API platform Postman valued at $5.6 billion in $225 million fundraise

San Francisco-based Postman, which operates a collaborative platform for developers to help them build, design, test and iterate their APIs, said on Wednesday it has raised $225 million in a new financing round that values it at $5.6 billion, up from $2 billion a year ago.

The startup’s new financing round — a Series D — was led by existing investor New York-headquartered Insight Partners. New investors including Coatue, Battery Ventures, and BOND also participated in the new round, which brings total raise across rounds to over $430 million. Existing investors Nexus Venture Partners and CRV also participated in the new round.

APIs provide a way for developers to connect their applications to other internal and external applications. But it’s a space that until the past decade not many firms have attempted to streamline. (Developers relied on — and many continue to do so — open source CLI tools such as curl and HTTPie. That said, Postman now has a number of competitors including Stoplight, and A16z and Tiger Global-backed Kong.)

Abhinav Asthana, a former intern at Yahoo, faced this frustration first hand and built a Chrome extension for himself and friends.

Little did he know just how many developers and firms needed it, too.

The six-year-old startup’s product, which began its journey in India, is today used by over 17 million developers and over 500,000 organizations including Microsoft, Salesforce, Stripe, Shopify, Cisco, and PayPal.

The list is big: Postman co-founder and chief executive Asthana told TechCrunch that 98% of the Fortune 500 companies are customers of Postman.

“We are solving a fundamental problem for the technology landscape. Big companies tend to be slower as they have many other things on their plate,” he told me two years ago.

Postman API Platform’s offerings

“Every company in every industry in the world today uses APIs and needs an API platform. This trend is only growing with the move to cloud and digital experiences,” he said in an interview with TechCrunch Tuesday.

The startup today leads the market and doesn’t compete with many players. Which would explain the investors’ excitement. The startup, which declined to share its revenue, raised the new round at over 100 multiple of its revenue, according to an investor with knowledge of the matter.

Postman’s platform is crucial for developers, but it was only recently that the startup expanded to create a public marketplace for developers and firms to find ready-made APIs to use.

“The Postman Public API Network connects millions of developers around the world and provides them with a space dedicated to discovering, exploring, and sharing of APIs. This was ultimately driven by our creation of public workspaces, which allows users to connect across different organizations,” Asthana said.

“With the emergence of APIs, we believe that this will usher in the next generation of no-code and ‘citizen developers.’ We encourage a world filled with innovation for everyone with different backgrounds and varying levels of technical experience. More and more, we’re seeing people in sales, marketing, and finance become more comfortable with APIs and become the champions of this technology,” he said.

The startup, which employs over 425 people, plans to deploy the fresh funding to hire more employees across sales, marketing, product, and engineering divisions.

Postman will also “heavily” invest in broadening its product roadmap. “We are expanding the Postman platform across areas that technical users need along with supporting the needs of business users. At a high level, we are investing in supporting workflows for all kinds of APIs — whether they are private APIs, partner APIs, or public APIs,” he said.

Some upcoming items on the roadmap include a new version of the Postman API, support for protocols like gRPC, ProtoBuf, and more extensive capabilities for GraphQL. “We are also focusing heavily on integrations with other vendors in the software development lifecycle like AWS, Git hosting providers like GitHub and GitLab. We are also releasing our Flow Runner tool, a no-code API composition tool to enable anyone to build API driven programs.”

The startup also plans to invest in supporting students through API literacy programs and contribute toward open source projects.

“APIs have quickly become the fundamental building blocks of software used by developers in every industry, in every country across the globe—and Postman has firmly established itself as the preferred platform for developers,” said Insight Partners Managing Director Jeff Horing in a statement.

“Postman has the opportunity to become a key pillar of how enterprises build, deliver products, and seamlessly enable partnerships across the ecosystem. Their continued, rapid expansion and strong management team point to a future for Postman with virtually unlimited possibilities.”

#battery-ventures, #bond, #cisco, #coatue, #crv, #funding, #insight-partners, #kong, #microsoft, #nexus-venture-partners, #paypal, #postman, #saas, #salesforce, #shopify, #stripe

Ultrahuman raises $17.5M, touting a wearable blood glucose tracker

Fitness platform Ultrahuman has officially announced a $17.5 million Series B fund raise, with investment coming from early stage fund Alpha Wave Incubation, Steadview Capital, Nexus Venture Partners, Blume Ventures and Utsav Somani’s iSeed fund.

A number of founders and angel investors also participated in the Bangalore-headquartered startup’s Series B, including Tiger Global’s Scott Schleifer, Deepinder Goyal (CEO of Zomato), Kunal Shah (CEO of Cred), and Gaurav Munjal and Romain Saini (the CEO and co-founders of unacademy), among others. The latest tranche of funding brings its total raised to date to $25M.

While the subscription platform has been around since 2019, offering a fairly familiar blend of home workout videos, mindfulness content, sleep sessions and heart rate tracking (integrating with third party wearables like the Apple Watch), its latest fitness tool looks rather more novel — as it’s designed for monitoring metabolic activity by tracking the user’s glucose levels (aka, blood sugar).

Keeping tabs on blood sugar is essential for people living with diabetes. But in the US alone millions of people are prediabetic — meaning they have a higher than normal level of blood glucose and are at risk of developing diabetes, though they may not know it yet.

More broadly, Ultrahuman claims over a billion people in the world suffer from a metabolic health disorder — underlining the scale of the potential addressable market it’s eyeing. 

Having sustained high blood glucose is associated with multiple health issues so managing the condition with lifestyle changes like diet and exercise is advisable. Lifestyle changes can reduce elevated blood glucose and shrink or even avoid negative health impacts — such as by averting the risk of a prediabetic person going on to develop full blown diabetes.

But knowing what type of diet and exercise regime will work best for a particular person can be tricky — and involve a lot of frustrating trial and error — since people’s glucose responses to different food items can differ wildly.

These responses depend on a person’s metabolic health — which in turn depends on individual factors like microbiome diversity, stress levels, time of day, food ingredient and quality. (See also: Personalized nutrition startups like Zoe — which is similarly paying mind to blood glucose levels but as one component of a wider play to try to use big data and AI to decode the microbiome.) 

With metabolic health being so specific to each of us there’s a strong case for continuous glucose monitoring having widespread utility — certainly if the process and price-point can be made widely accessible.

Here, Ultrahuman is having a go at productizing the practice for a fitness enthusiast market — launching its first device in beta back in June — although the price-point it’s targeting is starting out fairly premium. 

The product (a wearable and a subscription service) — which it’s branded ‘Cyborg’ — consists of a skin patch that extracts glucose from the interstitial fluid under the skin, per founder and CEO, Mohit Kumar, with the data fed into a companion app for analysis and visualization.

Image credits: Ultrahuman

The patch tracks the wearer’s blood glucose levels as they go about their day — eating, exercising, sleeping etc — with the biomarker used to trigger the app to nudge the user to “optimize your lifestyle”, as Ultrahuman’s website puts it — such as by alerting the user to a high blood glucose event and suggesting they take exercise to bring their level down.

If the product lives up to its promise of continuous glucose monitoring made easy, lovers of junk food could be in for a rude awakening as they’re served fast feedback on how their body copes (or, well, doesn’t) with their favorite snacks…

“We use medical grade sensors that have been used in the sports technology domain for the last 6-7 yrs with decent accuracy levels,” says Kumar when we ask about the specifics of the wearable technology it’s using. (The sensing hardware is being ‘worn’ here in the sense that it’s directly attached to (i.e. stuck into/on) bare skin.)

While Ultrahuman’s platform has plenty more vanilla fitness content, the company is now billing itself as a “metabolic fitness platform” — putting the nascent product front and center, even though the glucose tracking subscription service remains in closed beta for now.

The startup is operating a waitlist for sign-ups as it continues to hone the technology.   

Ultrahuman touts “thousands” of people signed up and waiting to get their hands on the glucose tracker service — and says it’s seeing 60% week over week growth in sign ups, with wider availability of the product slated for “early 2022”.

Some of the Series B cash will be used to make improvements to the quality of the glucose biomarkers ahead of a full product launch.

On the enhancements side, Kumar tells TechCrunch the team is exploring “other form factors and other types of sensors that could help us capture glucose in a more accurate way and for a longer duration than 14 days”, as they work to hone the wearable. (The current version of the skin-worn sensor only lasts two weeks before it must be replaced with another patch.)

“We want to add more biomarkers like HRV [heart-rate variability], sleep zones and respiratory rate to help people understand the impact of metabolic health on their recovery/sleep and vice-versa,” he adds.

Ultrahuman says it decided to focus on tracking glucose as its “main biomarker” as it can be used as a proxy for quantifying a number of fitness and wellness issues — making it a (potentially) very useful measure of individual health signals.

Or provided the startup’s technology is able to detect changes to glucose levels with enough sensitivity to be able to make meaningful recommendations per user.

“Glucose is interesting because it is a real-time biomarker that’s affected by exercise, sleep, stress and food,” says Kumar, adding: “We are able to help people make lifestyle changes across many vectors like nutrition, sleep, stress and exercise vs being unidimensional. It is also highly personalized as it guides you as per your body’s own response.”

He gives some examples of how the product could help users by identifying beneficial tweaks they could make to their diet and exercise regimes — such as figuring out which foods in their current diet yield “a healthy metabolic response” vs those that “need more optimization” (aka, avoiding the dreaded sugar crash). Or by helping users identify “a great meal window” for their lifestyle — based in their body’s glucose consumption rate.

Other helpful nudges he suggests the service can provide to sensor-wearing users — with an eye on athletes and fitness fanatics — is how best to fuel up before exercise to perform optimally.

Optimizing the last meal of the day to improve sleep efficiency is another suggestion.

If Ultrahuman’s Cyborg can do all that with a (bearably) wearable skin patch and a bit of clever algorithmic analysis it could take the quantified self trend to the next level.

A simple stick-on sensor-plus-app that passively amplifies internal biological signals and translates individual biomarkers into highly actionable real-time personalized health insights could be the start of something huge in preventative healthcare.

Again, though, Ultrahuman’s early pricing suggests there will be some fairly hard limits on who is able to tap in here.

Early adopters in the closed beta are shelling out $80 per month for the subscription service, per Kumar. And — at least for now — the startup is eyeing adding more bells and whistles, rather than fewer. “[Product pricing] will mostly be in the same range but may introduce more services/premium features on top of this,” he confirms.

The (typically higher) cost of eating healthily and having enough leisure time to be able to look after your body by taking exercise are other hard socioeconomic limits that won’t be fixed by a wearable, no matter how smart.

 

#alpha, #bangalore, #blume-ventures, #cred, #deepinder-goyal, #diabetes, #fundings-exits, #gaurav-munjal, #glucose, #health, #junk-food, #kunal-shah, #nexus-venture-partners, #nutrition, #scott-schleifer, #steadview-capital, #tc, #tiger-global, #ultrahuman, #wearable-technology, #wearables, #zomato

Credit Suisse leads $20M Series A in data extraction startup Daloopa

Daloopa closed on a $20 million Series A round, led by Credit Suisse Asset Management’s NEXT Investors, to continue developing its data extraction technology for financial institutions, which is now being expanded globally.

When company co-founder and CEO Thomas Li worked as a hedge fund analyst, he often performed repetitive data extraction in order to gather insights for analysis and forecasts.

In fact, he found lawyers and similar financial professionals at financial institutions were spending about a third of their time on those same tasks, while also manually entering everything into spreadsheets.

“This was a big enough problem for one company to support all of the data analysis and forecasting without having to manually convert the data,” Li told TechCrunch. “This frees up analysts to then do what they are supposed to do.”

The idea for Daloopa came to Li five years ago, but he said the data extraction technology was not in place to get it off the ground. Then in 2019, the state of technology was such that Li and co-founders Daniel Chen and Jeremy Huang could create data extraction capabilities through the use of artificial intelligence-driven software. Customers can request data sets with a couple of clicks of a button and have it delivered the next day.

Accuracy in financial data collection “is mission critical,” but artificial intelligence models aren’t often able to get to 99% accuracy, whereas Daloopa is able to surpass that, Li said. Latency and volume also need to be at a point where infrastructure can support the algorithms needed to gather data from thousands of different documents.

Joining Credit Suisse in the Series A were existing investors Nexus Venture Partners, Uncorrelated Ventures and Hack VC. Daloopa previously raised both pre-seed and seed funds to give it $24 million to date.

As part of the investment, NEXT Investors and Nexus Venture Partners will each assign a member to Daloopa’s board of directors.

“Daloopa is disrupting how financial data is extracted and consumed,” said Abhishek Sharma, managing director at Nexus Venture Partners, via email. Nexus led both the pre-seed and seed rounds into the company. “Its intelligent automation approach eliminates the cost bloat and makes data extraction scalable, accurate and referenceable.”

Meanwhile, the company will use the new funding on R&D for product development, hiring additional staff members and building out the tech stack for those people to work on. It will also focus on sales, marketing and operations functions.

Li did not disclose revenue metrics, but said Daloopa self-launched its product six months ago, and today has 40 enterprise customers. It is headquartered in New York with offices in New Delhi and Rio de Janeiro.

Initially, Daloopa focused on public company financials, but plans to move into data extraction for more private documents, like documents a bank uses with its customers.

 

#abhishek-sharma, #artificial-intelligence, #credit-suisse-asset-management, #daloopa, #finance, #funding, #hack-vc, #next-investors, #nexus-venture-partners, #recent-funding, #startups, #tc, #thomas-li, #uncorrelated-ventures, #venture-capital

Indian storytelling platform Pratilipi raises $48 million led by gaming giant Krafton

Pratilipi, an Indian startup that operates an online storytelling platform to enable writers to share their work in various formats, said on Wednesday it has raised a $48 million financing round led by Krafton.

South Korean gaming giant Krafton led the Series D round for the seven-year-old Bangalore-based startup, bringing its to-date raise to $78.8 million.

Existing investor Omidyar Network India as well as scores of high-profile entrepreneurs including Pratilipi chief executive Ranjeet Pratap Singh as well as Unacademy’s Hemesh Singh and Gaurav Munjal, Locus’ Nishith Rastogi, Meesho’s Vidit Aatrey, Udhyam’s Mekin Maheshwari and NoBroker’s Amit Agarwal also participated in the round.

Pratilipi started its journey as an online reading and writing platform, where writers shared their stories in several Indian languages. The idea at the time was to create a platform where quality literary work could be hosted and shared in Indian languages, something that only had sparse representation on the web, said Singh, who is a voracious reader of Indian literary work and worked at Vodafone before starting Pratilipi, in an interview with TechCrunch.

The platform has ballooned to become a market leader since. Over 370,000 writers on the platform today share their work in a dozen languages and more than 30 million readers browse Pratilipi each month to read their work.

These writers can choose to share their work with readers for free or charge a subscription fee. But increasingly there’s another avenue for them to monetize their work.

Pratilipi — which has expanded to book publishing, audio and comics in recent years — uses proprietary algorithms to identify stories that it believes could be turned into a book or a web series and buys the IP from the writers.

The startup has inked several partnerships with industry players including giant on-demand video streaming service MX Player, which carried Pratilipi’s show “Midnight Lily” earlier this year.

“We have been a part of Pratilipi’s growth story since the early stages,” said Pratik Poddar, Principal at Nexus Venture Partners, an early backer of Pratilipi, in a statement. “Over the years, we have witnessed the team’s deep product focus, an obsession to make creators successful, and keen understanding of monetizing content IP which is extensible across different formats.”

Pratilipi’s Singh said the startup will deploy the fresh funding to broaden its partnerships with industry players as well as invest in building in-house publishing stack. With Krafton, which recently launched the Battlegrounds Mobile India game in the South Asian country, the startup aims to develop stories that can be incorporated into global gaming franchises.

The demand for original stories have surged in India in recent years and many streaming services and publishing giants are engaging with Pratilipi, he said. “We will continue to work with ecosystem partners and for formats where we already have in-house expertise we will expand on those,” he said.

Pratilipi also plans to use the fresh funds to expand outside of India. A fraction of its users today already live outside the country, said Singh. “We haven’t worked on the expansion so far, but now the plan is to actively reach out to creators and readers in other markets,” he said.

Wednesday’s announcement also illustrates Krafton’s growing push into the Indian market, where in recent months it has held talks to acquire several gaming studios, according to a person familiar with the matter.

“It is exciting to see the growth of Indian local IPs in online literature, comics and audio platform in Pratilipi, which is already the largest player in India in multiple categories,” said Sean Hyunil Sohn, Head of Krafton’s India division, in a statement.

“With Pratilipi already having a multilingual platform for online literature, it is poised to become one of the strongest players in emerging markets in the future. Krafton believes in long term potential of local Indian IPs that can be successful not just in India but globally as well across formats including literature, comics and gaming and our investment in Pratilipi is another step in realising that vision.”

#apps, #asia, #funding, #india, #krafton, #nexus-venture-partners

Sequoia unveils fifth group of startups for Surge

Sequoia Capital India has selected 23 early-stage startups for its fifth cohort of Surge, its accelerator program for India and Southeast Asia, at a time when dealflow activity is at its peak in the region.

The new cohort, Surge’s largest to date, have collectively raised $55 million, the storied investment firm said Wednesday. The cohort also includes 10 women founders, another record for the accelerator program which started its journey in March 2019.

The Surge program has enabled Sequoia Capital India — which has always backed early-stage startups but historically focused more on cutting checks for Series A and beyond rounds — to more aggressively identify promising startups while they are too young and increase the probability of broadening its portfolio with more winners, investors in the industry said.

And those odds have gotten much better in recent months. As Tiger Global and Falcon Edge begin to chase early-stage deals in India, both the firms have backed several Surge startups.

Sequoia said nearly 50% of startups from the first three cohorts have grown to raise their Series A financing rounds.

The Surge program, for which Sequoia raised an additional $195 million earlier this year, is now “tried, tested and proven to support founders through strategic mentorship from some of the world’s best startups and business minds, hands-on company building support, and a community of founder-to-founder support,” said the investment firm, which employs over 30 people in advisory roles in the region.

Some investors also said Sequoia, which offers very aggressive terms and a plethora of resources (App Annie subscription, for instance) to startups in Surge, that the accelerator program has diminished the significance of Y Combinator in India. (Rajan Anandan, who spearheads Surge, told me earlier this year that he doesn’t see Y Combinator and Surge as rivals.)

The new cohort, several names of which TechCrunch scooped early this month, includes 13 startups that are building services in fintech, payments, communications, logistics, and SaaS sectors, Surge said.

“We are incredibly proud of all 23 companies who have joined Surge 05 and the founders who have forged their businesses in sectors that have seen tremendous tailwinds. These leaders have displayed grit, exceptional talent, and relentless purpose in shaping the world,” said Anandan, who prior to joining Sequoia Capital India as MD led Google’s business in India and Southeast Asia.

“At this inflection point of global regrowth, we are excited to be part of the journey of our founders and their companies, many of which we believe will grow into large, enduring businesses,” he added.

The new cohort features the following startups as well as one that is operating in stealth mode.

  • Absolute is building a plant bioscience and AI-driven adaptive platform for precision agriculture that helps horticulture growers radically transform yields, grade and nutritional value of produce. The startup has also received an investment from Lets Venture.
  • ADPList is attempting to “democratise” mentorship and make it accessible for everyone through a community platform where people can find, book and meet mentors around the world.
  • ApnaKlub is an agent-led business-to-business wholesale platform for fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG). The startup aims to encourage and empower people to set up their own hyper-local micro-distribution businesses by providing them with better profit margins, access to a large assortment of brands and SKUs, and supply consistency.
  • Belora produces clean, high-performance, vegan makeup — free from toxins and harmful ingredients. The startup, which has also secured investment from DSG Consumer Partners, says it wants to create makeup that doubles up as skincare, so that women can wear products that are not only dermatologically tested, but also good for their skin.
  • Durianpay is building an integrated and comprehensive payments stack that enables businesses to grow and scale.
  • Dyte is a developer-friendly real time audio and video calling software development kit (SDK). The startup, which has also secured investments from Nexus Venture Partners and Y Combinator, allows developers to integrate live video into their apps in interesting and innovative ways. The SDK is simple, offers integrations within hours, and has a large number of plug-ins and configurations. These configurations provide developers with a quick and efficient way to embed audio and video calling, AI video augmentation, and collaboration features.
  • Gumlet provides a new-age media delivery infrastructure that provides low code or no-code integration plugins, which automates the entire media publishing pipeline. Developers all over the world use Gumlet to automatically provide the lowest size images and videos with the best resolution and performance.
  • Locad is making multi-channel e-commerce fulfilment easier than ever by offering a distributed warehousing network, which reduces shipping time and costs by storing products closer to customers. The startup has also secured investments from Antler and others.
  • Mailmodo is an email marketing platform that helps marketers create app-like experiences within emails and increase conversions.
  • Mesh is a new-age people management platform that makes it easy for employees to manage goals, get timely feedback, and grow faster. Y Combinator Continuity fund and RTP Global have also invested in Mesh.
  • Multiplier is a new-age employer of record that simplifies international hiring. It counts Golden Gate Ventures, MS&AD Ventures, Picus Capital among its investors.
  • OneCode is an app that connects companies with sales agents, giving these agents access to sell the products and services to less tech-savvy buyers. The startup’s mission is to digitise 50 million sales agents across India, and bridge the gap between brands and potential buyers who may need in-person interactions and physical touch points before committing to a purchase. Nexus Venture Partners and WaterBridge Ventures have also invested in the startup.
  • Powerplay is a mobile-first, vernacular construction site management app that enables project managers and workers to communicate and collaborate more effectively. The startup, also backed by Accel, helps them track their progress, deliverables, and payments across projects.
  • Pankhuri is a social community platform where women can network, learn and shop online through live streaming, chat, and micro courses.
  • RaRa Delivery is attempting to reimagine instant delivery for e-commerce in Indonesia through data driven logistics. It also counts 500 Startups among its investors.
  • Revery is using game thinking to revolutionise wellness, and the team is on a mission to make wellness affordable and accessible to anyone with a mobile phone. The startup has also secured funds from GGV Capital and Pascal Capital.
  • TWID (That’s What I Do) is a rewards-based payment network that enables customer reward or loyalty points to be used as a payment instrument. (Beenext is a co-investor.)
  • Vah Vah! is a live, online vocational training platform that offers professional beauty courses.
  • Vara is an easy-to-use and lightweight staff management platform for SMEs across Southeast Asia. It enables small companies to effortlessly manage their attendance and payroll. The startup counts RTP Global and a number of other firms among its investors.
  • Veera Health is on a mission to help women lead healthier lives. Veera’s first offering is a digital therapeutics platform that helps women identify and navigate Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), with a comprehensive offering of therapy, coaching and specialist support. Global Founders Capital, Harvard University, and Y Combinator have also backed Veera.
  • Virtual Internships are redesigning internships for the 21st century workforce, mirroring the future of work.
  • WATI helps companies have personalised conversations with customers at scale with an easy-to-use customer engagement software that’s built on WhatApp’s Business API.

#absolute, #accel, #adplist, #apnaklub, #asia, #belora, #durianpay, #dyte, #funding, #gumlet, #india, #locad, #mailmodo, #mesh, #multiplier, #nexus-venture-partners, #onecode, #pankhuri, #powerplay, #rara-delivery, #revery, #sequoia, #sequoia-capital-india, #tiger-global, #twid, #vah-vah, #vara, #veera-health, #virtual-internships, #wat

Tiger Global leads $31.5M investment in interactive edtech Quizizz

Quizizz, an Indian startup that is making learning more interactive so that students find it compelling to spend more hours studying, said on Wednesday it has raised $31.5 million in a new financing round.

Tiger Global led the Series B financing round in the five-and-a-half-year-old startup. Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang and existing investors Eight Roads Ventures, GSV Ventures, Nexus Venture Partners also participated in the new round.

Quizizz, which concluded its previous financing round in March this year, has raised $47 million to-date. The new round values it at about $300 million, I heard earlier this month.

“When we were kids, it was so difficult to focus on studies. Our thesis has been that with kids now living in a world with so much distraction, there’s a need to make learning more interesting,” said Ankit Gupta, co-founder and chief executive of Quizizz, in an interview with TechCrunch.

Along with Deepak Cheenath, Quizizz’s other co-founder, Gupta started the startup’s journey in a non-profit school in Bangalore, where they built several prototypes. The same year — 2015 — the duo engaged closely with teachers and students in the U.S., and pivoted to Quizizz, said Gupta.

On Quizizz, teachers and the community develop gamified lessons for students. (Teachers don’t have to build these lessons. For the concepts that they want to explain to students, if lessons exist, many just use those instead. The platform has over 20 million quizzes today.)

These lessons have enabled students to find learning more engaging, said Gupta. The platform also enables teachers to identify in real-time students who are struggling with grasping any concept and then to address those gaps, he said.

The platform covers a range of subjects including computer science, english, mathematics, science, social studies, world languages, and creative arts.

Over the years, Quizizz has grown organically across the globe with many classrooms today using the platform, said Gupta. The platform is used by teachers in over 120 nations today with students answering more than 300 million questions on Quizizz each week. In the U.S., which is Quizizz’s largest market now, over 80% of K-12 schools use the platform, he said.

“During the pandemic, Quizziz made the transition to teaching online seamless. Now that we’re back in the building, I’ve used it almost exclusively. Making, finding, and altering lessons using Quizizz has become almost a hobby for me,” said Rory Roberts, a math teacher at Brigantine Community School, in a prepared statement.

“This week, we conducted user-testing with teachers in California, saw a video of students cheering on their classmates in an auditorium in Kenya, and got a thank you note from a group of teachers wearing Quizizz branded t-shirts in Indonesia. We’re incredibly proud of the role our growing team, and teacher community, have played in this movement,” said Quizizz’s Cheenath.

The startup plans to deploy the fresh capital to expand its team across both the U.S. and India to keep up with its growth. It is also looking to form partnerships to accelerate its international expansion.

#apps, #asia, #education, #eight-roads-ventures, #funding, #gsv-ventures, #india, #jerry-yang, #nexus-venture-partners, #tiger-global, #tiger-global-management

Infra.Market becomes India’s newest unicorn with $100 million fundraise

The newest unicorn in India is a startup that is helping construction and real estate companies in the world’s second most populated nation procure materials and handle logistics for their projects.

Four year-old Infra.Market said on Thursday it has raised $100 million in a Series C round led by Tiger Global. Existing investors including Foundamental, Accel Partners, Nexus Venture Partners, Evolvence India Fund, and Sistema Asia Fund also participated in the round, which valued the Indian startup at $1 billion.

The new round, which brings Infra.Market’s total to-date raise to about $150 million, comes just two months after the Mumbai-headquartered startup concluded its Series B round. The startup was valued at about $200 million post-money in the December round, a person familiar with the matter told TechCrunch. Avendus Capital advised Infra.Market on the new transaction.

Infra.Market helps small businesses such as manufacturers of paints and cements improve the quality of their production and meet various compliances. The startup adds its load cells to the manufacturing facilities of these small businesses to ensure there is no lapse in quality, and also helps them work with other businesses that can provide them with better raw material and provide guidance on pricing. It also works closely with businesses to ensure that their deliveries are made on time.

These improvements, explained co-founder Souvik Sengupta, help small manufacturers land larger clients that have higher expectations from the businesses with which they engage. He said the startup has helped small manufacturers reach customers outside of India as well. Some of its clients are in Bangladesh, Malaysia, Singapore and Dubai.

“We are bringing a service layer to these small manufacturers, enabling them to grow their business. We don’t own the asset and are creating private label brands,” he said in an interview with TechCrunch in December. Infra.Market works with more than 170 small manufacturers and counts the vast majority of major construction and real estate companies such as giants Larsen & Toubro, Tata Projects and Ashoka Buildcon as its clients. Sengupta said the startup sells to more than 400 large clients and 3,000 small retailers.

Sengupta said in December that the startup was on track to hit the ARR (annual recurring revenue) of $100 million before the pandemic hit early last year. This nearly cut the startup’s business in half for at least two early months of the pandemic. But the startup has picked up pace again, and is now on track to hit the ARR of $180 million. The startup aims to grow this figure to $300 million by March.

“We are delighted to partner with Souvik and Aaditya in the growth journey of Infra.Market which is reshaping India’s construction materials supply chain. With pioneering technology innovation and the ability to stitch together private label brands, Infra.Market is positioned for strong growth, healthy economics and profitability,” said Scott Shleifer, Partner of Tiger Global Management, in a statement.

Sengupta added today: “We are seeing rapid acceleration in demand as Infrastructure and real-estate companies are looking to shift their procurement to get consistent quality and minimize delays.”

#accel-partners, #asia, #ecommerce, #evolvence-india-fund, #funding, #india, #nexus-venture-partners, #sistema-asia-fund, #tiger-global

Jumbotail raises $14.2 million for its wholesale marketplace in India

Jumbotail, an online wholesale marketplace for grocery and food items, said on Friday it has raised an additional $14.2 million as the Bangalore-based startup chases the opportunity to digitize neighborhood stores in the world’s second largest internet market.

The five-year-old startup said the new tranche of its Series B financing round was led by VII Ventures, with participation from Nutresa, Veronorte, Jumbofund, Klinkert Investment Trust, Peter Crosby Trust, Nexus Venture Partners, and Discovery Ventures.

The startup told TechCrunch that the new tranche concludes its Series B round, which it kickstarted in 2019 with a tranche of $12.7 million. It ended up raising about $44 million in the Series B round (including Friday’s tranche), and to date has amassed about $54 million in equity investment, the startup told the publication.

Jumbotail said it serves over 30,000 neighborhood stores (popularly known in India as kiranas) in the country. In addition to its business-to-business marketplace, the startup also provides working capital to neighborhood stores through partnerships with financial institutions.

The startup, which has built its own supply chain network to enable last-mile delivery, also supplies these stores with point-of-sale devices so that they can easily get access to a much wider selection of catalog and have the new inventory shipped to them within two days. It also integrates these stores with hyperlocal delivery startups such as Dunzo and Swiggy to help mom and pop shops further expand their customer base.

Ashish Jhina, co-founder of Jumbotail, said he believes the startup has reached an inflection point in its growth and is now ready for its next chapter, which includes hiring top talent and expanding to more regions in the country, especially in several cities in South India.

“We are seeing tremendous interest from investors across the globe who are drawn to our highly scalable and operationally profitable business model, built on the industry’s best technology and customer NPS,” said Jhina, who previously served in Indian army and then worked at e-commerce firms eBay and Flipkart.

At a recent virtual conference, Jhina said that the coronavirus pandemic, which prompted New Delhi to order a nationwide lockdown and put restrictions on e-commerce firms, has illustrated just how crucial neighborhood stores are in people’s lives. And for all the ills that the virus has wrought to the world, it did help accelerate the adoption of technology among these stores.

A number of food brands whose products neighborhood stores sell today are not standardized, which poses a question about their quality. To fill this gap, Jumbotail runs its own private label portfolio and Jhina said the startup will deploy part of the fresh fund to broaden this catalog. Having private label also allows Jumbotail to ensure that its retail partners can get the supply of items throughout the year — and of course, it also helps the startup, which has been operationally profitable for nearly three quarters, improve its margin.

There are more than 30 million neighborhood stores in India that dot across the thousands of cities and towns in the country. These small businesses have been around for decades and survived — and even thrived — despite e-commerce giants pouring billions of dollars in India to change how people shop. In recent years, scores of startups — and giants — in India have begun to explore ways to work with these neighborhood stores.

One of them is India’s largest retail chain Reliance Retail, which serves more than 3.5 million customers each week through its nearly 10,000 physical stores in more than 6,500 cities and towns in the country. In late 2019, it entered the e-commerce space with JioMart through a joint venture with sister subsidiary telecom giant Jio Platforms. By mid last year, JioMart had expanded to over 200 Indian cities and towns — though currently its reach within those cities and customer service leave a lot to be desired.

Reliance Retail also maintains a partnership with Facebook for WhatsApp integration. Facebook, which invested $5.7 billion in Jio Platforms last year, has said that it will explore various ways to work with Reliance to digitize the nation’s mom and pop stores, as well as other small- and medium-sized businesses.

For JioMart, Reliance Retail is working with neighborhood shops, giving them a digital point-of-sale machine to make it easier for them to accept money electronically. It is also allowing these shops to buy their inventory from Reliance Retail, and then use their physical presence as delivery points. At present, the platform is largely focused on grocery delivery. In a recent report to clients, Goldman Sachs analysts estimated that Reliance could become the largest player in online grocery within three years.

#asia, #ecommerce, #food, #funding, #india, #jio-platforms, #nexus-venture-partners, #reliance-retail

India’s insurance platform Turtlemint raises $30 million

Turtlemint, an Indian startup that is helping consumers identify and purchase the most appropriate insurance policies for them, has raised $30 million in a new financing round as it looks to reach more users in small cities and towns in the world’s second largest internet market.

The new round, the five-year-old Mumbai-headquartered startup’s Series D, was led by GGV Capital . American Family Ventures, MassMutual Ventures and SIG, and existing investors Blume Ventures, Sequoia Capital India, Nexus Venture Partners, Dream Incubator and Trifecta Capital also participated in the round, which brings Turtlemint’s total to-date raise to $55 million.

Only a fraction of India’s 1.3 billion people currently have access to insurance. Insurance products had reached less than 3% of the population as of 2017, according to rating agency ICRA. An average Indian makes about $2,100 a year, according to the World Bank. ICRA estimated that of those Indians who had purchased an insurance product, they were spending less than $50 on it in 2017.

A range of startups in India are trying to disrupt this market. Analysts at Goldman Sachs estimated the online insurance market in India — which in recent years has attracted several major giants including Amazon and Paytm — to be worth $3 billion in a report they recently sent to clients.

Another major reason why existing insurance firms are struggling to sell to consumers is because they are too reliant on on-ground advisors.

Turtlemint co-founders Anand Prabhudesai (left) and Dhirendra Mahyavanshi pose for a picture (Turtlemint)

Instead of bypassing these advisors, Turtlemint is embracing them. It works with over 100,000 such agents, equipping them with digital tools to offer wider and more relevant recommendations to consumers and speed-up the onboarding process, which has traditionally required a lot of paperwork.

These advisors, who continue to command over 90% of all insurance sales in the country, “play a critical role in bridging the gap in tier 2 and 3 towns and cities, where low physical presence of insurance companies greatly impacts seamless access to insurance products and information,” the startup said.

Turtlemint works with over 40 insurance companies in India and serves as a broker, charging these firms a commission for policies it sells. The startup said it has amassed more than 1.5 million customers.

“By developing products for the micro-entrepreneurs and the rising middle class, Turtlemint has an opportunity to have a positive impact on India’s economy,” said Hans Tung, Managing Partner at GGV Capital, in a statement. “Dhirendra, Anand, and their team built an incredible platform that enables over 100,000 mom-and-pop financial advisors to serve consumers’ best interests with digital tools, helping middle-class families in India get insured with the best products available.”

In an interview with TechCrunch, Turtlemint co-founder Anand Prabhudesai said the startup will deploy the fresh capital to grow its network of advisors and improve its technology stack to further improve the experience for consumers. The startup today also offers training to these advisors and has built tools to help them digitally reach potential customers.

“Continuous education is a very important aspect of being a successful financial entrepreneur. To this end, we have created an online education product with a wide range of courses on financial products, advice-based sales techniques and other soft skills. Our content is now available in seven regional languages and over 20,000 learners are active each month on our edtech platform. A lot of these are first-time advisors who are taking their first steps towards starting their advisory business. Our target is to create a million successful financial entrepreneurs over the next 3-5 years,” he said.

#american-family-ventures, #apps, #asia, #blume-ventures, #dream-incubator, #finance, #funding, #ggv-capital, #india, #massmutual-ventures, #nexus-venture-partners, #payments, #sequoia-capital-india, #sig

Hasura raises $25 million Series B and adds MySQL support to its GraphQL service

Hasura, a service that provides developers with an open-source engine that provides them a GraphQL API to access their databases, today announced that it has raised a $25 million Series B round led by Lightspeed Venture Partners. Previous investors Vertex Ventures US, Nexus Venture Partners, Strive VC and SAP.iO Fund also participated in this round.

The new round, which the team raised after the COVID-19 pandemic had already started, comes only six months after the company announced its $9.9 million Series A round. In total, Hasura has now raised $36.5 million.

“We’ve been seeing rapid enterprise traction in 2020. We’ve wanted to accelerate our efforts investing in the Hasura community and our cloud product that we recently launched and to ensure the success of our enterprise customers. Given the VC inbound interest, a fundraise made sense to help us step on the gas pedal and give us room to grow comfortably,” Hasura co-founder and CEO Tanmai Gopa told me.

In addition to the new funding, Hasura also today announced that it has added support for MySQL databases to its service. Until now, the company’s service only worked with PostgreSQL databases.

Rajoshi Ghosh, co-founder and COO (left) and Tanmai Gopal, co-founder and CEO (right).

Rajoshi Ghosh, co-founder and COO (left) and Tanmai Gopal, co-founder and CEO (right).

As the company’s CEO and co-founder Tanmai Gopal told me, MySQL support has long been at the top of the most requested features by the service’s users. Many of these users — who are often in the health care and financial services industry — are also working with legacy systems they are trying to connect to modern applications and MySQL plays an important role there, given how long it has been around.

In addition to adding MySQL support, Hasura is also adding support for SQL Server to its line-up, but for now, that’s in early access.

“For MySQL and SQL Server, we’ve seen a lot of demand from our healthcare and financial services / fin-tech users,” Gopa said. “They have a lot of existing online data, especially in these two databases, that they want to activate to build new capabilities and use while modernizing their applications.

Today’s announcement also comes only a few months after the company launched a fully-managed managed cloud service for its service, which complements its existing paid Pro service for enterprises.

“We’re very impressed by how developers have taken to Hasura and embraced the GraphQL approach to building applications,” said Gaurav Gupta, partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners and Hasura board member. “Particularly for front-end developers using technologies like React, Hasura makes it easy to connect applications to existing databases where all the data is without compromising on security and performance. Hasura provides a lovely bridge for re-platforming applications to cloud-native approaches, so we see this approach being embraced by enterprise developers as well as front-end developers more and more.”

The company plans to use the new funding to add support for more databases and to tackle some of the harder technical challenges around cross-database joins and the company’s application-level data caching system. “We’re also investing deeply in company building so that we can grow our GTM and engineering in tandem and making some senior hires across these functions,” said Gopa.

#api, #board-member, #computing, #developer, #enterprise, #financial-services, #gaurav-gupta, #hasura, #healthcare, #lightspeed-venture-partners, #mysql, #nexus-venture-partners, #partner, #react, #software, #tc, #vertex-ventures, #web-development

SUSE acquires Kubernetes management platform Rancher Labs

SUSE, which describes itself as ‘the world’s largest independent open source company,’ today announced that it has acquired Rancher Labs, a company that has long focused on making it easier for enterprises to make their container clusters.

The two companies did not disclose the price of the acquisition, but Rancher was well funded, with a total of $95 million in investments. It’s also worth mentioning that it’s only been a few months since the company announced its $40 million Series D round led by Telstra Ventures. Other investors include the likes of Mayfield and Nexus Venture Partners, GRC SinoGreen and F&G Ventures.

Like similar companies, Rancher’s original focus was first on Docker infrastructure before it pivoted to putting its emphasis on Kubernetes once that became the de facto standard for container orchestration. Unsurprisingly, this is also why SUSE is now acquiring this company. After a number of ups and downs — and various ownership changes — SUSE has now found its footing again and today’s acquisition shows that its aiming to capitalize on its current strengths.

Just last month, the company reported that the annual contract value of its booking increased by 30% year over year and that it saw a 63% increase in customer deals worth more than $1 million in the last quarter, with its cloud revenue growing 70%. While it is still in the Linux distribution business that the company was founded on, today’s SUSE is a very different company, offering various enterprise platforms (including its Cloud Foundry-based Cloud Application Platform), solutions and services. And while it already offered a Kubernetes-based container platform, Rancher’s expertise will only help it to build out this business.

“This is an incredible moment for our industry, as two open source leaders are joining forces. The merger of a leader in Enterprise Linux, Edge Computing and AI with a leader in Enterprise Kubernetes Management will disrupt the market to help customers accelerate their digital transformation journeys,” said SUSE CEO Melissa Di Donato in today’s announcement. “Only the combination of SUSE and Rancher will have the depth of a globally supported and 100% true open source portfolio, including cloud native technologies, to help our customers seamlessly innovate across their business from the edge to the core to the cloud.”

The company describes today’s acquisition as the first step in its ‘inorganic growth strategy’ and Di Donato notes that this acquisition will allow the company to “play an even more strategic role with cloud service providers, independent hardware vendors, systems integrators and value-added resellers who are eager to provide greater customer experiences.”

#artificial-intelligence, #ceo, #cloud-computing, #cloud-infrastructure, #computing, #enterprise, #free-software, #kubernetes, #leader, #linux, #nexus-venture-partners, #rancher-labs, #software, #suse, #telstra-ventures

Quolum announces $2.75M seed investment to track SaaS spending

As companies struggle to find ways to control costs in today’s economy, understanding what you are spending on SaaS tools is paramount. That’s precisely what early stage startup Quolum is attempting to do, and today it announced a $2.75 million seed round.

Surge Ventures and Nexus Venture Partners led the round with help from a dozen unnamed angel investors.

Company founder Indus Khatian says that he launched the company last summer pre-COVID, when he recognized that companies were spending tons of money on SaaS subscriptions and he wanted to build a product to give greater visibility into that spending.

This tool is aimed at finance, who might not know about the utility of a specific SaaS tool like PagerDuty, but who looks at the bills every month. The idea is to give them data about usage as well as cost to make sure they aren’t paying for something they aren’t using.

“Our goal is to give finance a better set of tools, not just to put a dollar amount on [the subscription costs], but also the utilization, as in who’s using it, how much are they using it and is it effective? Do I need to know more about it? Those are the questions that we are helping finance answer,” Khatian explained.

Eventually, he says he also wants to give that data directly to lines of business, but for starters he is focusing on finance. The product works by connecting to the billing or expense software to give insight into the costs of the services. It takes that data and combines it with usage data in a dashboard to give a single view of the SaaS spending in one place.

While Khatian acknowledges there are other similar tools in the marketplace such as Blissfully, Intello and others, he believes the problem is big enough for multiple vendors to do well. “Our differentiator is being end-to-end. We are not just looking at the dollars, or stopping at how many times you’ve logged in, but we’re going deep into consumption. So for every dollar that you’ve spent, how many units of that software you have consumed,” he said.

He says that he raised the money last fall and admits that it probably would have been tougher today, and he would have likely raised on a lower valuation.

Today the company consists of a 6 person development team in Bangalore in India and Khatian in the U.S. After the company generates some revenue he will be hiring a few people to help with marketing, sales and engineering.

When it comes to building a diverse company, he points out that he himself is an immigrant founder, and he sees the ability to work from anywhere, an idea amplified by COVID-19, helping result in a more diverse workforce. As he builds his company, and adds employees,  he can hire people across the world, regardless of location.

#cloud, #enterprise, #finance, #funding, #nexus-venture-partners, #quolum, #saas, #saas-cost-control, #startups, #surge-ventures, #tc