Startup Monday: Latest tech trends & news happening in the global startup ecosystem (Issue 48)

Episode 41


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Top startups news to follow this week:

1. French robotic exoskeleton maker Wandercraft eyes US expansion courtesy of a $45M Series C.

Wandercraft was founded in 2012, with the vision of improving mobility of wheelchair users. The company’s solution comes by way of exoskeletons, which can offer wearers the ability to walk with robotic assistance. In 2019, the Parisian firm launched Atalante, a self-balancing exoskeleton with 12 degrees of freedom that relies on walking on algorithms to determine a user’s gait.

The round was led by Quadrant Management, a U.S.-based firm, along with existing investor Bpifrance. Quadrant’s participation is particularly noteworthy here, as it finds the company expanding Atalante’s reach beyond Europe, into the United States.

“We are super excited to have attracted world-class investors from the USA and Europe to advance the development program of the company,” the company’s CEO Matthieu Masselin said in a release. “With the support of patients, medical professionals and the DeepTech community, Wandercraft’s team has created a unique technology that improves rehabilitation care and will soon enable people in wheelchairs to regain autonomy and improve their everyday health.”

2. Grocery delivery startup Calii is carving out a piece of Latin America’s $1 trillion groceries and food delivery market with its approach to cut inefficiencies in the food supply chain so it can bring produce and thousands of other grocery items to customers’ doorsteps in less than two hours.

To continue on that mission, the company announced Friday $22.5 million in Series A funding co-led by Dalus Capital and JAM Fund, with participation from backers including Forerunner Ventures, Streamlined Ventures, Y Combinator and Base10 Partners. To date, it has raised nearly $35 million.

David Eduardo Arrambide Montemayor and Maurizio Caló Caligaris, both Stanford-educated engineers, started Calii, a mobile grocery app that connects with producers and brands to automate the supply chain end-to-end and deliver more than 5,000 products, like produce, meat, seafood and prepared items, via a network of micro-fulfillment centers.

3. French startup Exotec has raised a $335 million Series D round in a new round of funding led by Goldman Sachs’ Growth Equity business. Following today’s investment, the company has reached a valuation of $2 billion.

Exotec sells a complete end-to-end solution to turn a regular warehouse into a partially automated logistics platform. It’s a hardware and software solution that replaces some human tasks.

The key component of the Exotec system is called the Skypods. These low-profile robots roam the floor autonomously. When they’re next to the right rack, they can go up the rack to pick up a bin and then go down with the right bin. This is particularly useful to increase the storage density of a warehouse as you can store products a few meters above ground.

The Skypod then caries the bin to a picking station so that human operators can pick up the right product in the bin. The robot can then go back to the racks and put back the bin on a shelf.

4. Toronto-based 1Password said on Wednesday it had raised $620 million in a funding round led by investment firm ICONIQ Growth, which more than tripled its valuation, as the cybersecurity startup aims for strategic acquisitions to boost its growth.

Hollywood stars including Ryan Reynolds, Scarlett Johansson, Robert Downey Jr and Ashton Kutcher also participated in one of the largest rounds in the security funding space that valued the company at $6.8 billion.

The funding comes at a time the pandemic-driven work-from-home trend nears two years, during which 1Password more than tripled its headcount to cater to companies’ increased data security challenges.

The company expects to double its headcount of about 570 this year, Chief Executive Officer Jeff Shiner said, as it looks to further capitalize on growing cybersecurity needs.

1Password will use the new funds to develop and scale human-centric security solutions and help people easily protect their most sensitive data and information.

5. Isralei Cybersecurity firm Anonybit announced the closing of a $3.5 million funding round last week. The financing was led by San Francisco-based Switch Ventures. Other participants included NextGen Venture Partners, Industry Ventures, Preceptor Capital, and several strategic angel investors. 

The funding will enable Anonybit to accelerate its work with embedded partners and enterprises in support of the growing need for greater data protection and enhanced digital security, a direct response to the growing threat of cybersecurity breaches such as identity theft. In the past year, the total number of cyberattack-related data breaches increased by 27% compared to 2020. Researchers expect $1.7 trillion dollars to be spent on cybersecurity and identity management over the next five years.

Anonybit has developed a breakthrough decentralized biometrics infrastructure that addresses a longstanding market need for improved management of personal data and digital assets across a wide range of use cases. 

6. Armenian-led robotics company Expper Technologies has secured $2million in seed financing to ensure the realization of their commitment to creating a state-of-the-art innovation called Robin the Robot and bringing next-generation caregiver robots to the world.

“Aside from having a presence in California, we successfully expanded our operations in Texas and Colorado, having 15 deployed units in medical facilities last year. Robin the Robot has been recognized as TIME’s Best Invention of 2021 in the Robotics category and was featured as an honoree in Fast Company’s 2021 Innovation by Design Awards in the Impact category,” Karen Khachikyan, CEO & Co-Founder at Expper Technologies, has said.

Robin the Robot is an Autonomous Care Assistant that augments front-line clinicians across a multitude of settings by supporting caregiving functions and extending care services using emotional AI and autonomous technology advances. Robin has integrated functionalities to provide emotional support and virtual care. Robin the Robot is a technology intended to provide patients and staff members with a warm and human-life interactive experience

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7. The Italian firm Genenta Science and the UK company Genflow Biosciences make up a fresh wave of European gene therapy players going public. Genenta bagged €31.4M ($36M) in its Nasdaq debut in December 2021 and Genflow Biosciences listed on the London Stock Exchange this week, raising around €4.4M (£3.7M) in the process.

One factor driving the general reluctance to go public is the continuing volatility of biotech stock markets around the world. Reasons for the stock troubles include an excess of biotech IPOs in the US in addition to concerns over inflation and regulatory uncertainty. 

According to the CEO of Genenta Science, Pierluigi Paracchi, it’s complicated for European biotech companies to enter US public markets due to an abundance of local competition.

All European companies suffer a discount compared to the US companies even if the science is comparable. In my view, it’s totally unjustified,” said Paracchi. “Therefore, European biotech companies try to land on the Nasdaq or the New York Stock Exchange when the market is high and the IPO window is wide open just to reduce the discount.

8. Dublin-based Exergyn has just raised €30 million for its novel and sustainable thermal management technology. This latest funding for the pioneering cleantech startup was led by Mercuria and Lacerta Partners with participation from McWin. 

Founded in 2012, Exergyn is on a mission to combat climate change through unique solid-state shape memory alloy technology that removes the need for destructive refrigerants. The product significantly reduces carbon emissions across a range of industries, including heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, refrigeration (HVACR), automotive, and aerospace. 

The HVACR industry alone is estimated to account for more than 10% of the global CO2 emissions. While Europe is aiming to drastically reduce carbon emissions, products such as those being developed by Exergyn could have a massive positive impact. We all are now well aware of the urgency to combat climate change, and European tech startups are certainly contributing lots of innovative solutions. 

9.With its cloud-based platform for cellular connectivity in the IoT stack EMnify has just secured a €50 million investment from One Peak. 

Founded in 2014, the Berlin-based company is a leading cloud building block for cellular communications in the IoT (Internet of Things) stack, connecting millions of IoT devices globally – from electric vehicles and energy meters to GPS trackers and health wearables. EMnify develops and operates a mobile core network infrastructure as a native cloud service, enabling connectivity in a secure, reliable and scalable way.

The EMnify API and SIM technologies connect and secure any kind of IoT deployment to its application back-end. Its cloud-native integrations and no-code workflows ensure seamless lifecycle scalability for deployments of all sizes – from local startups to global enterprises.

10. Closing its second fund, DutchFounders is making more than €62 million available for early-stage marketplaces and so-called marketplace enablers to fuel a growing European sector.

Based in Amsterdam, DutchFounders specialise in companies and marketplace with strong network effects. Since launching in 2018, the fund has helped boost 16 companies and has almost €100 million assets under management.

Founded by experienced entrepreneurs behind the likes of WeTransfer, Treatwell and Just Eat, the DutchFounders has backed the likes of digital freight forwarder Shypple and employee benefit platform YourCampus. This new fund comes just 1.5 years after the first fund, marking the extent of up-and-coming talent in European marketplaces. 

The Amsterdam-based VC noticed that many supply chains and B2B business operations remained offline. Especially in the B2B domain, many people still relied on legacy-like systems and analogue processes to manage their logistics or procurement. Now, DutchFounders has set out to back founders building marketplaces that truly disrupt these processes or companies that completely rethink supply chains.

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