Business News

Startups Weekly: This year in startups

Startup News - 2019, December 14 - 10:00pm

Welcome back to Startups Weekly, a weekend newsletter that dives into the week’s noteworthy startups and venture capital news. Before I jump into today’s topic, let’s catch up a bit. Last week, I wrote about U.S. VC activity in Europe. Before that, I noted Chinese investor activity in Africa.

Remember, you can send me tips, suggestions and feedback to kate.clark@techcrunch.com or on Twitter @KateClarkTweets. If you’re new, you can subscribe to Startups Weekly here.

Hello from Berlin, where we’ve just wrapped our annual conference, TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin. Top investors shared insight into European venture capital, well-known individuals and firms made announcements (large and small), and entrepreneurs pontificated about the future of startups in their respective regions.

As I spoke with various early-stage startup founders presenting at the event, chatted with U.S. and European venture capitalists and brain-stormed with my colleagues, I reflected on my last 12 months inside the tech bubble. Soon, I’ll be publishing an extended look at what I see as the 10 biggest themes in startups and VC in 2019. But for now, here’s a sneak peek at my top picks.

  1. SoftBank screw ups. From WeWork to Wag to Fair.com, SoftBank made headlines over and over again this year—for all the wrong reasons.
  2. WeWork woes. SoftBank’s star portfolio company struggled the most. This was the biggest story of the year and its complete with drugs, private jets, burned cash and upset employees.
  3. CEO exodus. From Away co-founder Steph Korey to WeWork’s Adam Neumann, a whole lot of executives exited their posts this year.
  4. Unicorn IPO struggles. Uber, Lyft, Pinterest, Zoom and more unicorns went public this year. Some fared better than others.
  5. The fight for seed. There was more competition than ever at the earliest stage of venture capital. As a result, investors got creative, hired fresh faces, raised new funds and even gave founders lavish gifts.
  6. Y Combinator growth. Everyone’s favorite accelerator got a whole lot bigger this year. Not only did its cohorts swell, but its president, Sam Altman, stepped down and the firm cemented changes to its investment process.
  7. VCs + direct listings = <3. When venture capitalist weren’t busy gossiping about WeWork and SoftBank, they were debating a new and innovative path to the public markets: direct listings.
  8. Every startup is a bank. Brex raised hundreds of millions, Stripe launched a corporate card, credit card startup Deserve nabbed $50 million. 2019 was the year that consumer banking upstarts became the new e-scooter businesses.
  9. VC isn’t the only option. While VCs were going crazy for consumer financial services, companies like Clearbanc and Capital expanded to give founders alternatives to venture capital, like revenue-based financing and venture debt.
  10.   The diversity disaster persists. Women still only raise 2.8% of venture capital in the U.S., up from 2.2%. Enough said.

If you like this newsletter, you will definitely enjoy Equity, which brings the content of this newsletter to life — in podcast form! Join myself and Equity co-host Alex Wilhelm every Friday for a quick breakdown of the week’s biggest news in venture capital and startups.

This week, I sat down with Chris Mayo, head of primary markets at the London Stock Exchange, to discuss the rise of direct listings.

Equity drops every Friday at 6:00 am PT, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercastSpotify and all the casts.

Categories: Business News

Consumer sous vide startup Nomiku is winding down operations

Startup News - 2019, December 14 - 4:38am

Founded in 2012, Nomiku became a plucky Silicon Valley darling by bringing affordable sous vide cooking to home kitchens. A Kickstarter project that same year generated $750,000, several times its $200,000 goal. The company scored a glowing TechCrunch profile the following year, as well, thanks in part to a great backstory.

Today, however, the company noted on its site and various social media channels that it is winding down operations:

Well, I am sorry to say that we have reached the end of the road. It is with a heavy heart (and deep-felt gratitude for your patronage) that we are writing to let you know that we are discontinuing the Nomiku Smart Cooker and Nomiku Meals effective immediately, and suspending operations. While we still believe in the concept, we simply were not able to get to a place of sustainability to keep the business going. Thank you very much for your support, it has meant a lot to myself and everyone here at Nomiku.

“The total climate for food tech is different than it used to be,” Lisa Fetterman said in a call to TechCrunch. “There was a time when food tech and hardware were much more hot and viable. I think a company can survive a few hurdles, and a few challenges [ …] For me, it was the perfect storm of all these things.”

In total, the company raised more than $1.3 million over two Kickstarter campaigns, putting it in the upper echelons of food crowdfunding. In 2015, the startup joined Y Combinator and launched a cooking app called Tender, featuring recipes from prominent chefs.

In some ways, Nomiku appears to be a victim of its own popularity. The company was able to bring a cost-prohibitive cooking technology down to an affordable price point, only to see the market flooded by competitors. Fetterman highlighted some of those issues in a recent Extra Crunch interview.

In 2017, Samsung Ventures invested in the company, with plans to integrate it into its SmartThings connected platform. That same year, Nomiku began to pivot into subscription meal plans, but had difficulty getting the word out. Fetterman says the company was seeking funding toward the end, but ultimately couldn’t make things work.

Even with a buzzy company and a great product, the startup world can still be unforgiving. 

Categories: Business News

The newest members of the $100M ARR club

Startup News - 2019, December 14 - 1:42am

Hello and welcome back to our regular morning look at private companies, public markets and the grey space in between.

Today we’re taking stock of a cohort of special companies: still-private startups that have reached $100 million in annual recurring revenue (ARR). Our goal is to understand which startup companies are actually exceptional. This late in the unicorn era, hundreds of companies around the world have reached a valuation of $1 billion, making the achievement somewhat pedestrian.

Reaching $100 million in ARR, however, still stands out.

We explored the idea earlier this week, citing Asana, Druva and WalkMe as private companies that recently reached $100 million ARR. In addition to that trio, Bill.com and Sprout Social, both of which went public this week, also crossed the nine-figure annual recurring revenue mark in 2019.

After we posted that short list, four other companies either just shy of $100 million ARR, or with a little bit more, reached out to TechCrunch, touting their own successes. Given that our point was that companies which reach the revenue threshold million are neat, it’s worth taking a moment to look at the other companies joining the $100 million ARR club.

For extra fun I got on the phone with a number of their CEOs to chat about their progress. We’ll start with a look at a company that is nearly a member of the club, and then talk about a few that recently punched their membership cards.

The $100M ARR club’s up-and-comers GitLab: Expects to reach $100M ARR in January, 2020

To be frank, I did not know that GitLab was as large as it is. Backed by more than $400 million in private capital, GitLab competes with the now-purchased GitHub as a developer resource and service. Its backers include Goldman Sachs, ICONIQ, GV, August Capital and Khosla.

GitLab became a unicorn back in September of 2018, when it raised $100 million at a $1 billion post-money valuation. Its more recent $268 million Series E raised this September pushed that valuation to nearly $2.8 billion.

It’s a good company for us to include, as it provides a good example of how far in advance a $1 billion valuation can precede a $100 million ARR business; in GitLab’s case, provided that it grows as expected, its unicorn valuation came nearly 1.5 years before reaching nine-figure ARR.

To understand more about the company’s growth, we caught up with its CEO Sid Sijbrandij (full discussion here), learning that he views the unicorn tag as a way to help a company brand itself, but something that is outside of his company’s control. Revenue, in his view, is “much more within your control.” According to Sijbrandij, GitLab is aiming for $1 billion in revenue in 2023 and has a November, 2020 IPO targeted.

GitLab is sharing its impending ARR milestone as it runs its whole business very transparently (hence why my chat with its CEO was live-streamed, and archived on YouTube). It will be super interesting to see if the company hits the ARR target on time, and then if it can also stick the landing with a Q4 2020 IPO.

The $100 million ARR club’s newest members Egnyte: Reached $100M ARR in November 2019

Egnyte, a player in the enterprise productivity, storage and security spaces, has kept growing since its $75 million Series E it raised last October.

The company, backed by Goldman Sachs (again), GV (again) and Kleiner Perkins, has raised just $137.5 million to date. Reaching $100 million ARR on that level of funding means that Egnyte has run efficiently as a business. In fact, as TechCrunch has reported, Egnyte has occasionally made money on its path to the public markets.

TechCrunch has spoken to Egnyte’s CEO Vineet Jain a number of times, but it seemed appropriate to get him back on the phone now that his company is nearly ready to go public (at least in terms of size). According to Jain, in fresh data released to Extra Crunch:

  • Egnyte passed the $100 million ARR threshold in November
  • The company grew about 30% in 2019
  • Egnyte expects growth to accelerate in 2020

Categories: Business News

Chicago’s Sprout Social prices IPO mid-range at $17 per share, raising $150M

Startup News - 2019, December 13 - 11:12pm

On the heels of Bill.com’s debut, Chicago-based social media software company Sprout Social priced its IPO last night at $17 per share, in the middle of its proposed $16 to $18 per-share range. Selling 8.8 million shares, Sprout raised just under $150 million in its debut.

Underwriters have the option to purchase an additional 1.3 million shares if they so choose.

The IPO is a good result for the company’s investors (Lightbank, New Enterprise Associates, Goldman Sachs and Future Fund), but also for Chicago, a growing startup scene that doesn’t often get its due in the public mind.

At $17 per share, not including the possible underwriter option, Sprout Social is worth about $814 million. That’s just a hair over its final private valuation set during its $40.5 million Series D in December of 2018. That particular investment valued Sprout at $800.5 million, according to Crunchbase data.

So what?

Sprout’s debut is interesting for a few reasons. First, the company raised just a little over $110 million while private, and will generate over $100 million in trailing GAAP revenue this year. In effect, Sprout Social used less than $110 million to build up over $100 million in annual recurring revenue (ARR) — the firm reached the $100 million ARR mark between Q2 and Q3 of 2019. That’s a remarkably efficient result for the unicorn era.

And the company is interesting, as it gives us a look at how investors value slower-growth SaaS companies. As we’ve written, Sprout Social grew by a little over 30% in the first three quarters of 2019. That’s a healthy rate, but not as fast as, say, Bill.com . (Bill.com’s strong market response puts its own growth rate in context.)

Thinking very loosely, Sprout Social closed Q3 2019 with ARR of about $105 million. Worth $814 million now, we can surmise that Sprout priced at an ARR multiple of about 7.75x. That’s a useful benchmark for private companies that sell software: If you want a higher multiple when you go public, you’ll have to grow a little faster.

All the same, the IPO is a win for Chicago, and a win for the company’s investors. We’ll update this piece later with how the stock performs, once it begins to trade.

Categories: Business News

Equity Dive: Direct Listings

Startup News - 2019, December 13 - 11:00pm

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.

We have something special this week and it’s not just because Kate’s in Berlin for TechCrunch Disrupt Europe and Alex’s in the throes of a cross-country move! No, we’ve had this episode in the works for a while, and we’re excited to finally present our deep dive on direct listings with Chris Mayo, the head of primary markets at the London Stock Exchange.

If you’re unfamiliar with direct listings, no need for concern. Chris walks us through the basics and even the more complicated stuff. Before you jump in, here’s a quick refresher on the new and innovative method of going public: Direct listings allow companies to exit by listing to the market existing shares held by insiders, employees and investors directly, rather than the traditional method of issuing new shares. If you’re interested, we’ve written quite a bit on the subject like this, this, this and more.

As for Mayo, before landing at the London Stock Exchange in 2014, he was a consultant at EcoLogic Systems and a director of equity capital markets, Central and Eastern Europe.

Hope you enjoy our conversation. Thanks for stopping by once again.

Equity drops every Friday at 6:00 am PT, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercastSpotify and all the casts.

Categories: Business News

Bluespace.ai, a startup focused on AV technology for mass transit, gets $3.5 million in seed funding

Startup News - 2019, December 13 - 8:00pm

Bluespace.ai, a new autonomous driving startup focused on mass transit, announced today that it has raised $3.5 million in seed funding led by Fusion Fund.

Other investors include YouTube co-founder Steve Chen; UMC, the Taiwanese semiconductor foundry; Kakao Ventures; GDP Ventures; Atinum; Wasabi Ventures; Blue Ivy Ventures; Plug n Play; and SLV Capital.

The startup develops software systems for autonomous mass transit fleets and is currently in meetings with cities and transit providers. Its founding team includes CEO Joel Pazhayampallil, previously co-founder of Drive.ai, which was acquired by Apple earlier this year, and president and COO Christine Moon, whose experience includes serving as head of partnerships for Google’s Nexus program.

Bluespace.ai’s team also has people who have worked at AV companies like Zoox, Lyft Level 5 and Voyage. Their combined experience includes launching AV fleets in Texas, California and Florida.

In an email, Moon told TechCrunch that Bluespace.ai’s software “enables verifiably safe AV operation without the millions of miles of testing needed by current generation AVs. This enables our mission of making urban mobility more equitable, accessible and sustainable through mass transit automation in the near term.”

Several major automakers, including Volvo and Toyota, and startups like May Mobility and Optimus Ride, are also working on AV solutions for mass transit.

Moon said Bluespace.ai’s specific focus is on “increas[ing] the overall ability and efficiency across trunk transit routes with higher rider capacity.” While other startups have primarily focused on first- and last-mile solutions for slow-speed vehicles that are part of main transit systems, Moon added that Bluespace.ai’s aim is to safely enable full-size vehicles that can travel on public roads at road speed, therefore serving more passengers at a time.

In a press statement, Fusion Fund managing partner Lu Zhang said “After looking at many investment opportunities in the AV space, we found that BlueSpace stood out with their revolutionary technology approach and providing near term market application. The founding team has an incredibly strong technology background and significant deployment experience, having launched AV services in Florida, Texas and California.”

Categories: Business News

Sleek raises $5M to help companies incorporate and operate in Singapore and Hong Kong

Startup News - 2019, December 13 - 5:38pm

Sleek, a startup that is making it easier for other startups and companies to incorporate and operate in Singapore and Hong Kong, said today it has extended its seed financing round to raise $5 million.

The extended seed round for the two-year-old startup was led by private investors Pierre Lorinet and Fabio Blom, and MI8, an Asia-focused European backed private investment company.

Sleek also counts a number of high profile individuals including Martin Crawford, former Group CEO of corporate services giant Vistra, Olivier Gerhardt, founder of Wavecell, Eric Barbier, founder of TransferTo, and Olivier Legrand, MD Asia at Linkedin among its investors.

Sleek, founded by French entrepreneurs Julien Labruyere and Adrien Barthel, today helps more than 2,000 startups and companies in Singapore and Hong Kong, an additional market it extended to in mid-2019. Some of its clients include Yours Cosmetics (funded by Sequoia), Aspire Financials (which raised $30 million recently), Ematic Solutions, Devialet, and oil and gas giant Total.

As we wrote about them in June this year, Sleek not only helps startups and companies incorporate themselves in Singapore (and now, Hong Kong), but also takes care of their accounting, taxes, regulatory compliance and other administrative work.

Sleek founders Julien Labruyere (right) and Adrien Barthel (left)

Singapore and Hong Kong have emerged as epicenters for startups and tech worldwide. “Hong Kong is a historical Asian financial hub, with six times more operating companies than in Singapore and an amazing business ecosystem,” said Barthel, adding that despite the current situation in Hong Kong, the business is growing in the market.

Both Singapore and Hong Kong today offer a range of benefits including government-backed startup programs to attract businesses, but setting up shops there still require a lot of paperwork.

The traditional way of dealing with accounting and incorporation is a cumbersome task, and the last thing founders want to deal with, Barthel explained to TechCrunch in an interview. Plus, there’s no transparency in what the actual cost of doing these tasks would be, he said.

Sleek offers a subscription business, where it charges a fixed amount — about $600 — to its customers each year. Starting second year, it waives some of its fee, said Barthel. “We also offer a simple dashboard for our clients to quickly check the progress we have made on any front,” he added.

To make the deal even better, Sleek offers vouchers with subscription to AWS, Stripe, Google Cloud — that they are likely going to use in their businesses anyway — worth thousands of dollars. The startup also connects its partner entrepreneurs with financial institutions to help them access working capital.

Barthel said before signing up a client, Sleek does its own due diligence. “Singapore, for instance, has stringent on KYC (know your customer) processes. Among other things, we use a number of APIs that are tied with all the major global databases to ensure that our potential clients are not doing notorious business,” he said.

Sleek, which today employs 85 people, will use the fresh capital to expand its tech team, build new features for clients, and increase its operational capacity.

Categories: Business News

Reliance Industries acquires a majority stake in SaaS startup NowFloats for $20M

Startup News - 2019, December 13 - 9:20am

Reliance Industries, one of India’s largest industrial houses, has acquired a majority stake in NowFloats, an Indian startup that helps businesses and individuals build online presence without any web developing skills.

In a regulatory filing on Thursday, Reliance Strategic Business Ventures Limited said (PDF) it has acquired an 85% stake in NowFloats for 1.4 billion Indian rupees ($20 million).

Seven-and-a-half-year old, Hyderabad-headquartered NowFloats operates an eponymous platform that allows individuals and businesses to easily build an online presence. Using NowFloats’ services, a mom and pop store, for instance, can build a website, publish their catalog, as well as engage with their customers on WhatsApp.

The startup, which has raised about 12 million in equity financing prior to today’s announcement, claims to have helped over 300,000 participating retail partners. NowFloats counts Blume Ventures, Omidyar Network, Iron Pillar, IIFL Wealth Management, and Hyderabad Angels among its investors.

Last year, NowFloats acquired LookUp, an India-based chat service that connects consumers to local business — and is backed by Vinod Khosla’s personal fund Khosla Impact, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, Narayana Murthy’s Catamaran Ventures and Global Founders Capital.

Reliance Strategic Business Ventures Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Reliance Industries, said that it would invest up to 750 million Indian rupees ($10.6 million) of additional capital into the startup, and raise its stake to about 89.66%, if NowFloats achieves certain unspecified goals by the end of next year.

In a statement, Reliance Industries said the investment will “further enable the group’s digital and new commerce initiatives.” NowFloats is the latest acquisition Reliance has made in the country this year. In August, the conglomerate said it was buying a majority stake in Google-backed Fynd for $42.3 million. In April, it bought a majority stake in Haptik in a deal worth $100 million.

There are about 60 million small and medium-sized businesses in India. Like hundreds of millions of Indians, many in small towns and cities, who have come online in recent years thanks to world’s cheapest mobile data plans and inexpensive Android smartphones, businesses are increasingly building online presence as well.

But vast majority of them are still offline, a fact that has created immense opportunities for startups — and VCs looking into this space — and major technology giants. New Delhi-based BharatPe, which helps merchants accept online payments and provides them with working capital, raised $50 million in August. Khatabook and OkCredit, two digital bookkeeping apps for merchants, have also raised significant amount of money this year.

In recent years, Google has also looked into the space. It has launched tools — and offered guidance — to help neighborhood stores establish some presence on the web. In September, the company announced that its Google Pay service, which is used by more than 67 million users in India, will now enable businesses to accept digital payments and reach their customers online.

Categories: Business News

Why Bill.com didn’t pursue a direct listing

Startup News - 2019, December 13 - 7:42am

Bill.com went public today after pricing its shares higher than it initially expected. The B2B payments company sold nearly 10 million shares at $22 apiece, raising around $216 million in its IPO. Public investors felt that the company’s price was a deal, sending the value of its equity to $35.51 per share as of the time of writing.

That’s a gain of over 61%.

On the heels of its successful pricing run and raucous first day’s trading, TechCrunch caught up with Bill.com CEO René Lacerte to dig into his company’s debut. We wanted to know how pricing went, and whether the company (which possibly could have valued itself more richly during its IPO pricing, given its first-day pop) had considered a direct listing.

Lacerte detailed what resonated with investors while pricing Bill.com’s shares, and also did a good job outlining his perspective on what matters for companies that are going public. As a spoiler, he wasn’t super focused on the company’s first-day return.

For more on the Bill.com IPO’s nuts and bolts, head here. Let’s get into the interview.

René Lacerte

The following interview has been edited for length and clarity. Questions have been condensed.

TechCrunch: How did your IPO pricing feel, and what did you learn from the process?

Lacerte: I think the whole experience has been an incredible learning experience from a capitalism perspective; that’s probably a broader conversation. But you know, it really came down to how our story resonated with investors, and so there’s three components that we kind of really talked to folks about.

Categories: Business News

DataRobot is acquiring Paxata to add data prep to machine learning platform

Startup News - 2019, December 13 - 4:00am

DataRobot, a company best known for creating automated machine learning models known as AutoML, announced today that it intends to acquire Paxata, a data prep platform startup. The companies did not reveal the purchase price.

Paxata raised a total of $90 million before today’s acquisition, according to the company.

Up until now, DataRobot has concentrated mostly on the machine learning and data science aspect of the workflow — building and testing the model, then putting it into production. The data prep was left to other vendors like Paxata, but DataRobot, which raised $206 million in September, saw an opportunity to fill in a gap in their platform with Paxata.

“We’ve identified, because we’ve been focused on machine learning for so long, a number of key data prep capabilities that are required for machine learning to be successful. And so we see an opportunity to really build out a unique and compelling data prep for machine learning offering that’s powered by the Paxata product, but takes the knowledge and understanding and the integration with the machine learning platform from DataRobot,” Phil Gurbacki, SVP of product development and customer experience at DataRobot, told TechCrunch.

Prakash Nanduri, CEO and co-founder at Paxata, says the two companies were a great fit and it made a lot of sense to come together. “DataRobot has got a significant number of customers, and every one of their customers have a data and information management problem. For us, the deal allows us to rapidly increase the number of customers that are able to go from data to value. By coming together, the value to the customer is increased at an exponential level,” he explained.

DataRobot is based in Boston, while Paxata is in Redwood City, Calif. The plan moving forward is to make Paxata a west coast office, and all of the company’s almost 100 employees will become part of DataRobot when the deal closes.

While the two companies are working together to integrate Paxata more fully into the DataRobot platform, the companies also plan to let Paxata continue to exist as a standalone product.

DataRobot has raised more than $431 million, according to PitchBook data. It raised $206 million of that in its last round. At the time, the company indicated it would be looking for acquisition opportunities when it made sense.

This match-up seems particularly good, given how well the two companies’ capabilities complement one another, and how much customer overlap they have. The deal is expected to close before the end of the year.

Boston-based DataRobot raises $206M Series E to bring AI to enterprise

Categories: Business News

And the winner of Startup Battlefield at Disrupt Berlin 2019 is… Scaled Robotics

Startup News - 2019, December 13 - 1:01am

At the very beginning, there were 14 startups. After two days of incredibly fierce competition, we now have a winner.

Startups participating in the Startup Battlefield have all been hand-picked to participate in our highly competitive startup competition. They all presented in front of multiple groups of VCs and tech leaders serving as judges for a chance to win $50,000 and the coveted Disrupt Cup.

After hours of deliberations, TechCrunch editors pored over the judges’ notes and narrowed the list down to five finalists: Gmelius, Hawa Dawa, Inovat, Scaled Robotics and Stable.

These startups made their way to the finale to demo in front of our final panel of judges, which included: Andrei Brasoveanu (Accel), Andrew Reed (Sequoia Capital), Carolina Brochado (SoftBank Vision Fund), Lila Preston (Generation Investment Management) and Mike Butcher (TechCrunch).

Winner: Scaled Robotics

Scaled Robotics has designed a robot that can produce 3D progress maps of construction sites in minutes, precise enough to detect that a beam is just a centimeter or two off. Supervisors can then use the software to check things like which pieces are in place on which floor, whether they have been placed within the required tolerances or if there are safety issues like too much detritus on the ground in work areas.

Read more about Scaled Robotics in our separate post.

Runner-up: Stable

Stable offers a solution as simple as car insurance, designed to protect farmers around the world from pricing volatility. Through the startup, food buyers ranging from owners of a small smoothie shop to Coca-Cola employees can insure thousands of agricultural commodities, as well as packaging and energy products.

Read more about Stable in our separate post.

Categories: Business News

The IPO window is open

Startup News - 2019, December 13 - 12:15am

Hello and welcome back to our regular morning look at private companies, public markets and the grey space in between.

This morning we’re digging into the current IPO market, asking ourselves how much damage WeWork really did to other companies hoping to go public. Is the IPO window closed, and if not, what sort of companies can still get out?

There’s some good news out today for late-stage startups looking to debut — along with a few impending tests regarding the market’s appetite for risk that we should understand as we head into 2020.

Bill.com’s good news

In terms of IPOs, Bill.com’s felt comfortably standard for 2019. Bill.com was a heavily venture-backed company that had raised just under $350 million while private across myriad rounds, and by the time it wanted to go public it still lost money.

At the same time, the company had a number of strengths. These include historically slim losses as a percent of revenue ($7.3 million in its most recent fiscal year, against $78.4 million in revenue), differentiated revenue sources (subscription income and rising interest payments), and improving gross margins (74 percent in its most recent quarter, up from a little under 72 percent in the year-ago period).

Those factors combined were sufficient to entice investors to price the company’s IPO far above its initial expectations of $16 to $18 per share. Instead, Bill.com raised its range once and then priced above the higher interval. At $22 per share, the company’s value rose by about 60% compared to its most recent private financing. (You can read more on the debut here.)

This matters as WeWork was said to have closed the IPO window for companies more focused on growth than profits. The way the market reality was discussed in venture circles seemed to indicate that WeWork’s implosion had slashed investor interest in growth, with public market players now favoring profits, or something close.

Bill.com’s most recent three-month period featured far-larger losses than its year-ago quarter, which mattered little in the end. The firm’s solid growth and moderate losses, it seems, were more than enough to secure a strong welcome to the public markets.

Yes, but…

You may be wondering why we just spent so much time explaining why a healthy company managed to go public. The goal, simply, was to point out that not only can companies still losing money and burning cash go public, they may even get a strong reception.

But what about companies in slightly less good shape? What does Bill.com’s IPO pricing indicate for Sprout Social, a company of similar size that’s going public this week which is also unprofitable, but growing more slowly (29.5% year-over-year in Q3 2019, compared to Bill.com’s 57%)?

Its pricing and debut will be a more interesting test. And luckily for us, it should price its shares this evening. (Even more fun, it targeted the same $16 to $18 per-share initial IPO price range that Bill.com initially had in its own sights.)

If Sprout Social manages to price in-range, we’ll have another data point in favor of the IPO window being comfortably open. It’s not surprising that Bill.com’s IPO priced well, but Sprout Social’s slower growth rate likely make its losses less palatable; if it can debut all the same we’ll know that the band of venture-backed companies that can public post-WeWork in the dead of December is wide.

That’s good news for illiquid unicorns and their backers, provided that their companies are at least as healthy as Chicago’s Sprout.

WeWork 2.0

Finally, we have one more test of the IPO market ahead of us.

China-based Ucommune is a co-working company with self-described “global impact and ambitions.” Claiming to be the “largest co-working space community in China,” Ucommune espouses “sharing, innovation, responsibility and success for all.” In its F-1 document, filed yesterday and setting in motion a possible US-listed IPO, Ucommune details comical levels of unprofitability and growth.

If all that sounds familiar, it should. It should feel similar to WeWork, which makes the timing of Ucommune’s IPO filing all the more amazing. WeWork’s pulled IPO was minutes ago, and here we are, staring down the filing of yet another coworking IPO?

The situation gets even better. Observe the following results:

  • Ucommune Q1, Q2, Q3 revenue: $122.4 million

Categories: Business News

Robinhood lets you invest as little as 1 cent in any stock

Startup News - 2019, December 13 - 12:00am

One share of Amazon stock costs more than $1,700, locking out less-wealthy investors. So to continue its quest to democratize stock trading, Robinhood is launching fractional share trading this week. This lets you buy 0.000001 shares, rounded to the nearest penny, or just $1 of any stock, with zero fee.

The ability to buy by millionth of a share lets Robinhood undercut Square Cash’s recently announced fractional share trading, which sets a $1 minimum for investment. Robinhood users can sign up here for early access to fractional share trading. “One of our core values is participation is power,” says Robinhood co-CEO Vlad Tenev. “Everything we do is rooted in this. We believe that fractional shares have the potential to open up investing for even more people.”

Fractional share trading ensures no one need be turned away, and Robinhood can keep growing its user base of 10 million with its war chest of $910 million in funding. As incumbent brokerages like Charles Schwab and E*Trade move to copy Robinhood’s free stock trading, the startup has to stay ahead in inclusive financial tools. In this case, though, it’s trying to keep up, since Schwab, Square, Stash and SoFi all launched fractional shares this year. Betterment has actually offered this since 2010.

Robinhood revives checking with new debit card & 2% interest

Robinhood has a bunch of other new features aimed at diversifying its offering for the not-yet-rich. Today its Cash Management feature it announced in October is rolling out to its first users on the 800,000-person wait list, offering them 1.8% APY interest on cash in their Robinhood balance plus a Mastercard debit card for spending money or pulling it out of a wide network of ATMs. The feature is effectively a scaled-back relaunch of the botched debut of 3% APY Robinhood Checking a year ago, which was scuttled because the startup failed to secure the proper insurance it now has for Cash Management.

Additionally, Robinhood is launching two more widely requested features early next year. Dividend Reinvestment Plan (DRIP) will automatically reinvest into stocks or ETF cash dividends Robinhood users receive. Recurring Investments will let users schedule daily, weekly, bi-weekly or monthly investments into stocks. With all this, and Crypto trading, Robinhood is evolving into a full financial services suite that will be much harder for competitors to copy.

How Robinhood fractional shares work

“We believe that if you want to invest, it shouldn’t matter how much money you have. With fractional shares, we’re opening up a whole universe of stocks and funds, including Amazon, Apple, Disney, Berkshire Hathaway, and thousands of others,” Robinhood product manager Abhishek Fatehpuria tells me.

Users will be able to place real-time fractional share orders in dollar amounts as low as $1 or share amounts as low as 0.000001 shares rounded to the penny during market hours. Stocks worth over $1 per share with a market capitalization above $25 million are eligible, with 4,000 different stocks and ETFs available for commission-free, real-time fractional trading.

“We believe that participation is power. Since day one, we’ve focused on breaking down barriers like trade commissions and account minimums to help people participate in the financial system,” says Fatehpuria. “We have a unique user base — half our customers tell us they’re first-time investors, and the median age of a Robinhood customer is 30. This means we have a unique opportunity to expand access to the markets for this new generation.”

Robinhood is racing to corner the freemium investment tool market before other startups and finance giants can catch up. It opened a waitlist for its U.K. launch next year, which will be its first international market. But in just the past month, Alpaca raised $6 million for an API that lets anyone build a stock brokerage app, and Atom Finance raised $10.6 million for its free investment research tool that could compete with Robinhood’s in-app feature. Meanwhile, Robinhood suffered an embarrassing bug, letting users borrow more money than allowed.

The move fast and break things mentality triggers new dangers when introduced to finance. Robinhood must resist the urge to rush as it spreads itself across more products in pursuit of a more level investment playing field.

Categories: Business News

Conductor execs buy their company back from WeWork

Startup News - 2019, December 12 - 11:30pm

It’s been less than two years since WeWork announced the acquisition of SEO and content marketing company Conductor — but those two years have been bumpy, to say the least.

Briefly: Parent organization The We Company’s disastrous attempt to go public resulted in the ouster of CEO Adam Neumann, an indefinite delay of its IPO and reports that the company was weighing the sale of subsidiaries Meetup, Managed by Q and Conductor.

So it’s no surprise that Conductor is, in fact, being sold — not to another company, but to its own CEO and co-founder Seth Besmertnik, COO Selina Eizik and investor Jason Finger (managing partner of The Finger Group and founder of Seamless).

“We’re grateful for our time with WeWork, during which we’ve been able to invest aggressively in R&D, doubling the size of our team with world-class talent that helps our customers achieve success everyday,” Besmertnik said in a statement. “People don’t want to be advertised to or sold to anymore. Our solutions make it easier for brands to deliver marketing that is helpful and valuable. It’s marketing that consumers actually seek out.”

The company also says that Conductor’s employees will be given a new category of stock that they’re calling founder-preferred shares, turning them into “250 employee co-founders” who can appoint a representative to the board of directors. This should give them a bigger stake and a bigger say in where Conductor goes from here.

In fact, Besmertnik noted that pre-acquisition, the Conductor team (including himself) owned less than 10% of the company, while under the new structure, employees will own “more than four times what they did when we sold the company” — and combined with Besmertnik and Eizik’s shares, they have a majority stake.

“Our ownership model is going to really create an even more committed and even more passionate group of people as we apply that to our mission and vision,” he told me.

Conductor started out with a focus on helping marketers optimize their websites for search, then expanded with tools for creating the content that’s being found through search. Since its acquisition, the company has operated as a WeWork subsidiary, and it’s currently working with more than 400 enterprises, including Visa, Casper and Slack.

The financial terms were not disclosed, but Conductor says that as a result of the deal, it’s fully divested from The We Company.

WeWork acquires SEO and marketing company Conductor

Categories: Business News

Atom Finance’s free Bloomberg Terminal rival raises $12M

Startup News - 2019, December 12 - 10:00pm

If you want to win on Wall Street, Yahoo Finance is insufficient but Bloomberg Terminal costs a whopping $24,000 per year. That’s why Atom Finance built a free tool designed to democratize access to professional investor research. If Robinhood made it cost $0 to trade stocks, Atom Finance makes it cost $0 to know which to buy.

Today Atom launches its mobile app with access to its financial modeling, portfolio tracking, news analysis, benchmarking and discussion tools. It’s the consumerization of finance, similar to what we’ve seen in enterprise SaaS. “Investment research tools are too important to the financial well-being of consumers to lack the same cycles of product innovation and accessibility that we have experienced in other verticals,” CEO Eric Shoykhet tells me.

In its first press interview, Atom Finance today revealed to TechCrunch that it has raised a $10.6 million Series A led by General Catalyst to build on its quiet $1.9 million seed round. The cash will help the startup eventually monetize by launching premium tiers with even more hardcore research tools.

Atom Finance already has 100,000 users and $400 million in assets it’s helping steer since soft-launching in June. “Atom fundamentally changes the game for how financial news media and reporting is consumed. I could not live without it,” says The Twenty Minute VC podcast founder and Atom investor Harry Stebbings.

Individual investors are already at a disadvantage compared to big firms equipped with artificial intelligence, the priciest research and legions of traders glued to the markets. Yet it’s becoming increasingly clear that investing is critical to long-term financial mobility, especially in an age of rampant student debt and automation threatening employment.

“Our mission is two-fold,” Shoykhet says. “To modernize investment research tools through an intuitive platform that’s easily accessible across all devices, while democratizing access to institutional-quality investing tools that were once only available to Wall Street professionals.”

Leveling the trading floor

Shoykhet saw the gap between amateur and expert research platforms firsthand as an investor at Blackstone and Governors Lane. Yet even the supposedly best-in-class software was lacking the usability we’ve come to expect from consumer mobile apps. Atom Finance claims that “for example, Bloomberg hasn’t made a significant change to its central product offering since 1982.”

The Atom Finance team

So a year ago, Shoykhet founded Atom Finance in Brooklyn to fill the void. Its web, iOS and Android apps offer five products that combine to guide users’ investing decisions without drowning them in complexity:

  • Sandbox – Instant financial modeling with pre-populated consensus projections that automatically update and are recalculated over time
  • Portfolio – Track your linked investment accounts to monitor overarching stats, real-time profit and loss statements and diversification
  • X-Ray – A financial research search engine for compiling news, SEC filings, transcripts and analysis
  • Compare – Benchmarking tables for comparing companies and sectors
  • Collaborate – Discussion boards and group chat for sharing insights with fellow investors

“Our Sandbox feature allows users to create simple financial models directly within our platform, without having to export data to a spreadsheet,” Shoykhet says. “This saves our users time and prevents them from having to manually refresh the inputs to their model when there is new information.”

Shoykhet positions Atom Finance in the middle of the market, saying, “Existing solutions are either too rudimentary for rigorous analysis (Yahoo Finance, Google Finance) or too expensive for individual investors (Bloomberg, CapIQ, Factset).”

With both its free and forthcoming paid tiers, Atom hopes to undercut Sentieo, a more AI-focused financial research platform that charges $500 to $1,000 per month and raised $19 million a year ago. Cheaper tools like BamSEC and WallMine are often limited to just pulling in earnings transcripts and filings. Robinhood has its own in-app research tools, which could make it a looming competitor or a potential acquirer for Atom Finance.

Shoykhet admits his startup will face stiff competition from well-entrenched tools like Bloomberg. “Incumbent solutions have significant brand equity with our target market, and especially with professional investors. We will have to continue iterating and deliver an unmatched user experience to gain the trust/loyalty of these users,” he says. Additionally, Atom Finance’s access to users’ sensitive data means flawless privacy, security, and accuracy will be essential.

The $12.5 million from General Catalyst, Greenoaks, Global Founders Capital, Untitled Investments, Day One Ventures and a slew of angels gives Atom runway to rev up its freemium model. Robinhood has found great success converting unpaid users to its subscription tier where they can borrow money to trade. By similarly starting out free, Atom’s eight-person team hailing from SoFi, Silver Lake, Blackstone and Citi could build a giant funnel to feed its premium tiers.

Fintech can feel dry and ruthlessly capitalistic at times. But Shoykhet insists he’s in it to equip a new generation with methods of wealth creation. “I think we’ve gone long enough without seeing real innovation in this space. We can’t be complacent with something so important. It’s crucial that we democratize access to these tools and educate consumers . . . to improve their investment well-being.”

Categories: Business News

GetYourGuide widens its horizons, will expand its Originals short tours into day trips and more

Startup News - 2019, December 12 - 7:59pm

GetYourGuide has made a name for itself as the startup that helped the stale idea of guided tours for travellers on its head. Tapping into the generation of consumers who think of travel not just as going somewhere, but having an “experience” (and, ideally, recording it for Insta-posterity), it has built a marketplace to connect them with people who will help guarantee that this is what they will get. It’s a concept that has helped it sell more than 25 million tickets, hit a $1 billion valuation, and raise hundreds of millions of dollars in VC funding.

And the startup has grown quite a lot since passing the 25 million mark in May. “We’ve had 40 million travelers over the last 12 months. We’re the market leader in every European geography. We’re #2 in the U.S. and about to become #1,” co-founder and CEO Johannes Reck said at TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin.

Now GetYourGuide is taking the next step in its strategy to expand its touchpoints with users, and grow and diversify its business in the process. The company is expanding its “Originals” business — its own in-house tour operation — into one-day tours and other longer journeys, with the aim of hitting 1 million sales of Originals this year. It will kick off the effort with a small number — between five and 10 — one-day tours in different exotic locations. Examples will include “dune-bashing in Dubai,” glacier excursions from Reykjavik, and trips to Bali’s “most instagrammable hidden spots.”

GetYourGuide Originals have been working well. “We’ve had tremendous success, we have an average score of 4.8 [out of 5] compared to 4.4 for the other marketplace activities,” Reck said. Originals have a 40% higher repeat rate than other activities.

“And we’re now extending it to day trips. For those who are not familiar with the travel experience, day trip is the single biggest vertical inside of experiences,” Reck said.

Originals was launched a year and a half ago as a way for GetYourGuide to build its own tours — which it kicked off first with shorter walking tours — as a complement to the marketplace where it offers travellers a way of discovering and purchasing places on tours organised by third parties. Today it offers 23 different Originals in 17 cities like Paris, London, Berlin and Rome.

Up to now, GYG has sold some 200,000 places on its Originals tours — which is actually a tiny proportion of business, when you consider that the number of tours booked through the platform has passed 25 million.

The startup likes to describe its own Orignals as “like Netflix Originals, but in the real world!” And that analogy is true in a couple of ways. Not only does it give GYG more curatorial control on what is actually part of the tour, where it’s run, who guides it and more; but it gives the company potentially a bigger margin when it comes to making money off the effort, and means it does not have to negotiate with third parties on revenue share and other business details.

That’s, of course, not considering the challenges of scaling in this way.

Adding in more Originals and extending to transportation to get to the destination (and potentially staying overnight at some point) will mean taking on costs and organizational efforts, and risks, around more operational segments: making sure vehicles are safe and working, that hotels have clean sheets (and rooms), and more. More things can go wrong, and customers will have many more reasons to complain (or praise). It will be one of those moments when the startup will have to rethink what it’s core competency is, and whether it can deliver on that.

On the other side, if it works, GYG will diversify its the business while finding new revenue streams. But the strategy to grow Originals is a logical next step for other reasons, too.

The most important of these is probably competition: GYG may have been the pioneer of hipster travel experiences, but today it is by no means the only company focusing on this segment. Companies like Airbnb and TripAdvisor have tacked on tours and “Experiences” as a complement to their own offerings, as ways of extending their own consumer touchpoints beyond, respectively, booking a place to say or finding a cool place that popular with locals, or figure out what attractions to see.

Get Your Guide needs to find ways of keeping existing and new users returning to its own platform, rather than simply tacking on its tour packages while organising other aspects of their vacation.

The other is that, as Get Your Guide continues to break ground on changing the conversation around travel, building its own content rather than relying on others to fulfil its vision will become ever more essential, and paves the way for how the company will approach adding ever more components into the chain between your home and your destination.

Categories: Business News

Glovo’s Sacha Michaud: “I think there will be consolidation”

Startup News - 2019, December 12 - 6:36pm

Many companies realized that there was a huge opportunity when it comes to on-demand delivery of food and groceries. And apparently, too many companies as Glovo co-founder Sacha Michaud expects some consolidation in the space in the near future.

At TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin, the General Manager of Northern, Central and Eastern Europe for Uber Eats Charity Safford and Glovo’s co-founder Sacha Michaud sat down with TechCrunch’s Natasha Lomas to discuss all of the ups and downs that come with running a delivery service.

And it’s clear that the conversation has shifted over the years from ‘look what you can order from your phone’ to ‘is it possible to turn a profit’. When asked directly about profitability, both companies said that it depends on the market.

“It varies a lot country by country. We're profitable on a unit economics basis in some countries,” Safford said.

“From an investor’s perspective — and I don't think it's just related to the gig economy or delivery — I think there's more scrutiny on tech companies full stop. It’s not just about growing, but they say ‘show me the route to profitability and tell me when you're going to be profitable,’” Michaud said.

Michaud then said that Spain and Southern Europe are the best markets for Glovo. The company generates an operating profit in those markets. “Latin America will become operation profitable next year,” he added. Glovo wants to focus on markets where the company can be the leader or at least the second player.

Recently, Just Eat and Takeaway.com have announced plans to merge and form a food delivery giant. But that could be just the first step.

“I think there will be consolidation. Our vision is that we’re aiming for profitability. We want to be profitable and depend on ourselves, which would put us in a really nice position to be. We'd not depend on acquisitions or investments. And that's our focus over the next 12 to 18 months,” Michaud said. Glovo has had “conversations not about investments or acquisitions.” with Uber Eats .

But the most pressing concern right now for food delivery companies right now is that delivery partners could be reclassified as employees in some markets. Both companies insist that couriers actually like flexibility.

“It would be a big change for sure and that would be something that we would do, only if it was deemed necessary, because again we're hearing right now that that's not the way that the couriers would like to be classified,” Safford said.

Watch the full interview below:

Categories: Business News

Portify raises £7M Series A for its fintech app for ‘modern’ or gig economy workers

Startup News - 2019, December 12 - 6:00pm

Portify, the London fintech startup that offers an app and various financial products to help gig economy and other modern, flexible or “self-employed” workers better manage their finances, has raised £7 million in Series A funding.

The round, which comes a year after the company raised £1.3 million in seed investment, is led by Redalpine (an early investor in N26, Taxfix, Finiata, amongst others), with participation from existing investors Kindred, and Entrepreneur First (EF).

Founded in May 2017 by EF alumni Sho Sugihara (CEO) and Chris Butcher (CTO), Portify has set out to help address the financial volatility many modern works face, especially those who take part in flexible work or the so-called gig economy, or are self-employed in other sectors such as tradespeople or those in the creative industry.

The startup offers a number of tailored financial products, accessible via its mobile app, in addition to using Open Banking to provide financial insights into your current financial status and income, and help with short and long-term financial planning. However, until recently, the go-to-market strategy was primarily a B2B2C play — via partnerships with various gig economy platforms, such as Deliveroo. That’s now expanded to B2C.

“If you weren’t working for a select partner platform, you couldn’t access the app,” says Portify co-founder and CEO Sho Sugihara. “We did this because we wanted to make sure we were 100% focused on our target modern worker persona, and helping to financially include them. But once we started working closely with our initial users, we realised that while being modern workers, many of them also fell into the ‘credit invisible’/thin file segment, lacking access to basic financial products.

“There are a variety of reasons why they are thin file, but the main causes for our users centre around having an unconventional, fluctuating earnings pattern, being a recent migrant to the U.K., or simply never having taken out other credit products before, due to not trusting them”.

Sugihara says that while many thin file modern workers do work with gig or temporary staffing platforms, the fintech startup also saw that many do not, or they switch work platforms frequently with gaps in between. This includes sole traders or those in employment but temporarily looking to top up their incomes.

“To make sure we fulfil our mission of financially including all thin file modern workers, we felt it important we make our app as accessible as possible,” he explains. “In practice, this means that users can download the app directly off app stores now”.

Meanwhile, Portify says it will use the new funding to offer credit building and personal loans for “micro-business use”. It already launched credit services in the app earlier this year.

“Our revolving credit line caps out at £250 today,” says Sugihara. “We plan to increase this amount to higher values for a select cohort of our users: £500-1,000. Many modern workers are essentially tiny businesses/sole traders and face issues that any SME would face, like fluctuating earnings and turnover. While there are many products out there serving cash flow issues for large SMEs, our modern worker segment is extremely underserved. They fall somewhere between a consumer and business in the eyes of incumbent financial institutions who don’t really know how best to serve them. We see a big opportunity there, and are going after it”.

At the same time, Portify has begun working with the major credit bureaus to report the data produced by its app — with a user’s consent, of course — to help improve credit scores.

“Being credit invisible is a big pain point for modern workers,” adds the Portify CEO. “Even if you have an above national average income from modern working and work 80 hour weeks, you can really struggle to get basic personal loans, let alone a mortgage, just because you’re not in full time employment and don’t fulfil the tick boxes set out by incumbent institutions. Our users have repeatedly asked for our help in solving this problem”.

Categories: Business News

Yubo raises $12.3 million for its social app for teens

Startup News - 2019, December 12 - 3:00pm

French startup Yubo has raised a $12.3 million funding round led by Iris Capital and Idinvest Partners. Existing investors Alven, Sweet Capital and Village Global are also participating. The startup has managed to attract 25 million users over the years — there are currently tens of thousands of people signing up to the platform every day.

Yubo is building a social media app for young people under 25 with one focus in particular on helping teenagers meeting new people and creating friendships. Compared to the most popular social media apps out there, Yubo isn’t focused on likes and followers.

Instead, the app helps you build your own tiny little community of friends. Yubo wants to become a familiar place where you belong, even if high school sucks for instance.

More details in my previous profile of the company:

Yubo is a social network about socializing

In addition to meeting new people, you can start conversations and create live video streams to hang out together. Each stream represents a micro-community of people interacting through both video and a live chat.

Since 2015, Yubo users have sent each other 10 billion messages and started 30 million live video streams. Overall, the user base has generated 2 billion friendships.

Soon, users will be able to turn on screensharing to show something on their phones. And at some point in 2020, Yubo should release Yubo Web in order to expand Yubo beyond your smartphone and enable new use cases, such as video game live-streaming.

With today’s funding round, the company wants to attract users in new markets. Yubo is mostly active in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Nordic countries, Australia and France. Up next, the startup is going to focus on Japan and Brazil. The company plans to hire 35 new people.

When it comes to business model, the company started monetizing its app in October 2018 with in-app purchases to unlock new features. In 2019, the startup has generated $10 million in revenue.

Yubo will also use this funding round to improve safety. It’s a never-ending process, especially when there are young people using your platform. The company already partners with Yoti for age verification. Users will soon be able to create a blocklist of certain words to customize their experience.

In addition to continuous work on flagging tools and live-stream moderation algorithms in order to detect inappropriate content, the company will also increase the size of its moderation team. The company has also put together a safety board with Alex Holmes, Annie Mullins, Travis Bright, Mick Moran, Dr. Richard Graham and Anne Collier.

Categories: Business News

Here are the five Startup Battlefield finalists at Disrupt Berlin

Startup News - 2019, December 12 - 5:30am

Fourteen startups presented onstage today at Disrupt Berlin, giving live demos and rapid-fire presentations on their origin stories and business models, then answering questions from our expert judges.

Now, with the help of those judges, we’ve narrowed the group down to five startups working on everything from productivity to air pollution.

These finalists will be presenting again tomorrow (at 2pm Berlin time, viewable on the TechCrunch website or in-person at Disrupt) in front of a new set of judges. The winner will receive $50,000 and custody of the storied Disrupt Cup.

Here are the finalists:

Gmelius

Gmelius is building a workspace platform that lives inside Gmail, allowing teams to get more bespoke tools without adding yet another piece of software to their repertoire. It slots into the Gmail workspace, adding a host of features like shared inboxes, a help desk, an account-management solution and automation tools.

Read more about Gmelius here.

Hawa Dawa

Hawa Dawa combines data sources like satellites and dedicated air monitoring stations to build a granular heat map of air pollutants, selling this map to cities and companies as a subscription API. While the company notes it’s hardware-agnostic, it does build its own IoT sensors for companies and cities that might not have existing air quality sensors in place.

Read more about Hawa Dawa here.

Inovat

Inovat makes it much easier for travelers to get reimbursed for the value-added tax, through an app that employs optical character recognition and machine learning to interpret receipts, determine how much VAT you should be owed for your purchase and prepare the requisite forms for submission online or to a customs officer.

Read more about Inovat here.

Scaled Robotics

Scaled Robotics has designed a robot that can produce 3D progress maps of construction sites in minutes, precise enough to detect that a beam is just a centimeter or two off. Supervisors can then use the software to check things like which pieces are in place on which floor, whether they have been placed within the required tolerances or if there are safety issues like too much detritus on the ground in work areas.

Read more about Scaled Robotics here.

Stable

Stable offers a solution as simple as car insurance, designed to protect farmers around the world from pricing volatility. Through the startup, food buyers ranging from owners of a small smoothie shop to Coca-Cola employees can insure thousands of agricultural commodities, as well as packaging and energy products.

Read more about Stable here.

Categories: Business News

Pages

Subscribe to Hardfocus International aggregator - Business News