BlackRock Leads Qumulo’s $125M Series E To Accelerate Data Platform


This post is by Christine Hall from Crunchbase News

Seattle storage company Qumulo secured a $125 million Series E round of funding, putting it in unicorn status with a $1.2 billion valuation, the company said Thursday.

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BlackRock led the round with participation from Highland Capital Partners, Madrona Venture Group and Kleiner Perkins, as well as new investor Amity Ventures. The new investment gives Qumulo a total funding raise of $351 million, the company said in a written statement. It is also the largest round of venture-backed funding since the company’s inception in 2012, according to Crunchbase data. The company raised its $93 million Series D in 2018.

Qumulo’s data platform helps organizations create and manage their file data so they can gain value from it at scale. Samir Menon, director at BlackRock Private Equity Partners, said in a written statement that Qumulo has tapped into a new category within the enterprise data management space and is taking on the “challenge of creating and managing digital content at a scale and performance that is only getting bigger.”

The company manages more than 150 billion files for customers, said Qumulo CEO Bill Richter in a written statement. The new funding will be used to expand internationally, accelerate innovation to democratize file data management in multicloud environments, and develop strategic partnerships.

“It will help Qumulo accelerate our ability to serve the world’s leading enterprises with the freedom, control and performance that organizations need now more than ever,” he said. “We see rapidly increasing demand driven from content creators which span artists creating Hollywood blockbusters, to researchers solving global pandemics, to engineers putting rockets into space.”

Although Qumulo is more established in the data storage space, other startups in the sector have also had success in raising funds recently. In April, we reported on VAST Data raising a $100 million Series C round to reach unicorn status, as well as Cohesity’s $250 million round that doubled its valuation to $2.5 billion. Meanwhile, in May, Wasabi Technologies closed a $30 million Series B extension.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

Exclusive: Ergatta Lands $5M Seed Round To Advance Connected Rower


This post is by Christine Hall from Crunchbase News

Ergatta, which raised $5 million in a seed funding round, is taking advantage of the at-home fitness boom with a connected rower product that seems more like e-sports than fitness.

The 1-year-old company, based in Brooklyn, released its rower in March and quickly sold out its inventory, Tom Aulet, co-founder and CEO of Ergatta, told Crunchbase News. Rather than a fitness instructor leading the exercise, it’s competition through gaming that motivates the user during the workout.

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Greycroft led the round, joined by an investor group that includes Mark Pincus, Scott Dorsey, Steve Simon, Zach Weinberg, Nat Turner, Chamillionaire, E-40, Joe Zawadzki, Erich Wasserman, Water Rower and Gaingels.

What you should know

The global connected gym equipment market is poised to be worth $5.96 billion by 2025, according to Grand View Research, and is seeing a lot of activity. Last month, we covered Lululemon’s acquisition of Mirror, a startup whose mirror-like response display product streams live and on-demand classes to in-home users.

Ergatta is nearing a positive cash flow, so the new funding will be able to go further, Aulet said. He plans on investing in gaming software and content by adding engineers, as well as building out a marketing team and the startup’s brand.

“In three to five years, we are going to be looking at compelling content, and it will not always be instructors, it will be gaming,” Aulet added. “We are putting together the best mainstream gaming platform, but we are in the first inning of that, so to speak. We want to add features, such as leagues, gaming levels and unlockable content.”

The rower retails for $1,999 and was designed with the home in mind: It is handmade from cherrywood and partly designed by a furniture specialist, Aulet said.

Content is key for Ergatta, and while everyone is copying the Peloton method, which livestreams its classes and creates content around its instructors, Aulet said it is going in the gaming direction.

“It is part video game, part sports,” he said. “You can pick from a library of workouts, delivered in games, so you can compete with yourself and others, and be motivated in a different way.”

Next steps for Ergatta

The company has nine full-time employees and, in order to keep up with demand, Aulet would like to double that over the next year, particularly in engineering, product design, gaming and consumer experience.

In addition to recruiting new employees, the company is laying the foundation to scale the company, as we progress toward the colder months of the year, when connected fitness is most popular, he said.

“Connected home fitness is going to be massive in the U.S.,” Aulet said. “People want to workout in their homes and when it fits into their schedule. Content is the key to winning that space, and our vision is that working out should feel more like playing a sport than taking a class or having a one-on-one with an instructor.”

Photo courtesy of Ergatta
Blogroll illustration: Dom Guzman

Bolt Secures $50M in Series C Funding To Unveil Checkout Experience Platform


This post is by Christine Hall from Crunchbase News

A big challenge retailers face is getting online shoppers to complete a transaction once they’ve initiated the checkout process. Unfortunately, nearly 70 percent of the time, they don’t.

Shopping cart abandonment reasons are plentiful—there are over a dozen—and it’s getting expensive for retailers to figure out how to capture every customer, Ryan Breslow, founder and CEO of Bolt told me in an interview.

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Thursday, San Francisco-based Bolt unveiled what Breslow says is the world’s first checkout experience platform, powered by a $50 million Series C round of funding led by WestCap’s Laurence Tosi. Bolt, founded in 2014, gives retailers and consumers more choice, control and flexibility over their transactions by managing the back end of the checkout—presenting payment options, securely processing payments, and mitigating fraud—while providing a seamless front end experience.

“We are creating a new category of checkout experience and have run more than 100 tests on ways to present the cart to find out what users want,” Breslow said.

Example of Bolt’s customer experience platform.

Tosi, who led the scaling of Airbnb’s payments platform, joins existing investors Activant Capital, Tribe Capital, Glynn Capital and Human Capital, alongside new investments from a collection of current and former executives and board members from Magento, Venmo, PayPal, Lyft, Tommy Hilfiger, Tesla and Lululemon. The Series C brings the company’s total funding to nearly $140 million, which includes a $68 million Series B we reported on last year.

The timing was good to bring on Tosi as an investor because of his track record at Airbnb, and especially now with the global pandemic making all companies technology companies, Breslow said. As a result, retailers needed to become faster than ever to address checkout, which is the most complex part, he added.

In a written statement, Tosi said that the stakes are high for retailers to provide a good shopping experience.

“Retailers who don’t adapt fast enough will die out, leaving all the power to a select few,” he said. “Bolt’s superior technology helps retailers provide customers with an experience that’s designed for how people shop today, and I’m confident that this injection of new capital will accelerate the company towards its goal of empowering the majority of independent retailers by 2025.”

The new cash infusion will help Bolt continue research and development on its product, and add more integrations and conversions, as well as a fraud engine, Breslow said.

The company has 150 employees, and in addition to San Francisco, has offices in Salt Lake City, Toronto and New York. Breslow has plans to expand to 200 employees by the end of the year, hiring on the engineering and technology sides, as well as investing in sales and partnerships, which he said is a big part of the platform.

“Since we started in 2014, we have learned that e-commerce is complex and fragmented, so we have had to rethink how to design Bolt to be an open platform so that we can keep power in the hands of retailers who want to maintain their brands,” Breslow said. “I think our biggest challenge will be educating the market because we are a new category that hasn’t existed before, and is not something that people know they can use.”

Photo of Ryan Breslow and application courtesy of Bolt
Blogroll illustration: Li-Anne Dias

GYANT Raises $13.6M Series A From Wing Venture Capital


This post is by Gené Teare from Crunchbase News

GYANT–pronounced ‘giant’–is building a virtual assistant to improve interaction between patients and providers.

The “Siri for healthcare” startup announced that it has raised a $13.6 milllion Series A led by Wing Venture Capital.

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The funding took place without ever meeting its new lead investor, Wing Venture Capital, in person. Intermountain Ventures joined the round–Intermountain Healthcare is a customer– along with existing investors Alpana Ventures, Grazia Equity, Techstars Ventures and Plug and Play Ventures.

How it works

One of GYANT’s main selling points is its ability to lower administrative costs. It can be integrated into a health care provider website much like chat services on e-commerce sites. The service addresses questions that would typically hit a front desk staff member, and helps new customers looking for next steps.

The second phase integration GYANT offers is an authenticated experience tied to electronic health records to build more meaningful interactions directly from care providers based on patient health history. And the service can integrate with existing contact centers to allow for a live takeover by patient support.

GYANT’s customers are health systems, typically large nationwide clients with hundreds of hospitals. Many have billions in patient revenue. GYANT charges a SaaS fee with an annual license and then a service fee with contracts–typically for three years. There can be an upfront component for the initial deployment. Fees depend less on volume, but more on the range of use cases and integration provided.

Increased need and integrated teams

Since the pandemic hit, health care systems have experienced increased call volumes with many worried people at home, calling and trying to figure out what they’re supposed to do.

“I think it really shook our customers into action,” said CEO and co-founder Stefan Behrens, a serial entrepreneur in gaming and e-commerce, in an interview with Crunchbase News.

“They had an immediate urgent need that something needed to be done, because the old ways weren’t working anymore. Call lines were overrun, with wait times of two hours or longer before somebody would pick up the phone. Twenty-four-plus hours to connect to a provider on telemedicine. Something had to give.”

GYANT had five customers at the beginning of the year, pre-COVID-19, and now has 24 customers deployed.

Behrens said that for GYANT customers, call volumes have gone down by as much as 50 percent. And GYANT is able to respond to more than 85 percent of the questions and topics from patients across many customers.

Prior to COVID, virtual appointments and interactions probably accounted for single-digit percentages. Now, that is north of 80 percent for many of GYANT’s customers.

“That is a massive shift in workflows,” said Behrens. “Post COVID, virtual interactions will come down, but we’re not going back to 5 or 6 percent. We’re going back to maybe 30 or 40 percent.”

A venture like GYANT requires a multifaceted team, which includes UX and UI designers who understand consumers and team members who know medical protocols and how to deploy into clinical workflows. It also includes engineers who can put it all together, the data scientists who build an artificial intelligence model to actually enable the system, natural language processing,  and then later diagnostic and triage decision-making.

Said Behrens, “Bringing all these different backgrounds together in one team creates a product that’s been the most rewarding, but also probably one of the more challenging aspects of this venture.”

Illustration: Dom Guzman

Thrasio Gets Its Horn: $260M Series C Round Provides $1B Valuation


This post is by Christine Hall from Crunchbase News

Thrasio, an acquirer of Amazon third-party private-label businesses, has closed on a $260 million Series C round of funding, giving it a pre-money valuation of $1 billion, Thrasio co-founder and co-CEO Joshua Silberstein told Crunchbase News on Wednesday.

He said that Thrasio is the fastest-profitable company in the U.S. to achieve unicorn status, which is “a nice benchmark to hit.”

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“We have worked our asses off to get where we are,” Silberstein added. “We are more focused on running the business than anything else. We care that our turnover rate is less than 1 percent and that we’ve gotten revenue, real profit and business success, which translated into the valuation.”

Advent International led the equity round, he said. The new funding brings the startup’s total funding raised to date to $520.5 million and marks its fourth investment in a year’s time.

David Mussafer, Advent’s managing partner, said in a statement that Thrasio is the investor’s first growth equity investment from its $2 billion technology fund.

“Thrasio is a leader in a $200 billion, fast-growing and highly fragmented market,” he added. “They’re not just enhancing and accelerating e-commerce, they’re helping to revolutionize it. We look forward to supporting Thrasio’s continued growth through M&A and expansion into new channels and services.”

How it works

Thrasio, based in Medfield, Massachusetts, finds “category-leading” essential brands on Amazon, and buys them from the small business owners. To date, the company has acquired nearly 60 Amazon businesses, including 17 in the last quarter. In addition, more than $300 million in pro forma revenue and 6,000 products, makes Thrasio one of the top 25 sellers on Amazon, Silberstein said.

“Amazon is a complicated place, so one of the ways we create value is by looking at the brand to see if it is a high-quality product in the space,” he added. “Once that is identified, we see if the business will rank well organically, have ongoing success and is in a category that is unlikely to become obsolete in five years.”

The company is used to moving quickly. You might remember the article we wrote back in April about the company’s $110 million round of financing, which also touted Thrasio’s success in a short period of time.

At the time, we wrote that serial entrepreneurs Silberstein and Carlos Cashman founded the company in mid-2018 and were quietly building their business, which has doubled its revenue every 73 days, the company said. It also includes more than 300 employees and consultants across 11 cities, adding more than 90 new people since April.

Going after the competitive advantage

Meanwhile, Silberstein said that despite Amazon’s struggles during the global pandemic, it is still a place where tens of thousands of entrepreneurs have become millionaires because they were able to operate on the e-commerce platform, he said.

“It’s easy to poke at them, but everyone takes it for granted that you can get whatever you need,” he added.

In addition, Thrasio is sitting on a unique moment in the consumer products industry—a $13 trillion market. For the first time in four decades, the competitive advantage that legacy brands once held has disappeared within the past five years and are being rewritten, Silberstein said.

That means there is a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence to take the massive puzzle that is the consumer products market, and see who has a shot at capturing the competitive advantage, he added.

“We are in a position to see lots of things about how consumers are buying and buying on Amazon, Shopify and retail, and how they will work together and are able to be perceived,” he said. “The better we understand what the market will look like, the better position we will be in to say the people who control these certain areas will be the winners.”

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

Noteworth’s Mission To ‘Put A Doctor’s Office On Your Phone’ Aided By $5M Seed Round


This post is by Christine Hall from Crunchbase News

Noteworth secured a $5 million oversubscribed seed funding round led by Laconia Capital Group to advance its platform that provides health care delivery through technology.

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The Hoboken, New Jersey-based startup is working with primary care doctors, pediatricians and specialists to improve patient engagement on an ongoing basis, whether it be through collecting information on vitals, providing education on diagnosis and avenues to talk to a doctor via telemedicine or chat.

“We are changing the way care is delivered by allowing the doctor to engage with you and leverage tools to monitor your condition,” Justin Williams, co-founder and CEO of Noteworth, told Crunchbase News. “We want to put a doctor’s office on your phone.”

Draper Associates, Frontier Ventures, Techstars Ventures, Wavemaker360, Springtide Capital and others joined Laconia in the round. This new funding gives Noteworth a total fundraise of $7.1 million since its inception in 2015, which includes a $2.1 million round of funding after being part of the Techstars accelerator program in 2017, according to Crunchbase data.

The new funding will be used to meet demand from new customers, which includes adding staff, product development and support, as well as ramping up sales and marketing efforts, Williams said. Noteworth has 50 employees right now, and he expects that to be near 75 by the end of the year.

In addition, the company plans to scale its current product, acquire new customers and expand its offering into strategic avenues, he said. Noteworth aims to get its platform into rural areas and places where access to a doctor might require traveling to the other side of the state. Williams would also like to evolve the platform to act as a digital treatment that also provides guidance to the clinician and recommendations to the patient.

“We are in a place where there is a ton of need to figure out what health care should be,” Williams said. “As a company in the health care industry, we are in a position to be able to leverage technology to provide long-lasting change to health care. It is an opportunity to help clients and innovate health care for the better.”

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

Dragoneer Invests $120M In CampusLogic’s Financial Aid Platform


This post is by Christine Hall from Crunchbase News

CampusLogic’s new $120 million growth investment will help the education technology company expand its student financial success platform.

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The Phoenix-based company provides financial tools and resources to help the 15 million students who attend colleges and universities understand the processes that often create barriers to student enrollment, engagement and retention, CampusLogic CEO Gregg Scoresby told Crunchbase News.

“We come in with tools before they start financial planning, as well as while they are already funding their education. Eventually, we plan to move into the repayment space to help them after they graduate,” Scoresby said. “We replace the paper, pencil and manual interactions with software to make things mobile and easy to use.”

Dragoneer Investment Group made the minority investment in the company, CampusLogic’s largest since being founded in 2011. This brings the company’s total funding to date to $192.8 million, according to Scoresby.

As part of the investment, Christian Jensen, partner at Dragoneer Investment Group, will join CampusLogic’s board of directors. He said in a written statement that the company is providing a personalized way for students to access financial aid, while also giving higher education institutions the tools to manage the process digitally.

“A rapidly increasing number of schools are realizing that the days of requiring students to mail or fax critical financial aid paperwork or visit a central office location for assistance and advising are behind us,” he added.

The new investment will help CampusLogic fund future strategic acquisitions and product development, especially in the area of micro-scholarships, with a goal of acquiring a new company or offering a new product every year, Scoresby said.

Earlier this month, the company acquired RaiseMe, a San Francisco-based platform helping students earn those micro-scholarships from higher-ed institutions. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. In addition, CampusLogic acquired Funderbolt in 2019 and Cegment in 2017.

Growthwise, CampusLogic is sustaining average annual growth rates of nearly 40 percent, and now has more than 750 college and university customers. The company is also gaining market share in what Scoresby hopes will help eliminate financial barriers for students.

A 2018 LendEDU survey found that 55 percent of students struggled to find the money to pay for college and 51 percent dropped out of college due to financial reasons. In addition, Scoresby said the global pandemic has made dropping off documents at a physical financial aid office “a non-starter.”

“We don’t want financial barriers for students to get an education,” Scoresby said. “There are not enough tools available to help students research how to borrow less or responsibly, as well as find resources other than student debt.”

Photo: iStock

Auth0 Raises $120M


This post is by Sophia Kunthara from Crunchbase News

Identity platform Auth0 has raised $120 million in its Series F round, bumping its valuation up to $1.92 billion.

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Auth0 works to verify whether a user is a real user or not by offering universal login, single sign-on, multifactor authentication and use management functions, among other features. As CEO Eugenio Pace put it, anytime a user enters their username and password, or signs into an application with Facebook, they are potentially using Auth0.

“Everybody needs that functionality,” Pace said in an interview with Crunchbase News. “We do it better, we do it faster.”

In the past, a digital presence was more of a “nice to have” for some businesses, Pace said. But with the COVID-19 pandemic, every company has to consider its digital operations.

“This situation we are in today, every company is rethinking how they interact with their customers,” Pace said. “So there’s more and more websites, there’s more and more mobile applications. People are moving everything to being digital.”

With the new funding, Auth0 will grow its global presence, Pace said. The company plans to expand in areas including central Europe, the Nordics and Southeast Asia.

The company saw 70 percent year-over-year growth last year, Pace said, and plans to grow upwards of 50 percent this year. Auth0 has about 10,000 paying customers and nearly 20,000 who use the platform for free.

The round was led by Salesforce Ventures with participation from new investor DTCP and existing investors Bessemer Venture Partners, Sapphire Ventures, Meritech Capital, Trinity Ventures, World Innovation Lab, Telstra Ventures and K9 Ventures.

Auth0 last raised money with its $103 million Series E round in May 2019, according to Crunchbase. The new round brings the company’s total funding to more than $330 million.

The company, which is based in Bellevue, Washington, has around 700 employees in offices in London, Sydney, Singapore, Buenos Aires and Tokyo.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

Disclosure: Salesforce Ventures, an investor in Auth0, is also an investor in Crunchbase, the parent company of Crunchbase News. Crunchbase’s investors are listed as part of its Crunchbase profile. For more about Crunchbase News’ editorial policies on disclosure, see the News team’s About page.

Medly Pharmacy Lands $100M Series B For Prescription Delivery Platform


This post is by Christine Hall from Crunchbase News

Medly Pharmacy closed on a $100 million Series B round of funding co-led by Volition Capital and Greycroft, the company said Tuesday in a written statement.

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The New York-based digital pharmacy was founded in 2017 by Marg Patel and Sahaj Patel and offers free, same-day prescription delivery.

Joining Volition and Greycroft in the investment were Horsley Bridge and Lerer Hippeau. Greycroft led Medly’s Series A in June 2019, but the amount was not disclosed, according to Crunchbase data.

The new funding will be used to expand its platform, enter new markets and develop new services for patients and partners so customers can continue to access their prescription drugs in a way that is best for them, the company said.

Medly said it is going after the global e-pharmacy market, estimated to be $107.5 billion by 2025, according to Zion Market Research, where the sector is gaining attention. Last week, I reported on Truepill’s $25 million Series B for its pharmacy fulfillment business. Another in the news recently was Zipdrug, which was acquired by IngenioRX last week.

In the past three years, Medly has grown 100 times in revenue, added 15,000 providers, 50,000 patients and delivered more than 500,000 prescriptions, the company said.

Ian Sigalow, co-founder and partner of Greycroft, said in a written statement that Medly is “reshaping the pharmacy industry.”

“We are going through a major shift in consumer behavior, especially in critical sectors like healthcare and pharmacy,” Sigalow said. “Both consumers and medical providers are prioritizing digital access to pharmacy services, and innovators like Medly are well-positioned to lead the market through this unprecedented shift.”

Illustration: Dom Guzman

RealityEngines.AI Becomes Abacus.AI, Secures $13M Series A For Open-source Platform


This post is by Christine Hall from Crunchbase News

RealityEngines.AI started Tuesday with a new name and a new round of funding.

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Now Abacus.AI, the company is open-sourcing an artificial intelligence tool for customers who want to tap into deep learning capabilities, but don’t have a data science or AI team. It closed on a $13 million Series A funding round led by Index VenturesMike Volpi.

Round participants also included other tech entrepreneurs, including Eric Schmidt, Ram Shriram and Jerry Yang. As part of the investment, Shriram and Volpi will join Abacus.AI’s board of directors. The new cash infusion joins with the predecessor company’s $5.3 million seed round to give Abacus.AI $18.3 million in total funding, according to Crunchbase data.

“Most organizations haven’t been able to reap the benefits of AI/ML because it takes an army of specialized engineers and scientists to put deep learning systems into production,” Shriram said in a written statement. “With innovative techniques like generative modeling for data augmentation and neural architecture search, the plug and play Abacus.AI service allows organizations to nimbly deploy autonomous deep learning models and instantly realize ROI.”

Bindu Reddy, Arvind Sundararajan and Siddartha Naidu founded the company in 2019 to provide a prediction interface that customers can embed into their applications or websites to learn more about customer experiences and business processes, Reddy told Crunchbase News.

Abacus.AI is able to create a world of personalization for a business, such as e-commerce, that doesn’t have historical information on its customers.

“We help customers that need to personalize email or a mobile and web experience,” Reddy said. “We specialize in cold stack by looking at patterns across the website, even with a small amount of data, to contextualize relevance.”

Prior to closing the Series A, Abacus.AI had 12 employees, but now has grown to 22 and plans to have more than 30 by the end of the year, she said.

The new investment will be used to expand the research and development group, as well as to market the general availability of the product, which had been previously an invite-only beta phase, Reddy said.

Photo of Bindu Reddy courtesy of Abacus.AI
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

Bbot’s Platform To Help Restaurants Re-open Boosted By $3M Seed Round


This post is by Christine Hall from Crunchbase News

Startup Bbot secured a $3 million seed funding round, led by Craft Ventures, to simplify and improve the ordering and payments processes for restaurants.

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The 3-year-old company began in San Francisco by offering a robot for restaurants and bars, Bbot co-founder and CEO Steven Simoni told Crunchbase News.

“It turns out that they just wanted the software part and no robot, so now we help operators use technology to run a more efficient business and for customers to process payments on their phone,” Simoni said.

The new investment gives the company $3.3 million in total funding, according to Crunchbase data. Previously, the company had raised $300,000 from various sources.

A majority of the funding will go toward product engineering, operations and support, as well as bringing on more channel partners and sales and marketing to make the user experience easier, Simoni said.

Bbot is now based in New York and its platform is used by more than 500 hospitality customers in cities such as Miami, Los Angeles, and Seattle. Restaurants in Canada and the UK also use the platform.

Bbot’s solution comes as a time when restaurants, bars and hotels are learning how to survive during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, said Jeff Fluhr, partner at Craft Ventures, in a written statement.

“Dine-in guests prefer the safety of contactless ordering right from their mobile phones while home delivery customers want to use their phones to order from the restaurant’s mobile site,” he added. “By using Bbot, restaurants give both types of diners exactly what they want while improving their own margins and increasing the chance of success.”

Prior to the global pandemic, Bbot was adding 10 to 20 customers per month. Now it’s adding hundreds per month, Simoni said. Restaurant channel partners are also asking to resell Bbot’s software, he added.

Due to the demand from the hospitality industry, the Craft Ventures investment helped Bbot hire operations employees in the last six weeks. This brings the company’s employee base to 24 full-time workers and six interns, Simoni said.

One of the company’s differentiators is that the software is so easy and fast to integrate that restaurants and bars can do it without waiting for a Bbot representative. This has helped the company’s software get up and running in restaurants that were planning to open the next day, but only just heard about Bbot’s product, he said.

Going forward, the company plans to finish its integration process so that it can be used by whichever point-of-sale system a customer uses.

Simoni said the company plans to raise a Series A in the fall.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

Meditopia Raises $15M Series A To Personalize Mindfulness Services


This post is by Christine Hall from Crunchbase News

Meditopia, a meditation app that helps users reduce stress, sleep well, build mental resilience, and experience long-term healing, secured a $15 million Series A investment co-led by Creandum and Highland Europe.

The company, based in Istanbul and Berlin, works with trained therapists, psychologists, meditation experts and writers in its 75 regions—mainly non-English-speaking markets—to develop customized mental wellbeing programs that take into account culture, language or country.

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It boasts more than 14 million members coached since launching the app in 2017, co-founder Fatih Celebi told Crunchbase News. He co-founded the company with Ali Murat Ceylan and Berk Yilmaz in 2015.

The new investment gives the company a total raise of $18.2 million, according to Crunchbase data. (The recent $15 million raise is not yet reflected in that number.) Meditopia previously raised a $2.5 million seed round in August 2019, led by Vela Partners and Atlantic Labs.

As part of the investment, Carl Fritjofsson of Creandum and Fergal Mullen of Highland Europe will join Meditopia’s board of directors.

Fritjofsson, partner at Creandum, said in a written statement that Creandum has followed Meditopia for the past two years and has seen how the company was able to enter communities across the globe.

“The social media age we have experienced has enabled users an endless focus on others,” he added. “We’re now experiencing a new wave of technology which allows users to turn their focus inwards on themselves.”

Meanwhile, Celebi said Meditopia will use the new investment on localization, which includes finding local professionals and understanding the culture and needs of the market—the backbone of the app, as well as on engineering capacity and scaling the company.

“Emotions are an intimate area that has a lot to do with culture and location, so if we want to penetrate an area and increase our impact, we have to go local in what we do,” he added.

The company has 40 employees, and experienced 10 times the growth in year-over-year sales, Celebi said. The company is very agile, and while there may be some hires this year, it will continue to run a lean structure.

Meditopia is just now beginning to understand the local needs of its non-English speaking market, Celebit said.

“That will be an important milestone in the timeline,” he added. “We believe the future is in mental coaching and will be providing that to our community. Mental health, especially with COVID-19, is everyone’s topic, and we see it becoming the biggest market in our world.”

Photo of Meditopia co-founders Berk Yilmaz, Ali Murat Ceylan and Fatih Celebi courtesy of Meditopia.
Blogroll illustration: Dom Guzman

Drone-maker Skydio Secures $100M Series C To Grow In New Markets


This post is by Christine Hall from Crunchbase News

Autonomous drone-maker Skydio raised a $100 million Series C round of funding led by Next47, the company said Monday.

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Redwood City, California-based Skydio uses artificial intelligence to create flying machines that are used by consumer, enterprise and government customers, the company said in a written statement.

“Enterprises have tasted the value that drones can provide, but are also feeling the pain of conventional manually flown systems. Deployment of drones are constrained by training time, pilot availability and the difficulty of performing important tasks like detailed inspection,” said Skydio co-founder and CEO Adam Bry in a written statement.

New investors Levitate Capital and NTT DOCOMO Ventures participated in the Series C, as did existing investors Andreessen Horowitz, IVP and Playground Global. This brings the company’s total funding to $170 million since Skydio was founded in 2014, the company said. This new funding is the company’s largest investment to date, according to Crunchbase data. Skydio previously raised funds in 2018, a $42 million Series B led by IVP and Playground.

Business Insider Intelligence estimates that the drone services market size is expected to grow to $63.6 billion by 2025. As such, Skydio said it plans to utilize the new funding to accelerate product development and expand further into the enterprise and public sector markets.

In June, the company announced it had restarted production of its Skydio 2 drone after pausing for the global pandemic.

“The drone market has reached a critical mass of commercial revenues and top-down buying behaviors, solidifying our thesis that now is the right time to invest,” said T.J. Rylander, general partner at Next47, in a written statement. “Skydio has what we firmly believe is the best autonomy stack in the world. While their innovation is in the software, they also developed the hardware to create an integrated product that fully capitalizes on autonomous capabilities.”

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

North America Q2 Venture Report: Funding Down As Expected


This post is by Sophia Kunthara from Crunchbase News

In March, as we all began to fully wrap our heads around the potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the future of startup funding seemed clearly in jeopardy.

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Many hypothesized that there would be a slowdown in funding and fewer deals made. The logistics of how firms could invest in a company and teams they’ve never met was a whole new obstacle. Further, how investors commit with confidence amid such uncertainty in the world was (and is) a major challenge.

But investors adapted and deals still happened.

However, with the end-of-quarter data in hand, we see that venture dollars invested in North American startups were down for the first half of the year compared to the first half of last year. The same was true specifically for the second quarter.

In general, funding counts for the most recent quarter will be lower as funding rounds are added after the quarter closes. Typically, the data lag is greater at the seed and early funding stages. Funding amounts are less impacted as larger funding rounds are more likely to be announced in a timely manner. (For more on this, see our Methodology section below).

According to Crunchbase data, $64 billion was invested in North American startups (companies based in Canada and the United States) in the first half of 2020. That’s down 10 percent compared to the same period in 2019, when $70 billion was invested.

(In the above chart, the actual 1-H 2020 number may shift slightly given reporting delays. See Methodology description below for more details.)

The chaos surrounding COVID-19 in the United States really started in March, basically toward the end of the first quarter. So the reality check came in the second quarter.

The second quarter of 2020 was the first full quarter in the new COVID-19 world, and during that time $29.8 billion was invested in North American startups–18 percent less than the same period last year and 12 percent less than the previous quarter.

The majority of VC funding raised throughout Q2 was in supergiant rounds, or those of $100 million or more. Although supergiant rounds were flat year over year, rounds below $100 million were down 31 percent year over year.

The overall dollar volume for VC funding in North America was down for the second quarter of 2020 compared to the same period last year and the number of deals was also down for companies across all stages.

Funding by stage

A few data points to consider by funding stage:

  • Seed and angel investment saw $1.1 billion across 699 deals in the second quarter of 2020, down from $1.7 billion across 1,773 deals in the second quarter of 2019.
  • Early-stage investment saw $11.1 billion invested across 555 deals in Q2 2020, down from $12.6 billion across 887 deals in Q2 2019.
  • Late-stage saw $15.9 billion invested in Q2 2020 across 191 deals, compared to $20.7 billion across 306 deals in Q2 2019.

Notable large funding rounds include Waymo’s $750 million raise, Sana Biotechnology’s $700 million Series A, and Stripe’s $600 million Series G. Airbnb had the largest raise of the quarter for a VC-backed company, taking in $1 billion as the travel industry took a hit due to COVID-19. The round came from private equity firms Silver Lake and Sixth Street.

Exits

Exits also took a hit in Q2. Acquisitions of venture-backed North American companies (that hadn’t previously gone public) were down significantly in Q2 2020–for acquisitions with disclosed amounts–compared to all of the past year. There were 177 acquisitions totaling $9.7 billion in Q2 2020, down from 278 acquisitions totaling $21.7 billion for the year-ago period.

Among the largest M&A deals were Invitae’s acquisition of ArcherDX for $1.4 billion, Amazon’s acquisition of Zoox for $1.2 billion, and SoFi’s acquisition of Galileo Financial Technologies for $1.2 billion. Quarantine helped boost at-home fitness companies, and athleisure company Lululemon was able to nab connected fitness startup Mirror for $500 million.

In terms of companies going public, there was a lull in the IPO market–at least for tech companies. Only toward the end of Q2 did tech IPOs pick back up. ZoomInfo and Vroom had notable exits, raising $935 million and $468 million, respectively.

In conclusion

It’s too early to guess how things will shake out for Q3. The IPO market, at least, seems to be picking up for tech startups, with companies like ZoomInfo, Vroom, and Lemonade being well-received by public investors. As for funding, we’ll be keeping an eye out for the next quarter

Methodology

The data contained in this report comes directly from Crunchbase, and is based on reported data.

For this quarter we are changing our methodology to report on actual vs. projected funding. We have made this decision as the data lag on funding amounts is less pronounced than earlier funding cycles. With ever-larger funding rounds being raised by private companies and announced in a timely fashion, we found that a year out we see an increase per quarter under 10 percent for funding amounts.

Data lags are most pronounced at the earliest stages of venture activity with seed funding amounts increasing significantly after the end of a quarter.

The most recent quarter will increase over time relative to previous quarters. For funding counts, we notice a strong data lag, especially at the seed and early stages, by  as much as 26 percent to 41 percent a year out.

Please note that all funding values are given in U.S. dollars unless otherwise noted. Crunchbase converts foreign currencies to U.S. dollars at the prevailing spot rate from the date funding rounds, acquisitions, IPOs and other financial events are reported. Even if those events were added to Crunchbase long after the event was announced, foreign currency transactions are converted at the historic spot price.

Glossary of Funding Terms

Seed and angel consists of seed, pre-seed and angel rounds. Crunchbase also includes venture rounds of unknown series, equity crowdfunding, and convertible notes at $3 million (USD or as-converted USD equivalent) or less.

Early-stage consists of Series A and Series B rounds, as well as other round types. Crunchbase includes venture rounds of unknown series, corporate venture, and other rounds above $3 million, and those less than or equal to $15 million.

Late-stage consists of Series C, Series D, Series E and later-lettered venture rounds following the “Series [Letter]” naming convention. Also included are venture rounds of unknown series,  corporate venture, and other rounds above $15 million.

Technology growth is a private equity round raised by a company that has previously raised a “venture” round. (So basically, any round from the previously defined stages.)

Illustration: Dom Guzman

Grief Wellness Startup Eterneva Adds $3M To Seed Round


This post is by Christine Hall from Crunchbase News

Grief wellness and memorial diamond startup Eterneva raised an oversubscribed $3 million seed extension round led by Springdale Ventures.

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The Austin-based company is a developer of diamond technology that converts cremated ashes of loved ones into diamonds. Customers can personalize the diamonds’ size, color, cut and inscription.

In addition to Springdale, 27 other individuals and venture firms participated in the round, including new investors Next Coast Ventures, SoGal Ventures, Founder Collective and Capstar Ventures. Eterneva previously raised $1.8 million in seed and angel rounds, both in 2019, according to Crunchbase data. With this new funding, the company has raised a total of $4.8 million since it was founded in 2016.

Co-founder and CEO Adelle Archer told Crunchbase News that the new funds will be used to expand Eterneva’s laboratory in Austin where it grows the diamonds, as well as invest in its digital grief wellness experience around the memorial diamonds.

“A big part of our strategy is vertically integrating into other areas as well as building a much larger diamond lab facility in Austin so we can bring more and more growth in-house,” Archer said. “We are also evaluating our customer experience and want to allow more customers to meet our team, as well as be a part of putting their loved ones’ ashes into the machine.”

In addition to its Austin lab, the company has laboratories in Germany and Switzerland, she added.

Archer and co-founder Garrett Ozar appeared on “Shark Tank” in late 2019, where the pair was backed by business mogul Mark Cuban. Since then, the company has gone on to serve more than 500 customers, and its celebration of life program and curated grief journey is being studied by Baylor University.

“The study speaks to the very core of who we are as a grief wellness brand,” Archer said. “Folks are coming out the other side in a different place with their grief, so Baylor is studying that over the course of a year, and we think it will yield meaningful research that hasn’t been done in decades.”

In May, the company began offering a free service to funeral homes and crematoriums to digitize all of their arrangement materials in under 72 hours. In June, the company signed its second funeral home partnership with Phaneuf Funeral Homes & Crematorium to offer those services in New Hampshire and Vermont. Eterneva also has a partnership with Schoedinger Funeral Home and Cremation Services in Columbus, Ohio.

Archer explained that Eterneva has been a direct-to-consumer company, but when the COVID-19 pandemic happened, the company began partnering with funeral homes to help them go digital.

“We thought about how we could add value to the industry right now, and one of the things we thought was a digital arrangement tool so they could take all of the materials and contracts that are usually done in person and digitize them. It’s not a future direction we want to go in, but it was something easy to spin out to help.”

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

UiPath Raises $225M Series E


This post is by Sophia Kunthara from Crunchbase News

Robotic process automation software startup UiPath landed $225 million in a Series E round of funding, bringing its valuation to $10.2 billion.

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The new round, which was led by Alkeon Capital, brings the company’s total funding to more than $1.2 billion. Other investors in the round include Accel, Dragoneer, Coatue Management, IVP, Sequoia Capital, Madrona Venture Group, Tencent, Tiger Global Management, Wellington Partners and T. Rowe Price and Associates.

UiPath makes software that can essentially replicate human actions, allowing people to leave mundane tasks like invoice or claims processing to technology and focus on other parts of their job. As CFO Ashim Gupta puts it, UiPath helps enable the acceleration of human achievement.

“Hyperautomation is one of the fastest-growing spaces … so we want to build out our platform in a significant way,” Gupta said.

The new funding isn’t core operational funding, Gupta said in an interview with Crunchbase News. The company, which is based in New York, plans to continue to extend the platform’s capabilities and artificial intelligence, and invest in its cloud platform, he said.

In terms of growth, UiPath has more than $400 million in annual recurring revenue. A year ago, the company crossed the $200 million ARR mark, Gupta said.

COVID-19 has only highlighted the need to be able to overcome challenges quickly, according to the company. The pipeline has grown strong, but the pandemic also increased awareness of hyperautomation, Gupta said. For that reason, the company doesn’t see itself as a short-term remedy to fix issues created by the global pandemic.

UiPath last raised $568 million in a Series D round led by Coatue Management in April 2019, according to Crunchbase.

The company counts Nielsen, Deloitte, and Federal Bank among its customers, per UiPath’s website.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

Butler Hospitality Secures $15M Series A To Provide Better In-room Hotel Experiences


This post is by Christine Hall from Crunchbase News

Butler Hospitality confirmed Friday that it raised a $15 million Series A round.

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The New York-based company is a “ghost kitchen” operator, which means it takes over a hotel kitchen on one property and uses it to provide meal delivery services to in-house guests there and in nearby hotels, Tim Gjonbalic said in an interview.

The Kraft Group, &vest, Scopus Ventures and Mousse Partners all participated. The new funding brings the 4-year-old company’s total amount raised to $20.2 million, which includes a seed round and bootstrapped funding from himself, Gjonbalic said.

The new investment will be used to increase the company’s hotel partnerships in new markets. Butler Hospitality already operates out of four New York hotel kitchens and plans to expand into Chicago, Miami, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco by the end of the year, Gjonbalic said. In addition, the company doubled its executive team and employs 250 people, all full-time employees—something he said he is excited to be able to do in this environment.

“It’s a tough time for the hospitality industry to recruit people when you don’t know what the market is going to do,” he said.

The timing of this investment is interesting because both the hospitality and hotel industries are not doing well as the COVID-19 pandemic has continued, a McKinsey report revealed Friday. The research firm estimates that it will take until 2023 to see the industry return to pre-COVID-19 levels.

One of the areas Gjonbalic sees as inhibiting the industry is that hotels were not able to figure out what to do. Many experimented with grab-and-go meals or changing its room service, but failed due to long wait times and costly service fees. In contrast, Butler Hospitality is providing a seamless experience, charging orders directly to the person’s hotel bill and delivering the food in under 30 minutes.

“We are coming in and showing what the experience should be,” Gjonbalic said. “You don’t need a cart in the room or a $20 service charge to deliver food. Guests want good packaging, a good menu, price transparency, and to be able to track their order. This should have been happening a long time ago.”

Meanwhile, Butler Hospitality’s revenue has doubled every year, and now that the company has figured out the integration, experience, packaging and menu design, it is ready to scale into new markets, he said.

The company’s next steps will be to deepen its customer experience. That includes tapping into frequent travelers’ food and beverage preferences so when they check into a hotel partner, Butler Hospitality can engage the customer with that knowledge.

“That is where we want to add value,” Gjonbalic said. “Let the hotels provide the room and the bed, and we will provide the food and beverage service from there. We want to control the in-room hospitality.”

Photo of Tim Gjonbalic courtesy of Butler Hospitality
Blogroll illustration: Li-Anne Dias

Rivian Raises $2.5B Investment To Manufacture Electric Truck Line


This post is by Christine Hall from Crunchbase News

Electric vehicle-maker Rivian said Friday it closed on a $2.5 billion investment round led by T. Rowe Price.

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Soros Fund Management, Coatue Management, Fidelity Management and Research and Baron Capital Group participated in the round, as did existing shareholders Amazon and BlackRock-managed funds, the company said in a written statement.

Although Plymouth, Michigan-based Rivian does not have a vehicle on the market yet, it has raised $3.1 billion in total funds since its inception in 2009, according to Crunchbase data. The $3.1 billion does not take account of the $2.5 billion it just raised. Its last raise was a $1.5 billion growth round led by T. Rowe Price in December.

The company plans to get its line of vehicles–the R1T pickup, R1S SUV and Amazon delivery vehicles–out next year from its manufacturing plant in Normal, Illinois. In September 2019, Amazon ordered 100,000 of the vans, Rivian said. That follows Amazon’s $700 million funding round early last year.

CNBC reported that timeline will put Rivian ahead of other electric car manufacturers, such as Nikola Motor and Tesla, who are working on similar vehicles.

Photo of Rivian R1T pickup by Andi Hedrick.
Blogroll illustration: Li-Anne Dias