#DealMonitor – GoStudent wird mit Millionen von DST Global zum Unicorn – Myos bekommt 25 Millionen – Tencent übernimmt Yager


Im aktuellen #DealMonitor für den 22. Juni werfen wir wieder einen Blick auf die wichtigsten, spannendsten und interessantesten Investments und Exits des Tages in der DACH-Region. Alle Deals der Vortage gibt es im großen und übersichtlichen #DealMonitor-Archiv.

INVESTMENTS

GoStudent
+++ DST Global, SoftBank, Tencent und Dragoneer sowie Altinvestoren wie Coatue, Left Lane Capital und DN Capital investieren 205 Millionen Euro in GoStudent. Das EdTech wird dabei mit 1,4 Milliarden Euro bewertet und steigt somit zum Unicorn auf. “Mit der neuen Finanzierung beläuft sich die Gesamtinvestition von GoStudent auf über 291 Millionen Euro”, teilt das Unternehmen mit. Erst im März dieses Jahres sammelte GoStudent 70 Millionen Euro ein. Das Wiener Startup, das sich als E-Learning-Dienst positioniert und auf kostenpflichtige Einzelkurse setzt, wurde 2017 von Gregor Müller, Felix Ohswald und seinem Bruder Moritz Ohswald gegründet. “Das Investment wird genutzt, um die globale Expansion weiter voranzutreiben”, schreibt das Unternehmen. Über 500 Mitarbeiter:innen wirken bereits für das junge Unternehmen. Mehr über GoStudent

Myos 
+++ Xploration Capital, Fasanara Capital und Tomahawk, also Cédric Waldburger, investieren 25 Millionen Euro in Myos – siehe FinanceFWD. Das Startup, das 2018 von Nikolaus Hilgenfeldt ins Leben gerufen wurde, versorgt Händler mit Betriebsmitteln (Working Capital). Das Unternehmen nutzt dabei “die Transparenz und Datenverfügbarkeit auf E-Commerce-Plattformen, um das Kreditrisiko auf Basis des Umsatzpotenzials von Handelsprodukten zu bewerten”. Die Deutsche Handelsbank, Mountain Partners, BTH, Avala Capital, die raisin-Gründer, Tim Marbach und Gerald Schönbucher investierten 2019 bereits 10 Millionen Euro in Myos.

Airbank 
+++ New Wave, Speedinvest, Calm/Storm Ventures, Tiny.VC und einige Angel-Investoren investieren 2,5 Millionen Euro in Airbank. Das Berliner Startup, das 2021 von Christopher Zemina, zuletzt Principal bei Speedinvest, und Patrick de Castro Neuhaus gegründet wurde, kann man als eine Art CFO-Cockpit bezeichnen. In der Selbstbeschreibung heißt es: “Cashflow Management Lösung für Startups und KMUs, die alle Geschäftskonten und Finanzdaten an einem Ort vereint, reibungslose Liquiditätskontrolle und -planung ermöglicht und den Zahlungsverkehr vereinfacht”. Über den Einstieg von Speedinvest hatten wir bereits Anfang April im Insider-Podcast berichtet.

MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS

Yager
+++ Der chinesische Internetriese Tencent übernimmt die Mehrheit am Berliner Gamesstudio Yager – siehe GamesWirtschaft. Yager, das 1999 von Timo Ullmann, Uwe Bennecke, Roman Golka, Philipp Schellbach und Mathias Wiese gegründet wurde, ist insbesondere für den Antikriegs-Ego-Shooter “Spec Ops: The Line” und das Weltraum-Action-Spiel “Dreadnought” bekannt. Tencent stieg bereits 2020 bei Yager und hielt zuletzt 25 % am Unternehmen. 140 Mitarbeiter:innen arbeiten derzeit für Yager.

Twist
+++ Der dänische GreenMobility übernimmt das Stuttgarter Startup Twist. “Damit wird das Unternehmen aus Kopenhagen erstmals auf dem deutschen Markt aktiv”, heißt es in der Presseaussendung.  Twist bietet seit 2020 elektrisches Car- und Roller-Sharing für kleinere Städte und Gemeinden an. Die Jungfirma wurde von EnBW und dem Company Builder Bridgemaker angeschoben.

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

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

Foto (oben): azrael74

#airbank, #aktuell, #berlin, #bridgemaker, #calm-storm-ventures, #dragoneer, #dst-global, #e-learning, #edtech, #enbw, #ew-wave, #fasanara-capital, #fintech, #games, #gostudent, #greenmobility, #myos, #softbank, #speedinvest, #stuttgart, #tencent, #tiny-vc, #tomahawk, #twist, #unicorn, #venture-capital, #wien, #xploration-capital, #yager

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Mobile commerce startup Via rounds up $15 million in Series A funding

Mobile commerce is where it’s at, and rising investment in so-called conversational commerce startups underscores the opportunity.

Via, a two-year-old, Bay Area-based startup, is among those riding the wave, having identified some trends that are becoming clearer by the month. First, more e-commerce sales will be on mobile phones this year than desktops (as much as 70% by some estimates), people tend to read text messages almost immediately, and consumers spend upwards of 30 minutes a day engaging with mobile messaging apps.

Via also insists that unlike an expanding pool of startups that are focused on helping retailers and other broadcast their marketing messages in SMS, there’s room for a player to better address the many other pieces that add up to a happy consumer experience, from delivering coupon codes to starting the returns process.

Indeed, according to cofounder and CEO Tejas Konduru — a Brigham Young grad whose parents immigrated to the U.S. from India and who have themselves have worked at tech startups — one of insights his now 50-person company had early on was that despite that so many of their customers now use the mobile browser to visit and shop from their stores, many retailers use website builders like Shopify or BigCommerce to “cram everything everything into mobile, leaving only enough space for, like, one picture and a Buy button.” Konduru figured there must be a way to take the shopping experience that all these customers have with brands on their website and make them happen in a quick, mobile-native way.

Via’s solution, he says, is to help those businesses interact with customers on the devices and apps they use most often. “When someone uses Shopify of BigCommerce of any of those platforms,” says Konduru, “we also connect it to Via, and it basically takes the entire shopping experience and allows [customers] to quickly swipe right through a menu or like through a catalog on, for example, Facebook Messenger. Via will also create like a native iOS Android app by taking a  website, cloning it into a native iOS Android app, then sell the push notification in-app chat layer. Essentially,” he adds, “anytime someone shops on the phone and they’re not using the browser is what Via is handling.”

The ‘message’ seems to be getting through to the right people. Via, which launched last year, says it now employs 54 people on a full-time basis, has 190 brands as customers, and just secured $15 million in funding in Series A funding led by Footwork, the new venture firm cofounded by former Stitch Fix COO Mike Smith and former Shasta Ventures investor Nikhil Basu Trivedi.

Other participants in the round include Peterson Ventures, where Konduru once interned; famed founder Josh James of Domo, where Konduru also once interned; and a long list of other notable individual investors, including Ryan Smith of Qualtrics and Lattice cofounder and CEO Jack Altman.

As for how the company charges, it doesn’t ask for a monthly or yearly fee, as per traditional SaaS companies but instead charges per interaction, whether that’s an SMS or a voice minute or video or a GIF.

It’s starting to add up, according to Konduru, who says that Via’s average customer is seeing 15 times return on its investment and that from May of 2020 — when the company’s service went live —  through December, the company generated $51 million in sales. Konduru declined to say exactly how much Via saw from those transactions but says the company is on track to reach $10 million in annual recurring revenue this year.

As for how brands get started with Via, it’s pretty simple, by the company’s telling. As long as a company is using a commerce platform — from Shopfiy to WooCommerce to Salesforce– it takes just five minutes or so to produce a mobile app with a menu featuring the types of interactions the brand can enable via Via’s platform, says Konduru.

Konduru, who dabbled in investment banking before deciding to launch Via, says he isn’t surprised by the startup’s fast traction, though he says he has been taken aback by the breadth of conversations the company sees. While he imagined Via would be a strong marketing channel for brands that use the platform to push out notifications about abandoned shopping carts and upcoming deliveries, it’s more of a two-way street than he’d imagined.

“Every month, there are maybe 15,000 people who start the returns process through Via and will get a notification from a channel that Via supports. But suddenly — let’s say the customer gets the wrong T-shirt size — people start communicating with the brand. You see everything from fan appreciation to address changes to messaging about bad discount codes to where’s-my-order type exchanges.  That’s something I didn’t expect,” says Konduru, who says that before raising its Series A round, Via raised $4.2 million in seed funding led by Peterson Ventures.

“I thought that people would just look at the notification and, like, move it into the abyss somewhere. Instead, people start interacting with the brand.”

#conversational-commerce, #mobile-commerce, #peterson-ventures, #recent-funding, #series-a, #shopify, #startups, #tc, #venture-capital, #via

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Can the military academies compete with Stanford and Harvard in venture? Two veterans are raising $50M to find out

Soldier-entrepreneurs are unfortunately still a rare breed in Silicon Valley, despite the region’s origins in Cold War defense spending. While the courage and perseverance required to fight in an overseas battlefield (or the office bureaucracy on base) would seem a perfect fit for the travails of the founder, the reality is that the journey from solider to CEO is a long and arduous transition.

A couple of organizations have popped up over the years to make the leap easier. For instance, Patriot Boot Camp, which I profiled back in 2018, works in the earliest days of the startup journey to help veteran founders learn the key skills of building a company and fundraising. Yet, there still remains a lack of networking and funding that particularly targeted this group of entrepreneurs.

That’s the opportunity that Emily McMahan and Sherman Williams, the two managing partners of Academy Investor Network, saw when looking at their peers at the five U.S. service academies. The firm is targeting a final first fund of $50 million, and today announced the close of its anchor investor, insurance and financial services provider USAA, which will invest $2.5 million. Prior to USAA, the fund’s first investor was Scout Ventures, which focuses on frontier tech and where McMahan is a venture partner.

McMahan graduated from West Point in 2001 right as the War on Terror began. I “went really straight into the action post 9/11,” she said. From there, she pivoted into a startup targeting the federal market, before founding Capitol Post, which taught entrepreneurial skills to veterans and their spouses and also had a co-working space in northern Virginia before folding into Bunker Labs in 2019.

“My career has always been focused around community, working with entrepreneurs, and really kind of harnessing the energy of the veteran entrepreneur community,” she said. She is based in DC, and also sits on the board of Patriot Boot Camp.

The Pentagon, headquarters of the Department of Defense. Jeremy Christensen via Getty Images

Meanwhile, Williams hails from the Naval Academy, graduating in 2003 before going on four deployments in the midst of the war in Iraq, which started just weeks before his graduation. He ultimately ended up at Chicago’s Booth School, where he studied finance and pivoted his career into investment banking focused on M&A. “I knew I needed to learn a lot,” he said. I “started investing and advising startups while as a banker, and then made made the flip to work with Emily to start AIN Ventures.” He’s based in New York City.

The firm’s first foray into venture was building an investment syndicate composed of alums of the five service academies, which was launched in June 2020. “We’ve got astronauts, we’ve got Navy SEALs,” McMahan said. “We really think that we’re very well positioned as a group, because we’ve all lived it on active duty, and now we continue to see it and continue to serve.” The syndicate has invested in a handful of deals since launching, including into Polco, an online community engagement platform for local governments, and online identity service ID.Me.

“This is also where a lot of our service academy grads are excited to have a seat at that table and help these companies scale, connect, hire, all of those things,” McMahan said. “So we’re really excited to be on par with some of these other institutions — the Harvards, the Stanfords — who also have these types of syndicates.“

Williams said the goal with the syndicate was to work out the investment processes for the firm before turning toward a more traditional VC fund model. They kicked off fundraising in January.

The new fund has a two-track thesis of investing in veterans across industries while also selecting startups building “dual-use” technologies that are useful to the private sector and governments. “Civic technology, disaster tech — think FEMA — defense tech, obviously the military, intelligence agencies, and space tech. Things in and around climate that will affect constituents and governments,” Williams said as examples where he sees the firm investing. “We want the company, when it achieves maturity, to achieve the majority of the revenue outside the government.”

The firm centers its investing around the stage right after product-market fit, although since the veterans pipeline can be a real gauntlet, Williams said the firm will selectively invest at the pre-seed stage there.

The firm is also seeking to diversify the ranks of both venture capitalists and founders. McMahan said, “I’m a female, Sherman’s an African American, you know, even in the military, we’re sort of a unique team, and so we think we are also able to reach out to a much broader audience of underrepresented minorities, women, and groups, and we feel like we’re pretty attractive in terms of that as a team.“

USAA’s anchor investment is perhaps not surprising given the financial services company’s focus on active service members and veterans. It has made other investments and sponsorships around veteran entrepreneurship, including into Patriot Boot Camp. The company has also invested directly in startups such as PrecisionHawk and Coinbase.

#government, #usaa, #venture-capital

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Seed is not the new Series A

The incredible success of the cloud business applications space in recent years has driven up valuations and fundraising across all stages of venture investment. That has in turn increased VC fund sizes, led to massive cloud IPOs and brought a new cadre of investors to further fuel the fire.

The median Series A raised by cloud companies these days is about $8 million and can often go well above $10 million, according to PitchBook data from the first quarter of 2021. Series Cs now routinely include secondary capital for founders, and many Series Ds are above $100 million with valuations in the billions.

There is a widening gap in the funding continuum between angel/seed funding at inception and the new-age $10 million Series A at $2 million in ARR.

Such an influx of capital and interest has upended many structures and long-held norms about how startups are funded. Venture funds continue to grow and must write larger checks, but ever-higher valuations force many firms to hunt for opportunities earlier. The VC alphabet soup has been spilled, making A rounds look like Bs used to, and the Bs seem like the Cs of old.

Which begs an interesting question: Is the seed round the new Series A?

We don’t think so.

Seed rounds have certainly grown — averaging about $3 million nowadays from around $1 million to $2 million previously — but otherwise, seed investments are the same as before and remain very different from Series As.

#angel-investor, #cloud, #column, #corporate-finance, #ec-cloud-and-enterprise-infrastructure, #ec-column, #ec-news-and-analysis, #private-equity, #saas, #seed-money, #startup-company, #startups, #venture-capital

0

#DealMonitor – Forto bekommt 240 Millionen – Wellster Healthtech sammelt 40 Millionen ein


Im aktuellen #DealMonitor für den 21. Juni werfen wir wieder einen Blick auf die wichtigsten, spannendsten und interessantesten Investments und Exits des Tages in der DACH-Region. Alle Deals der Vortage gibt es im großen und übersichtlichen #DealMonitor-Archiv.

INVESTMENTS

Forto
+++ Jetzt offiziell: Der japanische Kapitalgeber Softbank investiert – wie bereits im Insider-Podcast berichtet – gemeinsam mit Citi Ventures und G Squared sowie Altinvestoren wie Northzone, Cherry Ventures und Unbound 240 Millionen US-Dollar in Forto. Die Bewertung liegt bei 1,2 Milliarden Dollar. Damit ist Forto das neueste deutsche Unicorn. Im Insider-Podcast hatten wir von einem Investment in Höhe von 200 Millionen Dollar gesprochen, dies gilt weiter. Die weiteren 40 Millionen sind sogenannte Secondaries, bei denen Gesellschafter im Zuge der Investmentrunde Anteile verkauft haben. Forto früher als FreightHub bekannt, wurde 2016 von Ferry Heilemann, Fabian Heilemann, Erik Muttersbach und Michael Wax gegründet. Die Jungfirma vermittelt Aufträge zur Container-Beförderung an Transportunternehmen. In den vergangenen Jahren investierten Geldgeber wie Inven Capital, Iris Capital, Rider Global, Northzone, Cherry Ventures und der italienische Risikofonds H14 bereits rund 120 Millionen Dollar in das junge Logistik-Startup. Forto beschäftigt derzeit mehr als 550 Mitarbeiter:innen an 11 Standorten in Europa und Asien, darunter Büros in Berlin, Kopenhagen, Hamburg, Ho-Chi-Minh-Stadt, Singapur, Hongkong und Shanghai. Mehr über Forto

Wellster Healthtech
+++ Das Pharmaunternehmen Dermapharm und Altinvestor HV Capital investieren 40 Millionen US-Dollar in Wellster Healthtech. Zu Wellster Healthtech, das 2018 von Manuel Nothelfer und Nico Hribernik gegründet wurde, gehören Marken wie easy, easytest, mySpring und Spring. Das Startup kümmert sich um sogenannte Alltagsgesundheit und Themen wie Intimgesundheit Haarausfall. “Das neue Funding wird Wellster dazu nutzen, sein Angebot auf weitere medizinische Behandlungsbilder auszuweiten und dadurch neue Zielgruppen zu erschließen. Für Wellster eröffnen sich aber nun auch weitere Wachstumsoptionen wie zum Beispiel direkte Übernahmen von bestehenden Unternehmen am Markt”, heißt es in der Presseaussendung.

truckoo
+++ Global Founders Capital (GFC), der Investmentarm von Rocket Internet, investiert gemeinsam mit den Gründern von sennder und FlixBus eine niedrige siebenstellige Summe in truckoo. Das Unternehmen aus München positioniert sich als Ankaufsplattform für Nutzfahrzeuge – gemeint sind etwa Transporter und Baufahrzeuge. “Die Lösung ist es den Handel über etablierte Nutzfahrzeugwerkstätten zu organisieren und die Infrastruktur dafür zu digitalisieren”, teilt das Unternehmen mit. truckoo wurde 2019 von Julia Unützer und Maximilian Füchsl gegründet.

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

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

Foto (oben): azrael74

#aktuell, #citi-ventures, #forto, #g-squared, #global-founders-capital, #logistik, #munchen, #softbank, #truckoo, #venture-capital, #wellster-healthtech

0

Investors say Eindhoven poised to become Netherlands’ No. 2 tech hub

Eindhoven might not immediately spring to mind as a high-tech hub, but the Netherlands city is keen to position itself as a center for deep tech in Europe.

The Technical University of Eindhoven, High Tech Campus Eindhoven, and locally based corporates like ASML and Philips have been eyeing initiatives across Europe and applying what they’ve learned to the region’s strategy. Philips launched in Eindhoven in 1891 and played no small part in the municipality’s ambitions to become a tech hub.

Eindhoven produces a high number of patents per year considering its small population and has been home to an inordinate number of hardware startups. The local High Tech Campus has a high hardware focus, for instance.

Our survey respondents consider the city strong in areas like photonics, robotics, medical devices, materials science, deep tech, automotive tech, sustainability tech, medtech, Big Data, hardware and precision engineering. They are looking for more mature startups and scaleups focused on AI and hard tech.

Eindhoven is considered weaker in fintech and consumer products, and it exists in a small region with limited global visibility.

Over the next five years, one respondent said, “Eindhoven will have evolved to the Netherlands’ second-largest tech ecosystem, behind Amsterdam. On a European scale, Eindhoven will have entered the top 10.”

To learn more about Eindhoven, we queried the following investors:


Robert AL, Systema Circularis

What industry sectors is your tech ecosystem strong in? What are you most excited by? What is it weak in?

High-tech systems, photonics, robotics, medical devices.

Which are the most interesting startups in your city?

Lightyear, Bio-TRIP, EFFECT photonics, Nemo Healthcare, Sorama.

What are the tech investors like? What is the investment scene like in your city? What’s their focus?

Fully dedicated.

Who are the key startup people in your city (e.g., investors, founders, lawyers, designers, etc.)?

Steef Blok, Harm de Vries, Piet van der Wielen, Andy Lurling, Mark Cox.

Where do you see your city’s tech scene in five years’ time?

More mature, more focused on inclusive development, less quality coming from university spinoffs.

Nathan van den Dool, CEO, Space4Good

What industry sectors is your tech ecosystem strong in? What are you most excited by? What is it weak in?

High-tech systems and materials, the real high-tech and deep tech stuff that either leads to scientific breakthroughs or turns scientific breakthroughs into companies. Lithography makes a major contribution to that, as well as medical devices and production technologies.

Which are the most interesting startups in your city?

Nearfield Instruments, Optiflux, Dynaxion, AlphaBeats, Incooling.

What are the tech investors like? What is the investment scene like in your city? What’s their focus?

They focus mainly on high-tech machine building and software development, AI.

With the shift to remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic, will people stay in your city, move out or will others move in?

Largely unaffected.

Where do you see your city’s tech scene in five years’ time?

More integrated between AI and hard tech and production.

Pepijn Herman, venture builder, Brabantse Ontwikkelings Maat schappij

What industry sectors is your tech ecosystem strong in? What are you most excited by? What is it weak in?

The pros are high-tech systems, collaboration culture and excellent startup ecosystem; The cons are that it’s a small region with limited visibility globally.

Which are the most interesting startups in your city?

LionVolt, DENS, Lightyear, Morphotonics.

What are the tech investors like? What is the investment scene like in your city? What’s their focus?

They focus mainly on high-tech machine building and software development, AI.

With the shift to remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic, will people stay in your city, move out or will others move in?

Others will move in! Housing is extremely expensive but the demand for a skilled workforce is extremely high. If people move to surrounding areas, within 30 km, housing prices skyrocket all over.

Who are the key startup people in your city (e.g., investors, founders, lawyers, designers, etc.)?\

BOM (that’s us!), Braventure, Brainport Development, TNO.

Where do you see your city’s tech scene in five years’ time?

Leading worldwide in several technology areas, mainly, high-precision, roll-to-roll processing atomic layer deposition, material handling, industry 4.0, silicon processing equipment.

Betsy Lindsey, CFO, Aircision

What industry sectors is your tech ecosystem strong in? What are you most excited by? What is it weak in?

The region is strong in deep tech, automotive tech, sustainability tech, medtech, Big Data, hardware and precision engineering. Most excited by sustainability tech and deep tech. The region is weak in fintech.

Which are the most interesting startups in your city?

Lightyear, Incooling.

What are the tech investors like? What is the investment scene like in your city? What’s their focus?

Conservative, non-risk-taking — there are so many subsidies they don’t need to take risks, so once the tech risk is gone, they are good, but they are not global enough; hardware.

With the shift to remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic, will people stay in your city, move out or will others move in?

Hardware is hands-on — people are still moving in! We have a housing “crisis!”

Who are the key startup people in your city (e.g., investors, founders, lawyers, designers, etc.)?

Innovation Industries.

Where do you see your city’s tech scene in five years’ time?

More mature startups and scaleups on the scene!

Andy Lurling, founding partner, LUMO Labs

What industry sectors is your tech ecosystem strong in? What are you most excited by? What is it weak in?

The region is strong in sustainable cities, health and well-being, and education.

Which are the most interesting startups in your city?

FruitPunch AI, AlphaBeats, Vaulut, Lightyear, Serendipity.

What are the tech investors like? What is the investment scene like in your city? What’s their focus?

Mainly hardware; LUMO Labs has an early-stage software focus.

With the shift to remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic, will people stay in your city, move out or will others move in?

Stay.

Who are the key startup people in your city (e.g., investors, founders, lawyers, designers, etc.)?

Nard Sintenie, Frank Claassen, Hans Bloemen.

Where do you see your city’s tech scene in five years’ time?

Competing on a global scale.

Han Dirkx, CEO and co-founder, AlphaBeats

What industry sectors is your tech ecosystem strong in? What are you most excited by? What is it weak in?

The region is strong in deep tech and health. I’m excited about opportunities for cooperation between different companies. It’s weak in seed investment.

Which are the most interesting startups in your city?

Lightyear, AlphaBeats, Carbyon, FruitPunch, Serendipity.

What are the tech investors like? What is the investment scene like in your city? What’s their focus?

Tech investors are mainly government-regulated constitutions or angels. Focus on scaleup.

With the shift to remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic, will people stay in your city, move out or will others move in?

They will stay; working from home has some benefits but meeting people in an inspiring environment gives the best synergy.

Who are the key startup people in your city (e.g., investors, founders, lawyers, designers, etc.)?

LUMO Labs, HighTechXL, Andy Lurling, Sven Bakkes, John Bell, Guus Frericks, Bert-Jan Woertman.

Where do you see your city’s tech scene in five years’ time?

Leading in the world.

Jonas Onland, managing partner, Serendipity

What industry sectors is your tech ecosystem strong in? What are you most excited by? What is it weak in?

The region is strong in building sustainable and resilient cities and a platform between cities/society and tech market.

Which are the most interesting startups in your city?

Digital Toolbox (a Serendipity spinoff), Amber (mobility), Active Esports Arena and other portfolio companies of LUMO Labs.

What are the tech investors like? What is the investment scene like in your city? What’s their focus?

Through LUMO Labs, there is a focus on societal investments; the rest is investment in high tech due to the big industries (VDLK, ASML, NXP, Phillips).

With the shift to remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic, will people stay in your city, move out or will others move in?

Work at home or mix in the office and at home.

Who are the key startup people in your city (e.g., investors, founders, lawyers, designers, etc.)?

A combination of accelerators (LUMO Labs, HighTechXL, Braventure) and Brainport (ecosystem management) supported by the Eindhoven University of Technology and big corporates.

Where do you see your city’s tech scene in five years’ time?

Leading in the world on societal/systemic change — moving from high-tech toward impact (more software and digitization).

Daan A.J. Kersten, CEO, PhotonFirst

What industry sectors is your tech ecosystem strong in? What are you most excited by? What is it weak in?

It’s strong in high-tech equipment, hardware, photonics, additive manufacturing, lighting, electronics, semiconductor technology and health tech, and weak in consumer products and apps.

Which are the most interesting startups in your city?

Lightyear, ELEO Technologies, EFFECT Photonics, SMART Photonics, PhotonFirst, Amber.

What are the tech investors like? What is the investment scene like in your city? What’s their focus?

There is a relatively low number of investors in early stage.

With the shift to remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic, will people stay in your city, move out or will others move in?

They will stay. Eindhoven is a hot spot with many cultures, international tech community and great infrastructure, while it feels like a village.

Who are the key startup people in your city (e.g., investors, founders, lawyers, designers, etc.)?

Nard Sintenie, startup founders, HighTechXL.

Where do you see your city’s tech scene in five years’ time?

Worldwide dominance in high-tech hardware scaleups.

Daniel den Boer, CEO and co-founder, Vaulut

What industry sectors is your tech ecosystem strong in? What are you most excited by? What is it weak in?

The Eindhoven ecosystem is really strong in the sectors of mobility, smart city and energy. I’m most excited about smart city. This is our focus sector and it is the embodiment of ecosystem collaboration with impact solutions.

Which are the most interesting startups in your city?

Vaulut, Roseman Labs, FruitPunch AI, Amber, Sendcloud, Lightyear.

What are the tech investors like? What is the investment scene like in your city? What’s their focus?

The investment scene is getting better. They are increasingly realizing that deep tech takes time and needs to be nurtured, but the potential impact is massive and can have a dramatic effect on the entire ecosystem. There are still relatively few early-stage impact drive investors. LUMO Labs is leading the pack on that front.

With the shift to remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic, will people stay in your city, move out or will others move in?

I think more people will stay as the need to move to Amsterdam as the tech hub of the Netherlands diminishes, giving Eindhoven a boost to strengthen its own ecosystem, which will in turn make even more people stay and attract people to move in the city. As a result, COVID-19 will have a positive effect on Eindhoven’s tech ecosystem, I believe.

Who are the key startup people in your city (e.g., investors, founders, lawyers, designers, etc.)?

LUMO Labs, the Eindhoven University of Technology, High Tech Campus, Amber, Brainport Eindhoven.

Where do you see your city’s tech scene in five years’ time?

In five years, I believe Eindhoven will have evolved to Netherlands’ second-largest tech ecosystem, behind Amsterdam. On a European scale, Eindhoven will have entered the top 10.

#aircision, #alphabeats, #andy-lurling, #brabantse-ontwikkelings-maat-schappij, #daan-a-j-kersten, #daniel-den-boer, #ec-investor-survey, #europe, #han-dirkx, #investor-survey, #jonas-onland, #lumo-labs, #nathan-van-den-dool, #netherlands, #pepijn-herman, #photonfirst, #robert-al, #serendipity, #space4good, #startups, #systema-circularis, #tc, #vaulut, #venture-capital

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Extra Crunch roundup: influencer marketing 101, spotting future unicorns, Apple AirTags teardown

With the right message, even a small startup can connect with established and emerging stars on TikTok, Instagram and YouTube who will promote your products and services — as long as your marketing team understands the influencer marketplace.

Creators have a wide variety of brands and revenue channels to choose from, but marketers who understand how to court these influencers can make inroads no matter the size of their budget. Although brand partnerships are still the top source of revenue for creators, many are starting to diversify.

If you’re in charge of marketing at an early-stage startup, this post explains how to connect with an influencer who authentically resonates with your brand and covers the basics of setting up a revenue-share structure that works for everyone.


Full Extra Crunch articles are only available to members
Use discount code ECFriday to save 20% off a one- or two-year subscription


Our upcoming TC Early Stage event is devoted to marketing and fundraising, so expect to see more articles than usual about growth marketing in the near future.

We also ran a post this week with tips for making the first marketing hire, and Managing Editor Eric Eldon spoke to growth leader Susan Su to get her thoughts about building remote marketing teams.

We’re off today to celebrate the Juneteenth holiday in the United States. I hope you have a safe and relaxing weekend.

Walter Thompson
Senior Editor, TechCrunch
@yourprotagonist

As the economy reopens, startups are uniquely positioned to recruit talent

Little Fish in Form of Big Fish meeting a fish.

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

The pandemic forced a reckoning about the way we work — and whether we want to keep working in the same way, with the same people, for the same company — and many are looking for something different on the other side.

Art Zeile, the CEO of DHI Group, notes this means it’s a great time for startups to recruit talent.

“While all startups are certainly not focused on being disruptive, they often rely on cutting-edge technology and processes to give their customers something truly new,” Zeile writes. “Many are trying to change the pattern in their particular industry. So, by definition, they generally have a really interesting mission or purpose that may be more appealing to tech professionals.”

Here are four considerations for high-growth company founders building their post-pandemic team.

Refraction AI’s Matthew Johnson-Roberson on finding the middle path to robotic delivery

Matthew Johnson-roberson

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin

“Refraction AI calls itself the Goldilocks of robotic delivery,” Rebecca Bellan writes. “The Ann Arbor-based company … was founded by two University of Michigan professors who think delivery via full-size autonomous vehicles (AV) is not nearly as close as many promise, and sidewalk delivery comes with too many hassles and not enough payoff.

“Their ‘just right’ solution? Find a middle path, or rather, a bike path.”

Rebecca sat down with the company’s CEO to discuss his motivation to make “something that is useful to the general public.”

How to identify unicorn founders when they’re still early-stage

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

What are investors looking for?

Founders often tie themselves in knots as they try to project qualities they hope investors are seeking. In reality, few entrepreneurs have the acting skills required to convince someone that they’re patient, dedicated or hard working.

Johan Brenner, general partner at Creandum, was an early backer of Klarna, Spotify and several other European startups. Over the last two decades, he’s identified five key traits shared by people who create billion-dollar companies.

“A true unicorn founder doesn’t need to have all of those capabilities on day one,” Brenner, writes “but they should already be thinking big while executing small and demonstrating that they understand how to scale a company.”

Founders Ben Schippers and Evette Ellis are riding the EV sales wave

disrupt mobility roundup

Image Credits: TechCrunch

EV sales are driving demand for services and startups that fulfill the new needs of drivers, charging station operators and others.
Evette Ellis and Ben Schippers took to the main stage at TC Sessions: Mobility 2021 to share how their companies capitalized on the new opportunities presented by the electric transportation revolution.

Scale AI CEO Alex Wang weighs in on software bugs and what will make AV tech good enough

Image Credits: Alexandr Wang

Scale co-founder and CEO Alex Wang joined us at TechCrunch Sessions: Mobility 2021 to discuss his company’s role in the autonomous driving industry and how it’s changed in the five years since its founding.

Scale helps large and small AV players establish reliable “ground truth” through data annotation and management, and along the way, the standards for what that means have shifted as the industry matures.

Even if two algorithms in autonomous driving might be created more or less equal, their real-world performance could vary dramatically based on what they’re consuming in terms of input data. That’s where Scale’s value prop to the industry starts, and Wang explains why.

Edtech investors are flocking to SaaS guidance counselors

Image Credits: Getty Images / Vertigo3d

The prevailing post-pandemic edtech narrative, which predicted higher ed would be DOA as soon as everyone got their vaccine and took off for a gap year, might not be quite true.

Natasha Mascarenhas explores a new crop of edtech SaaS startups that function like guidance counselors, helping students with everything from study-abroad opportunities to swiping right on a captivating college (really!).

“Startups that help students navigate institutional bureaucracy so they can get more value out of their educational experience may become a growing focus for investors as consumer demand for virtual personalized learning increases,” she writes.

Dear Sophie: Is it possible to expand our startup in the US?

lone figure at entrance to maze hedge that has an American flag at the center

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch

Dear Sophie,

My co-founders and I launched a software startup in Iran a few years ago, and I’m happy to say it’s now thriving. We’d like to expand our company in California.

Now that President Joe Biden has eliminated the Muslim ban, is it possible to do that? Is the pandemic still standing in the way? Do you have any suggestions?

— Talented in Tehran

Companies should utilize real-time compensation data to ensure equal pay

Two women observing data to represent collecting data to ensure pay equity.

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

Chris Jackson, the vice president of client development at CompTrak, writes in a guest column that having a conversation about diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives and “agreeing on the need for equality doesn’t mean it will be achieved on an organizational scale.”

He lays out a data-driven proposal that brings in everyone from directors to HR to the talent acquisition team to get companies closer to actual equity — not just talking about it.

Investors Clara Brenner, Quin Garcia and Rachel Holt on SPACs, micromobility and how COVID-19 shaped VC

tc sessions mobility speaker_investorpanel-1

Image Credits: TechCrunch

Few people are more closely tapped into the innovations in the transportation space than investors.

They’re paying close attention to what startups and tech companies are doing to develop and commercialize autonomous vehicle technology, electrification, micromobility, robotics and so much more.

For TC Sessions: Mobility 2021, we talked to three VCs about everything from the pandemic to the most overlooked opportunities within the transportation space.

Experts from Ford, Toyota and Hyundai outline why automakers are pouring money into robotics

disrupt mobility roundup

Image Credits: TechCrunch

Automakers’ interest in robotics is not a new phenomenon, of course: Robots and automation have long played a role in manufacturing and are both clearly central to their push into AVs.

But recently, many companies are going even deeper into the field, with plans to be involved in the wide spectrum of categories that robotics touch.

At TC Sessions: Mobility 2021, we spoke to a trio of experts at three major automakers about their companies’ unique approaches to robotics.

Apple AirTags UX teardown: The trade-off between privacy and user experience

Image Credits: James D. Morgan/Getty Images

Apple’s location devices — called AirTags — have been out for more than a month now. The initial impressions were good, but as we concluded back in April: “It will be interesting to see these play out once AirTags are out getting lost in the wild.”

That’s exactly what our resident UX analyst, Peter Ramsey, has been doing for the last month — intentionally losing AirTags to test their user experience at the limits.

This Extra Crunch exclusive helps bridge the gap between Apple’s mistakes and how you can make meaningful changes to your product’s UX.

 

How to launch a successful RPA initiative

3D illustration of robot humanoid reading book in concept of future artificial intelligence and 4th fourth industrial revolution . (3D illustration of robot humanoid reading book in concept of future artificial intelligence and 4th fourth industrial r

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

Robotic process automation (RPA) is no longer in the early-adopter phase.

Though it requires buy-in from across the organization, contributor Kevin Buckley writes, it’s time to gather everyone around and get to work.

“Automating just basic workflow processes has resulted in such tremendous efficiency improvements and cost savings that businesses are adapting automation at scale and across the enterprise,” he writes.

Long story short: “Adapting business automation for the enterprise should be approached as a business solution that happens to require some technical support.”

Mobility startups can be equitable, accessible and profitable

tc sessions

Image Credits: TechCrunch

Mobility should be a right, but too often it’s a privilege. Can startups provide the technology and the systems necessary to help correct this injustice?

At  our TC Sessions: Mobility 2021 event, we sat down with Revel CEO and co-founder Frank Reig, Remix CEO and co-founder Tiffany Chu, and community organizer, transportation consultant and lawyer Tamika L. Butler to discuss how mobility companies should think about equity, why incorporating it from the get-go will save money in the long run, and how they can partner with cities to expand accessible and sustainable mobility.

CEO Shishir Mehrotra and investor S. Somasegar reveal what sings in Coda’s pitch doc

Image Credits: Carlin Ma / Madrona Venture Group/Brian Smale

Coda CEO Shishir Mehrotra and Madrona partner S. Somasegar joined Extra Crunch Live to go through Coda’s pitch doc (not deck. Doc) and stuck around for the ECL Pitch-off, where founders in the audience come “onstage” to pitch their products to our guests.

Extra Crunch Live takes place every Wednesday at 3 p.m. EDT/noon PDT. Anyone can hang out during the episode (which includes networking with other attendees), but access to past episodes is reserved exclusively for Extra Crunch members. Join here.

#artificial-intelligence, #coda, #diversity, #ec-techcrunch-tc-mobility, #education, #entrepreneurship, #eric-eldon, #extra-crunch-roundup, #jackson, #juneteenth, #klarna, #private-equity, #rachel-holt, #rpa, #scale-ai, #shishir-mehrotra, #startups, #susan-su, #tc, #transportation, #venture-capital

0

#DealMonitor – 468 SPAC plant Boxine/Toniebox-Übernahme (Bewertung: 1 Milliarde) – Roboyo übernimmt Akoa


Im aktuellen #DealMonitor für den 18. Juni werfen wir wieder einen Blick auf die wichtigsten, spannendsten und interessantesten Investments und Exits des Tages in der DACH-Region. Alle Deals der Vortage gibt es im großen und übersichtlichen #DealMonitor-Archiv.

STOCK MARKET

Boxine
+++ Der noch junge Geldgeber 468 Capital, hinter dem unter anderem Ex-Rocket Internet-Macher Alexander Kudlich steckt, verhandelt derzeit darüber, die Übernahme des Düsseldorfer Unternehmens Boxine, bekannt für die Toniebox und die Tonies. Mit der Toniebox und den dazugehörigen Tonies haben die Gründer Patric Faßbender und Marcus Stahl 2014 ein Audiosystem für Kinder erschaffen. Die Übernahme soll über den 468 SPAC I, eine börsennotierte Firmenhülle, die der Geldgeber kürzlich an die Börse gebracht hat, erfolgen. “Die Gespräche mit 468 befinden sich derzeit in einem frühen Stadium. Es kann daher noch nicht mit Sicherheit davon ausgegangen werden, dass eine endgültige verbindliche Vereinbarung erzielt werden kann”, teilt das Unternehmen aus dem Rheinland mit. Die Münchner Industrieholding Armira, der Movinga-Investor Santo Venture Capital und Zalando-Gründer Robert Gentz kauften das Düsseldorfer Unternehmen Boxine 2019, wohl für rund 300 Millionen Euro. Die Post-Money-Bewertung liegt nun bei 1 Milliarde Euro. “The LoI includes an agreement to seek a PIPE investment (private investment in public equity) in an amount up to EUR 100 million that the Company and Boxine intend to consummate in parallel to the envisaged business combination”, teilt 468 zum Vorhaben mit. Zuletzt hatte auch die Ferienhausplattform HomeToGo einen SPAC-IPO geplant – über die Firmenhülle Lakestar SPAC I. Mehr über Boxine

MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS

Akoa
+++ Roboyo, ein Unternehmen für Robotic Process Automation, übernimmt Akoa. “Das zusammengeführte Unternehmen wird seine globale Präsenz mit über 230 Mitarbeitern an Standorten in 16 Städten, 9 Ländern und 3 Kontinenten verstärken”, teilt das Unternehmen mit. Das Nürnberger Unternehmen, das 2016 von Christian Voigt, Nicolas Hess und Sven Manutiu gegründet wurde, sammelte zuletzt 21 Millionen Euro ein – unter anderem von MML Capital Partners (MML). Akoa aus Stockholm wurde wurde 2016 gegründet. In der Selbstbeschreibung heißt es: Bei “Akoa arbeiten wir mit innovativen Technologien wie RPA, KI und Chatbots, um sicherzustellen, dass Ihr Unternehmen sowohl effizient als auch spannend arbeitet”.

INVESTMENTS

praktischArzt
+++ Das Unternehmen M3 investiert in den Karrieredienst praktischArzt. “Zusammen soll das Wachstum in Deutschland sowie europaweit forciert und die bestehende Marke weiter ausgebaut werden”, teilt das Unternehmen mit. praktischArzt aus Mannheim, 2014 gegründet, positioniert sich als “Kombination aus Stellenbörse und Karriereportal”. 

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

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

Foto (oben): azrael74

#468-capital, #468-spac-i, #akoa, #aktuell, #boxine, #mannheim, #nurnberg, #praktischarzt, #roboyo, #spac, #toniebox, #venture-capital

0

The American Renaissance Has Begun

During the pandemic, Americans have been asking existential questions about their lives; now they are changing them.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #coronavirus-reopenings, #economic-conditions-and-trends, #entrepreneurship, #labor-and-jobs, #relocation-of-business, #united-states-economy, #venture-capital, #wages-and-salaries

0

Vitosha Venture Partners launches $30M fund to back Bulgarian-related early-stage startups

Vitosha Venture Partners is a brand new venture fund launching out of Bulgaria, and backed by the Bulgarian government. The 26 million euro ($30M) fund aims to invest in approximately 100 companies, starting from low ticket sizes all the way up to a million, in early-stage and growth-stage companies that are based in or related to Bulgaria.

Vitosha will be co-financed by the European Structural and Investment Funds under the Operational Programme for Innovation and Competitiveness 2014-2020, managed by the Fund of Funds in Bulgaria. Beyond standard VC conventions, it will also back companies that matter for the growth, sustainability, and development of the local economy in Bulgaria and the Central European region.

Speaking to me over a call, co-founder Max Gurvits said: “Bulgaria and this whole region of South-eastern Europe is a very early ecosystem. The cool thing that’s happening here and that’s something we’re excited about and proud of is that because Bulgaria started a little earlier in tech than the neighboring countries, it’s still very early, but there are 1000s of people now in startups.”

He added: “I do think that in Bulgaria, something like the emergence of a unicorn-like UIPath might happen in the next two or three years. So we’re slowly but surely catching up.”

“There’s a lot of FoodTech / AgTech here, there there’s a lot of connected hardware manufacturing like electric bicycles. While those companies might not be groundbreaking or world-changing they are actually quite solid fast-growing businesses that have a pretty high probability of exiting for 2x 3x 4x 5x or more.”

Vitosha Accelerate also run an acceleration program.

The team consists of:
Erik Anderson- Managing Partner (ex WiseGuys)
Max Gurvits – Managing partner
Marin Iliev- Managing partner
Maris Prii – Managing Partner
Nikola Stojanow – Managing Partner
Paul Weinberger- Managing partner
Kamen Bankovski – Principal
Stoyan Nedin – Venture Partner

Portfolio – 17 companies up to date
Investments between EUR 150k and EUR 800k
Hobo – https://hobo.bg
Quendoo – https://www.quendoo.com
Econic One – https://econicone.com
Eirene Studio- https://eirenestudio.com
Tokwise- https://www.tokwise.com
Omnio-https://omniotech.net
Petmall- https://petmall.bg
Assen Aero- http://assen.aero
MeatMe Bar- https://www.meatmebar.com/bg
PelletBox- Stealth

Vitosha ACCELERATE startups (tickets up to EUR 50k)
Gridmetrics – https://www.gridmetrics.co
Trace the Taste- Stealth
FidU Trade-https://fidutrade.com
Augment- https://augment.gg
NulaBG-https://nula.bg
Bye Bye Stuttering- https://www.byebyestuttering.com
Ecopolitech- Stealth

The companies that became part of Vitosha’s portfolio in April are:
Tokwise- €150K
Omnio-€200K
Petmall- €800K
Assen Aero- €600K
MeatMe Bar- €400K
PelletBox- €200K
Gridmetrics-€50K
Trace the Taste-€50K
FidU Trade-€75K
Augment-€50K
NulaBG-€50K
Bye Bye Stuttering-€50K
EcoPolytech-€50K

#agtech, #bulgaria, #co-founder, #eastern-europe, #europe, #managing-partner, #max-gurvits, #tc, #uipath, #venture-capital

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#DealMonitor – Habyt bekommt 20 Millionen (und übernimmt homefully) – Finleap Connect sammelt 22 Millionen ein


Im aktuellen #DealMonitor für den 17. Juni werfen wir wieder einen Blick auf die wichtigsten, spannendsten und interessantesten Investments und Exits des Tages in der DACH-Region. Alle Deals der Vortage gibt es im großen und übersichtlichen #DealMonitor-Archiv.

INVESTMENTS

Habyt
+++ Vorwerk Ventures, HV Capital, P101 und Picus Capital investieren 20 Millionen Euro in den Co-Living-Anbieter Habyt. Im Zuge der Investmentrunde übernimmt Habyt zudem seinen  Wettbewerber homefully. Das Unternehmen wird “zunächst als eigenständige Marke weitergeführt”. homefully, von Sebastian Wuerz gegründet, vermietet seit 2016 möblierte Zimmer. In den vergangenen Jahren investierten HV Capital, RTP Global und Co. rund 6 Millionen in das Startup aus Frankfurt am Main. Habyt, 2017 von Luca Bovone gegründet, übernahm in den vergangenen Monaten bereits das Madrider Unternehmens Erasmo’s Room, den Berliner Wettbewerber GoLiving und das US-Geschäft von Quarters. Nach eigenen Angaben bietet Habyt derzeit über 5000 Wohneinheiten in 15 Städten und sechs Ländern an. Mehr über Habyt

Finleap Connect
+++ Der Softbank-Ableger SBI Investments und Ilavska Vuillermoz Capital investieren 22 Millionen Euro in Finleap Connect – siehe FinanceFWD. Das Geschäftskunden-FinTech, das 2019 aus dem Zusammenschluss der beiden Unternehmen Figo und Finreach hervorgegangen ist, positioniert sich als Full Stack-Plattform für Open-Banking-Dienstleistungen. Die Bewertung von Finleap Connect liegt offiziellen Angaben zufolge nun im “dreistelligen Millionenbereich”.

emax digital
+++ Der High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF), Bayern Kapital sowie die Business Angels Dirk Freytag und Arndt Groth investieren in emax digital. “Mit dem Investment will das Startup den
Aufbau seiner KI-gestützten Reporting- und Analyse-Software vorantreiben”, heißt es in der Presseaussendung. Das Münchner Unternehmen emax digital wurde 2018 von Andreas Kleofas und Dominik Pietrowski gegründet.

Limitd 
+++ Das Unternehmen eValue und die Hamburger Wünsche Group sowie einige Angel-Investoren investieren eine siebenstellige Summe in Limitd. Das Berliner Startup, das 2019 von Ronald Horstman, Sebastian Weil, Malte Fehr und Roman Blumenstock (alle früher bei ProSiebenSat.1 tätig) gegründet wurde, entwickelt gemeinsam mit Influencern Produkte für den Einzelhandel – etwa die Chips-Marke ROB’s für CrispyRob. Das frische Kapital soll “in die laufenden Geschäfte und neue Marken” fließen.

Threatray
+++ Verve Ventures, Hammer Team, SICTIC, BackBone Ventures und innofund.vc investieren 2,3 Millionen Schweizer Franken in das Cyber-Security-Startup Threatray. “Threatray’s malware intelligence platform gives enterprise and government security teams deep visibility into attempted and unfolding malware attacks, facilitating effective defense and response to cyber-attacks”, teilt das Unternehmen mit. Das Spin-off der Berner Fachhochschule wurde 2018 von Endre Bangerter und Jonas Wagner gegründet.

Txture
+++ Corecam Capital Partners und red-stars data investieren eine siebenstellige Summe in das Innsbrucker Startup Txture – siehe Trending Topics. Das Spin-off der Universität Innsbruck, das 2017 von Thomas Trojer und Matthias Farwick gegründet wurde, bietet eine “Software-Plattform zur Analyse und Cloud-Transformation globaler IT-Landschaften” an.

VENTURE CAPITAL

encourageventures
+++ Mit encourageventures bauen 60 Top-Managerinnen ein Netzwerk für Gründerinnen auf. “Aus welcher Branche die Startups kommen, spielt dabei im ersten Schritt keine Rolle. Einzige
Grundvoraussetzung für eine Aufnahme in das encourageventures-Netzwerk: Es muss mindestens eine Frau an der Gründung beteiligt sein”, teilt das Netzwerk mit. Gemeinsam mit Auxxo plant encourageventures zudem den Aufbau eines All-Female-Growth-Fonds (100 bis 200 Millionen Euro). Zu den Unterstützerinnen von encourageventures gehören unter anderem Ina Schlie, Alexa Hergenröther, Filiz Albrecht, Astrid Frohloff, Anna Kaiser und Miriam Wohlfarth.

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

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

Foto (oben): azrael74

#aktuell, #backbone-ventures, #bayern-kapital, #bern, #corecam-capital-partners, #emax-digital, #encourageventures, #evalue, #finleap-connect, #fintech, #frankfurt-am-main, #habyt, #hammer-team, #high-tech-grunderfonds, #homefully, #hv-capital, #ilavska-vuillermoz-capital, #innofund-vc, #innsbruck, #limitd, #munchen, #p101, #picus-capital, #sbi-investments, #sictic, #threatray, #txture, #venture-capital, #verve-ventures, #vorwerk-ventures, #wunsche-group

0

Unit raises $51M in Accel-led Series B to grow its banking-as-a-service platform

We’ve all heard the phrase, “Every company is a fintech.” 

But these days, that’s becoming more and more true as an increasing number of companies that are not even in the financial services space seek to add a fintech component to their offering.

A group of startups poised to benefit from this shift are those offering banking as a service. One such startup, Unit, has raised $51 million in a Series B round to further its goal of making it possible for companies and fintechs alike to build banking products “in minutes.”

Silicon Valley-based Accel led the round for Unit, bringing the company’s total raised since its 2019 inception to nearly $70 million. Existing backers Better Tomorrow Ventures, Aleph, Flourish Ventures and TLV Partners also participated in the latest financing

Founders Itai Damti and Doron Somech are no strangers to growing companies. The pair previously co-founded — and bootstrapped — Leverate, a Tel Aviv-based B2B trading tech provider. Unit has dual headquarters in Tel Aviv and New York City.

Damti and Somech founded Unit in late 2019 and spent the first year stealthily building out the platform with the mission of empowering companies to embed financial services into their product, accelerating their time to market. Unit officially launched its platform in late 2020, and over the last three months, it has seen deposit volume grow by more than 300% and new end users by 600% (albeit from a small base).

With its platform, Unit touts, companies in a variety of industries — such as freelance or creator economy and personal financial management, for example — can build financial products directly into their software. This gives them the ability to build and launch next-gen bank accounts, cards, payment and lending products. Customers include Wethos, Lance, Benepass, Moves and Tribevest, among others.

“Our mission is to expand financial access for all and we do it by empowering the next generation of fintech builders,” Damti said. Only about 20% of its customers are what might be considered true fintechs, he said. The remaining 80% are companies that are not but rather want to embed banking as a service into their offering.

Unit, Damti claims, takes what was once “a very expensive and complex process of 18 months” that includes finding and managing a bank relationship, building a compliance team and building a tech stack “that gets you to a competitive banking offering, and turns it into one API and one dashboard that helps companies launch accounts cards, payments and lending within five weeks.”

In conjunction with the funding, Unit is also announcing today a new offering, Unit Go, which it says allows companies to create live bank accounts and issue physical and virtual cards in minutes. Founders and developers can try it out by creating a free account, building in Unit’s live environment and testing their products using real funds. Unit Go is currently in beta and will be available to the public in the fall of 2021. 

The company plans to use its new capital to grow its headcount of 26 and fast-track its Unit Go offering. It also wants to expand its platform into additional financial products, software development kits (SDKs) and integrations. (It’s already integrated with Plaid, for example).

Of course, Unit is not the only startup in the burgeoning banking-as-a-service (BaaS) space. It competes with the likes of Railbank, Treasury Prime and Stripe. Damti believes there are a few things that help differentiate Unit in the increasingly crowded space.

For one, according to Damti, Unit intentionally “put compliance at the front and center of what we do.” As evidence of that, earlier this year, it tapped Amanda Swoverland to serve as its chief compliance officer. 

Secondly, Damti emphasizes that Unit is not a matchmaker or marketplace along the lines of Synctera.

“We are acting as a company that connects banks to the tech ecosystem and banks are critical vendors and partners to us, but we see them as a built-in element within Unit, because we believe that the most excellent experience in this ecosystem can only come from software companies,” Damti told TechCrunch. 

And finally, he notes, Unit is technically distinct in that it is actually building a ledger, which Damti describes as “the most critical and sensitive part of the ecosystem.”

By owning the ledger and not delegating, he said, Unit is “able to offer a radically better experience.”

“As far as the transaction environment, the cleanliness of the data that we provide and the fees that our customers are able to control and tweak, owning that ledger piece is super critical for the experience,” Damti said.  

Accel partner Amit Kumar notes that in recent years, the landscape has shifted from hundreds of fintech startups “trying to beat incumbents with slightly better products” to thousands of tech companies trying to launch fintech businesses in their verticals.

“Unit’s strong emphasis on managing compliance addresses the risk typically associated with offering banking services and allows customers to bring these products to market much faster than previously possible,” he told TechCrunch. “Unit is building the platform to power the next generation of fintech.”

#accel, #finance, #fintech, #funding, #fundings-exits, #payments, #recent-funding, #startups, #unit, #venture-capital

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#DealMonitor – Uberall sammelt 95 Millionen ein – ecoRobotix bekommt 14,7 Millionen – Crate.io sammelt 10 Millionen ein


Im aktuellen #DealMonitor für den 16. Juni werfen wir wieder einen Blick auf die wichtigsten, spannendsten und interessantesten Investments und Exits des Tages in der DACH-Region. Alle Deals der Vortage gibt es im großen und übersichtlichen #DealMonitor-Archiv.

INVESTMENTS

Uberall
+++ Bregal Milestone, Level Equity und United Internet investieren 95 Millionen Euro in Uberall. Das Berliner Grownup, das 2013 von David Federhen, Florian Hübner und Josha Benner gegründet wurde, positioniert sich als  Location-Marketing-Anbieter. HPE Growth Capital, Project A und United Internet investierten zuletzt rund 50 Millionen US-Dollar in das Unternehmen. “Mit dem zusätzlichen Kapital soll vor allem das Unternehmenswachstum in den USA und Kanada vorangetrieben werden”, teilt das Unternehmen mit. Uberall ist derzeit in sechs Ländern aktiv, beschäftigt rund 300 Mitarbeiter:innen und verfügt über mehr als 1.600 Kunden. Im Zuge der Investmentrunde verkündet Uberall zudem die Übernahme von MomentFeed, einem Unternehmen rund um das Thema Proximity Search Optimization. Mehr über Uberall

ecoRobotix
+++ Swisscom Ventures, Verve Ventures Sowie die Altinvestoren CapAgro, 4FO Ventures und BASF Venture Capital investieren 14,7 Millionen US-Dollar in ecoRobotix. Das Schweizer Startup bietet KI-basierte Lösungen für die Landwirtschaft an. “Mit dem Erlös der jüngsten Finanzierungsrunde kann ecoRobotix die Großserienproduktion von ARA beschleunigen, einer gezogenen Maschine für das Sprühen von Pflanzenschutzmitteln”, teilt das Unternehmen, das 2014 gegründet wurde, mit.

Crate.io
+++ Altinvestoren wie Draper Esprit und VITO Ventures investieren 10 Millionen US-Dollar in  den Datenbankentwickler Crate.io, der 2013 von Christian Lutz und Jodok Batlogg gegründet wurde. Das Unternehmen mit Sitz in San Francisco, Dornbirn und Berlin entwickelt mit CrateDB eine Open-Source-SQL-Datenbank für IoT- und Maschinendaten. Insgesamt flossen nun schon 31 Millionen Dollar in Crate.io. Mehr über Crate.io

Remi
+++ Der Frühphasen-Investor btov Partners sowie Angel-Investoren wie Eyeo-Gründer Tim Schumacher, Honeypot-Mitgründerin Emma Tracey und Georgie Smallwood, CPO von Tier, investieren 1,2 Millionen Euro in Remi. Das Berliner Startup, das von Rebecca Görres (zuletzt Juit) und Valerie Krämer (zuletzt Opinary) geführt wird, möchte Remote Teams helfen, Kontakte zueinander aufzubauen.

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

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

Foto (oben): azrael74

#4fo-ventures, #aktuell, #basf-venture-capital, #bregal-milestone, #btov-partners, #capagro, #crate-io, #draper-esprit, #ecorobotix, #level-equity, #remi, #swisscom-ventures, #uberall, #united-internet, #venture-capital, #verve-ventures, #vito-ventures

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Early-stage venture firm The Fund launches in Australia

A group photo of The Fund Australia’s team (left to right): Elicia McDonald, Adrian Petersen, Georgia Vidler, Ed Taylor and Todd Deacon

The Fund Australia’s team (l to r): Elicia McDonald, Adrian Petersen, Georgia Vidler, Ed Taylor and Todd Deacon

The Fund, the early-stage investment firm focused on pre-seed and seed startups, is going Down Under for its latest expansion. The Fund was founded in New York in 2018, before launching in Los Angeles, London, the Rockies and the Midwest, too.

Co-founder Jenny Fielding, who is also managing director at Techstars New York, said The Fund decides on new areas for expansion based on demand from the local startup ecosystem, and earlier this year, it heard from a group of founders and operators who wanted to launch it in Australia, too.

In addition to participating in first check rounds, The Fund also builds communities of founders and other leaders from successful startups, who not only provide mentorship, but also capital as limited partners. The Fund now has a network of about 400 founders and has made around 120 investments across its funds.

In each of its regions, The Fund is led by an investment committee of four people. In Australia, they are: Techstars managing director Todd Deacon; venture firm AirTree principal Elicia McDonald; AfterWorks Ventures co-founder Adrian Petersen; and former Canva head of product Georgia Vidler. There will be 50 people in The Fund Australia’s limited partner base, including founders of startups like Culture Amp’s Rod Hamilton, Linktree’s Alex Zaccaria, Adore Beauty’s Kate Morris, and leaders from Canva and Safety Culture, too. The Fund Australia’s LPs will help source promising startups from their networks, and refer them to the investment committee for review.

The Fund is targeting $3.5 million USD and will invest in about 40 startups, writing check sizes of $50,000 to $100,000 USD over 24 months. Limited partners and other members of its community around the world will provide guidance as portfolio companies grow.

Deacon told TechCrunch that The Fund Australia’s focus on very early-stage startups is important because of the growing pre-seed/seed funding gap. He points to a report by StartupAus, an advocacy group for Australian startups, that angel and seed investment in Australia has fallen over the past few years, both in terms of number of deals and aggregate value.

The Fund’s hypothesis is that many early-stage funds, in Australia and other parts of the world, shift their focus to later stages as they raise larger funds, Deacon added. This happened in New York City, too, and was one of the contributing drivers for the creation of The Fund in the first place.

“There’s been this gap in early-stage funding. There’s those two points of building a really strong community—helping founders and then the funding gap, which we can help to solve to a certain degree. We’re bringing in checks in the early stage with a lot of power in providing founders access to that network,” he said.

Writing early checks lets The Fund see deal flow before other venture firms and limited partners, and small check sizes gives it an advantage with startups.

“We don’t take a huge proportion of their raise, yet we come with really high quality capital,” said Deacon. “We’ve got that investor network. For why some of our [LPs] are interested, it’s to generate a return, but they also want to give back and make Australia and New Zealand companies prosper.”

Being able to tap into The Fund’s international network is helpful for startups in Australia, where many companies eye international expansion from the start.

Australian unicorns like Atlassian and Canva are also helping strengthen Australia’s startup ecosystem, said Vidler. “It feels like an inflection point for me in the startup ecosystem, where now there’s all these original founders and a community of senior operators who are keen to give back and create and bolster the ecosystem here.”

The Fund Australia is sector agnostic and wants to create a diverse portfolio. The Fund has focused on gender parity since the start. Each region’s investment committee is comprised of two men and two women, about half of its LPs are women and over 40% of its total capital has gone to female founders. Vidler says this was a major draw for her.

“The pull for me, and I think for a big part of the network in Australia, and a lot of women in tech in Australia, is that they’re going to be super interested in investing in the next generation of female founders as well,” she said.

#australia, #early-stage, #startups, #tc, #the-fund, #the-fund-australia, #venture-capital

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Extra Crunch roundup: TC Mobility recaps, Nubank EC-1, farewell to browser cookies

What, exactly, are investors looking for?

Early-stage founders, usually first-timers, often tie themselves in knots as they try to project the qualities they hope investors are seeking. In reality, few entrepreneurs have the acting skills required to convince someone that they’re patient, dedicated or hard-working.

Johan Brenner, general partner at Creandum, was an early backer of Klarna, Spotify and several other European startups. Over the last two decades, he’s identified five key traits shared by people who create billion-dollar companies.


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“A true unicorn founder doesn’t need to have all of those capabilities on Day One,” says Brenner, “but they should already be thinking big while executing small and demonstrating that they understand how to scale a company.”

Drawing from observations gleaned from working with founders like Spotify’s Daniel Ek, Sebastian Siemiatkowski from Klarna, and iZettle’s Jacob de Geer and Magnus Nilsson, Brenner explains where “VC FOMO” comes from and how it drives dealmaking.

We’re running a series of posts that recap conversations from last week’s virtual TC Mobility conference, including an interview with Refraction AI’s Matthew Johnson, a look at how autonomous delivery startups are navigating the regulatory and competitive landscape, and much more. There are many more recaps to come; click here to find them all.

Thanks very much for reading Extra Crunch!

Walter Thompson
Senior Editor, TechCrunch
@yourprotagonist

How contrarian hires and a pitch deck started Nubank’s $30 billion fintech empire

Image Credits: Nigel Sussman

Founded in 2013 and based in São Paulo, Brazil, Nubank serves more than 34 million customers, making it Latin America’s largest neobank.

Reporter Marcella McCarthy spoke to CEO David Velez to learn about his efforts to connect with consumers and overcome entrenched opposition from established players who were friendly with regulators.

In the first of a series of stories for Nubank’s EC-1, she interviewed Velez about his early fundraising efforts. For a balanced perspective, she also spoke to early Nubank investors at Sequoia and Kaszek Ventures, Latin America’s largest venture fund, to find out why they funded the startup while it was still pre-product.

“There are people you come across in life that within the first hour of meeting with them, you know you want to work with them,” said Doug Leone, a global managing partner at Sequoia who’d recruited Velez after he graduated from grad school at Stanford.

Marcella also interviewed members of Nubank’s founding team to better understand why they decided to take a chance on a startup that faced such long odds of success.

“I left banking to make a fifth of my salary, and back then, about $5,000 in equity,” said Vitor Olivier, Nubank’s VP of operations and platforms.

“Financially, it didn’t really make sense, so I really had to believe that it was really going to work, and that it would be big.”

Despite flat growth, ride-hailing colossus Didi’s US IPO could reach $70B

Image Credits: Didi

In his last dispatch before a week’s vacation, Alex Wilhelm waded through the numbers in Didi’s SEC filing. The big takeaways?

“While Didi managed an impressive GTV recovery in China, its aggregate numbers are flatter, and recent quarterly trends are not incredibly attractive,” he writes.

However, “Didi is not as unprofitable as we might have anticipated. That’s a nice surprise. But the company’s regular business has never made money, and it’s losing more lately than historically, which is also pretty rough.”

What’s driving the rise of robotaxis in China with AutoX, Momenta and WeRide

AutoX, Momenta and WeRide took the stage at TC Sessions: Mobility 2021 to discuss the state of robotaxi startups in China and their relationships with local governments in the country.

They also talked about overseas expansion — a common trajectory for China’s top autonomous vehicle startups — and shed light on the challenges and opportunities for foreign AV companies eyeing the massive Chinese market.

The air taxi market prepares to take flight

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin

“As in any disruptive industry, the forecast may be cloudier than the rosy picture painted by passionate founders and investors,” Aria Alamalhodaei writes. “A quick peek at comments and posts on LinkedIn reveals squabbles among industry insiders and analysts about when this emerging technology will truly take off and which companies will come out ahead.”

But while some electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) companies have no revenue yet to speak of — and may not for the foreseeable future — valuations are skyrocketing.

“Electric air mobility is gaining elevation,” she writes. “But there’s going to be some turbulence ahead.”

The demise of browser cookies could create a Golden Age of digital marketing

Though some may say the doomsday clock is ticking toward catastrophe for digital marketing, Apple’s iOS 14.5 update, which does away with automatic opt-ins for data collection, and Google’s plan to phase out third-party cookies do not signal a death knell for digital advertisers.

“With a few changes to short-term strategy — and a longer-term plan that takes into account the fact that people are awakening to the value of their online data — advertisers can form a new type of relationship with consumers,” Permission.io CTO Hunter Jensen writes in a guest column. “It can be built upon trust and open exchange of value.”

If offered the right incentives, Jensen predicts, “consumers will happily consent to data collection because advertisers will be offering them something they value in return.”

How autonomous delivery startups are navigating policy, partnerships and post-pandemic operations

Nuro second gen R2 delivery vehicle

Image Credits: Nuro

We kicked off this year’s TC Sessions: Mobility with a talk featuring three leading players in the field of autonomous delivery. Gatik co-founder and chief engineer Apeksha Kumavat, Nuro head of operations Amy Jones Satrom, and Starship Technologies co-founder and CTO Ahti Heinla joined us to discuss their companies’ unique approaches to the category.

The trio discussed government regulation on autonomous driving, partnerships with big corporations like Walmart and Domino’s, and the ongoing impact the pandemic has had on interest in the space.

Waabi’s Raquel Urtasun explains why it was the right time to launch an AV technology startup

Image Credits: Waabi via Natalia Dola

Raquel Urtasun, the former chief scientist at Uber ATG, is the founder and CEO of Waabi, an autonomous vehicle startup that came out of stealth mode last week. The Toronto-based company, which will focus on trucking, raised an impressive $83.5 million in a Series A round led by Khosla Ventures.

Urtasun joined Mobility 2021 to talk about her new venture, the challenges facing the self-driving vehicle industry and how her approach to AI can be used to advance the commercialization of AVs.

#artificial-intelligence, #av, #didi, #ec-techcrunch-tc-mobility, #entrepreneurship, #extra-crunch-roundup, #finance, #fintech, #klarna, #nubank, #robotaxi, #spotify, #startups, #tc, #transportation, #venture-capital

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How to identify unicorn founders when they’re still early-stage

As an early-stage VC, you spend time with hundreds of fantastic startups, trying to identify potential winners by thinking about market size, business model and competition. Nevertheless, deep down you know that in the long run, it all comes down to the team and the founder(s).

When we look at the most successful companies in our portfolio, their amazing performance is in large part thanks to the founders. However, even after 20 years in the industry, I have to admit that analyzing the team is still the most challenging part of the job. How do you evaluate a young first-time entrepreneur of an early-stage company with little traction?

The best founders are humble and well aware of their weaknesses and limitations as well as the potential challenges for their startup.

At Creandum, in the past 18 years, we have been fortunate to work with some of Europe’s most successful startup founders such as Daniel Ek from Spotify, Sebastian Siemiatkowski from Klarna, Johannes Schildt from Kry, Jacob de Geer and Magnus Nilsson from iZettle, Emil Eifrem from Neo4J, Christian Hecker from Trade Republic and many more.

After a while, we realized that these incredible entrepreneurs all share some fundamental characteristics. They all have lots of energy, work hard, show patience, perseverance and resilience. But on top of that, all these unicorn founders share five key traits that, as an investor, you should look for when you back them at an early stage.

They know what they don’t know

Many people expect a typical startup founder to be very confident and have a strong sales mentality. While they should definitely live up to those expectations, the best founders are also humble and well aware of their weaknesses and limitations as well as the potential challenges for their startup.

They keep wanting to learn, improve and grow the business beyond what average people have the energy and drive to manage.

#column, #daniel-ek, #ec-column, #ec-how-to, #entrepreneur, #europe, #funding, #johannes-schildt, #klarna, #paypal, #sebastian-siemiatkowski, #spotify, #startups, #sweden, #trade-republic, #venture-capital, #vivino

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Meet Nickson, the furniture-as-a-service startup that Barack Obama’s ex-financial adviser just backed

Ever toured an apartment and fall in love with the model unit?

You’re not alone. Harvard Business School grad Cameron Johnson is a former institutional real estate investor and Greystar exec turned startup founder that realized that very often, “renters would try to rent the model apartment.”

This got him thinking. People would love to rent a model apartment in a building, and no one likes to move. This spelled opportunity in Johnson’s mind.

So in 2017, he came up with the idea of Nickson, a Dallas-based startup that fully furnishes apartments on demand.

Image Credits: CEO and founder Cameron Johnson / Nickson

“I thought ‘What if you gave people the ability to simply rent the model, or the ability to add everything in their space needs with a few clicks, similar to how a cable modem comes to your house ’ ” CEO Johnson said. “I wondered, ‘Why can’t we do that for everything else?’ ”

But Nickson doesn’t just provide furniture such as beds and sofas, it delivers all the essentials too — from extension cords to pots and pans to silverware to curtain rods. By partnering with a variety of retailers, the startup claims that it allows users “to make their new spaces move-in ready in as little as 3 hours.” 

Users take a style quiz and share apartment layout details. Nickson’s designers create an initial layout based on the dimensions of an apartment, desired functions (such as work from home) and the volume of furnishings based on a person’s lifestyle. Once the layout is complete, Nickson creates a custom design, including all furnishings and home goods. 

Upon signing up, users pay a one-time installation fee for the furniture-as-a-service offering, and then a monthly subscription charge for the duration of a lease — starting at $199 a month for a studio to $500 a month for a 3 bedroom apartment. The startup also offers concierge services such as a household supply starter kit and maid service, as an add-on to its flat monthly subscription.

Nickson is currently only live in the Dallas market, but plans to expand into other cities over the next 12 months, including expanding its beta tests in Austin and Houston. And it’s just raised a $12 million Series A to help it advance on that goal. 

A fund managed by Pendulum Opportunities LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Pendulum Holdings LLC, led the Series A round, which also included participation from Motley Fool Ventures, Revolution’s Rise of the Rest and Backstage Capital. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the global supply chain, leading to delivery delays for consumers. Nickson has purchased items over time that it stores as local inventory, making it even more attractive to renters who don’t want to deal with delays and hunting down furniture and essentials, Johnson said. The convenience Nickson offers led to its user base growing 700% in 2020 compared to the year prior, he added.

Robbie Robinson, co-founder and CEO of Pendulum, said his firm was drawn to invest in Nickson due to a combination of Johnson’s “vision, secular shifts toward renting and subscription consumption and the company’s disruptive business model.” (Robinson is President Barack Obama’s former financial adviser, and recently founded Pendulum to invest $250 million in founding startups of color).

Kabir Ahmed, vice president at Pendulum, added that he believes Nickson’s model is superior to the concept of renting one-off furniture pieces in that it offers an “end-to-end, turnkey solution.”

This seamless experience is highly differentiated and offers a compelling value proposition for the consumer,” he said.

Of course, Nickson is not the only company attempting to turn the stodgy furniture rental industry on its head. Other startups offering similar services as Nickson include Oliver Space, Fernish and The Landing.

But Nickson claims that it stands out from the competition in that it “takes care of everything” beyond furniture (including artwork and toilet wand brushes) and that it can curate space and bring it all in before a renter even shows up.

“No other competitor in this space offers this level of service, detail or turnaround,” Johnson says. “You can literally arrive at your new home with a suitcase and toothbrush, and it’s ready to ‘live in.’”

#apartment, #austin, #backstage-capital, #barack-obama, #cable-modem, #ceo, #dallas, #funding, #fundings-exits, #harvard-business-school, #houston, #motley-fool-ventures, #president, #real-estate, #recent-funding, #startup, #startup-company, #startups, #venture-capital, #vice-president

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#DealMonitor – Aitme sammelt 9 Millionen ein – Xilinx kauft Silexica – ImmoScout24 übernimmt wg-suche.de


Im aktuellen #DealMonitor für den 15. Juni werfen wir wieder einen Blick auf die wichtigsten, spannendsten und interessantesten Investments und Exits des Tages in der DACH-Region. Alle Deals der Vortage gibt es im großen und übersichtlichen #DealMonitor-Archiv.

INVESTMENTS

Aitme
+++ HV Capital, Vorwerk Ventures, Global Founders Capital (GFC) und La Famiglia sowie Business Angel Oliver Ringleben investieren 9 Millionen Dollar in das Robotik-Startup Aitme. Insgesamt flossen nun schon  rund 12,5 Millionen Dollar in den Kantinen-Roboter. “Das frisch gewonnene Kapital wird Aitme für die Produktweiterentwicklung und nationaler Expansion im deutschen Markt nutzen”, teilt das Startup mit. Das von Foodora-Gründer Emanuel Pallua und Julian Stoß, zuletzt myTaxi, gegründete Unternehmen bietet vollautomatisierte Küchen für Unternehmen an. 20 Mitarbeiter:innen arbeiten derzeit für Aitme. Mehr über Aitme

Dance
+++ Ein ganzer Schwung Angel- und Promi-Investoren investiert in Dance – darunter Chance the Rapper, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Sujay Jaswa, Julian Hönig, Lea-Sophie Cramer, Maisie Williams, Suneil Setiya, Greg Skinner und will.i.am. “Dance ist stolz darauf mit Koryphäen aus verschiedenen Branchen, Ländern und mit verschiedenen Hintergründen zusammenzuarbeiten”, teilt das Unternehmen mit. Hinter Dance verbirgt sich ein Subscription-Service für E-Bikes, der von Alexander Ljung und Eric Quidenus sowie Jimdo-Macher Christian Springub gegründet wurde. Und auch Planet A Ventures investiert nun offiziell in Dance – wie im März exklusiv im Insider-Podcast berichtetMehr über Dance

FinList
+++ Das Unternehmen Strategis, das sich um Vertriebs- und Verwaltungslösungen in der Immobilienwirtschaft kümmert, investiert in FinList. Das junge Unternehmen positioniert sich als “digitaler Atlas für gewerbliche Immobilienfinanzierung”. Das Team beschreibt das Konzept so: “Finanzierungssuchende aus Deutschland und Österreich können hier Informationen zu passenden europäischen Kreditgebern für Fremd- und Nachrangkapital erhalten”. Gegründet wurde das FinTech aus Hohen Neuendorf von Sandra Olschewski und Florian Hollm.

MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS

Silexica
+++ Das amerikanische Unternehmen Xilinx, im Segment adaptives Computing unterwegs, übernimmt das Kölner Startup Silexica. Das Unternehmen, das 2014 gegründet wurde, entwickelt SLX-Programmierungstechnologien, die Unternehmen dabei unterstützen, intelligente Produkte wie selbstfahrende Autos vom Konzept bis zur Implementierung zu begleiten. Investoren wie EQT Ventures, Merus Capital, Paua Ventures, DSA Invest und der Seed Fonds Aachen investierten in den vergangen Jahren rund 28 Millionen in Silexica. “Silexica’s SLX FPGA tool suite empowers developers with an unparalleled development experience building applications on FPGAs and Adaptive SoCs. This technology will become integrated with the Xilinx Vitis™ unified software platform to substantially reduce the learning curve for software developers building sophisticated applications on Xilinx technology”, teilt das Unternehmen mit. Der Verkaufspreis ist nicht bekannt. Mehr über Silexica

wg-suche.de
+++ Der Immobilien-Marktplatz ImmoScout24 übernimmt WG-suche.de komplett – siehe Gründerzene. “Für die Übernahme dürfte  ein Millionenbetrag geflossen sein”, heißt es im Artikel. ImmoScout24 stieg bereits 2017 bei wg-suche.de ein. Das Unternehmen sicherte sich damals 25 % an der jungen Firma, die WG-Zimmer und möblierte Wohnungen vermittelt. Die Investitionssumme lag vor vier Jahren im niedrigen siebenstelligen Bereich. Der WG-Dienst wurde zudem schon früh von You Is Now, dem inzwischen eingestellten Inkubator-Programm von Scout24, unterstützt. wg-suche.de ging 2012 an den Start. Gegründet wurde die Plattform von Natascha Wegelin (Madame Moneypenny) und Carsten Wagner.

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

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

Foto (oben): azrael74

#aitme, #aktuell, #berlin, #dance, #exit, #finlist, #fintech, #global-founders-capital, #hohen-neuendorf, #hv-capital, #immoscout24, #koln, #la-famiglia, #mobility, #planet-a-ventures, #roboter, #silexica, #strategis, #venture-capital, #vorwerk-ventures, #wg-suche-de, #xilinx

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Yana’s mental health tool for Spanish speakers nears 5 million users

Andrea Campos has struggled with depression since she was 8 years old. Over the years, she’s tried all sorts of therapies — from behavioral to pharmacotherapy.

In 2017, when Campos was in her early 20s, she learned to program and created a system to help manage her mental health. It started as a personal project but as she talked to more people, Campos realized that many others might benefit from the system as well.

So, she then built an application to provide access to mental health tools to Spanish-speaking people and began testing it with a small group of people. At first, Campos herself was her own chatbot, texting with users who were tired of dealing with depression.

“During the month, I was pretending I was an app, and would send these people a list of activities they had to complete during the day, such as writing in a gratitude journal, and then asking them how those activities made them feel,” Campos recalls.

Her thinking was that sometimes with depression and anxiety comes “a lot of avoidance,” where people resist potential treatment out of fear.

The results from her small experiment were encouraging. So, Campos set out to conduct a bigger sample of experiments, and raised about $10,000 via crowdfunding campaign. With that money, she hired a developer to build a chatbot for her app, which was mostly being used via Facebook Messenger.

Then an earthquake hit Mexico City and that developer lost everything — including his home and computer — and had to relocate.

“I was left with nothing,” Campos says. But that developer introduced her to another, who disappeared with his payment, and again, left Campos, “with nothing.”

“I realized at the beginning of 2019, I was going to have to do this by myself,” Campos said. So she used a site that she described as a “Wix for chatbots,” and created one herself.

After experimenting with the app with a sample of 700 people, Campos was even more encouraged and raised an angel round of funding for Yana, the startup behind her app. (Yana is an acronym for “You Are Not Alone.”) By early 2020, with just three months of runway left, she pivoted to create an app with chatbot integration that wasn’t just limited to use via Facebook Messenger.

Campos ended up launching the app more broadly during the same week that her city in Mexico went into quarantine.

Image Credits: Yana

At first, she said, she saw “normal, steady growth.” But then on Oct. 10, 2020, Apple’s App Store highlighted Yana for International Mental Health Day, and the response was overwhelming.

“It was also my birthday so I was at a spa in a nearby town, relaxing, when I started hearing my cell phone go crazy,” Campos recalls. “Everything went nuts. I had to go back to Mexico City because our servers were exploding since they were not used to having that kind of volume.”

As a result of that exposure, Yana went from having around 80,000 users to reaching 1 million users two weeks later. Soon after that, Google highlighted the app as one of best for personal growth in 2020, and that too led to another spike in users. Today, Yana is about to hit the 5 million-user mark and is also announcing it has raised $1.5 million in funding led by Mexico’s ALLVP, which has also invested in the likes of Cornershop, Flink and Nuvocargo.

When the pandemic hit last year, six of Yana’s 9-person team decided to quarantine together in a “startup house” in Cancun to focus on building the company. Earlier this year, the company had raised $315,000 from investors such as 500 Startups, Magma and Hustle Fund. The company had pitched ALLVP, who was intrigued but wanted to wait until it could write a bigger check. 

That time is now, and Yana is now among the top three downloaded apps in Mexico and 12 countries including Spain, Chile, Ecuador and Venezuela.

With its new capital, Yana is planning to “move away from the depression/anxiety narrative,” according to Campos.

“We want to compete in the wellness space,” she told TechCrunch. “A lot of people were looking for us to deal with crises such as a breakup or a loss but then they didn’t always see a necessity to keep using Yana for longer than the crisis lasted.”

Some of those people would download the app again months later when hit with another crisis.

“We don’t want to be that app anymore,” Campos said. “We want to focus on whole wellness and mental health and transmit something that needs to be built every single day, just like we do with exercise.”

Moving forward, Yana aims to help people with their mental health not just during a crisis but with activities they can do on a daily basis, including a gratitude journal, a mood tracker and meditation — “things that prevent depression and anxiety,” Campos said.

“We want to be a vitamin for our soul, and keeping people mentally healthy on an ongoing basis,” she said. “We also want to include a community inside our application.”

ALLVP’s Federico Antoni is enthusiastic about the startup’s potential. He first met Campos when she was participating in an accelerator program in 2017 and then again recently.

The firm led Yana’s latest round because it “wanted to be on her team.”

“She [Campos] has turned into an amazing leader, and we realized her potential and strength,” he said. “Plus, Yana is an amazing product. When you download it, it’s almost like you can see a soul in there.”

#allvp, #app-store, #apps, #chatbot, #chile, #computing, #ecuador, #facebook, #funding, #fundings-exits, #google, #health, #itunes, #mental-health, #messenger, #mexico, #mexico-city, #operating-systems, #recent-funding, #social-media, #software, #spain, #startup, #startups, #tc, #venezuela, #venture-capital

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#DealMonitor – #EXKLUSIV Forto wird mit Softbank-Millionen zum Unicorn – Isar Aerospace bekommt 57 Millionen – Sanity Group sammelt 35 Millionen ein


Im aktuellen #DealMonitor für den 14. Juni werfen wir wieder einen Blick auf die wichtigsten, spannendsten und interessantesten Investments und Exits des Tages in der DACH-Region. Alle Deals der Vortage gibt es im großen und übersichtlichen #DealMonitor-Archiv.

INVESTMENTS

Forto
+++ Der japanische Kapitalgeber Softbank investiert gemeinsam mit Altinvestoren 200 Millionen US-Dollar in Forto. Die Bewertung steigt auf 1,2 Milliarden Dollar. Damit ist Forto das neueste deutsche Unicorn. Forto früher als FreightHub bekannt, wurde 2016 von Ferry Heilemann, Fabian Heilemann, Erik Muttersbach und Michael Wax gegründet. Die Jungfirma vermittelt Aufträge zur Container-Beförderung an Transportunternehmen. In den vergangenen Jahren investierten Geldgeber wie Inven Capital, Iris Capital, Rider Global, Northzone, Cherry Ventures und der italienische Risikofonds H14 bereits 126 Millionen Dollar in das junge Logistik-Startup. Mehr im aktuellen Insider-Podcast #EXKLUSIV

Isar Aerospace
+++ Eine Schweizer Privatbank und Altinvestoren wie HV Capital investieren 57 Millionen Euro in Isar Aerospace. Die Bewertung liegt bei 500 Millionen Euro (Pre-Money). Lakestar, Earlybird, Vsquared Ventures, Airbus Ventures, Apeiron und HV Capital sowie Bulent Altan, Ann-Kristin und Paul Achleitner investierten zuletzt 75 Millionen Euro in Isar Aerospace. Das 2018 von Daniel Metzler, Josef Fleischmann und Markus Brandl gegründete Unternehmen will kleinere Satelliten kostengünstiger in den Orbit befördern und entwickelt deswegen unter anderem an alternativen Antrieben für Trägerraketen. Mehr im aktuellen Insider-Podcast #EXKLUSIV

Sanity Group
+++ Redalpine, Navy Capital und SOJE Capital investieren 35 Millionen Euro in die Sanity Group. Das Cannabis-Startup Sanity Group, das 2018 von Finn Hänsel und Fabian Friede gegründet wurde, ist derzeit mit Vayamed (früher: Sanatio Pharma), Vaay und der Kosmetiklinie This Place unterwegs. Auch der amerikanische Rapper Will.i.am, Schauspielerin Alyssa Milano, TV-Moderator Klaas Heufer-Umlauf, Ex-Fußballer Dennis Aogo und das deutsche Model Stefanie Giesinger investieren bereits in das Berliner Cannabis-Startup. Die Bewertung liegt bei rund 160 Millionen (Post-Money).  Mehr im aktuellen Insider-Podcast #EXKLUSIV

ROQ Technology
+++ Flash Ventures aus dem Hause Rocket Internet investiert rund 10 Millionen Dollar in ROQ Technology. Hinter ROQ Technology verbirgt sich eine Art Spryker für SaaS-Applikationen. “ROQ is an innovative platform to build, launch and operate web applications”, heißt es in der Selbstbeschreibung der Firma. Das Berliner Startup wird vorangetrieben von Fabian Wesner, ehemals CTO bei Project A, und Tim Niemeier, EX-CTO bei Rocket Internet. 40 Mitarbeiter:innen wirken derzeit für ROQ Technology.

Lykon
+++ MA Ventures, der Venture-Ableger der Genossenschaft Migros Aare, das Medienhaus Ippen sowie Family Offices und Business Angels investieren 6,4 Millionen Euro in Lykon. Das Unternehmen, 2015 gegründet, sieht sich als “Deutschlands Marktführer für personalisierte Ernährungskonzepte, deren Grundlage als Medizinprodukt zertifizierte Blut- und DNA-Tests bilden”. Das frische Kapital soll “zur weiteren Verbesserung der Customer Journey und Ausbau der Technologie genutzt” werden.

Edgeless Systems
+++ Acequia Capital, Inventures, die Six Group und einige Business Angels investieren 1,45 Millionen Euro in Edgeless Systems. Das Bochumer Unternehmen, das 2020 von Felix Schuster und Thomas Tendyck gegründet wurde, entwickelt eine “hochsichere relationale Datenbank für die Cloud”. Durch eine Kombination aus “sicherer Hardware und innovativem Software-Engineering” verspricht das Startup dabei “echte Ende-zu-Ende Verschlüsselung und Verifizierbarkeit”.

MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS

DZ-4
+++ Der Energieversorger EnBW übernimmt die Mehrheit an DZ-4, einem dezentralen Stromversorger mit Sitz in Hamburg, und investiert eine zweistellige Millionensumme in die Jungfirma. “DZ-4 operiert nach Abschluss der Finanzierungsrunde weiterhin als eigenständiges Unternehmen, das Management sowie die Mitarbeiter:innen bleiben erhalten”, teilt das Unternehmen mit. EnBW investierte bereits 2015 in DZ-4.

STOCK MARKET

Mister Spex
+++ Der Berliner Brillen-Shop Mister Spex geht im dritten Quartal an die Börse. “Mister Spex beabsichtigt, aus der Kapitalerhöhung mindestens 225 Millionen Euro einzunehmen, die vor allem zur Beschleunigung der Wachstumsstrategie und der internationalen Expansion des Omnichannel-Geschäftsmodells verwendet werden sollen”, teilt das Unternehmen mit. 2019 erwirtschaftete Mister Spex einen Umsatz in Höhe von 139 Millionen Euro. Das bereinigte EBITDA lag bei 2 Millionen Euro (2018: 0,2 Millionen Euro). Mehr über Mister Spex

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

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

Foto (oben): azrael74

#acequia-capital, #aktuell, #bochum, #dz-4, #edgeless-systems, #enbw, #flash-ventures, #hamburg, #inventures, #ipo, #lykon, #ma-ventures, #mister-spex, #no-code, #roq-technology, #ruhrgebiet, #venture-capital

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SOSV, the global venture firm, just closed a $100 million fund to back its maturing startups

Sean O’Sullivan, the founder of the global venture outfit SOSV, has slowly but steadily built up a sizable operation over the years.

SOSV started off as a family office, investing the capital of O’Sullivan after he cofounded two companies, including MapInfo, an outfit that went public in 1994 before Pitney Bowes it years later, in 2007. The seed-stage investing outfit went on to raise three more funds, including a $277 million early-stage fund that it closed in 2019 and is actively investing from right now.

Now, to complement those funds, the organization has raised $100 million for what it’s calling a Select Fund, a vehicle meant to help SOSV maintain its pro rata stake in some of its breakaway portfolio companies.

Because of other tools in the market, SOSV wasn’t completely hamstrung until now. Instead, SOSV has, on occasion, assembled a special purpose vehicle to re-invest in certain of the startups it has backed. But O’Sullivan says these were relatively small SPVs — think $2 million in size or less. The new fund, he says, is expected to write checks of between $2 million and $5 million and even up to $10 million — or 10% of the fund, per SOSV’s agreement with its investors.

Certainly, the new fund also gives startups even more reason to work with SOSV, which tends to write its seed checks to first-time founders, who O’Sullivan observes are often overlooked — wrongly —  by investors in favor of repeat founders.

He points to Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Google and Alibaba, noting that landscape would look rather different without them. He says experienced the phenomenon himself when he cofounded a company (NetCentric) after MapInfo. “People were just lining up to invest,” he says. “It was so easy to raise the funds without anything other than a business plan, and these days, you don’t even need one of those.”

That doesn’t mean SOSV will get as big a bite as it might like in every deal. Though SOSV has enjoyed success by betting on new entrepreneurs — it was among the first investors in FormLabs, for example, a company now valued at $2 billion; it also backed JUMP, the bike-share startup that Uber acquired in 2018 — a $100 million fund is small by current standards. SOSV could well find itself competing against players that have billions of dollars to deploy and which are writing bigger checks to younger companies, faster than ever. 

It’s not an absurd concern, agrees O’Sullivan. He says he saw some sharp elbows just this week, in fact. Part of a $100 million-plus round was coming together, and a firm that O’Sullivan declined to mention didn’t want to make room for the startup’s Series B or A investors because it wanted to meet a certain equity threshold.

O’Sullivan says the earlier investors acquiesced. (“They’re giving us a multi-billion valuation” and also “trying to buy secondaries from existing investors,” he explains, while adding that SOSV would generally prefer to hold its shares through an IPO.)

Still, he suggests there’s no need to worry about SOSV. While the earlier investors went with the flow, O’Sullivan says that in “most cases, there’s enough to go around for the previous investors.” He also calls it “good protocol for the late-stage investors [to make room] if they want to continue to have us introducing deals to them.”

Put another way, smaller fund or not, SOSV has a kind of leverage, too.

#sean-osullivan, #sosv, #venture-capital

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The air taxi market prepares to take flight

Twelve years ago, Joby Aviation consisted of a team of seven engineers working out of founder JoeBen Bevirt’s ranch in the Santa Cruz mountains. Today, the startup has swelled to 800 people and a $6.6 billion valuation, ranking itself as the highest-valued electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) company in the industry.

As in any disruptive industry, the forecast may be cloudier than the rosy picture painted by passionate founders and investors.

It’s not the only air taxi company to reach unicorn status. The field is now dotted with new or soon-to-be publicly traded companies courtesy of mergers and special purpose acquisition companies. Partnerships with major automakers and airlines are on the rise, and CEOs have promised commercialization as early as 2024.

As in any disruptive industry, the forecast may be cloudier than the rosy picture painted by passionate founders and investors. A quick peek at comments and posts on LinkedIn reveals squabbles among industry insiders and analysts about when this emerging technology will truly take off and which companies will come out ahead.

Other disagreements have higher stakes. Wisk Aero filed a lawsuit against Archer Aviation alleging trade secret misappropriation. Meanwhile, valuations for companies that have no revenue yet to speak of — and may not for the foreseeable future — are skyrocketing.

Electric air mobility is gaining elevation. But there’s going to be some turbulence ahead.

Big goals and bigger expenses

Taking an eVTOL from design through to manufacturing and certification will likely cost about $1 billion, Mark Moore, then-head of Uber Elevate, estimated in April 2020 during a conference held by the Air Force’s Agility Prime program.

That means in some sense, the companies that will come out on top will likely be the ones that have managed to raise enough money to pay for all the expenses associated with engineering, certification, manufacturing and infrastructure.

“The startups that have successfully raised or that will be able to raise significant amounts of capital to get them through the certification process … that’s the number one thing that’s going to separate the strong from the weak,” Asad Hussain, a senior analyst in mobility technology at PitchBook, told TechCrunch. “There’s over 100 startups in the space. Not all of them are going to be able to do that.”

Just consider some of the expenses accrued by the biggest eVTOLs last year: Joby Aviation spent a whopping $108 million on research and development, a $30 million increase from 2019. Archer spent $21 million in R&D in 2020, according to regulatory filings. Meanwhile, Joby’s net loss last year was $114.2 million and Archer’s was $24.8 million, though, of course, neither company has brought a product to market yet. Operating expenses will likely only continue to grow into the future as companies enter into manufacturing and deployment phases.

What that means for the future of the industry is likely two things: more SPAC deals and more acquisitions.

Mobility companies, including those working on electrified transport, are often pre-revenue and have capitally intensive business models — a combination that can make it difficult to find buyers in a traditional IPO. SPACs have become increasingly popular as a shorter, less expensive path to becoming a public company. SPACs have also historically received less scrutiny than IPOs. Should the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission start to take a closer look at SPAC mergers in the future, it may impair the ability of other air taxi companies to go public this way, Hussain said.

That means market consolidation is nearly guaranteed, as smaller companies may find it more advantageous to sell than continue to raise more capital. It’s already begun: At the end of April, eVTOL developer Astro Aerospace announced the acquisition of Horizon Aircraft.

Horizon cited “greater access to capital” as one of the many benefits of the transaction, and other companies will likely find the buy or sell route to be the most beneficial on the road to commercialization. And just last week, British eVTOL Vertical Aerospace, which has an order for 150 aircraft from Virgin Atlantic, said it would go public via a merger with Broadstone Acquisition Corp. at an equity value of around $2.2 billion.

#aerospace, #air-taxi, #aviation, #ec-mobility-hardware, #electric-aircraft, #evtol, #joby-aviation, #startups, #tc, #transportation, #venture-capital, #volocopter, #wisk-aero

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Investor Michael Brown, newly elected to chair the powerful lobbying group NVCA, shares his agenda

Michael Brown, a longtime general partner with Battery Ventures, was just elected to the role of chairman of the National Venture Capital Association, three years after joining its board of directors. We caught up with Brown to ask about his new, year-long role with the 48-year-old trade group; we discussed some of the issues that are top of mind right now for the many American VCs he is now representing and how, if it were up to the NVCA, those issues would be addressed.

TC: VCs are always concerned about tax treatments, but these are obviously even more top of mind, given Joe Biden’s proposal last month to raise the top rate on long-term capital gains to 39.6% from 20%. What do you think of that proposal?

MB: So you’re gonna hit me right in the face with a two-by-four on taxes in the first question, I love it.

This is the NVCA’s position, this is my personal position, and if you ask most venture capitalists, this position is pretty widely held: what Biden is trying to do with the Build Back Better Plan . . . we are fully supportive of that and we are actively working with both the administration and policymakers in Congress to get done a lot of what he wants to get done. A lot of what he’s talking about —  whether it’s the physical infrastructure, like bridges, roads, roads, planes; or the digital infrastructure, meaning internet broadband access more broadly and cyber security; or climate infrastructure, [around] how we transition the economy and the country to a greener carbon-neutral or even carbon-negative world — venture capital is required to fund the entrepreneurs to do all of those things . . . It’s really almost hand in glove. He wants this to happen, we want it to happen, and we can help facilitate that [because] it’s not going to come from corporate America, we know that.

TC: To your point, the money does have to come from somewhere. Is there a number at which you would feel more comfortable?

MB: I don’t want to speak on behalf of the NVCA around what is our target rate. I will say that people in Congress and other talking heads talk about the revenue-maximizing rate in and around 25% to 28% . . . and I think that’s kind of where people feel it is reasonable to go to. What we do believe is that long-term investment should be rewarded and not disincentivized through tax structure.

What happened under the Trump administration, where they extended the timeframe to three years [from one year] before you could receive long-term capital gains treatment, we were fine with that because we’re investing for longer than three years and I think having some time component to decide what is long term and what is not worked very well.

TC: Another topic that comes up time and again is the IPO market. It sure seems healthy right now. Will you have any suggestions for the current administration relating to taking companies public?

MB: We are obviously very supportive of the capital markets. That being said, if you look at the number of public companies today versus the number of public companies 20 years ago — and this is not just true of technology companies —  it’s roughly half the number. We think that’s a function of a few things. One is just how the capital markets function today — the ability to get research, etcetera, caused by [specific] legislation; regulatory issues; and just the burdens that a public company have versus a private company.  You’ve also got other [rules] that have been passed over the last few years that impact the accessibility of the capital markets for private companies, and that’s why you’re seeing companies raise more money and stay private longer, which is not to the benefit of everyone.

TC: What reform here would you press for most immediately?

MB: Going back a ways now, in 2012, there was a piece of legislation called the Jobs Act that helped open up the public markets by addressing some of the risks and costs associated with going public and the regulatory burden. That needs to be updated. That’s something in particular that if we can modify it and make it current, it will help create that on ramp for smaller companies to access the public markets sooner and earlier.

TC: What do you think of SPACs, these special purpose acquisition companies that are being raised to take companies public, including, oftentimes by those companies’ own earlier investors?

MB: It’s good to have more alternatives and more ways for companies to access capital markets. That being said, those vehicles need to be appropriately regulated, andSPACs is one area where regulation has not kept up with kind of the realities on the ground. I think Chairman Gensler and even before him in the previous administration, [the agency] also felt like there needs to be better controls on the stock market

One of the benefits of a SPAC is the ability to offer forward guidance. You can’t have that in an IPO or even a direct listing and I would not be surprised if the SEC comes out with either revised guidance and or a complete restriction on the ability to provide forward guidance.There’s probably something should be done there, but we’ll see.

As for conflicts of interest related to the economics centered on investors buying companies within their own portfolio, I don’t know if there’ll be regulatory remedies for the conflicts. The SEC has the ability to review any of these [deals] if they want, but in the meantime, we’re seeing the market actually changing the economic terms. You’re seeing reduced promotes by the SPAC sponsors. You’re seeing reduced warrant coverage or even the elimination of warrant coverage. You have some SPACs that look like venture funds, where there’s really no promote but instead a success fee if the SPAC completes the merger and does well. You’re also seeing the vesting of the sponsor interest over a period of time, so they’re locked in over a longer-term horizon. The market is figuring out a lot on its own.

TC: The NVCA has long been pro-immigration. What are some of your proposals on this front? What would you like to see change or instituted?

MB: We took a very aggressive stance in the previous administration around the International Entrepreneur Rule  and even [successfully] sued the Trump administration to have them enforce or at least roll out the rule, which enables the entrepreneur to come to the U.S. as long as they have a minimum number of dollars in financing to build their business here.

Look, we’re in a competitive market. If you look at venture capital 15 or 20 years ago, 85% of the dollars that were invested went to companies in the United States, and a lot of those went to companies founded by immigrant entrepreneurs. Today, that number stands at just over 50% [including because] founders who are coming here and getting educated and going back home and founding a company.

We want founders to start their companies here and grow their companies here to create jobs and spread the wealth. The International Entrepreneur Rule was a stopgap to ultimately what is called the Startup Visa, an official visa status that would enable entrepreneurs to come in and give them certainty that they can stay in the United States and start a company and build it. This is something that’s been in the works for a long time, and we’re hoping that Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren out of the 19th District of California will reintroduce this visa bill soon, so that we can put this as part of the Build Back Better Plan, because we need immigrant entrepreneurs to come here and start companies and employ the broader U.S. population.

If you think about the technologies that we used to get through COVID it was Zoom, it was Moderna, it was even Pfizer, dating back 100 years. All three were founded by immigrant entrepreneurs who came to the United States to start their business.

TC:  Is this a role you volunteered to do? Is there a game of hot potato that happens amid the NVCA’s board of directors every year?

MB: [Laughs.] It is not just a hot potato that got passed. [NVCA president and CEO] Bobby Franklin and the outgoing chair discuss who they think would be good based on participation in board meetings and how engaged someone is with the things the NVCA is doing in Washington and who can be a good advocate for the industry and for the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

I think it’s a pretty cool time to have this job; intellectually, this is going to be super interesting, and it’s super important to the industry [because] these are big policy initiatives and we’re a very important part of the solution here, and that needs to be well-known and well-understood by the administration and Congress. That’s our mission.

#battery-ventures, #michael-brown, #national-venture-capital-association, #tc, #venture-capital

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