstr has set out to make the educational process fun.
It has also built a community around users so they can learn from each other (something another Robinhood competitor Gatsby is also doing).
Over 1 million users have downloaded the platform globally.
Invstr, according to CEO and founder Kerim Derhalli, is taking a different approach from competitors by offering education and learning tools upfront. And in addition to giving users the ability to make commission-free stock trades, it’s also giving them a way to digitally bank and invest using their Invstr+ accounts “without ever needing to move money from one place to another.”
Invstr takes it all a step further for subscribers who have access to an “Invstr Score,” performance stats and behavioral analytics among other things.
Derhalli said moving in this direction with the company was part of his business plan from day one.
“I think the most powerful trend in the U.S. is self directed investing,” Derhalli told TechCrunch. “Younger generations have grown up in an app world and they expect to be autonomous and do things for themselves. Many distrust the banking system, and they don’t want to follow in their parents’ footsteps when it comes to banking and finance. We think this is a massive opportunity.”
In the unveiling of its new offerings, Invstr also announced Wednesday that it has closed on a $20 million Series A in the form of a convertible offering. This builds upon $20 million it previously raised across two seed rounds from investors such as Ventura Capital, Finberg, European angel investor Jari Ovaskainen and Rick Haythornthwaite, former global chairman of Mastercard.
Derhalli said he felt compelled to found Invstr after seeing firsthand how a lack of knowledge and confidence can prevent individuals from starting to invest. He worked for three decades in senior leadership roles at Deutsche Bank, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch and JPMorgan before founding Invstr “so that anyone, anywhere could learn how to invest.”
Invstr is offering its new investing services in partnership with Apex Clearing, which formerly provided execution and settlement services to Robinhood. Its digital banking services are being offered through a partnership with Vast Bank. To address the security piece, Invstr said its user data is also protected by technology from Okta.
The company, which also has offices in New York and Istanbul, plans to use the new capital to launch new brokerage and analytics tools and a portfolio builder.
The Covid-19 pandemic has led to a major upswing in virtual learning — where some schools have gone (and stayed) remote, and others have incorporated significantly stronger online components, in order to help communities maintain more social distancing. That has in turn led to a surge in the usage of tools to help home learners do their work better, and today, one of them is announcing a growth round that speaks to the opportunity in that market.
Brainly, a startup from Poland that has built a popular network for students and their parents to engage with each other for advice and help with homework questions, has raised $80 million, a series D that it will be using both to continue building out the tools that it offers to students as well as to hone in on expansion in some key emerging markets such as Indonesia and Brazil. The news comes on the heels of dramatic growth for the company, which has seen its user base grow from 150 million users in 2019 to 350 million today.
The funding is being led by previous backer Learn Capital, with past investors Prosus Ventures, Runa Capital, MantaRay, and General Catalyst Partners also participating. The company has now raised some $150 million and while it’s not disclosing valuation, CEO and co-founder Michał Borkowski confirmed it is “definitely” an upround for the company. For more context, Pitchbook estimates that the company was valued at $180 million in its last round, a Series C of $30 million in 2019.
That C round was raised specifically to help Brainly grow in the U.S. It currently has some 30 million users in that market, and it happens to be the only one in which Brainly is monetising users. Everywhere else, Brainly is currently free to use. (In the U.S. there are also some formidable competitors, like Chegg, which has strong traction in the market of helping students with homework.)
“Brainly has become one of the world’s largest learning communities, achieving significant organic growth in over 35 countries,” said Vinit Sukhija, Partner at Learn Capital, in a statement.
Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, Brainly was finding an audience with students — primarily those aged 13-19, said Borkowski — who were turning to the service to connect with people who could help them with homework when they found themselves at an impasse with, say, a math problem or getting to grips with the sequence of events that led to the revolutions of 1848. The platform is open-ended and is a little like a Quora for homework, in that people can find and answer questions they are interested in, as well as ask questions themselves.
That platform, however, took on a whole new dimension of importance with the shift to virtual learning, Borkowski said.
“In the western world, online education wasn’t a big investment area [pre-Covid] and that has changed a lot, with huge adoption by students, parents and teachers,” he said. “But that big transition, switching from offline to online, has left kids struggling because teachers have so much more to do, so they can’t engage in the same way.”
So with “homework” becoming “all work”, that has effectively led to needing more help than ever with home studies. And while many parents have tried to get more involved to make up the difference, “having parents as teachers has been hard,” he added. They may have been taught differently from how their kids are learning, or they don’t remember or know answers.
One thing that Brainly started to see, he said, was that with the pandemic more parents started using the app alongside students, either to work out answers together or to get the help themselves before helping their kids, with a number of these being from parents of kids younger than 13. He said that 15-20% of all new registrations currently are coming from parents.
Brainly up to now has been mainly focused on how to build out more tools for the students — and now parents — that use it, and has so far been about organic growth for those communities.
However, there is clearly scope to expand that to more educational stakeholders to better organise what kind of questions are answered and how. Borkowski said that the company has indeed been approached by educators, those building curriculums and others so that answers might tie in better with the kinds of questions that they are most likely to ask of students, although for now the company “wants to keep the focus on students and parents getting stuck.”
In terms of future products, Brainly is looking at ways of bringing in more tutoring, video and AI into the mix. The AI aspect is very interesting and will in fact tie in to wider curriculum coverage based on more localised needs. For example, if you ask for help with a particular kind of quadratic equation technique, you can then be served lots of same practice questions to help better learn and apply what you’ve just been learning, and you might even then get suggested related topics that will appear alongside that in a wider mathematics examination. And, you might be offered the chance to meet with a tutor for further help.
Tutoring, he said, is something that Brainly has already been quietly piloting and has run some 150,000 sessions to date. Having such a large user base, Borkowski said, helps the startup run services at scale while still effectively keeping them in test mode.
“It will be about looking at what students are studying and how to map that to the curriculum in the country, and what we can do to help with that.” Borkowski said. “But it will require a heavy lift and and machine learning to pinpoint students” for it to work properly, which is one reason it has yet to roll it out more comprehensively, he added.
Tutoring and more personalization are not the only areas where Brainly is actively testing out new services. The company is also creating more space for adding in video to demonstrate different techniques (which I suspect is especially good for something like mathematics, but equally helpful for, say, an art technique).
There are “thousands per week” being added already, but as with tutoring “that, for us, is a testing stage,” added Borkowski. There should be more coming in Q1 about new products, he said.
In a press release announcing the news, Under Armour said the reason for this decision was to simplify and focus its brand, keeping it aimed at its “target consumer – the Focused Performer” in the interest of building “a singular, cohesive UA ecosystem.” The fact that Under Armour is selling MyFitnessPal at a discount (not even including five years of inflation and stated MyFitnessPal user growth) indicates there’s more to this than just maintaining focus.
It’s definitely true that both MyFitnessPal (which claimed 80 million users in 2015 at time of acquisition, and has over 200 million users according to today’s press release) and Endomondo were aimed at more casual and entry-level fitness users, who might be working out for the first time, or looking to improve their daily health, but aren’t likely training for endurance sport competitions. Under Armour’s overall brand image is more associated with professional athletics, and with an enthusiast/semi-pro clientele (or those aspiring to that designation).
What’s more likely going on here is that Under Armour sees diminishing value in this segment over the long term, and there a number of possible reasons about why that might be. One is that Apple has been more aggressive about targeting entry-level fitness users, through both its expanded Apple Watch hardware and Apple Health software offerings, and through its forthcoming Apple Fitness+ service, which launches later this year.
While you’d expect the self-guided fitness segment to be a significant growth opportunity in light of the ongoing pandemic and restrictions on shared workout spots including gyms, Apple’s aggressive moves provide a fairly comprehensive default that users essentially get for free, or for a very low cost subscription, with the hardware they’re buying anyways. And the growth of Peloton, through both its dedicated home workout gear and its subscription platform, is also likely sucking up a lot of oxygen in the beginner to casual/habitual fitness user category.
Under Armour did note that it’s going to continue to own and operate the MapMyFitness platform, which includes MapMyRun and MapMyRide. It acquired that company in 2013, and the Under Armour line of connected footwear integrates with those apps for connected tracking of workouts.
After announcing a modest $28 million raise earlier this year, the user-generated gamified e-learning platform Kahoot today announced a much bigger round to double down on the current surge in demand for remote education.
The Norwegian startup — which has clocked 1.3 billion “participating players” since launching in 2013 — has picked up $215 million from SoftBank, specifically by way of a “private placement to a subsidiary of SoftBank Group Corp., through issuance of 43,000,000 new shares.” The placement was made at 46 Norwegian Krone per share, working out to NOK1,978 million (or $215 million), and the funding will be used for acquisitions and also to continue its expansion.
Kahoot is traded on the Merkur Market in Oslo — a stepping stone between being a fully private startup and a publicly-listed company — and today the company is trading more than 15% up on the news. At market open today, it was valued at NOK22.2 billion, or about $2.4 billion — so by the end of the day that market cap is likely to have gone up as a result of today’s investment.
“Kahoot! is experiencing strong momentum and accelerated adoption as enterprises increasingly seek engaging, trustworthy and user-friendly ways to build corporate culture, educate and interact,” the company noted in a statement. “|At the same time, schools and educators are looking to enhance the learning experience, whether virtually or in the classroom. The Company intends to use the net proceeds from the Private Placement to finance accelerated growth through value-creating non-organic opportunities and continue to build a unique platform company.”
We are reaching out to SoftBank for a direct comment on the news — which was announced by Kahoot in the briefest of terms necessary for disclosure as a publicly-traded company — and will update as we learn more.
The startup has been building a two-pronged business: first, a platform aimed at school children to build and use, and browse and use other’s online learning content; and second, a platform where corporates can build, use, and use other’s corporate training materials. The former puts an emphasis on free usage, while the latter is a paid product.
In both cases, Kahoot’s content is built around the idea of gamification — learning designed as games — to make the process more fun and engaging. It has described itself as the “Netflix of Education” — but I think of it a little more like YouTube, because of the user-generated element of a lot of the material.
The company has been hugely successful in its model so far. It says that it has had 1.3 billion participating players, and 200 million games played with 100 million user-generated Kahoots in the last 12 months.
SoftBank is not the company’s first high-profile investor. Other backers in the company include Microsoft and Disney, as well as the well-known regional VCs Northzone and Creandum. The company tells me it has now raised a total of $325 million (based on current exchange rates).
The coronavirus continues to hit people hard mentally, and this has meant a boom for mental death and meditation apps. According to a recent report from app store intelligence firm Sensor Tower, the world’s 10 largest English-language mental wellness apps in April saw a combined 2 million more downloads during the month of April 2020 compared with January, reaching close to 10 million total downloads for the month. The charts were dominated by market leaders such as Calm, Headspace and others such as “Relax: Master Your Destiny”.
However, a slightly lesser know app called Meditopia featured, and that’s because it’s become a big leader non-English speaking markets.
Today it’s announced a Series A investment of $15M co-led by Creandum, and Highland Europe . Carl Fritjofsson of Creandum and Fergal Mullen of Highland Europe will join Meditopia’s Board of Directors. Total funding prior to this round was $3.2m. This new round takes the total to $18.2m.
Based between Istanbul and Berlin, Meditopia has majored on localization for 75 global markets, in 10 languages, with a focus on long-term mental wellbeing programs. Since launching in 2017 Meditopia has grown to 14M users across 75 countries.
Until recently, most meditation and mental health apps were built to suit the needs of English-speaking, Western culture, especially in the way these apps dealt with topics such as gender.
The startup was founded by Fatih Celebi, Berk Yilmaz and Ali Murat Ceylan.
In a statement, Murat said: “Mental wellness is something everyone should be able to achieve, regardless of their country of origin, native language, socio-economic status, ethnicity, or religion. We first focused our efforts on our home country Turkey before expanding worldwide so whether you are Latino, Japanese, Russian, North American, or Arab, you can find support and coaching in our global community.”
Carl Fritjofsson, Partner at Creandum commented: “We’ve followed Meditopia for the past two years and have been incredibly impressed by how they’ve been able to capture this opportunity across the world, all while being one of the most capital-efficient run companies around.”
Fergal Mullen, Founding Partner at Highland Europe said: “For too long, the technology available was created for English-speaking groups alone. Meditopia provides the alternative; a solution that helps its members get to the heart of what they need in a way that suits them. We’re thrilled to be a part of getting this vital service to those people.”
In unserem Newsletter Startup-Radar berichten wir einmal in der Woche über junge, frische und brandneue Startups, die noch nicht jeder kennt. Alle diese Startups stellen wir in unserem kostenpflichtigen Newsletter kurz und knapp vor und bringen sie so auf den Radar der bundesweiten Startup-Szene und im besten Fall auf die Agenda von Investoren, Unternehmen und potenziellen Kooperationspartnern. Mehrere Wochen nach der exklusiven Erstveröffentlichung in unserem Newsletter stellen wir einige der präsentierten Startups (in gekürzter Form) auch auf unserer Website vor. Jetzt Wissensvorsprung sichern und unseren Newsletter Startup-Radar sofort abonnieren!
Baumeister AI Das Berliner Startup Baumeister AI, das von Moritz Schattka und Efe Sürekli gegründet wurde, tritt an, “um die Art und Weise, wie Menschen mit Maschinen interagieren” neu zu gestalten. “Our solution can understand complex hand-drawings from business and technology contexts”, versprechen die Jungunternehmer. Atlantic Labs investierte bereits in das junge Unternehmen.
felmo Das 2019 von Lars Giere und Philip Trockels gegründete Unternehmen felmo positioniert sich als mobile Tierarztpraxis. Nutzer können über die Website oder die App des Startups den Hausbesuchen von einem Tierarzt buchen. Derzeit ist das Startup in Berlin unterwegs. Mesosphere-Gründer Florian Leibert, Mato Peric, Makers-Macher Friedrich A. Neuman und einige weitere Business Angels investieren bereits in das Berliner Startup.
Steps Hinter Steps verbirgt sich ein ganz junges Startup für maßgefertigte orthopädische Einlagen. Das Berliner Unternehmen, das von Vincent Hoursch und Annik Wolf gegründet wurde, will in den kommenden Jahren zum Online-Marktführer für Fußgesundheit aufsteigen. Steps funktioniert dabei mit einem Abdruckset, das die Nutzer nach ihrer ersten Bestellung nach Hause geschickt bekommen. Home24-Gründer Felix Jahn investierte bereits in Steps.
Julep Mit Julep gibt es nun einen weiteren Marktplatz für Podcaster und Werbungtreibende. Julep bietet aber auch klassische Studioleistungen an. Das Team macht Julep extrem spannend: Initiatoren und Investoren sind Marcus Englert, ehemaliger ProSiebenSat.1-Vorstand, und Sebastian Weil, Gründer von Studio71. Zum Gründungsteam gehören außerdem Björn Jopen und Manfred Neumann.
Datatrustee Das Bochumer Startup Datatrustee kümmert sich um eine “rechtssichere und DSGVO-konforme Dokumentation von Werbeeinwilligungen”. Das System von Alexander Cernov, Daniel Simon, Martin Glück und Oliver Straubel lässt sich per API und ein paar Zeilen Code in jede Website und somit jeden Datenerhebungsvorgang einbauen. Die Daten werden dann mittels Blockchain-Technologie gesichert.
Bei Netme sollen Menschen via App mithilfe von zwei Karten unkompliziert in Kontakt treten können. Auf der einen Karte kann man sehen, welche Lokalitäten in der Nähe sind, auf der anderen, welche User sich in der Nähe befinden. Man kann dann direkt in Kontakt treten, entweder in Form einer Direktnachricht oder in Form einer Einladung – etwa zu einem nahe gelegenen Café.
Artist Artist aus Stuttgart ermöglicht mit seiner App AR.fx das Erstellen von eigenen Augmented Reality-Inhalten. Die Vision von Somakanthan Somilingam ist es, die Kreativität der User zu wecken indem sie mit einer App ohne Fachwissen individuelle AR-Inhalte erstellen. Zudem soll es als soziales Netzwerk dienen und kollaboratives arbeiten ermöglichen. Dies beinhaltet beispielsweise das Arbeiten im dreidimensionalen Raum.
Equalista Equalista bietet eine mobile Lernapp für das Thema Gender Equality an. Mithilfe von Gamification sollen Nutzer in der App grundlegende Begriffe und Strukturen im Bereich der Gleichstellung – Arbeitsplatz und Privatleben – spielerisch und gleichzeitig effizient erarbeiten können. Equalista, das von Theresa Kauffeld und Louisa Wiethold gegründet wurde, wurde hauptsächlich durch Bootstrapping und öffentliche Förderungen ermöglicht.
Auteon möchte Europas führende Plattform für den Kfz-Ersatzteilmarkt werden. „Als technologieorientiertes SaaS-Startup wollen wir neue digitale Standards setzen. Wir bauen ein Produkt, das unseren Kunden – Autowerkstätten – einen tatsächlichen Mehrwert bietet“, so Gründer Florian Pinger. Aktuell kann man sich auf der Webseite schon für die Beta-Version anmelden.
Beazy bietet eine Plattform für Fotoausrüstung jeglicher Art an. Dabei funktioniert Beazy wie ein virtueller Marktplatz. Nutzer können ihre Ausrüstung online zum Verleih anbieten, eventuelle Schäden sind durch eine Kooperation mit der Versicherung Axa abgesichert. Aktuell hat das Startup nach eigenen Angaben um die 1.000 Nutzer mit über 3.000 Angeboten auf der Website.
Gründer: Julia Besson, Jonas Ngoenha
Das Jungunternehmen HeyData aus München, bietet einen digitalisierten Datenschutzbeauftragten für Unternehmen. “Wir helfen Unternehmen dabei schnell und einfach DSGVO konform zu werden”, versprechen die beiden Gründer Daniel Deutsch und Milos Djurdjevic. Zudem bietet HeyData auch Schulungen für Mitarbeiter und Leistungspakete für Startups an.
Durch den Einsatz intelligenter Algorithmen möchte Aivy den Berufswahlprozess erleichtern und verkürzen. Durch ein individuelles Testverfahren sollen eigene und Fähigkeiten und versteckte Potenziale sichtbar gemacht werden. Darüber hinaus “matched” die App mit Berufen und Stellen. “Challenges dauern lediglich zwei bis drei Minuten, das soll besonders die junge Zielgruppe anziehen”, so Gründer Dyballa.
Straffr Straffr bietet ein elastisches Trainingsband mit integrierten Sensoren an. Das soll Nutzern ein Echtzeit-Feedback und genaue Trainingsanalysen ermöglichen. Die vernetzte App und Fitness-Plattform bietet zudem Anleitungen, Feedback und Analysen während – und nach dem Training. Derzeit versucht das Startup aus Kassen via Kickstarter-Kampagne erste Nutzer einzusammeln.
Hinter Staiy verbirgt sich eine Online-Modeplattform, die ausschließlich nachhaltige Marken kuratiert. Die Gründer Adrian Leue, Alessandro Nora und Ludovico Durante wollen damit Nachhaltigkeit, Trends und Umweltbewusstsein miteinander vereinen. Auf der Webseite findet man jetzt schon eine große Auswahl an nachhaltiger und gleichzeitig bezahlbarer Kleidung.
Care for Cancer
Der Seriengründer Jan Reimers hat gemeinsam mit Robert Kocher den Onlinedienst Care for Cancer ins Leben gerufen. Die Jungfirma bietet seinen Nutzern für die Krebsvorsorge eine individuelle Aufklärung, Planung und Unterstützung an. Dieses Angebot richtet sich in erster Linie an den gesunden Patienten. Bisher ist das Startup aus Hamburg noch nicht fremdfinanziert.