Investment in Latin American tech continues to reach new highs. In the first quarter of 2018, more than $600 million was invested. That followed a record 2017, which was the first time VCs funneled more than $1 billion into the continent’s tech ecosystem during a 12-month period.
Sergio Romo is trying to build the Latin American version of Lime or Bird, recently raising about a $20 million seed round for Grin, his scooter startup, from prominent Silicon Valley investors including Y Combinator, DCM Ventures and Shasta Ventures, people familiar with the matter said. Mr. Romo said he has learned a lesson from some of the disorderly scooter deployments in U.S. cities: Find brick-and-mortar allies.
C16 Biosciences is aiming to greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the globe with their lab-grown palm oil, an alternative to a product that is found in a truly massive amount of goods. C16’s alternative is grown in bioreactors and is 20 percent less expensive to customers but “doesn’t destroy the planet,” the company says.
The startup has already begun early partnerships with a number of beauty and food distributors that together spend $1.2 billion on palm oil annually.
Gecko Robotics aims to save human lives at our nation’s power plants with its wall-climbing robots. To continue doing so, the startup tells TechCrunch it has just secured $7 million from a cadre of high-profile sources, including Founders Fund, Mark Cuban, The Westly Group, Justin Kan and Y Combinator.
We first reported on the Pittsburgh-based company when co-founder Jake Loosararian came to the TechCrunch TV studios to show off his device for the camera. Back then, Gecko was in the YC Spring 2016 cohort, working with several U.S. power plants and headed toward profitability, according to Loosararian.
Inokyo wants to be the indie Amazon Go. It’s just launched its prototype cashierless autonomous retail store. Cameras track what you grab from shelves, and with a single QR scan of its app on your way in and out of the store, you’re charged for what you got.
According to a report by the American Cancer Society, an estimated 266,120 women will be newly diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States this year and (according to a 2016 estimate) can expect to pay between $60,000 and $134,000 on average for treatment and care. But, after hundreds of thousands of dollars and non-quantifiable emotional stress for them and their families, the American Cancer Society still estimates 40,920 women will lose their battle to the disease this year.
Worldwide, roughly 1.7 million women will be diagnosed with the disease yearly, according to a 2012 estimate by The World Cancer Research Fund International.
While running Molly’s, the Seattle-based ready meal wholesaler he founded, Stefan Kalb was upset about its 28 percent food wastage rate. Feeling that the amount was “astronomical,” he began researching how to lower it — and was shocked to discovered Molly’s was actually outperforming the industry average. Confronted by the sheer amount of food wasted by American retailers, Kalb and Bede Jordan, then a Microsoft engineer, began working on an order prediction engine.
The project quickly brought Molly’s percentage of wasted food down to the mid-teens. “It was one of the most fulfilling things I’ve ever done in my career,” Kalb told TechCrunch in an interview. Driven by its success, Kalb and Jordan launched Shelf Engine in 2016 to make the technology available to other companies. Currently participating in Y Combinator, the startup has already raised $800,000 in seed funding from Initialized Capital, the venture capital firm founded by Alexis Ohanian and Gerry Tan, and is now used at more than 180 retail points by clients including WeWork, Bartell Drugs, Natural Grocers and StockBox.
Cameron Yarbrough was working as a couples counselor in San Francisco when he started booking appointments with a new type of client: would-be tech startup founders who were trying to launch the next billion-dollar company together.
The fit made sense, according to Yarbrough. Couples counseling is typically more affordable than individual therapy, because two people split the bill, and startup cofounders are typically eager to save money.
A Y Combinator-backed startup, JetLenses, is taking on the major contact lens e-commerce sites, like 1-800-Contacts, Lens.com, and other online ordering systems offered by major retailers, such as Walmart. The startup’s goal is to bring down the cost of prescription products by automating the overhead associated with these businesses, in areas like prescription verification, order tracking, compliance and fulfillment, then pass those savings on to customers.