Glovo bags two grocery picking and delivery startups

More startup swapping in the food delivery space: Spain’s Glovo, an on-demand delivery platform which operates a network of dark stores focused on urban convenience shopping, is pushing deeper into planned grocery shopping — announcing the acquisition of two regional ‘Instacart-style’ grocery picking and delivery startups, Madrid-based Lola Market and Portugal’s Mercadão.

Terms of the acquisitions are not being disclosed.

2015-founded Lola Market had raised around €3M, per Crunchbase. It’s not clear how much Portugal’s Mercadão — which was founded in 2018 — had raised over its shorter run.

Glovo, meanwhile, raised a meaty $528M Series F back in April — but quickly splurged $208M to pick up three food delivery brands from rival Delivery Hero in Central and Eastern Europe.

The Spanish on-demand delivery platform is facing challenges to its model on home turf where the government has applied a labor reform aimed at delivery workers in the gig economy.

The reform, agreed earlier this year, came into application last month — recognizing delivery platform riders as employees, or at least on paper.

Glovo responded by imposing a new self-employment model on the vast majority of riders on its platform, hiring only around a fifth. So the scene looks set for legal challenges in its home market.

At the European Union level, lawmakers are also eyeing how to improve conditions for platform workers — and could come with pan-EU legislation that has wider implications for the business models of regional players like Glovo.

Ongoing regulatory challenges over employment classification and algorithmic management of workers in the gig economy may offer some context for Glovo’s expanding interest in grocery purchasing in Europe, where it has been building out a network of dark stores to power what it calls ‘Q-commerce’ (aka, quick urban convenience shopping).

As well as for its recently announced international expansion in Africa, where it has said it will be doubling down investment over the next 12 months.

But also the challenge of hitting profitability for pure on-demand food delivery looks like a sizeable piece of the puzzle here driving consolidation.

By adding players in the supermarket and retail outlet picking delivery space, Glovo expands its coverage of shoppers’ needs — and can nudge users to spend more by being able to cross-sell them on planned purchases (such as the weekly grocery shop), as well as what it bills as “emergency essentials” and “fast action convenience” powered by the more limited inventory it can offer in its city center dark stores.

Both Lola Market and Mercadão’s brand identities will be retained, per Glovo, which also says they will operate independently — led by Gonçalo Soares da Costa, CEO of Mercadão.

It touts the acquisitions as strengthening its competitive position in Europe in “key markets” — going on to suggest it will add grocery picking and delivery across its entire market footprint, with an initial expansion planned for Poland and Italy.

Also today it said its Q-Commerce division is “on track” to reach an annual Gross Transaction Value (GTV) of more than €300M this year — adding that it expects that to more than triple by the end of 2022, projecting it will surpass a run rate of €1BN.

Commenting on its latest acquisitions in a statement, Oscar Pierre, CEO and co-founder of Glovo, added: “We see huge potential in the on-demand groceries marketplace and both companies are strong local players in their respective markets, and further strengthen our Q-Commerce offering.

“With Lola Market and Mercadão on board, we can build stronger partnerships with retailers, offer our users big-basket purchases and provide a more complete service. These acquisitions represent a significant step forward for us, as we’re now able to cover all of the main purchasing considerations for groceries customers, making Glovo a one-stop-shop for e-groceries.”

#apps, #delivery-hero, #delivery-startups, #e-groceries, #europe, #food, #food-delivery, #glovo, #grocery-store, #instacart, #madrid, #online-food-ordering, #oscar-pierre, #portugal, #spain

America’s Afghan War: A Defeat Foretold?

Recent history suggests that it is foolish for Western powers to fight wars in other people’s lands and that the U.S. intervention was almost certainly doomed from the start.

#afghanistan, #afghanistan-war-2001, #africa, #algeria, #algerian-war-1954-62, #biden-joseph-r-jr, #de-gaulle-charles, #defense-and-military-forces, #france, #lebanon, #mcchrystal-stanley-a, #politics-and-government, #portugal, #taliban, #terrorism, #united-states-defense-and-military-forces, #united-states-international-relations, #vietnam-war

How Peppers Proliferated Around the Planet

In the world’s plant gene banks, scientists studied how so many varieties of the humble capsicum worked their way onto our plates.

#central-america, #genetics-and-heredity, #international-trade-and-world-market, #peppers, #portugal, #proceedings-of-the-national-academy-of-sciences, #research, #south-america, #your-feed-science

Untitled Ventures joins the scramble for Russian & Eastern European startups with a $118M warchest

Sorry Mr. Putin, but there’s a race on for Russian and Eastern European founders. And right now, those awful capitalists in the corrupt West are starting to out-gun the opposition! But seriously… only the other day a $100 million fund aimed at Russian speaking entrepreneurs appeared, and others are proliferating.

Now, London-based Untitled Ventures plans to join their fray with a €100 million / $118M for its second fund to invest in “ambitious deep tech startups with eastern European founders.”

Untitled says it is aiming at entrepreneurs who are looking to relocate their business or have already HQ’ed in Western Europe and the USA. That’s alongside all the other existing Western VCs who are – in my experience – always ready and willing to listen to Russian and Eastern European founders, who are often known for their technical prowess.

Untitled is going to be aiming at B2B, AI, agritech, medtech, robotics, and data management startups with proven traction emerging from the Baltics, CEE, and CIS, or those already established in Western Europe

LPs in the fund include Vladimir Vedeenev, a founder of Global Network Management>. Untitled also claims to have Google, Telegram Messenger, Facebook, Twitch, DigitalOcean, IP-Only, CenturyLinks, Vodafone and TelecomItaly as partners.

Oskar Stachowiak, Untitled Ventures Managing Partner, said: “With over 10 unicorns, €1Bn venture funding in 2020 alone, and success stories like Veeam, Semrush, and Wrike, startups emerging from the fast-growing regions are the best choice to focus on early-stage investment for us. Thanks to the strong STEM focus in the education system and about one million high-skilled developers, we have an ample opportunity to find and support the rising stars in the region.”

Konstantin Siniushin, the Untitled Ventures MP said: “We believe in economic efficiency and at the same time we fulfill a social mission of bringing technological projects with a large scientific component from the economically unstable countries of the former USSR, such as, first of all, Belarus, Russia and Ukraine, but not only in terms of bringing sales to the world market and not only helping them to HQ in Europe so they can get next rounds of investments.”

He added: “We have a great experience accumulated earlier in the first portfolio of the first fund, not just structuring business in such European countries as, for example, Luxembourg, Germany, Great Britain, Portugal, Cyprus and Latvia, but also physically relocating startup teams so that they are perceived already as fully resident in Europe and globally.”

To be fair, it is still harder than it needs to be to create large startups from Eastern Europe, mainly because there is often very little local capital. However, that is changing, with the launch recently of CEE funds such as Vitosha Venture Partners and Launchub Ventures, and the breakout hit from Romania that was UIPath.

The Untitled Ventures team:
• Konstantin Siniushin, a serial tech entrepreneur
• Oskar Stachowiak, experienced fund manager
• Mary Glazkova, PR & Comms veteran
• Anton Antich, early stage investor and an ex VP of Veeam, a Swiss cloud data management company
acquired by Insight Venture Partners for $5bln
• Yulia Druzhnikova, experienced in taking tech companies international
• Mark Cowley, who has worked on private and listed investments within CEE/Russia for over 20 years

Untitled Ventures portfolio highlights – Fund I
Sizolution: AI-driven size prediction engine, based in Germany
Pure app – spontaneous and impersonal dating app, based in Portugal
Fixar Global –  efficient drones for commercial use-cases, based in Latvia,
E-contenta – based in Poland
SuitApp – AI based mix-and-match suggestions for fashion retail, based in Singapore
• Sarafan.tech, AI-driven recognition, based in the USA
Hello, baby – parental assistant, based in the USA
Voximplant – voice, video and messaging cloud communication platform, based in the USA (exited)

#artificial-intelligence, #baltics, #belarus, #corporate-finance, #cyprus, #eastern-europe, #economy, #entrepreneurship, #europe, #facebook, #finance, #founder, #germany, #google, #insight-venture-partners, #latvia, #launchub-ventures, #london, #luxembourg, #managing-partner, #money, #poland, #portugal, #private-equity, #putin, #republicans, #russia, #singapore, #startup-company, #tc, #ukraine, #united-kingdom, #united-states, #veeam, #venture-capital, #vitosha-venture-partners, #vodafone, #vp, #wrike

Real estate platform Casafari raises $15M to allow PE to buy single-family homes at scale

Just a Spotify used VC and PE backing to acquire the assets of the music industry so that we must now all rent our music via subscription, rather than own it for life, so a PropTech startup plans to follow a similar strategy for single-family homes.

Casafari, a real estate data platform in Europe based out of Lisbon, Portugal, has raised a $15 million Series A funding round led by Prudence Holdings in New York. But, crucially, it has also secured a $120 million “mandate” from Geneva-based private equity investors Stoneweg, among other PE players, in order to buy-to-let residential and commercial real estate. The startup already has operations in Portugal, Spain, France, and Italy.

Other investors include Armilar Venture Partners (the Portuguese VC behind unicorns Outsystems and Feedzai), HJM Holdings, 1Sharpe (founders of Roofstock), and FJ Labs (Fabrice Grinda, founder of OLX Group), as well as existing investor Lakestar.

Founded by Mila Suharev, Nils Henning, and Mitya Moskalchuk in 2018, Casafari is taking advantage of Europe’s often chaotic real estate data to achieve its goals, due to the lack of a unified Multiple Listings Service (“MLS”).

Casafari plans to aggregate, verify and distribute this data via its platform, hunting down single-family homes as an asset class for institutional investors.

According to Nils Henning, CEO, “CASAFARI has built a unique ecosystem, which connects brokers, developers, asset managers, and investors and enables sourcing, valuation, underwriting and deal collaboration on single units in all asset classes. We are very excited to represent important institutional clients like Stoneweg and others, in deploying their capital into fragmented acquisitions at scale, bringing more liquidity to the market and generating more transactions to the broker clients of our platform.”

Private investors are already using the platform. Since launching in 2018, Casafari has been used by Sotheby’s International Realty, Coldwell Banker, RE/MAX franchises, Savills, Fine & Country, Engel & Voelkers, Keller Williams, and important institutional investors and developers like Stoneweg, Kronos, Vanguard, and Vic Properties.

Mila Suharev, Casafari’s Co-CEO and CPO said: ”There are currently around 70 billion euros in dry powder in Europe that could be allocated in acquiring residential property in a buy to let strategy, and basically there’s no offer available. The property will be collected in portfolios, consisting of single units that pension funds, private equity real estate funds, want to build in Europe as they do in the US.”

What Casafari’s is doing is largely following the playbook of what Roofstock in the US did: an online marketplace for investing in leased single-family rental homes. Roofstock has raised $132.3 million to date.

#armilar-venture-partners, #broker, #ceo, #co-ceo, #coldwell-banker, #economy, #europe, #fabrice-grinda, #finance, #fj-labs, #founder, #france, #geneva, #investment, #italy, #kronos, #lakestar, #lisbon, #money, #new-york, #olx-group, #online-marketplace, #portugal, #private-equity, #property-technology, #prudence-holdings, #roofstock, #sothebys, #spain, #spotify, #stoneweg, #tc, #technology, #united-states

Pandemic Surges Again in Many Parts of the World, Fueled by Variants

The highly contagious Delta variant is on the rise, and countries that hoped they had seen the worst of Covid-19 are being battered again.

#bangladesh, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #europe, #far-east-south-and-southeast-asia-and-pacific-areas, #great-britain, #portugal, #travel-warnings, #vaccination-and-immunization

Dear EU: It’s time to get a grip

The EU for all its lethargy, faults and fetishization of bureaucracy, is, ultimately, a good idea. It might be 64 years from the formation of the European Common Market, but it is 29 years since the EU’s formation in the Maastricht Treaty, and this international entity is definitely still acting like an indecisive millennial, happy to flit around tech startup policy. It’s long due time for this digital nomad to commit to one ‘location’ on how it treats startups.

If there’s one thing we can all agree on, this is a unique moment in time. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the acceptance of technology globally, especially in Europe. Thankfully, tech companies and startups have proven to be more resilient than much of the established economy. As a result, the EU’s political leaders have started to look towards the innovation economy for a more sustainable future in Europe.

But this moment has not come soon enough.

The European tech scene is still lagging behind its US and Asia counterparts in numbers of startups created, talent in the tech sector, financing rounds, and IPOs / exits. It doesn’t help, of course, that the European market is so fractionalized, and will be for a long time to come.

But there is absolutely no excuse when it comes to the EU’s obligations to reform startup legislation, taxation, and the development of talent, to “level the playing field” against the US and Asian tech giants.

But, to put it bluntly: The EU can’t seem to get its shit together around startups.

Consider this litany of proposals.

Starting as far back a 2016 we had the Start-Up and Scale-Up Initiative. We even had the Scale-Up Manifesto in the same year. Then there was the Cluj Recommendations (2019), and the Not Optional campaign for options reform in 2020.

Let’s face it, the community of VC´s, founders, and startup associations in Europe has been saying mostly the same things for years, to national and European leaders.

Finally, this year, we got something approaching a summation of all these efforts.

Portugal, which has the European presidency for the first half of this year, took the bull by its horns and created something approaching a final draft of what the EU needs.

After, again, intense consultations with European ecosystem stakeholders, it identified eight best practices in order to level the playing field covering the gamut of issues such as fast startup creation, talent, stock options, innovation in regulation and access to finance. You name it, it covered it.

These were then put into the Startup Nations Standard and presented to the European Council at Digital Day on March 19th, together with the European Commission’s DG CNECT and its Commissioner Tierry Breton. I wrote about this at the time.

Would the EU finally get a grip, and sign up for these evidently workable proposals?

It seemed, at least, that we might be getting somewhere. Some 25 member states signed the declaration that day, and perhaps for the first time, the political consensus seemed to be forming around this policy.

Indeed, a body set up to shepherd the initiative (the European Startup Nations Alliance) was even announced by Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa which, he said, would be tasked with monitoring, developing and optimizing the standards, collecting data from the member states on their success and failure, and reporting on its findings in a bi-annual conference aligned with the changing presidency of the European Council.

It would seem we could pop open a chilled bottle of DOC Bairrada Espumante and celebrate that Europe might finally start implementing at least the basics from these suggested policies.

But no. With the pandemic still raging, it seemed the EU’s leaders still had plenty of time on their hands to ponder these subjects.

Thus it was that the Scaleup Europe initiative emerged from the mind of Emmanuel Macron, assembling a select group of 150-plus of Europe’s leading tech founders, investors, researchers, corporate CEOs and government officials to do some more pondering about startups. And then there was the Global Powerhouse Initiative of DG Research & Innovations Commissioner, Mariya Gabriel.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we were about to go through this process all over again, with the EU acting as if it had the memory span of a giant goldfish.

Now, I’m not arguing that all these collective actions are a bad thing. But, by golly, European startups need more decisive action than this.

As things stand, instead of implementing the very reasonable Portuguese proposals, we will now have to wait for the EU’s wheels to slowly turn until the French presidency comes around next year.

That said, with any luck, a body to oversee the implementation of tech startup policy that is mandated by the European community, composed of organizations like La French Tech, Startup Portugal and Startup Estonia, might finally seem within reach.

But to anyone from the outside, it feels again as if the gnashing of EU policy teeth will have to go on yet longer. With the French calling for a ‘La French Tech for Europe’ and the Portuguese having already launched ESNA, the efforts seem far from coordinated.

In the final analysis, tech startup founders and investors could not care less where this new body comes from or which country launches it.

After years of contributions, years of consultations, the time for action is now.

It’s time for EU member states to agree, and move forward, helping other member states catch up based on established best practices.

It’s time for the long-awaited European Tech Giants to blossom, take on the US-born Big Tech Giants, and for Europe to finally punch its weight.

#articles, #asia, #emmanuel-macron, #entrepreneurship, #europe, #european-commission, #european-union, #french-tech, #mariya-gabriel, #opinion, #portugal, #private-equity, #startup-company, #tc, #united-states

Apple Maps upgrade brings more detailed maps, transit features, AR view and more

Among many updates coming to iOS 15, Apple Maps will receive a number of upgrades that will bring more detailed maps, improvements for transit riders, AR experiences and other changes to the platform. The improvements build on the new map Apple begin rolling out two years ago, which had focused on offering richer details, and — in response to user feedback and complaints — more accurate navigation.

Since then, Apple Maps has steadily improved.

The new map experience has since launched in the U.S., U.K., Ireland and Canada and will now make its way to Spain and Portugal, starting today. I will then arrive in Italy and Australia later this year, Apple announced during its keynote address during its Worldwide Developer Conference on Monday.

maps driving

Image Credits: Apple

In addition, Apple said iOS 15 Maps will include new details for commercial districts, marinas, buildings, and more. Plus, Apple has added things like elevation, new road colors and labels, as well as hundreds of custom designed landmarks — for example, for places like the Golden Gate Bridge.

Apple also built a new nighttime mode for Maps with a “moonlit glow,” it said.

 

For drivers, Apple added new road details to the map, so it can help drivers as they move throughout a city to better see and understand important things like turn lanes, medians, bus and taxi lanes, and other things. The changes are competitive with some of the updates Google has been making as of late to its own Google Maps platform, which brought street-level details in select cities. These allowed people — including those navigating on foot, in a wheelchair, on a bike, or on a scooter, for example — to better see things like sidewalks and intersections.

Apple is now catching up, saying it, too, will show features like crosswalks and bike lanes.

It will also render things like overlapping complex interchanges in 3D space, making it easier to see upcoming traffic conditions or what lane to take. These features will come to CarPlay later in the year.

Image Credits: Apple

For transit riders, meanwhile, Maps has made improvements to help users find nearby stations.

Users can now pin their favorite lines to the top, and even keep track on their Apple Watch so they don’t have to pull out their phone. The updated Maps app will automatically follow your transit route and notify you when it’s time to disembark, making the app more competitive to third-party apps often favored by transit takers, like Citymapper, for instance.

maps train stop

Image Credits: Apple

When you exit your station, you can also now hold up your iPhone to scan the buildings in the area and Maps will generate an accurate position, offering direction in augmented reality. This is similar to the Live View AR directions Google announced last year.

This feature is launching in select cities in 2021 with more to come in the year ahead, Apple said.

Image Credits: Apple

 

read more about Apple's WWDC 2021 on TechCrunch

#apple, #apple-inc, #apple-maps, #apps, #australia, #canada, #computing, #google, #google-maps-platform, #google-maps, #ios, #iphone, #ireland, #italy, #itunes, #operating-systems, #portugal, #software, #spain, #transit, #united-kingdom, #united-states, #wwdc-2021

Portugal’s Bike Boom: How the Country Is Meeting the Demand

To meet a jump in demand, the country’s bike-making industry is building new factories, hiring workers and dealing with parts shortages.

#bicycles-and-bicycling, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #customs-tariff, #factories-and-manufacturing, #international-trade-and-world-market, #labor-and-jobs, #portugal

British Tourists Return to Portugal, Unleashed but (Mostly) Masked

Sorely in need of sun and a change of scene, British travelers returned to the newly “green-listed” country and were met by relief, exasperation — and hardly anyone.

#airlines-and-airplanes, #bars-and-nightclubs, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #curfews, #great-britain, #hotels-and-travel-lodgings, #portugal, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #restaurants, #travel-and-vacations

Direct-to-consumer orthodontic startup Impress raises $50M to scale across Europe

As the famous phrase goes, ‘software is eating the world’ and now software is eating dentistry. Or, perhaps more accurately, the arena of orthodontics — the specialty of dentistry that deals with things like braces — is slowly but surely being digitalized.

To whit, Impress, a Southern European player in direct-to-consumer orthodontics, has raised a $50 million Series A funding round led by CareCapital (a dental division of Hillhouse Capital in Asia), along with Nickleby capital, UNIQA Ventures, and investors including Michael Linse, Valentin Pitarque, Peter Schiff, Elliot Dornbusch, and others. All existing shareholders, such as TA Ventures and Bynd VC, also participated. 

Impress is an homage to the direct-to-consumer startups in this area in the US such as SmileDirect< and now plans to scale across Europe from its existing bases in Spain, Italy, Portugal, UK, and France.

The company was founded in 2019 in Barcelona by orthodontist Dr. Khaled Kasem and serial entrepreneurs Diliara and Vladimir Lupenko.

Speaking from Barclenoa, Lupenko told me that the idea was to “combine the best orthodontic tradition with the most innovative technology in the sector.”

As things stand, most of the time, consumers can usually only access cosmetic teeth alignment treatments or orthodontic medical treatments in conventional clinics. The new wave of clinics employs 3D scans and panoramic X-rays to check nerve and bone health.

Impress’s model is to offer these high-quality medical treatments directly to consumers, by developing its own chain of orthodontic clinics, which also put an emphasis on design and a ‘modern’ patient experience, it says.

As Diliara Lupenko says: “We didn’t copy what other companies in the space were doing and approached the market from a different angle from the get-go. We doubled down on the doctor-led digital model which brought us way better conversion rates and treatment quality even though on paper it looked complex in the beginning. It’s still very complex but we were able to crack it and scale exponentially.”

Impress now has 75 clinics in Spain, Italy, the UK, France, and Portugal which optimize costs and automate key parts of the value chain.

It now says it’s approaching €50m in annual run-rate and is projected to grow to €150m of revenue in 12 months. 

Andreas Nemeth, managing partner of UNIQA Ventures GmbH commented: “Impress’s customer-centric focus, as well as its demonstrated ability to blitzscale, attracted us to the business. Vladimir and his team leverage technology to create a seamless customer journey for invisible orthodontics and optimized their cost structure in a unique way using software.”

#andreas-nemeth, #asia, #barcelona, #dentistry, #dentists, #europe, #france, #hillhouse-capital, #italy, #managing-partner, #michael-linse, #orthodontist, #player, #portugal, #spain, #ta-ventures, #tc, #united-kingdom, #united-states

Look out Amazon Go — A Lisbon startup plans to offer autonomous stores to other retailers

Look out Amazon Go. A Lisbon startup plans to offer the same autonomous store technology to other retailers. Lisbon-based Sensei, a computer vision startup that allows convenience stores to offer check-out-free purchasing has secured a seed round of $6.5 million (€5.4M). The funding was led by Seaya Ventures and Iberis Capital, with participation from 200M Fund.

The startup will now scale its R&D and launch new stores. Its proprietary platform uses a blend of cameras, sensors, and AI to automate stores, both new and existing. The platform means retailers can manage inventory in real-time and also access insights into the way the stores are used.

Vasco Portugal, Sensei’s CEO and Co-founder said: “Sensei’s technology will help level the playing field for retailers to compete against digital giants such as Amazon. We aim to enhance the familiar and enjoyable customer shopping experience, making it seamless, convenient, and safe.”

Sensei is designed to work mainly with grab-and-go stores, forecourts, and similar retail formats. Competitors include Trigo which has raised $89 million.

The advantages of automated stores in a pandemic are obvious: customers no longer have to queue. Plus retailers can avoid stock-outs and staff turn into customer support.

“We are delighted to invest in a business that is part of the digitalization of commerce, a trend that is currently clearly being accelerated,” said Aris Xenofontos, Principal at Seaya Ventures.

Luis Quaresma, Partner at Iberis Capital, added: “Sensei brings tremendous efficiencies and cost-savings to the retail industry, while providing a much needed seamless checkout experience for consumers.”

Sensei was founded by Vasco Portugal (CEO, ex-MIT), Joana Rafael (COO),Nuno Moutinho (CTO) and Paulo Carreira (CSO).

#amazon, #ceo, #coo, #cto, #europe, #lisbon, #marketing, #merchandising, #mit, #online-shopping, #partner, #portugal, #retail, #retailers, #seaya-ventures, #sensei, #tc, #trigo

‘Bowl food’ startup Poke House closes $24M Series B led by Eulero Capital to expand in Europe

The FoodTech industry is effectively now going into fast food. Sweetgreen in the US is a ‘fast-casual’ restaurant chain that serves healthy “bowl food”. It’s raised $478.6M. A similar firm is Sweetfin. Both employ a lot of tech in their back-end to improve efficiencies.

Into this area has come European startup Poke House, which is effectively industrializing the production of “poke bowls” for food delivery platforms. Poke House specializes in bowl food that often includes marinated fish that’s cubed and layered up with sticky rice, pickles, noodles, etc.

The company has now raised €20 million ($24m) in a Series B funding round led by Eulero Capital, with the backing of FG2 Capital and reinvestment from Milan Investment Partners SGR. It using tech and data to optimize the production and delivery of its product via all the major food delivery platforms such as Uber East etc. The Italy-born food tech startup claims to have built a “€100M+ company” inside two years.

Founded by Matteo Pichi and Vittoria Zanetti, Poke House has opened 30+ stores in Italy, Portugal and Spain, and now has 400 employees. It’s claiming an expected turnover of €40M+ in 2021.

With the funding, the startup will start opening new stores in existing markets, enter France and start in expansion in the UK.

Poke House says it uses a lot of tech on its back-end, tracking every element of the supply chain to optimize the business. It also analyzes data from third-party delivery platforms (ie. Deliveroo, Glovo, UberEats) to deliver a sub-10 mins food preparation time, and a delivery time under 25 mins.

Matteo Pichi, Co-Founder of Poke House said: “The pandemic has challenged our food sector, and we see technology as the way forward to innovate and digitalize the traditional restaurant experience. We are seeing a shift in people’s desires in fast but healthy food. Poke bowls fit this new need and it promotes a more balanced, active and sustainable lifestyle with quick and healthy food options available nearby.”

Speaking to TechCrunch, Pichi added: “Our competitors are the fast-growing healthy concepts such as Sweetgreen or Sweetfin in the US. But in the same time, we think we are lucky because we really are one of the first brands built 100% from food delivery experts or former employees. Our next competitors are gonna be full native virtual brands extremely strong in data analysis and digital brand building. We use food delivery platforms as media platforms and we invest heavier than competitors in the channel.”

Gianfranco Burei, Founding Partner of Eulero Capital said: “Poke House business model rides some of the main trends in the food sector (food-tech, healthy food, delivery, customization) and has all the characteristics and talents to position the company among the top players at European level. We are thrilled to be a partner of Poke House in an innovative and forward-looking project, in line with our investment strategy which is based on the search for companies included in the macro-trends that will characterize the economic, technological and social evolution of the coming years.”

#co-founder, #companies, #deliveroo, #distribution, #europe, #food, #food-delivery, #food-tech, #france, #healthy-food, #italy, #online-food-ordering, #partner, #poke, #portugal, #spain, #supply-chain, #sweetgreen, #tc, #uber, #uber-eats, #united-kingdom, #united-states

House Hunting in Portugal: A Light-Filled Retreat Near the Atlantic Coast

In Lisbon and other high-density areas, foreign buyers are scrambling to make investments before the country’s Golden Visa program is cut back.

#lisbon-portugal, #portugal, #real-estate-and-housing-residential, #sintra-portugal

20 Wines Under $20: Postcards From Around the World

In a pandemic era, when traveling is largely out of the question, these wines, good values all, can take you on a trip around the globe.

#argentina, #australia, #austria, #california, #chile, #france, #grapes, #greece, #italy, #portugal, #wines

Portugal’s President Wins Re-election, but Far Right Gains

Portugal once stood out in Europe for having no real far-right presence in politics. Those days appear over.

#elections, #politics-and-government, #portugal, #rebelo-de-sousa-marcelo, #right-wing-extremism-and-alt-right

Extra Crunch roundup: 2 VC surveys, Tesla’s melt up, The Roblox Gambit, more

This has been quite a week.

Instead of walking backward through the last few days of chaos and uncertainty, here are three good things that happened:

  • Google employee Sara Robinson combined her interest in machine learning and baking to create AI-generated hybrid treats.
  • A breakthrough could make water desalination 30%-40% more effective.
  • Bianca Smith will become the first Black woman to coach a professional baseball team.

Despite many distractions in our first full week of the new year, we published a full slate of stories exploring different aspects of entrepreneurship, fundraising and investing.

We’ve already gotten feedback on this overview of subscription pricing models, and a look back at 2020 funding rounds and exits among Israel’s security startups was aimed at our new members who live and work there, along with international investors who are seeking new opportunities.

Plus, don’t miss our first investor surveys of 2021: one by Lucas Matney on social gaming, and another by Mike Butcher that gathered responses from Portugal-based investors on a wide variety of topics.

Thanks very much for reading Extra Crunch this week. I hope we can all look forward to a nice, boring weekend with no breaking news alerts.

Walter Thompson
Senior Editor, TechCrunch
@yourprotagonist


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The Roblox Gambit

In February 2020, gaming platform Roblox was valued at $4 billion, but after announcing a $520 million Series H this week, it’s now worth $29.5 billion.

“Sure, you could argue that Roblox enjoyed an epic 2020, thanks in part to COVID-19,” writes Alex Wilhelm this morning. “That helped its valuation. But there’s a lot of space between $4 billion and $29.5 billion.”

Alex suggests that Roblox’s decision to delay its IPO and raise an enormous Series H was a grandmaster move that could influence how other unicorns will take themselves to market. “A big thanks to the gaming company for running this experiment for us.”

I asked him what inspired the headline; like most good ideas, it came to him while he was trying to get to sleep.

“I think that I had “The Queen’s Gambit somewhere in my head, so that formed the root of a little joke with myself. Roblox is making a strategic wager on method of going public. So, ‘gambit’ seems to fit!”

8 investors discuss social gaming’s biggest opportunities

girl playing games on desktop computer

Image Credits: Erik Von Weber (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

For our first investor survey of the year, Lucas Matney interviewed eight VCs who invest in massively multiplayer online games to discuss 2021 trends and opportunities:

  • Hope Cochran, Madrona Venture Group
  • Daniel Li, Madrona Venture Group
  • Niko Bonatsos, General Catalyst
  • Ethan Kurzweil, Bessemer Venture Partners
  • Sakib Dadi, Bessemer Venture Partners
  • Jacob Mullins, Shasta Ventures
  • Alice Lloyd George, Rogue
  • Gigi Levy-Weiss, NFX

Having moved far beyond shooters and sims, platforms like Twitch, Discord and Fortnite are “where culture is created,” said Daniel Li of Madrona.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez uses Twitch to explain policy positions, major musicians regularly perform in-game concerts on Fortnite and in-game purchases generated tens of billions last year.

“Gaming is a unique combination of science and art, left and right brain,” said Gigi Levy-Weiss of NFX. “It’s never just science (i.e., software and data), which is why many investors find it hard.”

How to convert customers with subscription pricing

Giant hand and magnet picking up office and workers

Image Credits: C.J. Burton (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Startups that lack insight into their sales funnel have high churn, low conversion rates and an inability to adapt or leverage changes in customer behavior.

If you’re hoping to convert and retain customers, “reinforcing your value proposition should play a big part in every level of your customer funnel,” says Joe Procopio, founder of Teaching Startup.

What is up with Tesla’s value?

Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX and chief executive officer of Tesla Inc., arrives at the Axel Springer Award ceremony in Berlin, Germany, on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020. Tesla Inc. will be added to the S&P 500 Index in one shot on Dec. 21, a move that will ripple through the entire market as money managers adjust their portfolios to make room for shares of the $538 billion company. Photographer: Liesa Johannssen-Koppitz/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Image Credits: Bloomberg (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Alex Wilhelm followed up his regular Friday column with another story that tries to find a well-grounded rationale for Tesla’s sky-high valuation of approximately $822 billion.

Meanwhile, GM just unveiled a new logo and tagline.

As ever, I learned something new while editing: A “melt up” occurs when investors start clamoring for a particular company because of acute FOMO (the fear of missing out).

Delivering 500,000 cars in 2020 was “impressive,” says Alex, who also acknowledged the company’s ability to turn GAAP profits, but “pride cometh before the fall, as does a melt up, I think.”

Note: This story has Alex’s original headline, but I told him I would replace the featured image with a photo of someone who had very “richest man in the world” face.

How Segment redesigned its core systems to solve an existential scaling crisis

Abstract glowing grid and particles

Image Credits: piranka / Getty Images

On Tuesday, enterprise reporter Ron Miller covered a major engineering project at customer data platform Segment called “Centrifuge.”

“Its purpose was to move data through Segment’s data pipes to wherever customers needed it quickly and efficiently at the lowest operating cost,” but as Ron reports, it was also meant to solve “an existential crisis for the young business,” which needed a more resilient platform.

Dear Sophie: Banging my head against the wall understanding the US immigration system

Image Credits: Sophie Alcorn

Dear Sophie:

Now that the U.S. has a new president coming in whose policies are more welcoming to immigrants, I am considering coming to the U.S. to expand my company after COVID-19. However, I’m struggling with the morass of information online that has bits and pieces of visa types and processes.

Can you please share an overview of the U.S. immigration system and how it works so I can get the big picture and understand what I’m navigating?

— Resilient in Romania

The first “Dear Sophie” column of each month is available on TechCrunch without a paywall.

Revenue-based financing: The next step for private equity and early-stage investment

Shot of a group of people holding plants growing out of soil

Image Credits: Hiraman (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

For founders who aren’t interested in angel investment or seeking validation from a VC, revenue-based investing is growing in popularity.

To gain a deeper understanding of the U.S. RBI landscape, we published an industry report on Wednesday that studied data from 134 companies, 57 funds and 32 investment firms before breaking out “specific verticals and business models … and the typical profile of companies that access this form of capital.”

Lisbon’s startup scene rises as Portugal gears up to be a European tech tiger

Man using laptop at 25th of April Bridge in Lisbon, Portugal

Image Credits: Westend61 (opens in a new window)/ Getty Images

Mike Butcher continues his series of European investor surveys with his latest dispatch from Lisbon, where a nascent startup ecosystem may get a Brexit boost.

Here are the Portugal-based VCs he interviewed:

  • Cristina Fonseca, partner, Indico Capital Partners
  • Pedro Ribeiro Santos, partner, Armilar Venture Partners
  • Tocha, partner, Olisipo Way
  • Adão Oliveira, investment manager, Portugal Ventures
  • Alexandre Barbosa, partner, Faber
  • António Miguel, partner, Mustard Seed MAZE
  • Jaime Parodi Bardón, partner, impACT NOW Capital
  • Stephan Morais, partner, Indico Capital Partners
  • Gavin Goldblatt, managing partner, Portugal Gateway

How late-stage edtech companies are thinking about tutoring marketplaces

Life Rings flying out beneath storm clouds are a metaphor for rescue, help and aid.

Image Credits: John Lund (opens in a new window)/ Getty Images

How do you scale online tutoring, particularly when demand exceeds the supply of human instructors?

This month, Chegg is replacing its seven-year-old marketplace that paired students with tutors with a live chatbot.

A spokesperson said the move will “dramatically differentiate our offerings from our competitors and better service students,” but Natasha Mascarenhas identified two challenges to edtech automation.

“A chatbot won’t work for a student with special needs or someone who needs to be handheld a bit more,” she says. “Second, speed tutoring can only work for a specific set of subjects.”

Decrypted: How bad was the US Capitol breach for cybersecurity?

Image Credits: Treedeo (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

While I watched insurrectionists invade and vandalize the U.S. Capitol on live TV, I noticed that staffers evacuated so quickly, some hadn’t had time to shut down their computers.

Looters even made off with a laptop from Senator Jeff Merkley’s office, but according to security reporter Zack Whittaker, the damages to infosec wasn’t as bad as it looked.

Even so, “the breach will likely present a major task for Congress’ IT departments, which will have to figure out what’s been stolen and what security risks could still pose a threat to the Capitol’s network.”

Extra Crunch’s top 10 stories of 2020

On New Year’s Eve, I made a list of the 10 “best” Extra Crunch stories from the previous 12 months.

My methodology was personal: From hundreds of posts, these were the 10 I found most useful, which is my key metric for business journalism.

Some readers are skeptical about paywalls, but without being boastful, Extra Crunch is a premium product, just like Netflix or Disney+. I know, we’re not as entertaining as a historical drama about the reign of Queen Elizabeth II or a space western about a bounty hunter. But, speaking as someone who’s worked at several startups, Extra Crunch stories contain actionable information you can use to build a company and/or look smart in meetings — and that’s worth something.

#artificial-intelligence, #automotive, #chegg, #congress, #enterprise, #gaming, #google, #israel, #lisbon, #machine-learning, #mike-butcher, #online-tutoring, #portugal, #roblox, #ron-miller, #security, #startups, #tc, #tesla, #twitch, #united-states, #venture-capital

Lisbon’s startup scene rises as Portugal gears up to be a European tech tiger

Almost four years ago I wrote a long deep dive into Lisbon’s tech scene. So it’s great to check back in with both Lisbon and Portugal for a slightly briefer update on where it’s at.

As well-outlined by Stephan Morais, founder and managing general partner at Indico Capital Partners, Portugal has a very high quality of engineering talent at a competitive cost; an extremely high level of English language proficiency (compared to Spain, France, Italy); and a preference for launching product globally from day one. Portuguese founders are highly qualified, with the majority of them holding at least a master’s degree.

However, the ecosystem is still in an “early phase” and there are few founders turned angel investors; there have been limited exits until recently; and there is limited available talent in sales and marketing fields. That said, there is still plenty of growth to come, as you will see below, and in the COVID-19 era, Lisbon — and Portugal generally — is becoming a magnet for digital nomads with talent.

Given the lack of a large home consumer market, startups in Portugal tend to err toward enterprise and SaaS over consumer applications, according to the Startup Portugal Ecosystem report. While the gap between domestic and foreign sources of funding is closing, there is still a gap in early-stage financing. According to government figures, in 2019 there was €285 million available for investment, and the top 25 later-stage companies raised a total of €117.8 million.

VCs in the country include Portugal Ventures, Indico Capital, Faber Ventures, Armilar Venture Partners, Bynd Capital, Semapa Next, Bright Pixel, EDP Ventures and Shilling Capital Partners. While Mustard Seed is a VC, it’s fashioned as an impact fund, only investing in startups that use technology to address social and environmental challenges inside the country.

Portugal is undergoing some changes. In particular, many British refugees from Brexit are relocating there (and everywhere else in Europe, but Lisbon has beaches and startup-friendly taxes). Non-EU residents are able to get a golden visa and tech entrepreneurs can get a startup visa. Meanwhile, Portuguese startups are starting to raise money internationally, so, therefore, punching out of their Portugal-shaped box.

Domestic VC capacity went through a period of great scarcity 2016-18, but this has greatly improved in the 2019-20 period. And international VCs, including nearby Spanish ones (K Fund, Kibo, Conexo Ventures, etc.), are taking an interest in the ecosystem, as explained by one here.

Due to the recent successes of Farfetch, Talkdesk, Outsystems, Feedzai and DefinedCrowd, among others, international investors are becoming interested in Portugal. According to investor Pedro Almeida in 2020, less than 40% of overall venture rounds had the participation of an international investor, but international investors account for over 30% of seed and pre-seed rounds.

This indicates that international investors will increasingly participate higher up the funding stack as the startups grow. Corporate VC has also become more active and professional during the period.

Key Government initiatives to stimulate the ecosystem include Startup Portugal and 200M, a 50:50 matched-funding initiative with a call option within 3-4 years at a low price point (3%-4% IRR); and the FIS social innovation fund with a 70:30 match funding initiative and a call option within 3-4 years also at a low price point.

Plus, “Portugal Tech” is the first-ever proper fund-of-funds initiative, market rules, owned by IFD (the development bank) but professionally managed by the European Investment Fund.

Unicorns emerging from the Portugal ecosystem include OutSystems; Talkdesk (which relocated its HQ to SF); and while Farfetch can claim Portuguese heritage via its founders, it’s better known as a London startup. On their way to bigger things are startups to watch like Feedzai, Codacy, BIZAY, Aptoide, Unbabel and Uniplaces.

Among the up-and-coming “new kids on the block” there are Rows, Didimo, Tonic App, SWORD Health, Barkyn, Utrust, Sensei, Vawlt, Lovys, StudentFinance, Nutrium, Reatia, LegalVision, Kitch, Rnters, kencko and YData.

Key accelerators/incubators include Beta-i, Bright Pixel, BGI (Building Global Innovators), Tec Labs, Startup Lisboa, Fábrica de Startups, Techstars Lisbon (run for two years, but now on a pause), Demium, EDP Starter, Maze X, Blue Bio Value and the Indico Pre-Seed Program.

Co-working spaces (Lisbon only) include LACS, Fintech House, Cowork Central, Second Home, Startup Lisboa, SITIO, Impact Hub and NOW_Beato. Then there is the giant “campus” style Factor Lisbon, which has happily rejiggered its plans ahead of launch to make the spaces COVID-safe.

Lisbon — and Portugal more generally — is emerging on the European and global stage as an increasingly fast-moving ecosystem that will benefit from its continued EU membership, international outlook, welcoming culture and can-do work ethic.

We talked with the following Portugal-based VCs:

Cristina Fonseca, partner, Indico Capital Partners

What trends are you most excited about investing in, generally?
Digitalization of supply chains and AI-powered decision-making processes.

What’s your latest, most exciting investment?
Digitizing beehives — honey production and pollination industry.

Are there startups that you wish you would see in the industry but don’t? What are some overlooked opportunities right now?
IoT and AI will finally come to be with 5G; time to invest is now.

What are you looking for in your next investment, in general?
We are going deeper in founder personality analysis pre-investment.

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?
Digital health, fintech in general, e-commerce.

How much are you focused on investing in your local ecosystem versus other startup hubs (or everywhere) in general? More than 50%? Less?
Portugal mostly, Spain a bit.

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?
B2B SaaS and marketplaces (sometimes a combination that creates the moat). Watch out for Barkyn, Nutrium, Unbabel, Zenklub, kencko, Consentio.

How should investors in other cities think about the overall investment climate and opportunities in your city?
Business as usual, great engineering, global ambition.

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?
For sure, already a reality in Portugal and Spain for some years and more to come.

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?
On the plus side more consumers moving to online for all needs. On the negative side startups that have SMEs as customers will continue to be impacted as will travel, proptech and fintech (because of bank reactions).

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?
Cash is king, make sure you don´t run out of money and prioritize that — cost reduction, fundraising and focus on positive margins, road to zero burn.

Are you seeing “green shoots” regarding revenue growth, retention or other momentum in your portfolio as they adapt to the pandemic?
Absolutely — consumer move to online shopping and interactions has benefited almost half of our portfolio directly.

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.
The end of home schooling.

Any other thoughts you want to share with TechCrunch readers?
We might be back to a 2008 situation or worse, but we are better prepared this time.

 

Pedro Ribeiro Santos, partner,  Armilar Venture Partners

What trends are you most excited about investing in, generally?
Having always invested in deep tech, we’ve been advocates of the low-code/no-code movement for more than a decade (e.g., through our early investment in OutSystems), and it’s really exciting to see all that not just becoming a reality but also expanding even further toward the “citizen developer,” with products such as dashdash, Airtable, etc.

What’s your latest, most exciting investment?
Our latest investment was in Didimo, a young company with very exciting tech to automate the creation of high-fidelity and fully animatable human avatars in just seconds and from just a photo taken with any handheld device. Traditional processes use a sequence of piecemeal technology, several hours of computer graphics artists and computational processing. Enormous range of applications, the most immediate in gaming/entertainment and retail.

Are there startups that you wish you would see in the industry but don’t? What are some overlooked opportunities right now?
Teleportation 🙂
More seriously, while many T&H startups are enduring the impacts of COVID, the dramatic and long-enduring effect that it will have in change of habits (e.g., in business traveling) will likely open a world of new opportunities.

What are you looking for in your next investment, in general?
I’ll go with the general: Tech with strong defensibility (IP) with wide market applicability.

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?

While there are obviously several marketplaces that I wish we had invested in, I’m generally wary of that type of investment at the early stage, due to the low barriers to entry/no tech defensibility. (Of course, at the later stage, scale itself and the network effects become evident and extraordinary barriers to entry.)

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

While we’ve been investing globally since the beginning (20 years ago), we’ve been investing closer to home as the regional-to-local (European, Southern European, Portuguese) ecosystems really started to develop. Our current flagship fund V has a defined allocation to Portugal (not just Lisbon) of more than 50%, and we currently have a smaller fund 100% dedicated to Portugal.

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?
I’m biased, but I am a strong believer that Portugal is particularly well-poised to thrive in companies that are capital-light and engineering-heavy, that rely more on their proprietary tech (rather than deep pockets) to scale fast: deep tech B2B software companies. Software engineering/developer tools/DevOps/low-code tools/SW-based infrastructure spring to mind, as well as strongly grounded AI products. As Portugal still needs to fully close the loop of startup -> success -> exit -> liquidity -> reinvestment, I’m most excited about the companies that appear to be closer to that feat: OutSystems (our portfolio), Feedzai (our portfolio), Talkdesk (not our portfolio). I’m also really excited about companies less mature than those but with a very high potential, such as DefinedCrowd (not our portfolio), SWORD Health (not our portfolio), Codacy (our portfolio), dashdash (our portfolio), Didimo (our portfolio), among others that I’m surely and unfairly leaving out.
How should investors in other cities think about the overall investment climate and opportunities in your city?
Portugal is characterized by:
• Enormous talent (particularly technical) at a relatively low cost (versus most of Europe).
• A place where people want to live (security, climate, friendliness, infrastructure, languages … the list could go on).
• Where capital has historically been scarce (it has recently developed significantly, but it remains relatively scarce by any European measure), but with very meaningful local experience.
• Companies born with a global mindset (Portugal is, at best, a good pilot market) and a capital efficiency mindset (do a lot with a little).
• Resulting in a ratio of good companies (measured, e.g., in the number or value of unicorns, or any other measure) per (capita, GDP, local capital or other metric of choice) far above most European countries (OK, maybe not Romania).
The scarcity of capital has been opening up a lot of opportunities for international investors, attracted by all of the above.

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?
Not necessarily. Many founders come from outside Lisbon or Porto already, with the cities serving as a central focus point.
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?

After the first 4-6 weeks of uncertainty, no change in the investment strategy. Biggest concerns of founders revolve around delays in buying decisions from their customers/frozen budgets. Hang tight!

Are you seeing “green shoots” regarding revenue growth, retention or other momentum in your portfolio as they adapt to the pandemic?
Yes. In many cases (except for the most critically hit arenas such as travel and hospitality), there are signs of business going back to normal.

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.
Many businesses that had dramatically cut their plans for 2020 are now realizing that it won’t be as bad as they had initially thought.

Tocha, partner, Olisipo Way

What trends are you most excited about investing in, generally?
Looking for companies aiming at profitability that can become startups or businesses.

What’s your latest, most exciting investment?
Reatia.com and HunterBoards.com.

Are there startups that you wish you would see in the industry but don’t? What are some overlooked opportunities right now?
Small niches that traditionally are not big enough markets for VCs.

What are you looking for in your next investment, in general?
Passionate founders that want to create businesses where they want to work for the rest of their life.

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?
Marketplaces, crypto.

How much are you focused on investing in your local ecosystem versus other startup hubs (or everywhere) in general? More than 50%? Less?
100% local Portuguese only.

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?
Tourism, relocation.

How should investors in other cities think about the overall investment climate and opportunities in your city?
Great founders, great and affordable teams. Companies focused since day one in international markets.

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.

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?
Tourism, restaurants and retail.

Are you seeing “green shoots” regarding revenue growth, retention or other momentum in your portfolio as they adapt to the pandemic?
Yes. All related to home delivery or remote work.

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.
General understanding that the pandemic is here to stay for the next 2-5 years. And it’s not a short-term issue.

Any other thoughts you want to share with TechCrunch readers?
Come to Portugal, create and invest in companies.

Adão Oliveira, investment manager, Portugal Ventures

What trends are you most excited about investing in, generally?
At this point in time, looking forward to e-commerce, cloud and remote work solutions.

What’s your latest, most exciting investment?
Barkyn, which delivers all products and services a pet needs, online and offline, with a subscription plan. Barkyn delivers a package with personalized food (Barkyn’s private label) among other articles and access to a dedicated vet, solving two regular needs of dog owners in one single service.

Are there startups that you wish you would see in the industry but don’t? What are some overlooked opportunities right now?
It would be great to have a startup that would allow us all to keep eye contact during a video call by using software, but perhaps that’s more like a DIY project 🙂

What are you looking for in your next investment, in general?
In general? A good return on investment 🙂 Just being funny, but serious though. As a seed/early-stage investor we naturally thrive for having a successful exit, but we do have a big focus on assisting the startups in all their initial challenges and also in securing new rounds of funding for further growing and expansion.

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?
At this point all areas that have a tiny and small opportunity window — even if the market is big — will be having difficulties in getting funding, more than in the past. Startups that are only “marginally” improving current processes, meaning that if they are not brand new nor bringing breakthrough disruptive innovation their probability of succeeding will be too small.

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

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?
Companies excited about in the portfolio:
Barkyn (founder: André Jordão), which closed a €5 million round during the pandemic and that is already present in two international markets (Italy and Spain) besides Portugal.
DefinedCrowd (founder: Daniela Braga), another company that has secured a round of fundraising in the amount of $50,5M during the pandemic.
Curiously, both founders have won the first two editions João Vasconcelos’ award for entrepreneur of the year, Daniela in 2019 and André in 2020. That’s two in a row for Portugal Ventures 🙂

How should investors in other cities think about the overall investment climate and opportunities in your city?
IMO, and on general terms, the main drivers for other investors to look into Lisbon but also to Portugal are the following ones:

DEVELOPED LOCAL MARKET

  • Allows for business model validation at a reduced cost.
  • Important entrepreneurial hubs (Lisbon, Porto, Braga and Coimbra).

AVAILABILITY OF LOW-COST TALENT AND ALSO CHEAP LIVING COSTS

  • High-capital efficiency but with needs of international talent, for instance in the sales and marketing fields.

RELATIVELY LOW VALUATIONS

  • Maturing ecosystem.
  • Buyers’ market, meaning supply exceeds demand, giving purchasers an advantage over sellers in negotiation.

PUBLIC INCENTIVES ON INNOVATION

  • Leverage the equity investment with long-term nondilutive state and regional grants, R&D tax breaks or even a matching fund like 200M.

MORE STARTUPS GROWING FASTER AND ACHIEVING HIGHER MULTIPLES

  • It contributes to the creation of a real ecosystem, where network effects start to be more tangible.

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?
In the case of Portugal and the Lisbon hub I think it works quite on reverse. What I mean is that I envision Lisbon (and Portugal) receiving digital nomads essentially for some of the reasons I mentioned above, and the weather, never forget the weather 🙂 Besides the quality life the country has to offer, other things will be contributing, IMO, for this inflow.

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?
On the downside, tourism-related ventures look definitely weaker under the current pandemic situation, which is easily understandable considering all the current restrictions. On the upper side, e-commerce as well as on-demand services have been experiencing a particularly good moment. In short, all businesses that can ride the trend of allowing a transition from the offline to the online world, preferably in untapped markets can benefit from a big window of opportunity.

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?
The investment strategy hasn’t changed as we are still looking for the best opportunities and the most promising ventures. What indeed happened during Q1 and Q2 2020 was that we needed to go through all our portfolio companies and assess their exposure to the pandemic situation — it’s like protecting the family first — then make decisions on further financing to sustain operations under the uncertain times of the pandemic. This put on hold the new opportunities we were looking into. But from Q3 2020 onward we got back on track with our deal sourcing as well as investing in new startups. The biggest worries of the founders of the portfolio was the impact of COVID on business activities in general and also to try to guarantee the biggest runway possible considering the uncertainty of the times ahead.
Are you seeing “green shoots” regarding revenue growth, retention or other momentum in your portfolio as they adapt to the pandemic?
As mentioned some of them take benefit from the pandemic situation, others don’t.

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.
During the pandemic I closed my first fully remote deal (Barkyn) — I still haven’t met the CEO (André Jordão) in person nor even anyone from the team actually (looking forward to that!). Also participated in the TNW 2020 Conference (fully remote) as a speaker on the topic of scaling up and expanding in the Iberian Peninsula. Both “moments” made me think how the things are indeed transforming and perhaps how this way of living, making business and sharing knowledge can speed up things rather than slowing them down and also how efficient they can be, at least IMO.

Any other thoughts you want to share with TechCrunch readers?

Portugal, the next 10 years, a VC perspective: I saw the evolution from the last 10 years, and I do think that if we are able to keep the current trajectory in Portugal we will continue to stand out and impress. I think it is a mix of being ambitious but also credible and the most recent wave of entrepreneurs and founders I have been talking with seem to be better prepared than their predecessors. The other thing I do expect is that we are able to create a real ecosystem in Portugal, true ecosystems are good if network effects could be activated and also deliver positive outcomes for everyone involved, and I think we have a journey ahead of us. Last but not least, I hope that successful entrepreneurs in 5-10 years time can be able to give back to the community and share their knowledge with new startups in that time. They can do this through becoming investors themselves, that is something we see in other more mature countries happening, or simply by acting as facilitators in any type of challenges that startups will face.

Alexandre Barbosa, partner, Faber

What trends are you most excited about investing in, generally?
Faber invests in teams transforming the world with emerging technologies and we believe data-centric startups are accelerating digital transformation and driving innovation in several industries.

We are excited about the technologies enabling resilience, intelligence, agility or automation in the enterprise world, including next-gen solutions around AI Engineering (e.g., DataOps, MLOps), NLP, explainable AI, data management, data privacy and cybersecurity. Additionally, we also see value in using proprietary data and innovative human-machine interfaces (e.g., neurotechnologies) to enable precision and/or personalization in several industries (e.g., digital health).

What’s your latest, most exciting investment?
Over the last few months we have completed four new investments out of our new AI/data-focused fund: SWORD Health, who are building the future of digital physical therapy, and three other investments (to be announced soon) around DataOps/synthetic data, neurotechnologies and explainable AI.

Are there startups that you wish you would see in the industry but don’t? What are some overlooked opportunities right now?
A growing percentage of enterprise IT budgets is being allocated to accelerating digital transition by working with data-centric startups, so there’s still significant opportunity for next-generation startups to challenge and transform the tech stack in multiple industries. Our belief is that entrepreneurship is also a core engine for a sustainable future through a combination of new business models, technology innovation and positive impact. As we are seeing in digital health, we expect to see a growing number of startups on a mission to tackle pressing societal challenges, such as climate change, through innovative applications of AI/ML/robotics to Earth science or natural resource management.

What are you looking for in your next investment, in general?
We are typically the first local investor in early-stage (pre-seed/seed) B2B data-driven startups primarily starting from Southern Europe to scale globally.
We look for highly specialized tech teams on a mission to transform an industry, who aim to build a diverse, balanced and inclusive culture with an open mindset, endless curiosity and relentless ambition to capture a large opportunity and conquer the world.

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?
Within our B2B focus, startups launching undifferentiated SaaS products or with too much exposure to stressed industries should rethink their priorities.

How much are you focused on investing in your local ecosystem versus other startup hubs (or everywhere) in general? More than 50%? Less?
Our stage/tech specialty focus and value-add approach fill a gap in Iberia and we believe that we are now well-positioned to be investors in the next vintage of data-driven successes from Southern Europe (that typically scale up to the U.S.). In this context, we are planning to invest most of our capital in companies starting from Iberia to become a world-class benchmark, and selectively co-invest in promising teams across 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?
We believe that some of the most valuable and innovative startups emerging from Southern Europe are working in the “intelligent enterprise” space and/or driving digital innovation in financial services, cybersecurity, healthcare, manufacturing, agro-food and retail industries.
We have been first local investors in companies like Unbabel, Codacy, Seedrs and EnjoyHQ, who have started their companies from Portugal and rapidly scaled up to become distributed and acknowledged innovators in their industries/market spaces (just like Feedzai, who started before Faber existed). We are obviously excited about their success and how strongly they reflect our thesis.

How should investors in other cities think about the overall investment climate and opportunities in your city?
Iberia has a solid track record of being a launch pad for a significant number of successful startups over the last 10 years. The region continues to be a magnet for talent from across Europe to blend with local talent and start a new venture, leveraging the growing maturity and specialization of the local ecosystem and its resources with a clear mindset from founders to start locally and scale up to the U.S.
Both Portugal and Spain have experienced pre-Series A investors who have historically co-invested with international VCs, a growing layer of later stage/growth capital (both local and international) and now more institutional LPs are following to get exposure to the asset class.
We strongly believe that Southern Europe will continue to produce a substantial number of innovative companies that will challenge and lead their industries at global scale, proving that the region is becoming the next emerging opportunity for venture in Europe.

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?
The ecosystem has been rapidly adapting and we expect to see a growing number of new companies starting with distributed teams, ready to work around market restrictions and more resilient in general.
This will hopefully lower the barriers for founders from outside major cities, but we also believe that the major hubs in the region will continue to offer a powerful combination of resources to power new companies. So we don’t see remote work and new work dynamics as detrimental to major cities, but as a facilitation of access to capital or talent and an amplification of the deal flow in the region.

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?
Although some industries are more exposed to the consequences of this pandemic (e.g., travel and hospitality), our investment strategy focuses on data-centric startups applying AI/ML/data science to enterprise digital transformation.
The immediate implications of C19 for business continuity, agility and performance open a realm of enterprise-grade opportunities for B2B data-driven startups that can help corporations adapt or drive innovation in their industries by leading “the new normal.”

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 hasn’t changed, if anything these times have validated our thesis and our focus on teams and companies challenging their industries with innovative solutions across the data stack that can help accelerate enterprise digital transformation.
The immediate priority of our portfolio was to work with us and our co-investors in ensuring solid runways, quickly adjusting go-to-market strategies to focus on less-exposed industries or longer sales cycles and, in general, review priorities and plan/prepare for uncertain times ahead. Fortunately the overall balance is currently positive, with the vast majority of our portfolio growing this year.

Are you seeing “green shoots” regarding revenue growth, retention or other momentum in your portfolio as they adapt to the pandemic?
Yes, so far the overall portfolio has been adapting and overcoming this challenge with a better performance than initially expected (in several cases with significant YoY growth), demonstrating that B2B/cloud/data-centric startups are more resilient and necessary.

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.
As in previous downturns, it is always invigorating and encouraging to see the audacity and the resolve of a new generation of entrepreneurs turning difficulty into opportunity and launching their ventures to challenge the status quo and build a better future.
Over the last months and despite these current times, we have been fortunate to witness this kind of long-term sight across a growing number of mission-driven founders and investors, alongside a vibrant momentum at technical universities and research institutions.
Together with the collective behavior and determination to adapt to and overcome this pandemic, we believe the entrepreneurial signs are strong enough to offer hope for the future.

Any other thoughts you want to share with TechCrunch readers?
Stay tuned for the next generation of startups arising from Southern Europe, the ecosystem is maturing fast and there’s a large number of new teams working around innovative applications of AI/engineering/deep tech in the region.

António Miguel, partner, Mustard Seed MAZE

What trends are you most excited about investing in, generally?
Sharing economy (more linked to circularity, like rental solutions); elderly care; skills development (requalification at scale post-COVID); female tech.

What’s your latest, most exciting investment?
Investment in a femtech business that is offering people who bleed with superior menstruation products and using a tech-enabled platform to be a full-spectrum companion across all period cycles.

Are there startups that you wish you would see in the industry but don’t? What are some overlooked opportunities right now?
Elderly care is ripe for disruption despite being talked about for some years; I wish I would see more on specific female health topics (e.g., menopause); overlooked opportunities include areas like environmental footprint of e-commerce and online to offline solutions given that people are now craving more than ever for meaningful connections.

What are you looking for in your next investment, in general?
A strong impact thesis through a lockstep model where the creation of social/environmental impact is the driver of top line.

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?
Sustainable consumption apps and carbon footprint personal tracking; urban mobility.

How much are you focused on investing in your local ecosystem versus other startup hubs (or everywhere) in general? More than 50%? Less?
50% in local ecosystem; 50% all Europe (EU and non-EU).

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?
Well-positioned to thrive: Blue economy ventures; elderly care ventures; food tech.
Not well-positioned to thrive: Consumer businesses.
Companies I’m excited about: Hopin; StudentFinance.

How should investors in other cities think about the overall investment climate and opportunities in your city?
Portugal is a great place to find price-competitive talent and an excellent location to be a first second-market for European businesses given its size, small distance between product and market (and therefore faster feedback loops) and sophistication of users.

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?
Definitely. Take Lisbon as an example: Every week I learn about a founder or investor moving to Lisbon as a way to move out of U.K./Germany/France/U.S. as a result of the pandemic. The local ecosystem has never been so cosmopolitan and diverse.

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?
Impact in our strategy: de minimis. Our strategy is focused on the belief that the most successful businesses are those that profit whilst solving social and environmental issues. COVID has only corroborated the need for such businesses. If anything, we have just invested more earlier tickets given the nature of fundraising in Q2 and Q3 of 2020.
Worries of founders: fundraising amidst uncertain times; how much of current traction is an indication of future traction versus a time-constrained trend (e.g., D2C revival as a distribution channel).
Advice: execution first and foremost; double down on stakeholder management, especially with super clients, partners and investors.

Are you seeing “green shoots” regarding revenue growth, retention or other momentum in your portfolio as they adapt to the pandemic?
Yes, especially because our portfolio is exclusively based on companies that generate revenues by solving social and/or environmental challenges. As a result, during and post-pandemic, demand for their solutions has increased.

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.
Hearing Michael Seibel saying that social impact is the biggest trend he has seen in the last YC batch.

Any other thoughts you want to share with TechCrunch readers?
Thanks for what you do for the venture ecosystem in general!

Jaime Parodi Bardón, partner, impACT NOW Capital

What trends are you most excited about investing in, generally?
Our focus is impact investing and social innovation. Startups tackling the challenges that are at the heart of the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

What’s your latest, most exciting investment?
We are currently structuring our first VC fund, which hopefully will be up and running in the beginning of 2021.

Are there startups that you wish you would see in the industry but don’t? What are some overlooked opportunities right now?
We expect to see an imminent development at the intersection between business, impact and technology … potentially through an emerging vertical: impact tech. It is still an immature field but it is rapidly gaining awareness and traction from entrepreneurs and investors.

What are you looking for in your next investment, in general?
We are looking for startups developing technology as a way to solve problems at the core of the UN SDGs agenda and/or using it as a channel to scale their solutions faster. These startups must create societal or environmental impact while producing financial performance. Personally, I want to see AI and blockchain as a force for good.

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?
In the impact landscape there is still plenty of room to grow. There are many local initiatives that are not sustainable nor scalable. It is needed to professionalize the commercialization of these initiatives (through products and services) to make them sustainable (and profitable), and incorporate technology in order to make them scalable.

How much are you focused on investing in your local ecosystem versus other startup hubs (or everywhere) in general? More than 50%? Less?
Our plan is to invest 50% in Iberia (it includes Portugal, our local ecosystem, and Spain) and 50% between Europe and CPLP (Community of Portuguese Language Countries).

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 Portuguese government, through the Social Innovation Fund (SIF), is supporting social innovation and stimulating the impact economy. We are observing a significant development in areas such as healthcare and well-being (SDG #3), education (SDG #4), clean energy (SDG #7), and sustainable cities and communities (SDG #11). We have also seen great initiatives working in other fields such as responsible consumption and production, climate action and inequalities reduction. However, it is still not enough to meet the societal and environmental demands. We need to feel the sense of urgency and understand the dramatic consequences of not tackling these challenges on time.

How should investors in other cities think about the overall investment climate and opportunities in your city?
Lisbon is a vibrating startup ecosystem. Investors from other countries are conscious of that and keep a good relation with the city and its ecosystem. Lisbon holds relevant entrepreneurial and investment events with Web Summit at the forefront. In addition, the Social Innovation Fund is creating opportunities for foreign investors to invest in Portuguese impact startups.

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?
The increasing adoption of remote work tools during the pandemic has only accelerated the trend that was already in place. Lisbon was already a hub for entrepreneurs and digital nomads (not only working for Portuguese startups but global ones). It is possible that current big cities as startup hubs are losing people now while virtual communities are gaining ground. That would contribute to a more delocalized VC industry. However, in my opinion, the human touch is very important and physical events are a big part of building a community, so as soon as they are back, people will be attracted to them.

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 pandemic has aggravated some of the challenges already present in the UN SDGs agenda. Apart from the obvious devastating health outcomes, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the surface the weaknesses of the, until now, reducing inequalities efforts. On the other side, it is offering a great momentum and opportunity to review the concept of humanity through core values, population solidarity or global collaboration … all of them empowered by the digital transformation and adoption. The UN SDG agenda is not a choice but a must. Any startup that is able to implement a profitable and scalable business model addressing one of the challenges at the core of any of the SDGs will have a great opportunity to thrive in the medium and long term. In the short term, we can see a faster lane for these startups that keep a broader vision for the future while executing a narrower mission focused on solving problems related to COVID-19 itself.

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 brought even more sense of urgency in solving the problems already identified by the UN. Our investment strategy has not changed but has been reinforced by the current situation.

Are you seeing “green shoots” regarding revenue growth, retention or other momentum in your portfolio as they adapt to the pandemic?
Since we don’t have an official portfolio yet we can not answer completely this question. What we have seen so far, in our prospects, is the creation of new markets and extension of the existing ones thanks to the aforementioned digital transformation/adoption. In addition, the increasing awareness of the consumer about the societal and environmental challenges together with the sense of responsibility in its purchasing behavior has lead to new and revolutionary revenue streams.

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.
It might sound cliché but the recent birth of my baby girl gives me even more energy to help build a better future.

Any other thoughts you want to share with TechCrunch readers?
We would like to keep on encouraging entrepreneurs, investors, corporates, governments and the rest of the ecosystem stakeholders to work together in finding formulas that create significant impact and financial benefits.

Stephan Morais, partner, Indico Capital Partners

What trends are you most excited about investing in, generally?
SaaS solutions, AI applications, digital health, data monetization, IoT SaaS platforms, engineered biology, marketplaces.

What’s your latest, most exciting investment?
Nutrium, a digital health platform that serves 800,000 nutrition patients and aims to put together dietitians, patients and their appointments, including wellness data and products and supplements.

Are there startups that you wish you would see in the industry but don’t? What are some overlooked opportunities right now?
Still many traditional areas and industries to digitize. AI is in its first stages in most industries so we need to address these traditional large opportunities.

What are you looking for in your next investment, in general?
We look for great founders that can actually be good leaders and CEOs. That’s a combination of vision, being able to take advantage of the market opportunity and having the necessary resilience to break the necessary barriers to create a success case. Additionally, teams need to be very good technically.

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?
Food delivery, most e-commerce and SaaS for SMEs and startups. Given the saturation and competition in the advertising space, everything that depends on that to get off the ground is challenging.

How much are you focused on investing in your local ecosystem versus other startup hubs (or everywhere) in general? More than 50%? Less?
We are 100% focused on Portugal and Spain.

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?
B2B SaaS companies: Unbabel, InnovationCast, Infraspeak, Onalytics.
AI and deep tech: Feedzai, Smartex, Cleverly.ai, Sound Particles.
Digital health: Nutrium, Zenklub, SWORD Health, Tonic App.
Fintech: StudentFinance, Switch Payments.
Consumer: Barkyn, EatTasty, Pleasy Play.
Digitalization of traditional industries: BitCliq, Apis Tech.

How should investors in other cities think about the overall investment climate and opportunities in your city?
In regards to Portugal, the ecosystem still has room to evolve. Most of the opportunities are in the early stage and the majority of the rounds are below €1 million. International investors should partner with local players in the early stages.

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?
Portugal has been very attractive to international companies that have setup local offices in the past years to take advantage of the great technical talent available. The safety and lifestyle also makes the country attractive for nomads and remote workers, as well as senior executives that are willing to relocate here with their families. As more people work remotely, Portugal is expected to become even more of a destination for tech workers and startups.

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?
Some industries like travel, hospitality and aviation are clearly suffering and some of our companies addressing these sectors have been impacted. We expect that to persist for the next couple of months.
Other sectors are booming like online deliveries, automation of processes and team sync and communication.

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?
We focused the last months in making sure our portfolio had enough runway for the next year. We know cash is king, companies need to balance that with executing on their vision, taking advantage of the current opportunities.

Are you seeing “green shoots” regarding revenue growth, retention or other momentum in your portfolio as they adapt to the pandemic?
Definitely. In some sectors, tech has been fundamental in keeping the society working and companies productive.

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.
Lots of successful companies in the U.S. were created by European founders, and some of them are returning to their home countries, which will generate a very positive impact! There will be a lot of interesting companies coming out of Europe in the coming years.

Any other thoughts you want to share with TechCrunch readers?
Europe has so much to do to catch up — severe lack of depth in the availability of capital still makes companies move to the U.S. after Series B.

Gavin Goldblatt, managing partner, Portugal Gateway

What trends are you most excited about investing in, generally?
Energy and fintech, particularly around mobile money.

What are you looking for in your next investment, in general?
A proven management team and proven product with international expansion potential.

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

How should investors in other cities think about the overall investment climate and opportunities in your city?
Lisbon provides fantastic work-life balance and low startup and living costs as well as a good supply of skills. As a result it is likely to benefit from the recent COVID-inspired move away from more established startup hubs in less desirable locations.

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.

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?
Too early to tell. Obviously tourism and many services have been negatively impacted, but even in these areas innovators are taking advantage of the disruption to position themselves well if there is a recovery (and a release of pent-up demand) post-vaccine.

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?
Surprisingly, the net result has been positive across our portfolio with significant opportunities arising. Turmoil and change bring opportunity,
Are you seeing “green shoots” regarding revenue growth, retention or other momentum in your portfolio as they adapt to the pandemic?
Yes.

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.
All of our investments are outperforming budget and expectations this year.

#europe, #investor-survey, #portugal, #tc, #vc-survey

Ivory From Shipwreck Reveals Elephant Slaughter During Spice Trade

A trove from a Portuguese trading ship that sank in 1533 preserved genetic traces of whole lineages that have vanished from West Africa.

#africa, #archaeology-and-anthropology, #current-biology-journal, #elephants, #genetics-and-heredity, #ivory, #namibia, #portugal, #research, #shipwrecks-historic, #wildlife-trade-and-poaching, #your-feed-animals, #your-feed-science

He Once Trafficked in Rare Birds. Now, He Tells How It’s Done.

After a chance encounter in Brazil, Johann Zillinger became one of the world’s most prolific wildlife smugglers. Three decades and two prison stints later, he says he has gone straight.

#austria, #birds, #brazil, #breeding-of-animals, #content-type-personal-profile, #convention-on-international-trade-in-endangered-species, #endangered-and-extinct-species, #parrots, #portugal, #smuggling, #wildlife-trade-and-poaching, #zillinger-johann

Snapshots of Daily Life in a Remote Region of Portugal

The Barroso is one of Portugal’s most isolated areas, known for its rough terrain, abiding agricultural traditions and stunning beauty.

#agriculture-and-farming, #cattle, #europe, #immigration-and-emigration, #livestock, #mines-and-mining, #photography, #portugal, #travel-and-vacations

Portugal’s Faber reaches $24.3M for its second fund aimed at data-driven startups from Iberia

Portuguese VC Faber has hit the first close of its Faber Tech II fund at €20.5 million ($24.3 million). The fund will focus on early-stage data-driven startups starting from Southern Europe and the Iberian peninsula, with the aim of reaching a final close of €30 million in the coming months. The new fund targets pre-series A and early-stage startups in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Data Science.

The fund is backed by European Investment Fund (EIF) and the local Financial Development Institution (IFD), with a joint commitment of €15 million (backed by the Investment Plan for Europe – the Juncker Plan and through the Portugal Tech program), alongside other private institutional and individual investors.

Alexandre Barbosa, Faber’s Managing Partner, said “The success of the first close of our new fund allows us to foresee a growth in the demand for this type of investment, as we believe digital transformation through Intelligence Artificial, Machine Learning and data science are increasingly relevant for companies and their businesses, and we think Southern Europe will be the launchpad of a growing number.”

Faber has already ‘warehoused’ three initial investments. It co-financed a 15.6 million euros Series A for SWORD Health – portuguese startup that created the first digital physiotherapy system combining artificial intelligence and clinical teams. It led the pre-seed round of YData, a startup with a data-centric development platform that provides data science professionals tools to deal with accessing high-quality and meaningful data while protecting its privacy. It also co-financed the pre-seed round of Emotai, a neuroscience-powered analytics and performance-boosting platform for virtual sports.

Faber was a first local investor in the first wave of Portugal’s most promising startups, such as Seedrs (co-founded by Carlos Silva, one f Faber’s Partners) which recently announced its merger with CrowdCube); Unbabel; Codacy and Hole19, among others.

Faber’s main focus is deep-tech and data science startups and as such it’s assembled around 20 experts, researchers, Data Scientists, CTO’s, Founders, AI and Machine Learning professors, as part of its investment strategy.

In particular, it’s created the new role of Professor-in-residence, the first of whom is renowned professor Mário Figueiredo from Lisbon’s leading tech university Instituto Superior Técnico. His interests include signal processing, machine learning, AI and optimization, being a highly cited researcher in these fields.

Speaking to TechCrunch in an interview Barbosa added: “We’ve seen first-time, but also second and third-time entrepreneurs coming over to Lisbon, Porto, Barcelona, Valencia, Madrid and experimenting with their next startup and considering starting-up from Iberia in the first place. But also successful entrepreneurs considering extending their engineering teams to Portugal and building engineering hubs in Portugal or Spain.”

“We’ve been historically countercyclical, so we found that startups came to, and appears in Iberia back in 2012 / 2013. This time around mid-2020, we’re very bullish on what’s we can do for the entrepreneurial engine of the economy. We see a lot happening – especially around our thesis – which is basically the data stack, all things data AI-driven, machine learning, data science, and we see that as a very relevant core. A lot of the transformation and digitization is happening right now, so we see a lot of promising stuff going on and a lot of promising talent establishing and setting up companies in Portugal and Spain – so that’s why we think this story is relevant for Europe as a whole.”

#articles, #artificial-intelligence, #barcelona, #crowdcube, #cto, #entrepreneurship, #europe, #european-investment-fund, #machine-learning, #madrid, #managing-partner, #neuroscience, #portugal, #private-equity, #seedrs, #spain, #startup-company, #tc, #valencia

Rome Tracks Down the Man Behind All That Graffiti. No, It’s Not Banksy.

The tagger known as Geco is not as famous as the British provocateur, but he has made a name for himself in Italy.

#art, #banksy, #fairey-shepard, #graffiti, #haring-keith, #italy, #lisbon-portugal, #portugal, #raggi-virginia-1978, #rome-italy, #vandalism

Nvidia will power world’s fastest AI supercomputer, to be located in Europe

Nvidia is is going to be powering the world’s fastest AI supercomputer, a new system dubbed ‘Leonardo’ that’s being built by the Italian multi-university consortium CINECA, a global supercomutin leader. The Leonardo system will offer as much as 10 exaflops of FP16 AI performance capabilities, and be made up of more than 14,000 Nvidia Ampere-based GPUS once completed.

Leonardo will be one of four new supercomputers supported by a cross-European effort to advance high-performance computing capabilities in the region, that will eventually offer advanced AI capabilities for processing applications across both science and industry. Nvidia will also be supplying its Mellanox HDR InfiniBand networks to the project in order to enable performance across the clusters with low-latency broadband connections.

The other computes in the cluster include MeluXina in Luxembourg and Vega in Solvevnia, as well as a new supercooling coming online in the Czech Republic. The pan-European consortium also plans four more Supercomputers for Bulgaria, Finland, Portugal and Spain, though those will follow later and specifics around their performance and locations aren’t yet available.

Some applications that CINECA and the other supercomputers will be used for include analyzing genomes and discovering new therapeutic pathways; tackling data from multiple different sources for space exploration and extraterrestrial planetary research; and modelling weather patterns, including extreme weather events.

#artificial-intelligence, #broadband, #bulgaria, #computing, #czech-republic, #europe, #finland, #flops, #gpu, #luxembourg, #mellanox, #nvidia, #portugal, #science, #spain, #supercomputers, #tc

Pointers From Portugal on Addiction and the Drug War

Decriminalization involves trade-offs, but treating addiction as a disease yields a clear gain, research suggests.

#drug-abuse-and-traffic, #law-and-legislation, #marijuana, #opioids-and-opiates, #portugal

In Montana, the Art of Crafting Fly-Fishing Rods

“One thing about Montana,” says Matt Barber, an owner of Tom Morgan Rodsmiths, a custom fly rod shop in Bozeman, “is if there’s a moving body of water, there is probably a trout in it.”

#bozeman-mont, #fishing-sport, #photography, #portugal, #travel-and-vacations, #trout

K Fund’s Jaime Novoa discusses early-stage firm’s focus on Spanish startups

Earlier this month, Spanish early-stage venture capital firm K Fund officially launched its second fund, which sits at €70 million, up from €50 million the first time around.

Targeting Spanish startups with an international outlook, the seed-stage firm plans to invest from €200,000 to €2 million, writing first checks in 25-30 companies. Meanwhile, a portion of the fund will also be set aside for follow-on funding for the most promising of its portfolio.

Described as business model- and sector-agnostic, K Fund currently has a mix of B2B and B2C companies in its portfolio across a wide variety of sectors, such as travel, fintech, insurtech and others. They include online travel agency Exoticca, HR software Factorial, insurtech startup Bdeo and Hubtype, a conversational messaging tech provider.

I caught up with K Fund’s Jaime Novoa to delve deeper into the firm’s investment remit, how the Spanish startup and tech ecosystem has developed over the last few years and to learn more about “K Founders,” the VC’s new pre-seed funding program.

TechCrunch: K Fund’s first fund was announced in late 2016 to back startups in Spain with an international outlook at seed and Series A. At €70 million, this second fund is €20 million larger but I gather the remit remains broadly the same. Can you be more specific with regards to cheque size, geography, sector and the types of startups you look for?

Jaime Novoa: We’re both agnostic in terms of business models and industries. Since our focus is, for the most part, Spain, we do not believe that the Spanish market is big enough to build a vertically focused fund, either in terms of business model or sector.

With our first fund we invested in 28 companies, with a slightly larger number of B2B SaaS companies than B2C ones, and across a wide variety of sectors. We do have a bit of exposure to travel and fintech/insurtech, but that’s because we’ve found several interesting companies in those spaces, not because we proactively said, “let’s invest in fintech/travel.”

In terms of check sizes, the core of the fund will be to make the same type of investments as in our first fund: first cheques from €200k to €2m and then sufficient capital for follow-on rounds. We’ll probably do a similar number of deals compared to the previous fund, but we want to have additional capital for follow-on purposes.

#barcelona, #entrepreneurship, #europe, #extra-crunch, #financial-technology, #fundraising, #k-fund, #madrid, #portugal, #private-equity, #spain, #startups, #tc, #verified-experts, #virtual-reality

Extra Crunch is now available in Greece, Ireland and Portugal

We’re excited to announce that we’ve added Extra Crunch support in Ireland, Portugal and Greece. That adds to our existing support in Europe as we are already in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Spain and the U.K.

Portugal’s 10 million citizens are no strangers to startup investment, with the country totting up 813 to date, according to Crunchbase. Notably, of that total, 113 have been announced in 2020 thus far.

That means that in 2020, despite COVID-19 and its ensuing economic impacts, Portugal is on track to best its 2019 startup round total of 206. And it’s not just small companies that Portugal is building. OutSystems, now based in Boston and worth north of $1 billion, was founded in the country, for example. As Europe recovers from COVID-19, perhaps Portugal can take a larger share of the continent’s startup activity. It appears to have the momentum it would need to do so.

There’s been data from the last few years to indicate that the Greek startup scene is also growing nicely. With larger seed deals and more deal volume, Greece has seen its startups raise more money, more quickly in recent years. It appears that 2020 is no exception to the trend. With 43 known startup rounds in the country so far in 2020, Greece is set to storm its 2019 total of 59. Indeed, the country could nearly double the number of startup deals it saw in 2019 during a pandemic-disrupted year.

In the past 18 months, the country has seen around 38% of its all-time total known startup deals. Surely that means the country is at a local maxima when it comes to startup activity.

Ireland is a startup powerhouse. Crunchbase has 2,327 known rounds for companies based in the country, including 539 in 2019 and 335 so far this year. So like our other two countries, we can spot acceleration in deal volume. Irish startups raised over $5 billion in 2020 so far, according to Crunchbase. There are going to be more names bubbling up from the island that are worth getting to know.

As a nation, Ireland has a history of startup successes. Software company FINEOS was founded in Ireland back in 1993, and today it’s a public company worth more than a billion dollars. Havok, another software company from the country sold to Microsoft in 2015. And Ireland has other neat tech startups that are still coming up, like Farmflo, to pick one from the list we made this morning.

We’re excited to welcome readers from Greece, Portugal and Ireland to our growing community of startups, investors and entrepreneurs.

You can sign up for Extra Crunch here.

What is Extra Crunch?

Extra Crunch is a membership program from TechCrunch featuring market analysis, weekly investor surveys and interviews on growth, fundraising, monetization and other work topics. Members can save time with access to an exclusive newsletter, no banner ads or video pre-rolls on TechCrunch.com, Rapid Read mode and our List Builder tool.

Committing to an annual and two-year plan will save you a few bucks on the membership price and unlock access to TechCrunch event discounts and Partner Perks. The Partner Perks program features discounts and savings on services from AWS, DocSend, Crunchbase and more.

Thanks to everyone who voted on where to expand next. If you haven’t voted and you want to see Extra Crunch in your local country, let us know here.

You can sign up or learn more about Extra Crunch here.

#europe, #extra-crunch, #greece, #ireland, #media, #payments, #portugal, #startups, #tc, #venture-capital

Child Pornography Ring Is Broken Up in Germany, Police Say

Police found images and videos of sexual abuse of children, filmed in a cabin in western Germany. They have arrested 11 people so far, but believe many more were involved.

#child-abuse-and-neglect, #child-pornography, #germany, #mccann-madeleine, #portugal

German Prosecutors Dash Hopes of Finding Madeleine McCann Alive

The German man the authorities now suspect of murdering the British child in 2007 was previously convicted of sexually abusing children, theft and dealing drugs.

#algarve-portugal, #child-abuse-and-neglect, #christian-b-madeleine-mccann, #germany, #mccann-gerry, #mccann-kate, #mccann-madeleine, #missing-persons, #murders-attempted-murders-and-homicides, #portugal, #sex-crimes

What We Know About the Developments in the Madeleine McCann Case

New revelations in the 2007 disappearance of the 3-year-old British girl from a vacation home in Portugal have put the case back in the spotlight.

#algarve-portugal, #europe, #germany, #great-britain, #mccann-gerry, #mccann-kate, #mccann-madeleine, #missing-persons, #murders-attempted-murders-and-homicides, #portugal, #sex-crimes

German Man Is Suspected in Case of Missing Girl, Madeleine McCann

German authorities are investigating a 43-year-old sex offender in connection with the 2007 disappearance of the 3-year-old girl from a hotel room in Portugal.

#germany, #great-britain, #mccann-madeleine, #missing-persons, #portugal, #sex-crimes

The Coronavirus Patient Had a Question: Don’t You Lead a Soccer Team?

The president of Sporting Clube de Portugal, Frederico Varandas, is a former military doctor who returned to duty to assist in the nation’s battle against the coronavirus.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #lisbon-portugal, #portugal, #soccer, #sporting-clube-de-portugal-soccer-team, #varandas-frederico

Uber adds retail and personal package delivery services as COVID-19 reshapes its business

Uber is introducing two new types of services, the company announced this week, including Uber Direct and Uber Connect. Direct is a delivery platform for retail items, while Connect is a peer-to-peer package delivery service, for sending goods to family and friends. This marks the most aggressive foray yet for Uber into courier services, after it already introduced grocery items to its Uber Eats platform as the coronavirus pandemic continues to suppress its ride-hailing business.

Uber has already also introduced new extensions of its platform for transporting personal protective equipment to front-line workers, and Eats is also delivering convenience items in some markets in addition to grocery goods. The Direct and Connect services will likewise open in select cities initially, and the service looks very different depending on where it’s in use. IN NYC, for instance, it’s delivering over-the-counter medications in partnership with Cabinet, whereas in Portugal it’s essentially supplementing the public postal service with general mail parcel delivery.

Uber Connect provides same-day, on-contact delivery from one person to another, which Uber positions as a way for people to send care packages, supplies, games and other quarantine daily staples with their friends and family. It’s launching in over 25 cities across Australia, Mexico and the U.S. to start. At heart, Connect isn’t much different from Uber’s basic rider service, but instead of transporting people door-to-door, it’s moving stuff.

Both of these are being introduced today but will evolve over time as Uber sees how usage proceeds, and what people want out of the service. Stepping up on the goods delivery front should also mean bolstering utilization rates for drivers, and continued income in the face of massive decreases in demand for general rider transportation services, even as Uber Eats sees a big usage spike as more people seek direct-to-door food delivery.

#australia, #coronavirus, #courier-services, #covid-19, #food-delivery, #line, #mexico, #online-food-ordering, #operating-systems, #package-delivery, #peer-to-peer, #portugal, #sharing-economy, #software, #tc, #transport, #transportation, #uber, #united-states