Jake Siewert led the firm’s post-financial crisis reputation makeover.
Boat, an electronics and lifestyle startup in India, has raised $100 million in a new financing round that many independent investors termed as the most successful hardware startup story in the world’s second largest internet market.
An affiliate of Warburg Pincus, a New York-headquartered private equity firm, financed the entire Series B round for the four-year-old Indian startup, which sells low-cost, durable headphones, earphones and other mobile accessories.
The round gives Boat, which had raised about $3 million in equity and debt financing prior to the new round, a post-money valuation of about $300 million, a person familiar with the matter told TechCrunch. Executives of Boat declined to comment on the valuation, other than saying that Warburg Pincus had bought a “significant minority stake” in the startup.
An investor who did not want to be named said Boat has grown to be an anomaly case among hardware startups in India. There aren’t many hardware startups in India. Among those that do exist, very few have been able to raise much money. And on top of that, Boat is also profitable — and it has been for several years, said Sameer Mehta, co-founder of the startup, in an interview with TechCrunch.
The secret sauce of Boat, at least in part, is that it has managed to keep the price points of its accessories low while also making them aesthetically appealing. The startup counts the young generation as its target audience, who want good-looking accessories at low prices but also tend to upgrade every few months.
Boat has expanded into several categories in recent years, and it has followed the same strategy all along. Its fitness wearable starts at Indian rupees 1,799 ($24.5), smartwatches at $34, charging cables at $3.4, home theatre soundbars at $54, wireless speakers at $13.5, headphones at $5.5, and AirPod-like earbuds at $27.
According to marketing research firm IDC, Boat commands over 30% of the wearable market in India and is the fifth largest brand globally in the category.
The startup sells through both online and offline retail channels. Its devices are available through Flipkart, Amazon India, Reliance Retail, as well as Tata Stores, Croma, and Vijay Sales. Analysts at HDFC bank estimated in a note last month that Boat Lifestyle’s products are available through over 5,000 retail stores across India and it plans to enter global markets.
“We see a compelling growth story in boAt and believe the company is well-poised to build upon the strong leadership position it has carved out within the industry and stands to benefit from the secular tailwinds of e-commerce growth in India. Warburg Pincus is excited to partner with the management team of boAt led by Aman [the other co-founder] & Sameer in this journey and we look forward to supporting them through the next phase of the company’s growth,” said Vishal Mahadevia, Managing Director and Head of Warburg Pincus India, in a statement.
Mehta said the startup will deploy the fresh capital to shift more of its manufacturing from China to India, and expand to more categories including gaming keyboards.
More to follow…
Im aktuellen #DealMonitor für den 20. November werfen wir wieder einen Blick auf die wichtigsten, spannendsten und interessantesten Investments und Exits des Tages. Alle Deals der Vortage gibt es im großen und übersichtlichen #DealMonitor-Archiv.
+++ Der Berliner Geldgeber June, hinter dem unter anderem Google-Vorstand Philipp Schindler steckt, nutzt seine Vorkaufsrechte beim Startup Komoot, einem Routenplaner samt Navigations-App. Der BFB Frühphasenfonds Brandenburg wollte beim Unternehmen aus Potsdam, das von Markus Hallermann gegründet wurde, aussteigen und seinen Anteil (15 %) verkaufen. Interesse an der Übernahme der Anteile hatte auch der bekannte österreichische Investor René Benko (unter anderem Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof). Hintergründe gibt es nur im aktuellen Insider-Podcast. #EXKLUSIV
+++ Der amerikanische Wagniskapitalgeber Insight Partners nutzt seine Vorkaufsrechte bei AnyDesk. Das junge Unternehmen will quasi TeamViewer als erste Adresse für den Fernzugriff auf Rechner ablösen. EQT Ventures sowie Business Angels wie Chris Hitchen und Andreas Burike sowie Insight investierten in den vergangenen Jahren bereits rund 20 Millionen Dollar in AnyDesk. General Atlantic hatte sich zuletzt für einen Einstieg bei AnyDesk interessiert. Hintergründe gibt es nur im aktuellen Insider-Podcast. #EXKLUSIV
+++ Die Altinvestoren investierten erneut in Simplesurance. Das Berliner Startup in Deutschland als Schutzklick bekannt, gehört zu den ganz großen InsurTech-Pionieren. Mindestens 60 Millionen Dollar flossen bisher in das Unternehmen, das 2012 an den Start ging. Zuletzt investierten unter anderem die Tokio Marine Holdings (TMHD) und die deutsch-französische Finanzgruppe ODDO BHF Kapital in das Unternehmen. Hintergründe gibt es nur im aktuellen Insider-Podcast. #EXKLUSIV
Urban Sports Club
+++ Die Altinvestoren investierten erneut in Urban Sports Club, einen millonenschweren Anbieter für Sportflatrates. Urban Sports Club wurde Ende 2012 von Benjamin Roth und Moritz Kreppel gegründet. Das Startup expandierte zuletzt vor allem durch Übernahmen (99Gyms, Fitengo, Somuchmore, FITrate). Investoren des Startups sind unter anderem HV Capital, Rocket Internet und Partech. Hintergründe gibt es nur im aktuellen Insider-Podcast. #EXKLUSIV
+++ Der amerikanische Finanzinvestor Warburg Pincus investiert gemeinsam mit einigen Bestandsinvestoren in das Berliner Unternehmen McMakler. Das Handelsblatt berichtet von einem Investment in Höhe von 50 Millionen US-Dollar. “Die nächste Wachstumsphase von McMakler wird sich auf die Erweiterung der proprietären Technologie und der digitalen Tools konzentrieren, um einen transparenteren und schnelleren Marketingprozess für die Kunden zu gewährleisten”, teilt das Unternehmen mit . Target Global, Israel Growth Partners und einige Bestandsinvestoren investierten zuletzt 50 Millionen Euro in McMakler, ein Berliner Makler-Startup. Das Unternehmen, das in Deutschland, Österreich und Frankreich aktiv ist, wurde 2015 von Hanno Heintzenberg, Felix Jahn und Lukas Pieczonka gegründet. Das Grownup beschäftigt über 600 Mitarbeiter.
+++ TS Ventures, also Tim Schumacher, Discovery Ventures und Christian Gaiser investieren 1,3 Millionen US-Dollar in das Kölner Startup Sastrix. Die Jungfirma, die von Maximilian Messing und Sven Lackinger, beide früher evopark, gegründet wurde, unterstützt Unternehmen beim Kauf und der Verwaltung von Softwarelösungen. Die Rheinländer versprechen: “Wir bringen Transparenz in Ihr bestehendes Setup, befreien Sie von nicht ausgelasteten Lizenzen und verhandeln mit Ihren Anbietern, um die besten Angebote für Sie zu erhalten”.
+++ Der Berliner FinTech-Investor finleap investiert in das Berliner Startup deineStudienfinanzierung. “Der Eintritt ins Portfolio von finleap ist für das junge Unternehmen ein weiterer Schritt, ein verlässlicher Partner der Generation Z zu sein”, teilt der Investor vollmundig mit. deineStudienfinanzierung, das von Alexander Barge, David Meyer und Bastian Krautwald gegründet wurde, aggregiert die “größten Finanzierungsprodukte für das Studium in Deutschland”. Im vergangenen Jahr suchte die Jungfirma im Fernsehen, bei “Die Höhle der Löwen” Geldgeber. Der TV-Deal mit Frank Thelen platzte damals aber.
+++ Das Bahntechnik-Unternehmen Rhomberg Sersa Rail Group (RSRG) investiert in den Simulationsanbieter NXRT. Das Unternehmen mit Sitz in Wien “fokussiert sich auf schlüsselfertige Anwendungen für innovative Simulationen für Demonstrations-, Trainings- und Testzwecke”. Die Software vermittelt den Anwendern dabei “sämtliche sensorischen Reize, die sowohl im Bereich Showcasing als auch im Bereich Schulung zu einer bleibenden Erinnerung der Inhalte beitragen”.
+++ Der Energiedienstleister ESWE Versorgung investiert einen “bedeutenden finanziellen Betrag” in das Karlsruher Startup easierLife, das einen intelligentem Hausnotruf anbietet. easierLife wurde 2014 von vier wissenschaftlichen Mitarbeitern des FZI Forschungszentrum Informatik gegründet. Im Rahmen von Studien wurden zunächst über 100 Seniorenhaushalte mit Sensoren ausgestattet.
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
The news last week that NextEra Energy, a U.S. utility and renewable energy company, briefly overtook ExxonMobil and Saudi Aramco to become the world’s most valuable energy producer shows just how valuable sustainable businesses have become. It’s yet another proof point that there are billions of dollars available for companies focused on renewable energy alone — and a sign that, finally, the floodgates may be about to open for companies that build their businesses to service a sustainability revolution.
Large money managers are already returning to investing in earlier stage sustainability investments after an extended hiatus. These are institutional investors like the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board and Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, which could commit billions between them to technologies focused on mitigating the impacts of climate change or reducing greenhouse gas emissions across industries. The flood of dollars into renewable energy and sustainable technologies actually began in the first quarter of the year.
Some of the largest private equity funds in the U.S. like Blackstone (with $571 billion in assets under management), announced a flood of investments into renewable power generation and storage. Blackstone alone invested nearly $1 billion into Altus Power Generation, a renewable energy developer, and NRStor, an energy storage company; while Generate Capital raised $1 billion for renewable energy infrastructure projects; and Warburg Pincus (with over $50 billion in assets under management) backed Scale Microgrids, which developed clean energy and storage projects, with another $300 million. In March, the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board closed its investment in Pattern Energy Group, a $6.1 billion transaction that gave the massive money manager ownership of a renewable power project owner and developer with assets across North America and Japan.
Behind all of that massive investment will be a surge in demand for technologies that can orchestrate resources that will be more distributed and provide better energy storage and distribution technologies for a more complicated grid. Indeed, the beginning of the year saw venture firms like Lightspeed Venture Partners, Sequoia and Union Square Ventures begin to plant flags around sustainable investments in startup companies. Microsoft announced a $1 billion climate change-focused investment fund and in the second quarter, Amazon followed suit with the commitment of $2 billion to its Climate Pledge Fund that would invest across a range of renewable and sustainability-focused technology startups and climate-related projects.
“You’ve got all of this activity even without policy changes — and policy changes are even going in the wrong direction,” said Abe Yokell, a longtime investor in technologies addressing climate change and the managing partner of Congruent Ventures, in an interview with TechCrunch earlier this year. “Our general framework is that the venture model applies to some but not all of the solutions that will solve the problem of climate change.”
Environmental and social investing rises again
In 2007, John Doerr, then one of the world’s most successful venture investors and a leader at Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers (now just Kleiner Perkins), delivered an emotional speech to an early audience of TED talk attendees. In it, Doerr announced that KPCB would be investing $200 million into a range of “clean technology” companies and encouraged other investors to make similar commitments. Doerr spoke of a coming climate crisis that would reshape the globe and wreak vast economic damage on communities. He wasn’t wrong.
But the solutions that the first generation of clean tech investors backed were economically unfeasible and markets weren’t then ready to embrace massive investments required to avoid what were, at the time, future risk scenarios. Prices for solar and wind energy production technologies were too expensive and energy storage options too unreliable. Biofuels could not compete at costs that would make them competitive with existing petrochemicals, and bioplastics and chemicals suffered from the same problems (along with a consumer culture that had not awoken to the perils of plastic and chemical production).
While there were a few notable successes from that first generation of clean tech companies, including, most notably, Tesla, there were far more failures. Kleiner alone poured hundreds of millions into companies like Think and Fisker Automotive, two early electric vehicle companies. Another electric vehicle bet, Better Place, lost $1 billion for investors like VantagePoint Venture Partners. The losses weren’t confined to electric vehicles. Solar energy companies, biofuel companies, grid management companies and battery companies all racked up millions in losses for a generation of venture funds.
Yokell, who previously worked as an investor at Rockport Capital, saw the failures, but managed to persevere and raise new cash with his fund Congruent. “Things are different, but they are different for 10 different reasons — not one different reason,” Yokell said. “The preponderance of dollars went into the physical layer that would drive down the cost of accessing a product or technology. Solar is a great example; wind is a great example; batteries are a great example. [But] this time around, the venture dollars that are going into the ecosystem are being applied to products and services that are going to the end product.”
This means focusing not on the generation of electricity necessarily, but managing and monitoring how those atoms move. Or in the case of food tech, making the processes of creation and distribution more efficient in addition to making new sources of supply. “Venture is a rule of exceptions,” said Yokell. “If you use what works for the venture model and apply it to Tesla [most investors] were wrong. It only takes two massive successes to prove the rule wrong.”
More often though, the money for venture investors is in following some basic rules of investing — chiefly look for high-margin businesses with low upfront capital costs. If something is going to take $40 million or $50 million just to figure out that it might work and then you need to spend another $200 million to prove that it does work … that’s likely not going to be a good bet for a venture firm, Yokell said.
Public markets and large corporations now lead the way
Even as most venture capital dollars shied away from investments in technology that could move the needle on climate (one large exception being Vinod Khosla and Khosla Ventures … another story), the world’s largest investment firms, money managers, publicly traded energy and agriculture companies began stepping up their commitments.
In part, that’s because the economic viability started to become more apparent for decades-old technologies like wind and solar. The costs of these energy-generating technologies made sense to develop because they were, in many cases, cheaper than the alternative. A June report from the International Renewable Energy Agency showed that renewable power generation projects were cheaper than the cost to operate existing coal-fired plants. Next year, the energy agency said, the 1.2 gigawatts of existing coal capacity could cost more to operate than the cost of new utility-scale solar photovoltaics. According to the agency:
Replacing the costliest 500 GW of coal with solar PV and onshore wind next year would cut power system costs by up to USD 23 billion every year and reduce annual emissions by around 1.8 gigatons (Gt) of carbon dioxide (CO2), equivalent to 5% of total global CO2 emissions in 2019. It would also yield an investment stimulus of USD 940 billion, which is equal to around 1% of global GDP.
Beyond that, the real effects of climate change began to be felt in rising insurance payouts as a result of increasingly frequent natural disasters and money managers beginning to realize that you can’t have a functioning economy if you don’t have a functioning society thanks to social unrest brought about by rising populations consuming increasingly limited resources thanks to climatological collapse.
In early January, BlackRock, one of the world’s largest investment firms, pledged to refocus all of its investment activities through a climate lens. The investment bank Jefferies has declared 2020 to be the shot from the starting gun for what will be a decade of investments focused on environmental, social and corporate governance. Big energy companies were already picking up the slack where venture investment left off, with firms like National Grid Partners, Energy Investment Partners and others committing capital to new energy technologies even as venture investors pulled back. In 2016, Bill Gates launched a $1 billion investment fund that would focus on climate-related investing, backed by several of his billionaire buddies (including Kleiner Perkins’ John Doerr and former Kleiner Perkins managing director, Vinod Khosla) and take the big swings that many venture firms were unwilling to take at the time.
Opportunities beyond energy
Investments in clean tech and sustainability were never just about energy, although that captured a fair bit of the imagination and some of the earliest returns — in biofuels companies and electric vehicles. Now, the breadth of the thesis is being expressed in a deluge of exits and millions invested in areas like novel proteins for food production, new technologies for a more sustainable agriculture, new consumer food products, new technologies for managing power and distributing it, and fantastic new ways to generate that power.
Last week, AppHarvest, a company using greenhouse farming techniques to grow tomatoes more sustainably, agreed to go public through a special purpose acquisition vehicle, and just today, a bioplastics manufacturer is taking the same tack. With the world awash in capital and looking for high-growth companies to generate returns, sustainability looks like a good bet.
Those are the companies that have managed to access public markets in the last week. Beyond Meat captured the attention of institutional investors and the investing public with its better-tasting hamburger substitute, and Perfect Day snagged a massive investment from the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board to make an alternative to cow’s milk. In fact, Perfect Day was the inaugural investment in the national pension fund’s climate strategy. Other deals should follow.
Meanwhile, as carbon emissions monitoring, management and sequestration gain broader commercial and consumer traction, other investment opportunities will begin to open up for digital solutions.
Yesterday, Baltimore-based fintech company Facet Wealth said it raised $25 million in financing as it readies a new business line pitching financial planning as an employment benefit to businesses looking to recruit top talent.
Employment benefit packages are expanding beyond the basic gym membership and healthcare to include subscriptions to Netflix, discounts on delivery and ride-share services, and other perks. So why not financial wellness?
The thesis certainly managed to attract a big-money backer, with Warburg Pincus, the multi-billion dollar private equity investment firm which doubled down on its commitment with the new financing into the company.
The company said the latest round would be used to finance the expansion of Facet Wealth’s direct-to-consumer business even as it readies its employee benefit service for launch.
Already customers are signing up for pre-launch partnerships to get their employees on the program. Early wannabe users include ClassPass, MyVest and ChiliPiper, the company said.
“Since our first investment two years ago, the Facet Wealth team has proven their ability to meet a unique consumer need, evolving and expanding their offering to build a truly innovative client experience and business model”, said Jeff Stein, Managing Director at Warburg Pincus. “Their expansion into the employer market further solidifies them as a category-defining company that is well-positioned to disrupt the wealth management industry for years to come.”
To date, Facet Wealth has raised $62 million in funding from Warburg Pincus, Slow Ventures and other, undisclosed investors.
Jimmy Qian and Lucia Huang, the co-founders of a new clinical practice management and data analysis platform for mental health providers focusing on cutting edge psychedelic treatments, met at Stanford University.
The two both come from healthcare backgrounds. Huang, whose mother was a biomedical engineer, worked as an associate at Warburg Pincus focused on healthcare and worked at the startup Verge Genomics before heading to Stanford’s business school while Qian was in medical school at Stanford.
Both also went to high school in the Bay Area and were intimately familiar with the mental health crisis affecting the communities around Silicon Valley.
Qian worked on a few non-profits in the mental health space through his undergraduate years at Penn and then again in the Bay Area while he was at Stanford.
Osmind’s founders say the goal for their young startup is to help patients access innovative treatments to mental health by providing clinicians and pharmaceutical companies with software and services that will make the provision of care, and proof of the efficacy of treatment, more readily available.
There are 11 million Americans that are resistant to most mental health therapies, according to Huang and Qian. Those patients can cost the healthcare as much as $250 billion, they said. “Nobody has been able to help this patient population,” said Huang in an interview. “Pharma doesn’t develop drugs for them.”
Now graduating with Y Combinator’s latest cohort of companies, Osmind’s public benefit corporation intends to aggregate data from the sickest patient population and provide that data to drug developers for clinical trials and to help insurers route patients to the treatment providers that can benefit them the most, according to Qian.
The company, which launched its services two months ago, already has 30 practices using its software covering 3,000 patients.
“The beauty of all of this is that it’s a win-win for everyone,” said Huang. Providers get a software platform that streamlines administrative tasks and provides patient outreach and remote monitoring services. They also have a web portal that allows them to view patient progress.
Qian said its a service designed for physicians that are not necessarily technically savvy. It also provides a dataset that can be used to clinically validate some of these more experimental forms of therapy including psychedelics and ketamine treatment.
“We improve the care journey,” said Qian. “These are clinics that don’t have the manpower to do that.. You can’t call your patients every single day.”
That bumps total capital raised by the 5-year-old company to date to nearly $390 million. The new round, completed in two parts, was separately led by GGV Capital and D1 Capital Partners in the summer of 2019, and V Fund earlier this year. Other participants included Warburg Pincus, Redview Capital and Vertex Ventures.
The company said it will continue to develop robotics solutions tailored to logistics, ramp up its robot-as-a-service monetization model, and expand partnerships.
Geek+ represents a rank of Chinese robotics solution providers that are increasingly appealing to clients around the world. The startup itself boasts over 10,000 robots deployed worldwide, serving 300 customers and projects in over 20 countries.
Just last month, Geek+ announced a partnership with Conveyco, an order fulfillment and distribution center system integrator operating in North America, to distribute its autonomous mobile robots (ARMs) across the continent. Leading this part of its business is Mark Messina, the startup’s chief operating officer for the Americas who previously worked at Amazon, where he oversaw mechanical engineering for the Kiva robotics system.
Geek+’s ambitious move overseas came amid continuous pressure from the Trump administration to boycott Chinese tech players. Back home, Geek+ has worked closely with retail giants such as Alibaba and Suning to replace human pickers in warehouses.
BetterCloud gives IT visibility into its SaaS tools providing the means to discover, manage and secure those tools. In the middle of a crisis that has forced most companies to move workers home, being able to manage SaaS usage in this way is growing increasingly significant.
Today the company announced a $75 million Series F. Warburg Pincus led the way with participation from existing investors Bain Capital Ventures, Accel, Greycroft Partners, Flybridge Capital Partners, New Amsterdam Growth Capital and e.ventures. Today’s round brings the total raised to $182 million, according to the company.
While CEO David Politis acknowledges the gravity of the current situation, he also recognizes that giving companies a way to manage their SaaS usage is more pertinent than ever. “What has happened in the last two months has been terrible for the world, but in some crazy way it has just made what we do a lot more relevant,” Politis told TechCrunch.
He says the pandemic has really accelerated the market opportunity because of the reliance on cloud services and the services his company provides.
Those services began as an operational layer on top of G Suite. Later it added support for Office 365 and in 2016 it moved to more general SaaS management. It now offers direct integrations into multiple SaaS apps including Box, Dropbox, Salesforce, Zendesk and more. The set of tools in Bettercloud gives IT control over security, configuration, spend optimization and auditability across SaaS applications.
In normal times after a large Series F round, we might be talking about this being the last round before an IPO, but Politis isn’t ready to commit to that just yet, especially in this economy. He does say, however, that he’s in it for the long haul and sees an opportunity to build a long-term, sustainable company.
“The last couple of months I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and when you take a $75 million round at the stage you’re not doing that because you want to sell the business. You’re doing that because you want to build something and build something really special,” he said.
Chinese robots will soon be seen roaming a number of warehouse floors across North America. Geek+, a well-funded Chinese robotics company that specializes in logistics automation for factories, warehouses and supply chains, furthers its expansion in North America after striking a strategic partnership with Conveyco, an order fulfillment and distribution center system integrator with operations across the continent.
Geek+ is seizing a massive opportunity in replacing repetitive warehouse work with unmanned robots, a demand that has surged during the coronavirus outbreak as logistics services around the world face labor shortage, respond to an uptick in e-commerce sales, and undertake disease prevention methods.
The partnership will bring Geek+’s autonomous mobile robots, or ARMs, to Conveyco’s clients in retail, ecommerce, omnichannel and logistics across North America. The deal will give a substantial boost to Geek’s overseas distribution while helping Conveyco to “improve efficiency, provide flexibility, and reduce costs associated with warehouse and logistics operations in various industries,” the partners said in a statement.
Beijing-based Geek+ so far operates 10,000 robots worldwide and employs some 800 employees, with offices in China, Germany, the U.K, the U.S., Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore. Some of its clients include Nike, Decathlon, Walmart and Dell.
Since founding in 2015, the company has raised about $390 million through five funding rounds, according to public data collected by Crunchbase, including a colossal $150 million round back in 2018 which it claimed was the largest-ever funding round for a logistics robotics startup. It counts Warburg Pincus, Vertex Ventures and GGV Capital among its list of investors.