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Skyqraft raises $2.2M seed for its powerline issue detection system

2021, January 19 - 6:00pm

Skyqraft, the Swedish startup using AI and drones for electricity powerline inspection, has raised $2.2 million in seed funding, capital it will use to further develop its technology and expand its operations in Europe and in the U.S.

Leading the seed round is Subvenio Invest, with participation from pre-seed backer Antler, Next Human Ventures, and unnamed angel investors.

Founded in March 2019 and launched that September, Skyqraft provides what it calls “smart” infrastructure inspections for powerlines. It uses drones, combined with AI, to gather images and detect risk automatically.

This is in contrast to the status quo, where power-lines are typically inspected by teams of people and helicopters, which is time consuming and potentially dangerous. The idea behind Skyqraft is to enable safer powerline inspections in a more cost-efficient and environmentally sustainable way.

Skyqraft, a startup using AI and drones for electricity power-line inspection, raises $505K

“Power-line inspections most importantly are not environmentally friendly, very costly and unsafe with the use of helicopters and people,” Skyqraft co-founder and CMO Sakina Turabali told TechCrunch when Skyqraft announced its pre-seed funding. “We provide smart infrastructure inspections using unmanned airplanes by gathering images and 360 videos and feeding that data into a machine learning system that automatically detects any risk to the power-lines.”

Skyqraft says the system can process high volumes of image data and is able to detect equipment issues “rapidly and with high accuracy”. By using Skyqraft, the Swedish company claims utility companies can shorten a 25km powerline inspection from two days to “three minutes”.

Image Credits: Skyqraft

That proposition appears to already be resonating with customers, which include the three largest utility companies in Sweden jointly representing 85% of the Swedish market. Additionally, Skyqraft says it is also negotiating a series of larger scale pilots in the U.S. in 2021 with the global utility company Iberdrola.

Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin backs ‘startup generator’ Antler

Categories: Business News

LeoCare raises $18.1 million for its insurance products designed to fit in a mobile app

2021, January 19 - 5:00pm

French startup LeoCare has raised a €15 million funding round. Felix Capital, Ventech and Daphni are participating in today’s funding round. The company is selling a portfolio of insurance products with a focus on the signup process and user experience. You can control your insurance products from a mobile app.

Chances are you already pay for multiple insurance products. But when is the last time you checked your coverage and adjusted your contract? When people sign up to a new insurance product, they tend to set it and forget it.

That’s why insurance companies don’t invest a ton of money on mobile apps, control panels and user-facing features. LeoCare believes there’s room for a player that does the opposite.

LeoCare can insure your home, your car, your motorbike and your smartphone. You can sign up from the company’s website or install a mobile app. The company has tried to optimize the onboarding process with easy-to-understand questions and an indicator that tells you if you’re going to pay a bit more or a lot more if you choose one option or another.

When you sign up, you get your insurance contract right away. This way, you can send it to a landlord a few minutes later. But LeoCare also helps you manage your contract later down the road. For instance, many LeoCare customers chose to lower their car insurance premiums during lockdown. You can also add another driver for a couple of weeks.

Behind the scenes, LeoCare acts as a managing general agent. The startup partners with several insurance companies and sells its insurance products under its own brand. The company currently charges €1 million in premiums per month and has 20,000 customers.

63% of contracts cover a car, 26% of contracts cover a home, 7% of contracts are for motorcyclists and 4% of contracts focus on smartphones. And LeoCare is growing rapidly with a current month-over-month growth rate of 38%.

Up next, the company wants to launch new features, such as a bot that lets you check the status of your case. LeoCare is also working on a feature that lets you receive a notification when you’re driving and there are usually a lot of road accidents in the area.

Finally, the startup wants to launch a marketplace of professionals. This could be helpful if you’re looking for a plumber for instance. And it could represent a new revenue stream for the startup.

LeoCare plans to grow its insurance portfolio sevenfold by the end of 2021. The team will also grow from 35 to 80 people.

Categories: Business News

Singapore-based Volopay raises $2.1 million seed round to build a “financial control center” for businesses

2021, January 19 - 7:00am

Volopay, a Singapore-based startup building a “financial control center” for businesses, announced today it has raised $2.1 million in seed funding. The round was led by Tinder co-founder Justin Mateen, and included participation from Soma Capital, CP Ventures, Y Combinator, VentureSouq, the founders of Razorpay and other angel investors.

The funding will be used on hiring, product development, strategic partnerships and Volopay’s international expansion. It plans to launch operations in Australia later this month. The company currently has about 100 clients, including Smart Karma, Dathena, Medline, Sensorflow and Beam.

Launched in 2019 by Rajith Shaiji and Rajesh Raikwar, Volopay took part in Y Combinator’s accelerator program last year. It was created after chief executive officer Shaji, who worked for several fintech companies before launching Volopay, became frustrated by the process of reconciling business expenses, especially with accounting departments located in different countries. Shaiji and Raikwar also saw that many companies, especially startups and SMEs, struggled to track different kinds of spending, including subscriptions and vendor payments.

Singapore-based Volopay wants to be the ‘Brex of Southeast Asia’

Most of Volopay’s clients are in the tech sector and have about 15 to 150 employees. Volopay’s platform integrates multi-currency corporate cards (issued by VISA Corporate), domestic and international bank transfers, automated payments and expense and accounting software, allowing companies to save money on foreign exchange fees and reconcile expenses more quickly.

In order to speed up its development, Volopay integrated Airwallex’s APIs. Its corporate cards offer up to 2% cashback on software subscriptions, hosting and international travel, which Volopay says are the three top expense categories for tech companies, and it in November 2020, it launched a credit facility for corporate cards to help give SMEs more liquidity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Compared to traditional credit products, like credit cards and working capital loans, Shaji said Volopay’s credit facility, which is also issued by VISA Corporate, has a more competitive fixed-free pricing structure that depends on the level of credit used. This means companies know how much they owe in advance, which in turn helps them manage their cashflows more easily. The average credit line provided by Volopay is about $30,000.

Since TechCrunch last covered Volopay in July 2020, it has grown 70% month on month in terms of total funds flowing through its platform, Shaji said. It also launched two new features: a bill pay feature that allows clients to transfer money domestically and internationally with low foreign exchange rates and transaction fees, and the credit facility. The bill pay feature now contributes about 40% to Volopay’s total payment volume, while the credit product makes up 30% of its card spending.

Shaji told TechCrunch that Volopay decided to expand into Australia because because not only is it a much larger market than Singapore, but “SMEs in Australia are very comfortable using paid digital software to streamline internal operations and scale their businesses.” He added that there is currently no other provider in Australia that offers both expense management and credit to SMEs like Volopay.

Here’s why so many fintech startups are loaning to small businesses

Categories: Business News

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