Category: Recent Funding

May 29, 2019 Off

Stripe and Precursor lead $4.5M seed into media CRM startup Pico

By Jill T Frey

Google and Facebook are increasingly slurping up every ad dollar on the internet. Their dominant position is upending the business models of traditional and startup media companies alike. The click-driven ad model of yore is leaving a graveyard in its wake, as once high-flying companies like Mic collapse.

Learning from the wave of SaaS startups that have launched and gone public over the past decade, media companies are increasingly exploring subscription models as a way to provide robust, recurring revenue while also building closer ties to customers, to boot (btw, have you heard of Extra Crunch?). And customers seem ready to open their wallets, as well.

That transition from ad revenue to subscription means that the infrastructure undergirding these companies needs to be completely ripped out and replaced with new solutions designed to solve a whole new set of problems — and opportunities.

Enter Pico. The brainchild … Read the rest

May 28, 2019 Off

Upsie nabs $5M to build a direct-to-consumer warranty service

By Jill T Frey

Warranties for purchased products is a $40 billion annual market. But in their current form, they are considered by some to be one of the bigger scams in the world of retail because they cost so much and often return too little.

Now there is an alternative emerging. A startup out of Minneapolis, Minn. called Upsie has decided to wage war on the old warranty, with more reasonable pricing (typically 70% lower than what the retailer offers) and a much more modern approach to selling and managing the warranty.

Its bet is that lower prices, and more flexible options for ordering, tracking and claiming against warranties, will drive more users to its service and take some business away from the retailers that largely dominate the market today. Today it’s announcing that it has raised $5 million led by True Ventures to build out that business in the U.S. Techstars Ventures, … Read the rest

May 24, 2019 Off

Nigeria’s Gokada raises $5.3M round for its motorcycle ride-hail biz

By Jill T Frey

In many large cities across Africa, motorcycle taxis are as common as yellow cabs in New York.

That includes Lagos, Nigeria, where ride-hail startup Gokada has raised a $5.3 million Series A round to grow its two-wheel transit business.

Gokada has trained and on-boarded more than 1,000 motorcycles and their pilots on its app that connects commuters to moto-taxis and the company’s signature green, DOT– approved helmets.

The startup has completed nearly 1 million rides since it was co-founded in 2018 by Fahim Saleh — a Bangladeshi entrepreneur who previously founded and exited Pathao, a motorcycle, bicycle and car transportation company.

For Gokada’s Series A, Rise Capital led the investment, joined by Adventure Capital, IC Global Partners and Illinois-based First MidWest Group. Coinciding with the round, Nigerian investor and Jobberman founder Ayodeji Adewunmi will join Gokada as co-CEO.

Gokada will use the financing to increase its … Read the rest

May 23, 2019 Off

Andreessen pours $22M into PlanetScale’s database-as-a-service

By Jill T Frey

PlanetScale’s founders invented the technology called Vitess that scaled YouTube. Now they’re selling it to any enterprise that wants their data both secure and consistently accessible. And thanks to its ability to re-shard databases while they’re operating, it can solve businesses’ troubles with GDPR, which demands they store some data in the same locality as the user to whom it belongs.

The potential to be a computing backbone that both competes with and complements Amazon’s AWS has now attracted a mammoth $22 million Series A for PlanetScale. Led by Andreessen Horowitz and joined by the firm’s Cultural Leadership Fund, head of the US Digital Service Matt Cutts, plus existing investor SignalFire, the round is a tall step up from the startup’s $3 million seed it raised a year ago. Andreessen general partner Peter Levine will join the PlanetScale board, bringing his enterprise launch expertise.

PlanetScale co-founders (from left): Jitendra … Read the rest

May 22, 2019 Off

Modsy scores $37M to virtually redesign your home

By Jill T Frey

Modsy has raised some new cash as the computer vision startup looks to get physical and build more of the furniture it recommends. The startup announced they have closed $37 million in Series C funding led by TCV. They’ve now raised north of $70 million to date.

The service combines computer vision tech with human designer know-how to let users design the trendy home of their dreams. The process begins with a user snapping pics of their room (or multiple rooms), which Modsy then stitches into a complete 3D model of the room.

Prices range from $69 to $349 depending on what level of finesse you’re looking for.

From there Modsy designers drop in furniture from their partners, like Crate&Barrel, Pottery Barn, West Elm and others, if you pay for their $149 single-room premium package, you can chat with the designers and swap out pieces or try completely different styles. … Read the rest

May 21, 2019 Off

Bringing tech efficiencies to the agribusiness market, Silo harvests $3 million

By Jill T Frey

Roughly $165 billion worth of wholesale produce is bought and sold every year in the U.S. And while that number is expected to go up to $1 trillion by 2025, the business of agribusiness remains unaffected by technology advancements that have reshaped almost every other industry.

Now Silo, a company that recently raised $3 million from investors led by Garry Tan and Alexis Ohanian’s Initialized Capital and including Semil Shah from Haystack Ventures, angel investors Kevin Mahaffey and Matt Brezina and The Penny Newman Grain Company, an international grain and feed marketplace, is looking to change that. 

Silo’s chief executive, Ashton Braun, spent years working in commodities marketplaces as a coffee trader in Singapore and moved to California after business school. As part of the founding team at Kite with Adam Smith, Braun worked on getting off the ground Kite’s software to automate computer programming, but he’d … Read the rest

May 21, 2019 Off

As meal-kit melee stretches on, Sun Basket whips up $30M Series E

By Jill T Frey

Sun Basket, a provider of a healthy meal kit delivery service, has raised another $30 million in venture capital funding. The round, led by PivotNorth Capital, brings the company’s total raised to $125 million.

The Series E funding delays Sun Basket’s expected initial public offering once again. There’s been unsubstantiated talk of a Sun Basket float for quite some time; in fact, before Blue Apron and Hello Fresh, a pair of fellow meal-kit delivery businesses, completed IPOs, Sun Basket was the subject of exit rumors. Alas, we will have to wait a while longer before the company makes the big leap.

After all, Blue Apron has performed very poorly since going public on the New York Stock Exchange two years ago. Sun Basket chief executive Adam Zbar has been honest about the difficulties of running a meal-kit startup in a post-Blue Apron IPO universe, telling PitchBook his company’s Series … Read the rest

May 17, 2019 Off

DNA Script picks up $38.5 million to make DNA production faster and simpler

By Jill T Frey

DNA Script has raised $38.5 million in new financing to commercialize a process that it claims is the first big leap forward in manufacturing genetic material.

The revolution in synthetic biology that’s reshaping industries from medicine to agriculture rests on three, equally important pillars.

They include: analytics — the ability to map the genome and understand the function of different genes; synthesis — the ability to manufacture DNA to achieve certain functions; and gene editing — the CRISPR-based technologies that allow for the addition or subtraction of genetic code.

New technologies have already been introduced to transform the analytics and editing of genomes, but little progress has been made over the past 50 years in the ways in which genetic material is manufactured. That’s exactly the problem that DNA Script is trying to solve.

Traditionally, making DNA involved the use of chemical compounds to synthesize (or write) DNA in chains … Read the rest

May 16, 2019 Off

OpenFin raises $17 million for its OS for finance

By Jill T Frey

OpenFin, the company looking to provide the operating system for the financial services industry, has raised $17 million in funding through a Series C round led by Wells Fargo, with participation from Barclays and existing investors including Bain Capital Ventures, J.P. Morgan and Pivot Investment Partners. Previous investors in OpenFin also include DRW Venture Capital, Euclid Opportunities and NYCA Partners.

Likening itself to “the OS of finance,” OpenFin seeks to be the operating layer on which applications used by financial services companies are built and launched, akin to iOS or Android for your smartphone.

OpenFin’s operating system provides three key solutions which, while present on your mobile phone, has previously been absent in the financial services industry: easier deployment of apps to end users, fast security assurances for applications and interoperability.

Traders, analysts and other financial service employees often find themselves using several separate … Read the rest

May 14, 2019 Off

Innowatts raises $18 million for its energy monitoring toolkit for utilities

By Jill T Frey

Innowatts, an automated toolkit for energy monitoring and management targeting utilities, has raised $18.2 million in a new round of funding from investors led by Energy Impact Partners .

Previous investors Shell Ventures, Iberdrola and Energy and Environment Investment participated along with another new investor, Evergy Ventures.

As utilities respond to new, renewable power coming online and adapt to the challenges presented by natural disasters and intermittent energy sources stressing old power grid assets, they are increasingly turning to new software toolkits to adapt.

Innowatts and its software fit squarely into that category of offering.

“Competing in today’s complex and evolving marketplace requires utility companies use data and intelligence to drive business and customer value,” said Siddhartha Sachdeva, founder and chief executive of Innowatts, in a statement.

The company’s technology is used to analyze meter data from 21 million customers globally in 13 regional energy markets.

Innowatts boasts that it’s … Read the rest