Startup Monday: Latest tech trends and news happening in the global startup ecosystem! (Issue 31–15 March 2021)

Venture Capitals / Blockchain / Asia / Robotics / Europe

Episode #10


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Venture Capitals

Last week LO3 Energy announced the first close of its $11 million Series B led by existing investor Shell Ventures. The funding will be used to further develop Pando, the solution that uses blockchain to create a community renewable energy marketplace for distributed energy resources (DERs) such as solar panels.

Flatfile, the groundbreaking data onboarding software company, last week announced $35 million in Series A funding. The round was led by Scale Venture Partners, with participation from Workday Venturesand previous investors including Afore Capital, Google’s AI-focused venture fund, Gradient Ventures, and Two Sigma Ventures. Among a list of powerful angels investing in this round you’ll find founders of Box, Looker, and Segment. This brings the company’s total funding to nearly $45 million, $42.6 million of which has been raised in just the last year. This latest infusion of capital will be used to accelerate the company’s expansion of its all-remote workforce, along with continued product development.

AeroPay, a Chicago-based digital payments platform powering bank transfer payments for businesses, announced last week the closing of a $5+ million Venture Round. The round was led by Chicago Ventures, a firm that leads investments in early-stage startups. The Chicago Ventures portfolio includes online financial services company M1 Finance, celebrity video-sharing website Cameo, digital parking marketplace SpotHero, and peer-to-peer review site G2.

Ascension Ventures, the healthcare venture arm of St. Louis-based Ascensionclosed a $285 million strategic venture capital fund, bringing the firm’s total assets to more than $1 billion, according to a March 5 news release. The new fund is backed by 13 health system partners and is Ascension Ventures’ fifth venture capital fund. Since launching in 2001, Ascension Ventures has invested in almost 80 software, services, and medical device and diagnostic companies.

CEI Ventures announced Thursday it closed its fifth venture capital fund, the Good Jobs Fund, at $14.8 million. The fund was sourced from 32 investors made up of nine individuals, two foundations, four community economic development entities and 17 banks and is similar to the previous four funds, but has a sharper focus on high-quality jobs.

BUSINESS WIREreports that High Alpha Capital, one of the largest software venture firms in the Midwest, announced today the closing of their new $110 million fund to fuel the next generation of enterprise cloud companies. With this new fund, High Alpha will continue to invest in Pre-Seed, Seed and Series A rounds across all geographies. “High Alpha Capital III provides us with an incredible opportunity to further our mission of supporting early-stage software entrepreneurs who are shaping the future through technology,” said High Alpha Managing Partner Scott Dorsey.

LA-based Fashion B2B merchandising platform NuOrder Inc raised $45 million in a new round of funding led by venture capital firms Brighton Park Capital and Imaginary Ventures, Bloomberg reports. NuOrder was valued at $800 million.

Startup Monday: Latest tech trends & news happening in the global startup ecosystem (Issue 63- June 26) HYE TECH MINDS

Top startups news to follow this week: 1. Startups keep laying off swaths of employees as the downturn continues – TechCrunch 2. With biotech in retreat, Third Rock Ventures raises $1B for life sciences investing 3. Raleigh diagnostics startup Gemelli Biotech closes $19M Series A – investors include Carolina Angel Network 4. Zomato acquires Blinkit for $568 million in instant-grocery delivery push 5. AI-Powered Hong Kong Biotech Startup Raises $60 Million From Top VCs Including B Capital, Qiming – Forbes 6. Security-as-code startup JIT comes out of stealth with $38.5M in seed funding 7. Amsterdam cyber startup Hadrian closes €10.5M Seed for a platform that simulates hacker attacks, TechCrunch reports 8. Cybersecurity startup RevealSecurity raises $23M for global expansion 9. EuraTechnologies raises €24 million to back deep tech startups and open 10 incubators in Eastern Europe 10. London-based Stotles secures €6.1 million to streamline how businesses and governments work together Read more Sign up for Startup Monday Newsletter — Send in a voice message:
  1. Startup Monday: Latest tech trends & news happening in the global startup ecosystem (Issue 63- June 26)
  2. Startup Monday: Latest tech trends & news happening in the global startup ecosystem (Issue 57- April 16)
  3. Startup Monday: Latest tech trends & news happening in the global startup ecosystem (Issue 56- April 9)
  4. Startup Monday: Latest tech trends & news happening in the global startup ecosystem (Issue 55- March 12)
  5. Startup Monday: Latest tech trends & news happening in the global startup ecosystem (Issue 54- March 5)


Robotics investments boomed during the pandemic. Over the latest 12 months (through March 11), venture firms poured $6.3 billion into robotics companies, up nearly 50% from the $4.3 billion they invested in the comparable 12-month period a year earlier, according to an analysis by venture-capital database PitchBook for Forbes.

Tech Crunch reports that Warehouse automation company Nimble Robotics announced about raising a $50 million Series A. Led by DNS Capital and GSR Ventures and featuring Accel and Reinvent Capital, the round will go toward helping the company essentially double its headcount this year. Founded by former Stanford PhD student Simon Kalouche, the system utilizes deep imitation learning — a popular concept in robotics research that helps systems map and improve through imitation.


List of 50 VCs Investing in AI and Deep Tech


Blockchain technology was mentioned for the first time ever in a draft of China’s national five-year policy plan, the final version of which was approved by lawmakers and advisers at the end of an annual political meeting on Thursday in Beijing. China’s 14th five-year plan outlines the country’s economic priorities and stressed that technology will play an increasingly important large role in the country’s top-down planning. Although China has banned the trading of cryptocurrencies, blockchain will play a key role in the country’s digital economy under President Xi Jinping, the SCMP reported.

Meten EdtechX Education Group Ltd. a leading omnichannel English language training service provider in China, last week announced its strategy to make full use of blockchain technology in the education industry. The Company believes that the ongoing experimentations and innovations of applying blockchain technology in the education industry are promising. As a distributed ledger technology, blockchain promotes consensus since it acts a record-keeping platform. it is transparent because participants in the chain can download and validate individual ledgers and it is permanent because those ledgers cannot be altered. The Company expects to apply these characteristics to the education sector.

Crypto venture capital firm Pluto Digital Assets has raised a $40 million fund with U.K.-listed Argo Blockchain (LON: ARB) as its lead investor. In an announcement Wednesday, Pluto said it now has $50 million in assets under management after launching earlier this year. Argo Blockchain will be maintaining a 25% stake in the new fund with an investment of $10 million.

Startups in Europe

European gaming studios Happy Volcano and Snowprint nab €6.8 million in funding.

Switzerland-based alt-protein startup Planted has raised $18 million in Series A funding, according to TechCrunch. The round was co-led by Vorwerk Ventures and Blue Horizon Ventures, with participation from soccer player Yann Sommer as well as previous investors. Zurich-based Planted makes meat alternatives from pea protein and other plant-based ingredients, such as sunflower and oats. Currently, the company’s lineup includes chicken, kebab, and pulled-pork products. A steak analog is also on the way.

Rohlik, a Czech startup that has built an online grocery ordering and delivery business combining your usual grocery fare — which it procures itself wholesale, or offers in concert with established businesses like Marks & Spencer — with items sourced from local small businesses, has picked up €190 million ($230 million at today’s rates).

Statice GmbH, the AI startup specializing in privacy-preserving synthetic data, and PwC Germany, one of the leading auditing and consulting services organizations in Germany, have today announced cooperation. PwC Germany has acquired a significant minority stake of nearly 50% in Statice and will support the Berlin-based technology company’s continued expansion.

Startups Asia

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd backed Megvii Technology Ltd is set to become the first major Chinese artificial intelligence (AI) start-up to go public after filing for a Chinese Depositary Receipt (CDR) offering on the Shanghai’s Star board on Friday, Bloomberg reports. The start-up plans to issue up to 253 million Class B shares to raise at least $925 million (6 billion yuan) after fees, which would be utilized to fund R&D in robotics, visual IoT, and infuse capital.

China’s cosmetics startup Yatsen to buy 35-year-old skincare brand Eve Lom. Yatsen impressed the capital market with a $617 million initial public offering on NYSE in November. Its flagship brand Perfect Diary consistently ranks among the top makeup brands by online sales next to giants like L’Oréal and Shiseido. In China’s cosmetics world, where foreign brands were historically revered, indigenous startups are increasingly winning over Gen Z consumers with cheaper, more localized options. One of the rising stars is the direct-to-consumer brand Perfect Diary, which is owned by five-year-old startup Yatsen.

Stamped, a Singapore-based startup known for software that lets online sellers implement loyalty programs and manage customer reviews, will be acquired for up to US$110 million by eCommerce, a listed Canadian company worth over US$700 million that owns a number of Shopify-related services and software, the latter announced in a press release.

Cashify raises $15 million for its second-hand smartphone business in India. Cashify operates an eponymous platform — both online and physical stores and kiosks — for users to sell and buy used smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, laptops, desktops and gaming consoles. Tens of millions of people each year purchase a second-hand smartphone in India, the world’s second-largest market. Phone makers and giant online sellers such as Amazon and Flipkart are aware of it, but it’s too much of a hassle for them to inspect, repair and resell used phones. But these firms also know that customers are more likely to buy a smartphone if they are offered the ability to trade-in their existing handsets.

Startups in Israel

PayPal has announced that it plans to acquire Curv, a cryptocurrency startup based in Tel Aviv, Israel. Israeli newspaper Calcalist originally reported the move. And PayPal has now made an official announcement. Curv is a cryptocurrency security company that helps you store your crypto assets securely. The company operates a cloud-based service that lets you access your crypto wallets without any hardware device.

The First Digital Bank, the only new lender in over 40 years in Israel, hopes to compete with incumbents; services will be extended to the wider public later this year. Israel’s first new bank in more than 40 years has started trial operations, opening accounts and providing services for a small, closed number of clients, The First Digital Bank said in a statement.

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