Startup Monday: Latest tech trends & news happening in the global startup ecosystem (Issue 54)

Episode 47

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Top startups news to follow this week:

1. What US startup founders need to know about the R&D tax credit

The Research and Development (R&D) tax credit lets businesses deduct R&D expenses up to $250,000 per year from payroll tax, or an unlimited amount against income tax if your startup qualifies. Over several years, this credit could save you millions of dollars.

It’s important to start the review process early not only to help avoid penalties, but to take advantage of all opportunities, and to know that not all opportunities can be leveraged at the same time.

One of the requirements to qualify for this tax credit is that activity needs to be “technological in nature.” So anything to do with engineering, physics, biochemistry, medical, hard sciences, computer sciences, or mathematics will almost guarantee you qualify. If you’re in one of these industries, you’re already meeting that minimum requirement. But if you’re not operating in one of these — say you’re in clothing or food — you might still be experimenting with technology that makes your business better.

2. Facebook-Backed Indian Startup Meesho Targets Early 2023 for IPO – Source

Indian startup Meesho, which counts Facebook-owner Meta Platforms and SoftBank Group’s Vision Fund 2 as its investors, is aiming to go public in early 2023, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The Bengaluru-based social commerce platform is working to be ready for a listing by the end of 2022 and is evaluating both Indian and U.S. exchanges, according to an internal document seen by Reuters.

In September, Meesho raised $570 million at a valuation of $4.9 billion in a Series F funding round led by Fidelity Management & Research Company and B Capital Group.

Resellers on the company’s platform offer a variety of unbranded products, ranging from clothes to cosmetics to household appliances, predominantly in the country’s smaller towns and cities.

Users can resell products from the supplier marketplace for a profit margin to customers, largely through Meta-owned platforms WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram.

“Meesho is filing documents by January next year and wants to essentially be done with the IPO by the first half of 2023,” the source, who did not want to be named because he is not authorized to talk to media, said.

3. Amid biotech downturn, Atlas raises $450M to build new drug startups

TAtlas is closing this fund amid one of the most severe biotech downturns in years, a retrenchment that’s constrained the options of private drug companies seeking to make the jump to public markets. Few biotechs are now pricing initial public offerings, breaking sharply with the pattern of the past few years, which featured record numbers of early-stage startups going public at high-dollar valuations. 

“”We’re still starting new companies and they’re financing very well,” said Jason Rhodes, a partner at Atlas, in a recent interview before the fund closing announcement. “I’d say certainly for the portion of the market that we participate in, which is really creating our own companies, there really has not been reduced demand for them.” 

Atlas has formed or invested in more than 50 biotech companies since 2015, including the more recently launched Third Harmonic, Chroma Medicine and Scorpion Therapeutics. Another Atlas-backed startup, Vigil Neuroscience, recently priced an IPO, one of four that have raised more than $50 million so far this year.

4. Voltage Finance closes $3.4M private round, releases details of token launch, reports CoinTelegraph

 Voltage Finance, formerly FuseFi and a cutting-edge, all-in-one decentralized finance (DeFi) platform on Fuse Network, today announced the official launch of the Voltage DAO governance token, Volt.

A successful private fundraising round was announced in December with $2.3 million raised from major institutional investors. A final private round closed in February and brought the total to $3.4 million.

Voltage Finance has been built to tackle the mass-adoption obstacles facing DeFi head-on: 

  • The consumer-facing Fuse Cash mobile wallet integrates Voltage, allowing users to exchange crypto assets in a slick, friendly interface with zero fees.
  • Scalability and transaction-cost issues are solved using the layer-1 Ethereum Virtual Network-compatible Fuse Network blockchain. 
  • Other features include direct, mobile bank-to-crypto onboarding in 170-plus countries and interest earnings on the platform-native stablecoin, FuseDollar (fUSD), of up to 50% annually. 

5. D’Amelio family launches VC fund 444 Capital to invest up to $25M in high-growth startups, TechCrunch reports

The D’Amelio family, including TikTok stars and digital creators Charli D’Amelio and sister Dixie, are formalizing their investments in startups with the launch of a new VC fund, 444 Capital. The family is teaming up with Doug Renert of Tandem Capital and producer Jeff Beacher of Beacher Media Group on the fund, which aims to back high-growth companies with strong end-user brands, including those in the direct-to-consumer space, fintech, edtech, healthcare, insurtech and other B2B2C platforms.

The fund has a target of up to $25 million, some of which has already been raised and deployed.

The D’Amelio family said the fund will have a particular focus on women- and minority-led startups.

“Our family wants to help a new generation of female and minority entrepreneurs build great companies. We hope to play a growing role in leveling the startup playing field over time,” Dixie and Charli D’Amelio said in a joint statement.

6. MedTech CMO market valued at $53.6 billion in 2021, is growing at a healthy rate of 5% during the forecast period

MedTech Contract Manufacturing Organisations (CMO) market is growing slightly ahead of the underlying growth in MedTech market as a result of increased outsourcing by OEMs and higher growth rates in segments like Drug delivery and Minimally Invasive Surgery.

Based on our research, the MedTech CMO market can be split into various end-market related segments like Orthopaedics, MIS, Cardiovascular, Surgical instruments, IVD and other end-market segments. While segments such as Orthopaedics are mature in terms of level of outsourcing, increasing use of robotics, single-use devices are causing higher growth. In terms of geography, United States followed by Germany, UK, Ireland, China, Malaysia and Singapore are some key countries with large presence of MedTech CMO sites. Metals and Polymers contribute to over 75% of the total value of MedTech CMO while injection molding, cutting and machining are the dominant manufacturing techniques used

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7. Fetch raises $3.5M for its self-service truck rental marketplace, TechCrunch

Fetch, that helps to find a truck (or van!) nearby, reserve it through the app, walk up and unlock it from your phone, and be on your way has raised $3.5 million to help expand their team and operations.

Fetch is up and running in a handful of cities for now, but that list is starting to rapidly grow. They first rolled things out in their hometown of Atlanta, recently expanding operations to Baltimore, Philadelphia, Dallas and Washington, D.C. Fetch co-founder Adam Steinberg tells me they plan to be in “another 12 cities” by the end of this year.

The company’s business model has expanded quite a bit since the last time we wrote, as well. Previously, all trucks available on Fetch were owned by Fetch; these days, it’s a marketplace where anybody with an available truck (be it companies with fleets or individuals with a spare vehicle, as long it can be available for rental seven days a week) can rent it out.

Pricing for rentals varies a bit depending on what you’re looking for — the vehicle size, how many miles you’ll drive and, as trucks can be rented by the hour or day, how long you need it. For example, a 6′ pickup in Atlanta is currently on the site for $19 an hour, or $70 per day with 50 miles included.

8. German VC firm Capnamic closes €190 million fund to fuel startups in German-speaking countries, reports EU-Startups

Founded in 2012 with offices in Cologne, Berlin and Munich, Capnamic’s portfolio includes companies such as LeanIX, Staffbase, Adjust (exit to Applovin) parcelLab or Capmo, amongst others.

Christian Siegele, Managing Partner of Capnamic, commented: 

“Since its inception, Capnamic has been dedicated to one goal only: to support the most promising tech startups from the German-speaking region in the best possible way to grow and scale internationally. We are very pleased that Capnamic’s success to date has convinced a number of major fund investors. With our new, oversubscribed USD 215m fund, we will jointly invest in the next generation of global tech champions and accompany them on their way to success”.

Like its predecessor funds, the third fund is clearly focused on investments in startups in the early stages of their activity. In addition to investments in Seed and Series A financing rounds, with Capnamic III the VC is strongly increasing its commitments in Pre-Seed phases in order to support promising teams even earlier and help them grow. 

Capnamic III has already invested in edtech startup Cleverly, outcome management specialist Workpath, wearable tech company Nanoleq, coaching platform Sharpist and no-code startup Cedalo.

9. French startup Lisaqua picks up €4.9 million to launch sustainability-focused land-based shrimp farm, reports EU-Startups

Nantes-based Lisaqua has now secured €4.9 million to launch France’s first land-based shrimp farm. The startup is developing permaquaculture – a healthier and more sustainable aquaculture. 

The funding comprises €2.6 million of new capital from investors including Le Gouessant Agricultural Cooperative and private investors, along with historical investor Litto Invest, in addition to non-dilutive funding of €2.3 million from Bpifrance and the Crédit Maritime and CIC Ouest banks.

Founded in  2018 by Charlotte Schoelinck, PhD in Marine Biology, Caroline Madoc, an engineer from Mines de Paris and Gabriel Boneu, an entrepreneur from HEC Paris, the company aims to o revolutionize aquaculture with its low environmental impact production system.

Lisaqua has developed “permaquaculture”, a patented co-culture technology combining shrimp, micro-organisms and marine invertebrates in recirculated indoor aquaculture farms. This innovation allows the farming of shrimp without antibiotics, preserves mangroves and saves 99% of water compared to conventional shrimp farming. Shrimp effluents are treated and used for breeding marine invertebrates for animal feed.

Since 2019, the company has been marketing a pioneering fresh, local and environmentally-friendly shrimp in France that is ‘triple-zero’ guaranteed – zero antibiotics, zero km travelled and zero polluting discharge. 

Each year, 80,000 tons of frozen shrimp are imported into France, and 290,000 tons into Europe. Lisaqua plans to produce 10,000 tons of shrimp per year by 2030 in France and Europe T​​his new round of funding will allow Lisaqua to finalize the construction of the first shrimp farm in France. 

Gabriel Boneu, Lisaqua CEO and co-founder commented: 

“This funding will allow us to recruit 10 people and to structure strategic partnerships to prepare our scale-up. We plan to set up a network of farms near the main French cities from 2024 in order to make our ultra-fresh shrimp available to as many people as possible”.

10. Feroot raises $11 million to meet growing customer demand for client-side security solutions.

Feroot Security announced the closing of $11 million in seed funding led by True Ventures. The funds will be used to meet growing customer demand for client-side security solutions by accelerating product development and go-to-market initiatives.

Over the past year there has been a remarkable increase in security incidents focused on breaching client-side webpages and web applications. These webpages and web applications tend to get breached via marketing forms, known vulnerabilities in JavaScript, compromised third-party scripts, marketing trackers, and more. Examples include attacks on over 100 luxury real estate sites; an attack on a gaming PC and console controller company; an attack on over 200,000 customers of an online shopping service; and an attack on a widely adopted open-source JavaScript plugin.

“A shocking 98% of websites use forms to collect personal and financial data from customers,” said Ivan Tsarynny, Feroot co-founder and CEO. “Threat actors are starting to gain higher ROI from attacking unprotected client-side applications as compared to traditional server-side attacks. In order to meet the increased demand for our client-side security products we needed to find a great partner with deep experience in helping early-stage cybersecurity startups grow.”


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