26-Year-Old CEO Takes His Autonomous Truck Company Public in $5 Billion Deal

When Alex Rodrigues started his company Embark Trucks Inc., he couldn’t rent a car without age restrictions. Now 26, Rodrigues becomes one of the first, and youngest, heads of an autonomous-driving company to pitch public investors on the promise that vehicles will soon be able to drive themselves.

Embark started trading Thursday on the Nasdaq under the ticker EMBK. It wasn’t an especially warm reception. The shares fell as much as 7.3% in the first minute of trading.

Indian fintech giant Razorpay valued at $7.5 billion in $375 million funding

Razorpay has more than doubled its valuation to $7.5 billion from $3 billion in April as one of India’s largest fintech giants demonstrates fast growth and aggressively broadens its product offerings.

The Bangalore-headquartered startup, which is a market leader in payments processing in India, said Sunday evening it has raised $375 million in its Series F financing round. The new round, which brings more capital to the startup than all its other previous financings put together, was co-led by Lone Pine Capital, Alkeon Capital and TCV.

Fractional lands $5.5 million to let friends (and strangers) invest in real estate together

As teammates at buy now, pay later fintech Affirm, Stella Han and Carlos Treviño bonded over their shared background of growing up in real estate families. The mission of “pay at your own pace” at Affirm clashed with their firsthand experience of the taxing time commitment and high costs that comes with owning real estate; a contrast that eventually seeded the idea for Fractiona

Talent Hack raises $17 million led by Emergence to power the fitness creator economy

The Great Resignation, the pandemic-caused seismic shift in the way we work, play and live, and the boom of the creator and influencer economy, has led to a surge in apps designed to serve those creators. In fact, we had a very long-winded discussion about it at TechCrunch just this week.

It’s hard to know which apps are going to change the game and which are going to sink, but Emergence is betting big on a platform called Talent Hack.

The company is today announcing a $17 million Series A financing round, led by Emergence, with participation from existing investor Global Founders Capital.

With customers like Coinbase and Shopify, remote hiring startup Deel raises $425M at a $5.5B valuation

As more people continue to work remotely, organizations globally have had to adjust — particularly when it comes to onboarding new employees and figuring out how to pay them, in some cases, across borders.

As a result, Deel —  a San Francisco-based startup which provides payroll, compliance tools and other services to help businesses hire remotely — has seen a massive surge in demand.

Now almost exactly six months after raising $156 million at a $1.25 billion valuation, the startup is announcing it has raised $425 million in a Series D funding round that gives it a valuation of $5.5 billion. (The Information had reported in late September that the deal was in the works).

Y Combinator-backed CostCertified lands $8.45M to build the ‘Amazon for construction’

CostCertified, a Canadian startup which provides real-time, interactive residential construction estimates, raised $8.45 million in a seed round of funding.

FUSE, a Pacific Northwest venture firm which counts former Microsoft CFO John Connors and Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner as venture partners, led the round.

The company is also backed by Y Combinator (having participated in the accelerator’s S21 batch), I2BF Global Ventures, Soma Capital and a number of proptech/construction tech founders such as Willy Schlacks, CEO and co-founder of EquipmentShare; Ryan Sutton-Gee, PlanGrid co-founder and former COO; Jonathan Wasserstrum, co-founder and CEO of SquareFoot and Bill Smith, founder and CEO of Landing.

Parker Conrad’s Rippling is now valued at $6.5 billion — more than Zenefits at its peak

Founded by entrepreneur Parker Conrad in 2013, the HR company Zenefits was quickly anointed one of the fast-growing companies in Silicon Valley, with a valuation that soared to $4.5 billion within three years. Then it began to fall apart. The company was discovered to face compliance issues. Conrad was forced to resign. And Zenefits’s valuation was slashed in half, with more than 60% of the company’s employees laid off over numerous rounds afterward.

GreenPark Sports raises $31M ahead of NFT drop

GreenPark Sports today revealed it has closed a successful Series B round, raising $31 million. This investment comes just as GreenPark is preparing its first NFT drop.

GreenPark is a mobile platform that marries the communities of sports fans and esports fans. According to GreenPark’s site, members can “suit up for your favorite team and go head-to-head against rivals in epic battles to win Fanergy.”

Razorpay Targets $4B Valuation After Next Fundraising Round

Indian mobile wallet firm Razorpay is talking to large global funds about raising $200 million to $250 million at a $4 billion valuation, two people familiar with the talks said in a Mint report.

Razorpay is talking to hedge funds including Tiger Global Management, Coatue Management, D1 Capital Partners and technology-focused funds DST Global, Dragoneer Investment Group and Falcon Edge Capital, among others, the sources told Mint anonymously.

Sequoia Capital, Matrix Partners and Rabbit Capital have already invested in Razorpay. It’s unclear if those companies or other existing investors would give up their ownership stakes as part of the latest fundraising round.

Earlier this year, Razorpay raised $160 million at a $3 billion valuation as part of a plan to bulk up its business banking unit.

“Players such as Razorpay are looking at acquisitions on the talent pooling side, besides targeting a bit matured places in the B2B SaaS (software as a service) space,” one of the sources told Mint.

Human Interest raises $200M at a $1B valuation, plans for an IPO

Less than six months after raising $55 million in a Series C round of funding, SMB 401(k) provider Human Interest today announced it has raised $200 million in a round that propels it to unicorn status.

The Rise Fund, TPG’s global impact investing platform, led the round and was joined by SoftBank Vision Fund 2. The financing included participation from new investor Crosslink Capital and existing backers NewView Capital, Glynn Capital, U.S. Venture Partners, Wing Venture Capital, Uncork Capital, Slow Capital, Susa Ventures and others.

Verifiable secures $17M for its API that manages healthcare provider information

Less than a year after its $3 million seed roundVerifiable snapped up another $17 million for its healthcare provider credentialing API toolkit.

The Austin-based company’s technology creates an infrastructure for healthcare provider data management that puts providers at the center. Verifiable founder Nick Macario told TechCrunch that data fuels critical operations across health systems and insurance carriers, like contracting, credentialing, enrollment, claims and directories. All of this is being done manually now, and often inaccurately, which is leading to billions of dollars of annual waste.

All-In-One Doc Startup Coda Reaches $1.4 Billion Valuation In $100 Million Raise From A Major Pension Fund

In the battle for the almighty blinking computer cursor, all-in-one doc startup Coda is gaining steam. The startup, which offers customizable and collaborative documents, has raised $100 million in a Series D funding round that values it at $1.4 billion, more than double its valuation a year ago.

“Our viewpoint is that the lines between the different document formats are artificial and that anyone can make a doc as powerful as an app,” says Shishir Mehrotra, Coda’s cofounder and CEO.

Gotrade gets $7M led by LocalGlobe to let investors around the world buy fractional shares of U.S. stocks

Stock in many American companies, like Amazon, Alphabet or Tesla, can host hundreds or thousands of dollars per share. Fractional trading, or buying part of a single share through a brokerage, makes them more accessible—at least to people within the United States. Investors in other countries, however, often have to pay high fees through interactive brokers. Gotrade makes fractional trading of U.S. stocks available to people in 150 countries, and charges a minimum of just one dollar.

Embark Trucks to go public via merger with SPAC Northern Genesis in $4.55 billion deal

Embark Trucks Inc., a maker of self-driving technology for the trucking industry, said Wednesday it is going public via a merger with special purpose acquisition corporation Norther Genesis Acquisition Corp. II NGAB, 0.71%, in a deal with a pro forma implied enterprise value of about $4.55 billion. “Over the last five years, Embark has operated America’s longest running road-testing program for self-driving trucks to refine the company’s sophisticated self-driving software — purpose-built to navigate Class 8 trucks on long-distance freight trips,” the companies said in a joint statement.

FamPay, a fintech aimed at teens in India, raises $38 million

How big is the market in India for a neobank aimed at teenagers? Scores of high-profile investors are backing a startup to find out.

Bangalore-based FamPay said on Wednesday it has raised $38 million in its Series A round led by Elevation Capital. General Catalyst, Rocketship VC, Greenoaks Capital and existing investors Sequoia Capital India, Y Combinator, Global Founders Capital and Venture Highway also participated in the new round, which brings FamPay’s to-date raise to $42.7 million.

Cruise secures $5B credit line to buy electric, autonomous Cruise Origin vehicles from GM

Cruise, the self-driving subsidiary of GM, has tapped a $5 billion line of credit from the automaker’s financial arm to pay for hundreds of purpose-built electric and autonomous Origin vehicles as they start to roll off the assembly line.

The access to the credit provided by GM Financial will push Cruise’s “total war chest” to more than $10 billion as it prepares for commercialization, CEO Dan Ammann wrote in a blog post Tuesday.

BukuWarung, a fintech for Indonesian MSMEs, scores $60M Series A led by Valar and Goodwater

BukuWarung, a fintech focused on Indonesia’s micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), announced today it has raised a $60 million Series A. The oversubscribed round was led by Valar Ventures, marking the firm’s first investment in Indonesia, and Goodwater Capital. The Jakarta-based startup claims this is the largest Series A round ever raised by a startup focused on services for MSMEs. BukuWarung did not disclose its valuation, but sources tell TechCrunch it is estimated to be between $225 million to $250 million.

On any given day, thousands of drivers snake through the Dodger Stadium parking lot, not to catch a game but to swab their mouths to test for Covid-19. By most measures, Los Angeles, where hospitals are running out of space and morgues are at capacity, is not a model city for how to control a deadly pandemic.

For small and mid-sized restaurants in Nigeria and most of Africa, food procurement can be a complex process to manage. The system is such that a business can easily run out of money or have considerable savings. Most restaurants don’t have access to deal directly with farms to get better deals because they lack the staffing to chase them. Besides, they also don’t have the aggregation pull as single entities to directly get good value from the farms.

New Startup Warmly, Which Spots Warm Intro Opportunities For Sales, Raises $2.1 Million

A new startup by three ex-Googlers has a unique name: “We’re called Warmly, because we provide warm leads,” says cofounder and CEO Max Greenwald. Stylized as “Warmly,” (comma included, as in the sign-off to an email), the software company is announcing itself in the Silicon Valley tech scene with an idea to help businesses find new customers by leveraging their network of existing customers.

Flat, a Mexican property tech startup, raises $4.6M pre-seed led by ALLVP

Flat has raised one of Mexico’s largest pre-seed rounds to take the Opendoor real estate marketplace model across the Rio Grande.

The company snagged a $4.6 million pre-seed round to expand its business helping homeowners quickly sell their properties in Mexico. The round was led by ALLVP, an active early-stage fund in Mexico. California-based Liquid 2 Ventures (for which Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana is a GP), Next Billion, Picus Capital and a few angels supported the round, as well.

Uber-like app for motorcycles eases traffic woes in one of world’s most congested cities

The narrow waterway separating the European and Asian sides of this metropolis has inspired classical myths and frustrated invading armies for centuries.

But today drivers traveling over the three bridges spanning the picturesque Bosporus are more likely to experience road rage than nostalgia in a city known as one of the world’s most congested for traffic.

Laika, la startup que entró al desarrollador Y Combinator

Qué tienen en común Laika, Airbnb y Dropbox? Laika, una plataforma colombiana que se especializa en comercializar productos y servicios para mascotas, ingresó en un grupo de startups que son seleccionadas por Y Combinator, la aceleradora estadounidense más importante del mundo catalogada por la revista Fortune como un criadero de gigantes tecnológicos emergentes.

Mighty, the Stadia of browsers, thinks you’ll subscribe to use Chrome without screaming fans

Google Stadia and Xbox Cloud Gaming may have shown that remotely running your console titles in the cloud has big performance advantages, but would you pay a monthly subscription to do the same with your browser? That’s what startup Mighty is hoping to convince people comes next, with the promise of turning the computer on your desk or lap into a viewer for Chrome engine Chromium running on a potent remote server.

Athlane looks to connect brands and esports streamers with a fresh $3.3 million in funding

Athlane, the YC-backed company from the Summer ’19 cohort, is today ready to launch with a fresh $3.3 million in capital. Investors include Y Combinator, Jonathan Kraft (New England Patriots), Michael Gordon (President of Fenway Sports Group, which owns the Red Sox and Liverpool Football Club), Global Founders Capital, Romulus Capital, Seabed VC and more.

Music for the soul: Vahan CEO learnt piano during the pandemic; keeps his guitar close to desk

Madhav Krishna, Founder and CEO, Vahan started playing the guitar in 2003 when he started college.

“I also played in a band back then. Piano is something I picked up during the pandemic as I was keen to learn a new skill. Music, especially playing an instrument, is a fantastic way of de-stressing. It helps take one’s mind off the day-to-day problems that are a part and parcel of entrepreneurship. It is also a great way of exercising the left/artistic side of the brain which helps hone  ..

Food Supply Chain Automation Could Be A Bright Spot For Restaurants Amidst The COVID-19 Fight

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a negative, life-altering event for restaurant owners across the world. Even before COVID-19, it was well known that running a successful, profitable restaurant was one of the most difficult things for any talented business owner to do. So difficult, in fact, that Restaurant Brokers concludes 90% of independently owned restaurants, i.e. neighborhood restaurants, close during their first year, and the remaining 10% will only survive a total of five years!  It is heartbreaking then, to see an already challenging industry face a watershed event like COVID-19.

Cityfurnish Launches its Offerings in Hyderabad

Cityfurnish – a Gurgaon-based furniture and consumer appliances rental startup, which was recently part of the Y Combinator winter batch of 2019, has announced the launch of its operations in Hyderabad. The offerings of Cityfurnish already live in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune, Gurgaon & Noida. The online rental furniture startup is revolutionizing the on-demand rental economy in India.

Coral Partners with DrugViu to Address Minority Representation in Autoimmune Precision Medicine Initiative

Coral, a San Francisco biotech developing new clinical tests to improve medication selection and market access for autoimmune patients has partnered with DrugViu, a healthcare technology company that helps patients with autoimmune diseases get full control and consolidate their medical records to find better treatment options, participate in clinical trials and track their contributions to research.

Anne Arundel natives Leif Frey and Erin Robert Frey create a natural laundry detergent

Harwood natives and brothers Leif Frey, 28, and Erin Robert Frey, 26, never thought that dirty laundry could become their key to success.

Their natural laundry brand, Frey, got them selected to the Retail & Commerce section of the famed Forbes 30 Under 30 list.

Since 2016, the brothers have been building the company with their friends Aidan Porter and Patrick Keshishian, and have quickly been building a name for themselves.

Enzyme.com wants to make FDA compliance easier for startups

The Food and Drug Administration approval process can be like navigating a minefield for health startups hoping to get through regulations and begin selling to the American public. YC company Enzyme.com hopes to help these small businesses by automating the process for them.

Biomedical engineer Jared Seehafer came up with the idea through his own experience consulting with health companies like Genentech. He found going through all the paperwork to get into compliance wasn’t just tedious but also a big part of what’s holding back small companies.

“You find you spend almost as much time documenting the work as you do doing the work,” Seehafer told TechCrunch. “This is a multitrillion-dollar industry and I thought ‘why isn’t there software to automate the process?’ ”

Darmiyan Raises $6M in Initial Close of Seed Funding

Darmiyan, Inc., a San Francisco, CA-based developer of brain diagnostics, raised $6M in the initial closing of a seed funding.

The round was led by Eisai with participation from IT-Farm and Y-Combinator (YC).

 

Led by Padideh Kamali-Zare, PhD, president and founder CEO, Darmiyan provides AI-Powered virtual microscope BrainSee, its novel and proprietary technology (US patent 10573414) that provides a solution for early diagnosis, monitoring, and stratification of Alzheimer’s disease. BrainSee’s AI-powered algorithm takes the currently available standard clinical brain MRI and basic cognitive tests and generates brain maps and scores that indicate pathology at the earliest stages of the disease when treatments are feasible.

The Alibaba of Africa: WaystoCap provides a platform for businesses to buy and sell goods

Growing up in Morocco, Niama El Bassunie observed the many highs and lows her parents experienced as they ran the business they started 45 years ago – an enterprise she was always expected to join. But even as her siblings were signing on, she was eyeing an opportunity to help small businesses in Africa use the internet to securely buy and sell goods online. She envisioned a pan-African digital marketplace as varied and vibrant as the kiosks, boutiques, and shops scattered throughout BeninBurkina FasoCôte d’Ivoire, Morocco, and Togo.

In 2016, she and her co-founders created WaystoCap, a unified platform for businesses to buy and sell goods starting in those five African countries, with a plan to expand into more nations over the upcoming years. The technology-driven platform now sells Kente fabric, diapers, argan oil, rice, and hundreds of other products fast and securely. Thousands of buyers and suppliers have signed up.

The 12 startups with ideas that seek to change Latin America through technology

Platzi , the online learning platform, announced the 12 finalist startups of the seventh edition of its DemoDay and that they will compete on April 10 for

“The finalist startups are exceptional. In total, they have added $ 4.6 million in revenue in the last six months and have created more than 200 jobs. In addition, they combine the ability to have traction, make a product and manage as teams, ”Juliane Butty, director of Startups at Platzi, the online education platform, said in a statement.

Many 3D printing companies restrict customers to a limited selection of costly, proprietary materials. AON3D, however, has committed to the open materials standard since its founding; customers can print hundreds of different materials on open materials 3D printers.

In addition, AON3D has focused its materials engineering expertise on developing optimized process parameters for vendors that provide the highest quality materials on the market. These include notable brands such as Solvay, SABIC, Kimya, DSM, Infinite Material Solutions, and many others.

Canadian Company AON3D Launches Industrial 3D Printer Built for the Strongest Plastics in the World

AON3D announces the launch of their AON-M2 2020, the latest large format industrial 3D printer in their flagship product line. A high-temperature 3D printer designed to print an expanding array of plastics, including PEEK, ULTEM™, PEKK, polycarbonate, and hundreds of other materials. This enables cutomers to print parts for the most demanding applications and environments, such as harsh chemical environments, extreme temperatures, and intense mechanical stress.

Many 3D printing companies restrict customers to a limited selection of costly, proprietary materials. AON3D, however, has committed to the open materials standard since its founding; customers can print hundreds of different materials on open materials 3D printers.

Leading direct-to-consumer brand FLEX partners with CVS Health to bring eco-friendly period products to shoppers in 5,000 stores nationwide

In a joint effort to innovate for period health, retail giant CVS and direct-to-consumer brand, FLEX, are partnering to bring comfortable, high-performance, eco-friendly period products to shoppers in over 5,000 CVS stores nationwide.

According to recent June 2019 syndicated retail sales data, traditional tampon unit sales are down 4.3% year over year across drug retailers. Category growth is being driven by alternative period products, including innovation led by FLEX in cups and discs.

Additionally, industry reports do not yet capture the unprecedented growth of online sales of alternative period products like FLEX™ Discs and the FLEX Cup™. With changing consumer attitudes and behaviors toward alternative period products, retailers like CVS are starting to recognize the gap in physical distribution and are taking swift action to meet the growing demand by consumers.

The Flex Company launched its first period product, the FLEX Disc, in late 2016. It quickly developed a devoted and engaged consumer following and has grown to be a top performing direct-to-consumer brand.

Validere Raises $15M USD Series A Funding led by Wing VC to Accelerate Supply Chain Efficiencies in the Energy Industry

Validere, a leading informatics platform that enables energy companies to realize efficiencies through real-time product quality insights, announced the closing of its US $15 million USD ($20,551,275 CAN) Series A funding round led by Wing VC, with participation from Greylock Partners and Sallyport Investments.

With offices in Houston, Calgary, and Toronto, Validere was founded by Harvard graduate and award-winning scientist Dr. Ian Burgess and entrepreneur Nouman Ahmad, who both recognized the enormous opportunity to bring data transparency to oil and gas.

“Forty trillion dollars of physical oil and gas is traded annually and 3 – 5% of that value evaporates due to opaque and fragmented product quality data,” said Ahmad, CEO at Validere. “As oil changes hands multiple times across the supply chain, it’s incredibly challenging to keep track of product quality. Product quality is critical as it underpins what the product is worth and where it can be delivered. Despite its importance, access to real-time quality data has been an elusive gap for the industry. We are solving this fundamental challenge by bridging new technologies with a deep understanding of the industry’s complexities. As recent market volatility has shown, optimization tools like Validere’s are more important than ever in helping the industry reduce costs and increase profitability.”

Nectar’s sonar bottle caps could save $50B in stolen booze

Bars lose 20% of their alcohol to overpours and “free” drinks for friends. That amounts to $50 billion per year in booze that mysteriously disappears, making life tough for every pub and restaurant. Nectar wants to solve that mystery with its ultrasound depth-sensing bottle caps that measure how much liquid is left in a bottle by measuring how long it takes a sonar pulse to bounce back. And now it’s bringing real-time pour tracking to beer with its gyroscopic taps. The result is that bar managers can determine who’s pouring too much or giving away drink, which promotions are working and when to reorder bottles without keeping too much stock on hand — and avoid wasting hours weighing or eyeballing the liquor level of their inventory.

Linkagoal Secures $1.25M in Series A Funding

Linkagoal, the first-ever ‘Goal Oriented Social Network’, announced today that it has raised $1.25M in Series A funding, led by Sh. Amr F M Zedan, CEO of the Saudi Zedan Group, with advisory services provided by Privity FZ LLE. With the funding, San Francisco-based Linkagoal will continue to advance its Goal Based Engine with a veteran software development team led by Founder and CEO Mohsin Shafique and a Sales and Marketing team led by Co-Founder and Deputy CEO Nasir Jamal.

With its rapidly growing user base and an approved patent by USPTO (Method of Goal Based Social Network – Patent No: 8694439), Linkagoal is an innovator in the goal-oriented social networking space. Linkagoal aims to build a global community of goal oriented, like-minded individuals, under its revolutionary social networking platform with a mission of identifying personal and professional objectives and accomplishing them, supported by other members of the community.

BEAUTY Subscription company Scentbird moves into wellness to stay on trend

Direct-to-consumer subscription-based beauty company Scentbird is adding wellness to its offerings in an effort to expand its portfolio and keep up with consumer trends.

In May, the company added 17 full-size wellness-focused products to its assortment, including powder supplements from Golde, and CBD cream and ingestibles from Highline Wellness. Founded in 2014 as a fragrance subscription service, Scentbird has slowly been expanding its offerings: In March, it began offering skin care, and last year, it moved into private-label body and skin care and launched a makeup pilot program. The company, which has over 300,000 subscribers and has raised more than $18 million in venture capital funding, declined to state its annual revenue.

“We realized we wanted to stay on-trend, and wellness is a category that is driving a lot of interest and curiosity from the consumer,” said Richard Vera, vp of brand relations for Scentbird. “These are brands that have a very millennial profile and a unique value proposition.”

Sym raises $9M Series A for its security workflow platform

Sym, a new platform that makes it easier for developers to integrate security and privacy workflows into their process, today announced that it has raised a $9 million Series A round led by Amplify Partners. Earlier this year, the company announced its $3 million seed round lead by Andy McLoughlin of Uncork Capital and Robin Vasan of Mango Capital. Angel investors include former Google CISO Gerhard Eschelbeck, Atlassian CTO Sri Viswanath and Jason Warner, the CTO of GitHub.

Sym co-founder Yasyf Mohamedali spent the last few years as CTO of health tech company Karuna Health. In that role, he became intimately familiar with working in a high-compliance industry, handling vendor reviews and security audits. To make those processes more efficient, his team built lots of small tools, but he realized that everybody else in the industry was doing the same.

Posted in Sym

Flatfile Raises $35 Million in Series A Funding Led by Scale Venture Partners

Flatfile, the groundbreaking data onboarding software company, today announced $35 million in Series A funding. The round was led by Scale Venture Partners, with participation from Workday Ventures. and previous investors including Afore Capital, Google’s AI-focused venture fund, Gradient Ventures, and Two Sigma Ventures. Among a list of powerful angels investing in this round you’ll find founders of Box, Looker, and Segment. This brings the company’s total funding to nearly $45 million, $42.6 million of which has been raised in just the last year. This latest infusion of capital will be used to accelerate the company’s expansion of its all-remote workforce, along with continued product development.

Workstream, a platform for deskless work, raises $10 million to serve local businesses

Deskless workers make up 80% of the global workforce, but to Desmond Lim, that job title is his entire world.

Lim grew up in Singapore and saw his father wake up every morning, six days a week, at 5 a.m. to start his job as a driver. Lim and his mom, who worked as a cleaner, joined his father from time to time in the van. Lim realized there needed to be an easier way for hourly, or deskless, workers to find jobs quickly.

Lim is the founder of Workstream, an end-to-end software solution to help small-and-medium businesses fill open positions. Today, the startup announced it has raised a $10 million Series A round, bringing its total known financing to $12.5 million.

Alloy raises $4M to build out its e-commerce automation service

Alloy Automation, a startup that was part of the Y Combinator Winter 2020 cohort, announced today that it has closed $5 million across two rounds, the most recent of which brought $4 million to the company in October of 2020.

The new funds were raised at a $16 million pre-money, $20 million post-money valuation, Alloy told TechCrunch.

The company’s latest fundraising was led by Bain Capital Ventures and Abstract, with participation from Color CapitalBoxGroup and a collection of individual investors, including Shippo’s Laura Behrens Wu.

TechCrunch spoke with co-founders Sara Du, CEO, and Gregg Mojica, CTO, about the round, their market and their experience in Y Combinator.

Du, a Harvard dropout, and Mojicam, who skipped college altogether, met after the former emailed the latter about speaking at an open-source conference. The event didn’t end up happening, but the pair stayed in touch. Du wound up running a small streetwear store, interested in automation and app-connecting tools like Zapier, which she found to be too simple, and MuleSoft, which she described as very expensive. Out of a desire for something in between that would let her connect apps, Alloy Automation was eventually born.

Startup Gets Backing to Create Clearing Firm for Equities

A new startup hopes to build a better clearing firm, a type of financial-market infrastructure business that drew scrutiny during the GameStop Corp. stock frenzy earlier this year.

Embedded Financial Technologies Inc. is a new custodian-and-clearing firm for equities and options founded by Michael Giles, who previously ran Cash App Investing LLC, a subsidiary of Square Inc. Its future customers would be able to integrate stock trading features into their mobile apps through Embedded’s APIs, or code that allows apps to communicate.

An Update on Microverse, the Global School for Software Developers

I started Microverse in February 2018 to help anyone, anywhere, learn software development and connect with life-changing global opportunities.

While we have much work to do, I’m happy with what we’ve been able to accomplish at just over a year old.

💪🏼 Created an incredibly selective process to identify the world’s most talented individuals (current selection rate is 0.3%).

Philippines payment processing startup PayMongo lands $12 million Series A led by Stripe

Stripe has led a $12 million Series A round in Manila-based online payment platform PayMongo, the startup announced today.

PayMongo, which offers an online payments API for businesses in the Philippines, was the first Filipino-owned financial tech startup to take part in Y Combinator’s accelerator program. Y Combinator and Global Founders Capital, another previous investor, both returned for the Series A, which also included participation from new backer Bedrock Capital.

Insurtech startup Obie raises $10.7M Series A led by Battery Ventures

Obie, which has developed an insurtech platform for landlords, has raised $10.7 million in a Series A funding round led by Battery Ventures.

Thomvest Ventures, Funders Club, MetaProp and Second Century Ventures also participated in the financing.

If this sounds like a niche offering, that’s because it is. Obie’s software specifically targets small-to-medium size apartment landlords who own single-family rentals and/or larger apartment buildings.

Chicago-based Obie — which also went through the Y Combinator program — says its platform stands out because it offers instant quotes (by instant, they mean in about three to five minutes). The company also claims to save policyholders up to 25-30% compared to other insurance premiums. Over the past year, Obie has secured insurance for over $3 billion worth of property.

Kelly Smith, Prenda CEO, on Microschooling & the Future of K-12 Learning

This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard are joined by Kelly Smith, founder and CEO of Prenda, a company that helps create flexible learning environments known as microschools. Often described as the “reinvention of the one-room school house,” microschools combine homeschooling, online education, smaller class sizes, mixed age-level groupings, flipped classrooms, and personalized learning. Kelly shares what inspired him to launch Prenda in 2018, and how the COVID-19 pandemic has catapulted microschools to fame. They discuss how Prenda ensures teacher preparation in core academic areas, holds teachers accountable for student outcomes, and works to bridge achievement gaps.

Stories of the Week: A new report from Eric Hanushek and Ludger Woessmann projects that school closures could cost the U.S. economy over $14.2 trillion by the end of the century. Idaho Gov. Brad Little announced $150 million in funding to public schools and parents for COVID-19 relief, including direct payments to families for educational materials, devices, and services. In The Atlantic, scholars discuss the pros and cons of families’ increasing propensity to consider alternatives to public schools, as a result of COVID.

Accel-Backed Searchlight.ai, A B2B Hiring Software Startup, Fixes The Broken Interviewing Process

As global economic competition grows each year, firms work tirelessly to recruit the best talent available on the market. Companies invest in university and college recruiting sessions extensively. They also incentivize their employees with cash rewards to tap their networks to fill empty positions. Many think the problem with hiring top talent is related to not reaching enough potential candidates. However, Kerry and Anna Wang viewed the problem differently and created Searchlight.ai as their solution. Searchlight.ai is a hiring software startup integrating automated reference checks to companies’ hiring processes to build in-depth profiles of prospective candidates. The startup was in Y Combinator’s Winter 2019 batch. The San Francisco-based startup raised over $2.5 million in their recent oversubscribed seed round led by Accel, with participation from Founders Fund, Soma Capital, Operator Collective, Jason Boehmig, Mathilde Collin (CEO of Front), and Amber Feng.

YC alum Keeper raises $1.6M to help gig workers pay taxes

Every year around this time, Uber drivers, Wag dog walkers, Bird scooter chargers, social media influencers and other gig economy workers face the unsightly challenge of paying their taxes.

Companies like Uber and Lyft classify their drivers as independent contractors, which means you aren’t given any benefits and the company doesn’t withhold any of your taxes. This puts gig workers in a tough position come tax day, especially if they aren’t prepared to shell out big sums to the IRS.

Handle.com helps independent construction workers get paid on time

From long payment cycles to antiquated processes on how to bill workers, the hefty inefficiencies of the construction industry are long overdue for innovation.

Enter startups such as the large venture-backed Katerra and recently public companies such as Procore. Still, independent contractors or workers from small family businesses often can’t afford hefty fees from SaaS platforms promising better management. Or, they don’t have a parent company behind them to foot the bill.

Convex Helps Commercial Service Businesses Find New Customers At Scale

Commercial contractors are critical to maintaining a building’s key infrastructure, such as elevators, escalators, security systems, and more. However, their business potential is limited by their antiquated, manual go-to-market strategies. Charlie Warren, Blake Meulmester and Brandon Dement saw the need for software in the commercial services business, creating Convex as a result. Convex is an enterprise software company focusing on helping commercial servicers increase their revenues through data-driven go-to-market strategies and improved customer discovery techniques. The San Francisco-based startup participated in Y Combinator’s Winter 2019 batch.

Startup and Academics Find Path to Powerful Analog AI

Engineers have been chasing a form of AI that could drastically lower the energy required to do typical AI things like recognize words and images. This analog form of machine learning does one of the key mathematical operations of neural networks using the physics of a circuit instead of digital logic. But one of the main things limiting this approach is that deep learning’s training algorithm, back propagation, has to be done by GPUs or other separate digital systems.

Now University of Montreal AI expert Yoshua Bengio, his student Benjamin Scellier, and colleagues at startup Rain Neuromorphics have come up with way for analog AIs to train themselves. That method, called equilibrium propagation, could lead to continuously learning, low-power analog systems of a far greater computational ability than most in the industry now consider possible, according to Rain CTO Jack Kendall.

Spero Foods – A Closer Look at this FoodTech Company Disrupting the Dairy and Egg Industry

The dairy and egg industries are being disrupted by plant-based foodtech and the implications are huge. Phenomenal advances in food science are happening as consumers realise the benefits of plant-based both to themselves and to the environment. Food tech is stepping in, one such company is Spero Foods.

Eggs are consumed in more than 90% of North American households, however, 40% of American households are turning to plant-based, and the forecast is that this will continue to rise. Spero is one of the plantbased egg alternatives on the market, in addition to JUSTClara Foods and others.

Lowkey raises $7 million from a16z to help game streamers capitalize on short-form video

While the growth of game-streaming audiences have continued on desktop platforms, the streaming space has felt surprisingly stagnant at times, particularly due to the missing mobile element and a lack of startup competitors.

Lowkey, a gaming startup that builds software for game streamers, is aiming to build out opportunities in bit-sized clips on mobile. The startup wants to be a hub for both creating and viewing short gaming clips but also sees a big opportunity in helping streamers cut down their existing content for distribution on platforms like Instagram and TikTok where short-form gaming content sees a good deal of engagement.

Bill Gates-backed venture moving to Hudson Research Center

Taconic Partners and Silverstein Properties  announced that c16 Biosciences Inc. will establish its executive headquarters and biomanufacturing research lab within the Hudson Research Center at 619 West 54th Street.

A biomanufacturing company that uses microbiology to brew sustainable alternatives to palm oil, c16 Biosciences Inc. has leased 20,000 s/f of pre-built lab and office space on the 7th floor of the building. The company will move in at the end of summer.

“Hudson Research Center’s pre-built lab program was perfectly suited for what we do and where our company is headed,” added Shara Ticku, co-founder and CEO of c16 Biosciences Inc. “Its location, flexible lab spaces and amenities made the building an ideal fit for our team as we continue to address the drastic societal and environmental costs associated with palm oil.  We are excited to grow our company here in New York City.”

Torch + Radical Candor Launch “The Radically Candid Coach,” A New Month-Long Course from New York Times Best-Selling Author Kim Scott

Torch, a leading coaching, mentoring and learning development platform for enterprise-level executives, employees and HR leaders, and Radical Candor, an executive education company co-founded by Kim Scott, author of the bestselling book Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity, together announce the launch of a new month-long course called “The Radically Candid Coach.”

Participants of the course will attend virtual presentations from Scott and randomly selected participants out of the first 100 to register will have a chance to receive live personal coaching with Scott during the sessions. The course launches May 27 and will run for four weeks. Those interested can register at: https://lp.torch.io/the-radically-candid-coach/.

12 No-Code Platforms for Some DIY Machine Learning

Only 25% of organizations are using artificial intelligence (AI) in their businesses today. Why? Custom AI-enabled solutions are expensive to build, as talented data scientists are a hot commodity today and don’t come cheap. Top performers can easily command over $250,000 in annual salary, which seriously makes us question the money we wasted invested in getting our MBAs. Not to mention, it can take months or even years to implement. CTOs are understandably suspicious of the latest buzzword du jour, so you need to show results fast.

All 51 startups that debuted at Y Combinator W17 Demo Day 2

More than 15,000 founders from 7,200 startups applied to this batch of Y Combinator. It chose just over 100, with founders from 22 countries, to go through its accelerator program. Today, the second half of those companies launched onstage, and we have breakdowns of all 51 of these businesses.

Oh, and the ACLU. The 97-year old legal activism nonprofit is far from a startup, but went through YC to learn more growth tactics.

Today’s set of companies focused on hardcore backend engineering tools and scrappy social apps. And thanks to YC’s recently developed Investor Match system, it’s able to route the startups and VCs most interested in each other into meetings.

Secureframe raises $18M Series A to simplify cybersecurity compliance

Security compliance may not be the hottest conversation starter, but it’s a critical and often grueling process that companies have to endure every year to show that their security practices are up to par. It’s a burden that bogs down startups more than others, and so it’s fitting that startups are trying to find a better way.

Enter security compliance startup Secureframe, founded by Shrav Mehta and Natasja Nielsen, which thinks it has.

Universal Secrets Manager Innovator Unveils Doppler Share and New Enterprise Features as Customer Demand Soars

Today Doppler, the Universal Secrets Manager leader, launched Doppler Share and released enterprise-grade enhancements to its flagship platform. Now most organizations, regardless of size, can use Doppler to securely store secrets, increasing developer productivity while strengthening overall security. “In today’s environment speed equals competitive advantage,” stated Brian Vallelunga, founder and CEO of Doppler. “However speed can lead to compromised security when trying to meet aggressive timelines, especially if the security protocols create roadblocks.

Pawp Is Making Pet Insurance Affordable For All Pets — No Exceptions

Pawp (https://www.pawp.com/) is introducing an affordable alternative to pet insurance that supports pets and their owners during emergency situations, without exclusions. A $19 monthly subscription to Pawp Clinic includes 24/7 access to licensed vets and a $3,000 emergency fund — no matter a pet’s age, breed, location, or medical history — and can be applied for up to 6 cats and dogs in a household at no extra cost.

How FamPay, a start-up by IIT Roorkee grads could give teens financial swag via a ‘numberless’ card

One of the woes of anyone’s teenage years is that no one trusts you with money. You’re young enough for adults to be a little skeptical but old enough that it stings. But what if there was a platform where you could have control over how you spend your money? Well, that is exactly what FamPay, a Bengaluru-based neo-bank (a bank that’s completely online) start-up, is providing adolescents. With its app and numberless card, called Famcard, its founders, Kush Taneja and Sambhav Jain expect that it will impart some financial education on the youth.

B.C. technology company Switchboard connects the logistics dots

Sagar Malhi pulls out his phone and calls up a map of North America, covered in 7,200 pink dots. They speckle the continent, streak down the West Coast and cluster around cities like Chicago.

Each circle represents a truck fitted with one of Vancouver-based Switchboard’s electronic logging devices (ELDs).

“We bet huge on ELDs,” said Michael Ip, who co-founded the now nine-person startup with Malhi.

“This ELD was a big boon because this U.S. government mandate forced pretty much 20 million trucks to adopt this new technology. That’s crazy.”

AI-powered grocery inventory startup Shelf Engine nabs $41M

Prior to the pandemic, average grocery profits hovered around 2%, mostly due to transportation and logistical inefficiencies. Shifting product demand and sales compounded these issues, with stores now responsible for 10% of U.S. food waste. This over-ordering not only costs profitability, but forces retailers to increase prices to make up for the losses. In April 2020, grocery prices showed their steepest monthly increase in nearly 50 years, led by rising prices for perishables like meat and eggs.

Reverie Labs raises 25M

Reverie Labs, a pharmaceutical startup founded by Jonah Kallenbach, A.B./S.M. ’17 (computer science) and Ankit Gupta, A.B./S.M. ’17 (computer science) raised $25 million from investors.

The company uses machine learning, physics-based modeling, and massive-scale computational infrastructure to engineer new medicines. Reverie will use this funding to advance its internal and partnered drug discovery programs towards the clinic, further develop its innovative computational discovery platform, and expand its team of scientists and engineers.

Gainful raises $7.5M for personalized sports nutrition

Gainful, a startup offering personalized subscriptions to protein powders and hydration products, is announcing that it has raised $7.5 million in Series A funding.

COO Eric Wu, who founded the company with CTO Jahaan Ansari, told me that Gainful began with his own experience experimenting with different protein powders and eventually finding the combination that worked best for his goals and dietary needs.

Kathleen Gallagher: Why do schools like MIT excel in launching startups, while UWM and other area schools do so little?

UWM’s Sandra McLellan and MIT’s Eric Alm are among the world’s foremost experts at detecting very small organisms in very large quantities of sewage — a useful tool during the COVID-19 pandemic. But despite their similar research capabilities, Alm’s work is having a wider impact and creating more economic value and high-paying jobs.

The reason: A startup spinout called Biobot Analytics.

Goldman Sachs honors REZI CEO for Entrepreneurship

Sean Mitchell is the CEO of REZI, a leading technology company he co-founded in 2017. REZI is the only fully remote and automated marketplace for long-term apartment rentals. It empowers landlords to lease their apartments up to 80% faster than the market average by allowing tenants to find, tour, and close on their next rental in as little as 5 minutes. Before co-founding REZI, Sean had a career in financial services including roles at Corbin Capital Partners and JP Morgan Chase’s Chief Investment Office. He graduated from Florida A&M University with a BS in Business Administration. He grew up in South Florida, before relocating to New York City, where he lives with his wife.

REZI knows that where you live determines how you live. That’s why it’s steadfastly committed to using innovative technologies to make the rental experience simple, fast, and fair for landlords and tenants alike.

How Robotics Breakthroughs are Transforming Manufacturing

Lean manufacturing, the philosophy driving gains in productivity and quality for more than a century, is based on five core ideas:

●    Figure out a product’s value to customers

●     Map its value-stream and remove unnecessary steps

●     Set up a flow that allows it to move continuously through the remaining steps

●     Establish a pull system for production

●     Strive to perfect the process

These principles led companies to become world leaders. While the manufacturing facility has evolved in recent decades, the principles of lean manufacturing still apply. Indeed, advances in artificial intelligence and factory robotics are automating the manufacturing process even further, opening up new paths to apply lean.

This little known Seattle startup just raised $25M to grow its ‘mobile infrastructure as a service’ tech

Jim Xiao learned about building enterprise platforms at Microsoft China. An executive role at a wireless company taught him about manufacturing Android devices. And he saw how hardware wasn’t catching up to software during a 4.5-year stint with Dan Gilbert’s venture capital firm.

All three experiences led Xiao to what is arguably his most exciting adventure yet: leading Seattle startup Mason, which has quietly grown into a fledgling “mobile infrastructure as a service” company that just raised a $25 million investment round.

ReadMe scores $9M Series A to help firms customize API docs

Software APIs help different tools communicate with one another, let developers access essential services without having to code it themselves and are critical components for driving a platform-driven strategy. Yet they require solid documentation to help make the best use of them. ReadMe, a startup that helps companies customize their API documentation, announced a $9 million Series A today led by Accel with help from Y Combinator. The company was part of the Y Combinator Winter 2015 cohort.

YC -Backed Akido Labs Provides A Standardized API Layer For Hospital App Developers

Many hospitals in America have made the switch to electronic health records (EHR) systems to manage patient medical information in the last couple of decades. This is supposed to make record-keeping easier and more efficient, but the systems are different for each hospital and often can’t communicate with each other. This makes it hard for health app developers to design apps that run on each unique system.

Currently, if an app uses patient health information, the app developer has to not only spend months convincing the hospital bureaucracy to integrate its EHR system with the developer’s app, but the developer also has to design the app a specific way to work within that unique system

Discount grocery startup Misfits Market raises $200M

Misfits Market, a startup known for selling “ugly” fruits and vegetables at discount prices, announced this morning that it has raised $200 million in Series C funding.

The company says this brings its total funding to $301.5 million and moves its valuation into unicorn territory (i.e. above $1 billion). It isn’t getting any more specific about that valuation, though Bloomberg reports that it’s $1.1 billion.

Remote hiring startup Deel raises $156M at a $1.25B valuation after 20x growth in 2020

Many of the world’s organizations shifted to remote work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But even as more people are vaccinated and offices are planning re-openings, it’s clear that for some organizations, remote work is here to stay.

Deel, a startup that provides payroll, compliance tools and other services to help businesses hire remotely, has seen increased demand in the wake of this shift.

Walmart invests in self-driving startup Cruise

Walmart is investing in self-driving startup Cruise as part of a massive $2.75 billion investment round in the company—an expansion of the $2 billion round announced in January. That original announcement featured three other big names: GM, Honda, and Microsoft.

Cruise was originally an independent startup but was acquired by GM in 2016. GM has poured billions into the company and has increasingly sought additional financial support from outside investors.

Stoke Space aims to take reusable rockets to new heights with $9M seed

Many launch providers think reusability is the best way to lower the cost and delay involved in getting to space. SpaceX and Rocket Lab have shown reusable first stages, which take a payload to the edge of space — and now Stoke Space Technologies says it is making a reusable second stage, which will take that payload to orbit and beyond, and has raised a $9.1 million seed round to realize it.

Designing a first stage that can return to Earth safely is no small task, but the fact that it only reaches a certain height and speed, and doesn’t actually climb into orbit at an even higher velocity, means that it is simpler to try. The second stage takes over when the first is spent, accelerating and guiding the payload to its destination orbit, which generally means it will have traveled a lot farther and will be going a lot faster when it tries to come back down.

Kalshi Raises $30 Million in Series A Funding Led by Sequoia

Kalshi, the first federally regulated exchange dedicated to trading on event outcomes, announced today that it has raised $30 million in Series A funding. The round was led by Sequoia Capital with participation from Charles Schwab, chairman of Charles Schwab Corporation, Henry Kravis, co-chairman & co-CEO of KKR, SV Angel and previous investors including Neo and YC Continuity. The announcement comes on the heels of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) approving Kalshi as a Designated Contract Market (DCM) in November, making it one of just 16 DCMs in the U.S.

Citadel ID raises $3.5M for API-delivered income and employment verification

This morning Citadel ID announced a combined $3.5 million raise for its income and employment verification service. The startup provides an API to customer companies, allowing them to rapidly verify details of consumer employment.

The capital came from a blend of venture firms and angels. On the firm side, Abstract and Soma VC were in there, along with ChapterOneBrianne Kimmel put capital in as well, according to the startup. And denizens with work histories at companies like Zynga (Mark Pincus), Stripe (Lachy Groom), Carta (Henry Ward) and others also put cash into the fundraise. (The company reached out to add that Fathom Capital also put a good amount in the round.)

Ramp secures $150M debt line from Goldman Sachs as the corporate spend market grows

This morning Ramp, a startup that competes in the corporate spend market, announced that it has secured a $150 million debt facility with Goldman Sachs. Ramp previously raised a $30 million Series B in late December 2020, after raising a $23 million Series A earlier in the same year.

TechCrunch spoke with Ramp co-founder and CEO Eric Glyman about its new credit access. Glyman said that until it was secured, his company had previously financed customer corporate spend off its own balance sheet. That effort would have become more difficult and inefficient as Ramp secured more customers, something that its rapid-fire fundraising implies that it has.

Roche and Genentech’s latest AI collaborator raises $25M Series A to reinvent one of the oldest cancer targets

Jonah Kallenbach spent the summer before his senior year with Anton, the hulking fluorescent supercomputer housed in the midtown Manhattan offices of hedge fund D.E. Shaw. Armed with 512 processors running in parallel, it’s been used since 2008 to probe some of the biggest questions in protein folding and structure.

Alloy raises $4M to build out its e-commerce automation service

Alloy Automation, a startup that was part of the Y Combinator Winter 2020 cohort, announced today that it has closed $5 million across two rounds, the most recent of which brought $4 million to the company in October of 2020.

The new funds were raised at a $16 million pre-money, $20 million post-money valuation, Alloy told TechCrunch.

The company’s latest fundraising was led by Bain Capital Ventures and Abstract, with participation from Color CapitalBoxGroup and a collection of individual investors, including Shippo’s Laura Behrens Wu.

BukuWarung, a startup digitizing Indonesia’s SMEs, raises new funding from Rocketship.vc

BukuWarung, an Indonesian startup focused on digitizing the country’s 60 million small businesses, announced today it has raised new funding from Rocketship.vc and an Indonesian retail conglomerate.

The amount was undisclosed, but sources say it brings BukuWarung’s total funding so far to $20 million. The company’s last round, announced in September 2020, was between $10 million to $15 million. Launched in 2019, BukuWarung was founded by Chinmay Chauhan and Abhinay Peddisetty and took part in Y Combinator last year.

Announcing Ironclad’s Series D — Towards a New Standard for Business Contracting

I am proud to announce that BOND has led Ironclad’s $100 million Series D round. Lux Capital, known for investing in frontier technologies like space and AI, also participated, along with our lead investors in prior rounds, Accel, Sequoia, and Y Combinator Continuity.

With this financing, we aim to solve the most important unsolved problem of modern business: the problem of business contracting.

The problem of business contracting

The problem of business contracts in 2021 reminds me of a totally different problem from the last century: shipping, before containerization.

Nayya Raises $11M Series A Led By Felicis Ventures to Optimize Personalized Healthcare Decisions

Nayya, the leading insurance benefits experience and management platform, today announced that it has closed $11M in Series A funding led by Felicis Ventures, with continued support from all early investors including Social Leverage, Guardian Life, one of the largest mutual life insurance companies in the US, and Cameron Ventures. Unum Business Ventures also joined the round with a venture investment from the Fortune 500 insurance company covering 39 million Americans.

Gainful raises $7.5M for personalized sports nutrition

Gainful, a startup offering personalized subscriptions to protein powders and hydration products, is announcing that it has raised $7.5 million in Series A funding.

COO Eric Wu, who founded the company with CTO Jahaan Ansari, told me that Gainful began with his own experience experimenting with different protein powders and eventually finding the combination that worked best for his goals and dietary needs.

ElectroNeek, a Robotic Process Automation company, reports 5x annual revenue growth in 2020

Our accelerating global growth is a product of ElectroNeek’s diverse team, working in almost all of the time zones around the globe, making Robotic Process Automation accessible to mid-market and smaller companies no matter where they are. A big Thank You to everyone who worked with us this year as well as to those who have just embarked on their automation journey with ElectroNeek – your talent and dedication is what fuels better customer and user experience.

GM leads $23 million investment in on-demand vehicle maintenance service Yoshi

[vc_row type=”full_width_content” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″ shape_divider_position=”bottom” bg_image_animation=”none” shape_type=””][vc_column column_padding=”padding-6-percent” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_link_target=”_self” column_shadow=”none” column_border_radius=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_width_inherit=”default” tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid” bg_image_animation=”none”][vc_column_text]The start-up has raised more than $38 million for its expansion plans.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Ramp raises $30M as the battle to own corporate spend heats up

Corporate spend management startup Ramp has raised $30 million more in a new round, it announced today. TechCrunch covered Ramp’s launch earlier this year, when it also detailed that it had raised around $23 million up to that point.

The startup raised its latest round in August of 2020, with conversations about the deal kicking off in June. The new capital is Ramp’s  second priced raise after its August, 2019 seed round worth $8 million and the first after its February, 2020-era $15 million raise. D1 and Coatue were new investors in this new investment, which included some prior backers.

NBA Joins GreenPark Sports Mobile Fan Experience, Adds $14 Million Series A Round

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GreenPark Sports, a novel combination of sports fan experience and mobile game whose founders include former YouTube and Zappos CEOs, said it has signed a partnership with the NBA and added $14 million in a Series A investment round.

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Healthtech startup Loop Health Bags $2.3 Mn Seed Funding From Sierra Ventures, Soma Capital and others

[vc_row type=”full_width_content” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″ shape_divider_position=”bottom” bg_image_animation=”none” shape_type=””][vc_column column_padding=”padding-6-percent” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_link_target=”_self” column_shadow=”none” column_border_radius=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_width_inherit=”default” tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid” bg_image_animation=”none”][vc_column_text]Loop Health offers companies group health insurance plans from prominent insurers bundled with a virtual primary care experience through an in-house medical team[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Datafold raises seed from NEA to keep improving the lives of data engineers

[vc_row type=”full_width_content” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″ shape_divider_position=”bottom” bg_image_animation=”none” shape_type=””][vc_column column_padding=”padding-6-percent” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_link_target=”_self” column_shadow=”none” column_border_radius=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_width_inherit=”default” tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid” bg_image_animation=”none”][vc_column_text]

With Datafold, changes made by data engineers in their extractions and transformations can be compared for unintentional changes

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Walmart and Cruise partner to test autonomous grocery delivery in Arizona

U.S. retailer Walmart  and autonomous vehicle company Cruise  are pairing up to test grocery delivery in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Under the pilot program, customers will be able to place an order from their local Walmart store and have it delivered via one of Cruise’s autonomous, electric Chevy Bolt cars. While the vehicles will operate autonomously, a human safety operator will always be behind the wheel.

Explo snags $2.3M seed to help build customer-facing BI dashboards

Explo, a member of the Y Combinator Winter 2020 class, which is helping customers build customer-facing business intelligence dashboards, announced a $2.3 million seed round today. Investors included Amplo VC, Soma Capital and Y Combinator along with several individual investors.

The company originally was looking at a way to simplify getting data ready for models or other applications, but as the founders spoke to customers, they saw a big need for a simple way to build dashboards backed by that data and quickly pivoted.

India’s WareIQ raises $1.65M for its Amazon-like delivery platform for sellers

[vc_row type=”full_width_content” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″ shape_divider_position=”bottom” bg_image_animation=”none” shape_type=””][vc_column column_padding=”padding-6-percent” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_link_target=”_self” column_shadow=”none” column_border_radius=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_width_inherit=”default” tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid” bg_image_animation=”none”][vc_column_text]The one-year-old startup WareIQ operates a platform to leverage the warehouses across the country. It has built a management system for these warehouses, most of which largely engage in offline business-to-business commerce and have had little to no prior e-commerce exposure.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

SpeedScale makes to developers is that its service can give coders the ability to see the problems before the release

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Secureframe raises $4.5M to help businesses speed up their compliance audits

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Secureframe,  helps businesses get and maintain their SOC 2 and ISO 27001 certifications.

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Austin-based Verifiable raises $3m for its API toolkit to verify healthcare credentials

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Verifiable provides an API that connects to hundreds of primary sources to keep updated records on the 17 million licensed healthcare providers working in the U.S

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Index nabs $2.6M seed to create BI dashboards without coding

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Nabis raises $5m Series A to grow its cannabis distribution platform

The cannabis industry is quickly growing up, and companies like Nabis  play a critical role. Today, the company is announcing it raised $5 million in Series A funding, which will help it grow and expand its offering.

Nabis is a business to business distributor, handling logistics, payment, and warehousing. Instead of being a distributor for beer, snacks, or pet supplies, Nabis is a cannabis distributor. The company acts as a middleman between cultivators and retail establishments, providing both parties’ unique services. Since it’s illegal to ship cannabis through traditional means, most cannabis operators turn to private operations to transport goods.

Arist Announces $1.9 Million in Seed Funding to Transform the Way Organizations Train and Learn

Arist, a text message learning platform used by organizations including DuPont, the Poynter Institute, and the State of California, today announced it has raised $1.9m from Acadian Ventures, Global Founders Capital and Craft Ventures, with additional participation from Y Combinator, Soma Capital, Emles Venture Partners, Hack VC, Rebel Fund, Liquid 2 Ventures, and angel investors Derek Schoettle (CEO of Cloudant) and Adam Goldstein (founder of Hipmunk), among others. Founded by Michael Ioffe, Ryan Laverty, and Maxine Anderson, Arist makes learning accessible and frictionless by delivering courses entirely via text message and WhatsApp.

Learning from Ioffe’s prior work improving access to learning in war-torn countries, the Arist team saw a different but critical need in the American workplace. The Arist platform makes it easier to create and simpler to access training. Organizations can create and launch text message courses in just minutes on any topic — from diversity and inclusion, compliance and sales enablement to safety training. Arist is particularly well-suited for reaching frontline employees who may not have laptop or LMS access, and is currently trusted by more than 50 leading companies, universities and nonprofits.

India’s Razorpay becomes unicorn after new $100 million funding round

Bangalore-headquartered Razorpay,  one of the handful of Indian fintech startups that has demonstrated accelerated growth in recent years, has joined the coveted unicorn club after raising $100 million in a new financing round, the payments processing startup said on Monday.

The new financing round, a Series D, was co-led by Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC  and Sequoia India, the six-year-old Indian startup said. The new round valued the startup at “a little more than $1 billion,” co-founder and chief executive Harshil Mathur told TechCrunch in an interview.

Doppler Raises $2.3 Million From Sequoia And Kleiner Perkins To Create The First Universal Secrets Management Solution For Developers

A developer’s primary priority is to write code. The secondary tasks, like keeping track and managing access of secrets, or digital authentication credentials, go on the back burner. However, secrets management must be done well, or a developer team risks compromising their code at critical times. Yet, most secrets management software are built by DevOps and security-focused teams or are quickly hacked-together developer solutions that won’t be able to scale with greater use.

Brian Vallelunga has struggled first-hand with secrets management. He and his team have built Doppler to address the problem. Doppler is the first ‘Universal Secrets Manager’ built specifically for developer teams of all sizes. The San Francisco-based startup has raised $2.3M in a seed round from Sequoia Capital, Kleiner Perkins, Abstract Ventures and Soma Capital, with participation from prominent tech investors and executives such as Aaron Levie, Peter Thiel, Nat Friedman, Dylan Field, Kevin Hartz, Greg Brockman, Jeremy Stoppelman and Ben Porterfield, and more.

Datasaur snags $3.9M investment to build intelligent machine learning labeling platform

As machine learning has grown, one of the major bottlenecks remains labeling things so the machine learning application understands the data it’s working with. Datasaur, a member of the Y Combinator Winter 2020 batch, announced a $3.9 million investment today to help solve that problem with a platform designed for machine learning labeling teams.

The funding announcement, which includes a pre-seed amount of $1.1 million from last year and $2.8 million seed right after it graduated from Y Combinator in March, included investments from Initialized Capital, Y Combinator  and OpenAI CTO Greg Brockman.

Indonesian fintech startup BukuWarung gets new funding to add financial services for small merchants

A month after completing Y Combinator’s accelerator programBukuWarung, a financial tech startup that serves small businesses in Indonesia, announced it has raised new funding from a roster of high-profile investors, including partners of DST Global, Soma Capital and 20VC.

The amount of the funding was undisclosed, but a source told TechCrunch that it was between $10 million to $15 million. The new capital will be used to hire for BukuWarung’s  technology team. TechCrunch first profiled BukuWarung in July.

Philippines payment processing startup PayMongo lands $12 million Series A led by Stripe

Stripe has led a $12 million Series A round in Manila-based online payment platform PayMongo, the startup announced today.

PayMongo,  which offers an online payments API for businesses in the Philippines, was the first Filipino-owned financial tech startup to take part in Y Combinator’s accelerator program. Y Combinator and Global Founders Capital, another previous investor, both returned for the Series A, which also included participation from new backer BedRock Capital.

Rappi raises over US$300 million

It’s official: Rappi is raising big funds. We’d previously reported that the Colombian unicorn had rallied US$155.8 million as per a recent SEC filing. But the startup, via press release confirmed today (24) that it raised more than US$300 million.

It’s worth pointing out that within the aforementioned SEC document, the startup is aiming for US$350 million.

“We’re happy to be working with this team of investors who trust our growth model and believe in our region and the role we have to play in promoting local commerce and actively contributing to the region’s economic recovery. This round of investments will allow us to fund the business, our partners, and the future,” said Rappi in a statement.

Flat, a Mexican property tech startup, raises $4.6M pre-seed led by ALLVP

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Flat has raised one of Mexico’s largest pre-seed rounds to take the Opendoor real estate marketplace model across the Rio Grande

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YC startup SockSoho is using data science in a bid to become the ‘Uniqlo of India’

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Lambda School raises $74M for its virtual coding school where you pay tuition only after you get a job

In the world of technology, online learning has been one of the bigger beneficiaries of the last several months, with people staying home and away from their normal routines because of the coronavirus pandemic and using that time to expand their knowledge, or more critically, figure out what to do next if they want to change careers, or have found themselves without a job.

Data science startup Pachyderm, which just raised $16 million, says remote work has been ‘a massive benefit’ to its business

When the data science platform Pachyderm first launched in 2014, open source project Hadoop was the only major big data player on the market (the startup’s name is actually an early jab at Hadoop, which has an elephant in its logo).

Pachyderm’s business didn’t really take off until 2017, says cofounder Joey Zwicker, when the demand for data science skyrocketed. From there, the startup started attracting the attention of venture capitalists and large business customers alike.

Kenyan startup WorkPay raises $2.1m seed funding to fuel its growth

Kenyan startup WorkPay, which builds human resources (HR) and payroll solutions for Africa, has raised US$2.1 million in seed funding to fuel its growth.

Originally called TozzaPlus until it rebranded in 2019WorkPay is a cloud-based human resources management and payroll solution for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in Africa. The startup’s time tracking and salary disbursement tools help African businesses save money and time by eliminating ghost workers from their payroll and inefficiencies associated with cash payments.

Asian-Inspired Sparkling Water Brand Sanzo Raises $1.3 Million In Seed Funding To Expand Distribution

The battle for the increasingly popular frizzy water market in the U.S. is heating up as Asian-inspired brand Sanzo has just closed a $1.3 million seed funding to expand distribution.

This round was led by entrepreneurs and angel investors, whom Sanzo’s founder and CEO Sandro Roco believes have a better understanding of his entrepreneurial journey than VC funds, including co-founder of Away, Jen Rubio; CPO and EVP at Adobe Creative Cloud, Scott Belsky; Boba Guys’ co-founders, Andrew Chau and Bin Chen.

Rippling nabs $145M at a $1.35B valuation to build out its all-in-one platform for employee data

Big news today in the world of enterprise IT startups. Rippling, the startup founded by Parker Conrad to take on the ambitious challenge of building a platform to manage all aspects of employee data, from payroll and benefits through to device management, has closed $145 million in funding — a monster Series B that catapults the company to a valuation of $1.35 billion.

Parker Conrad, the CEO who co-founded the company with Prasanna Sankar (the CTO), said in an interview that the plan will be to use the money to continue its own in-house product development (that is, bringing more tools into the Rippling mix organically, not by way of acquisition) but also to have it just in case, given everything else going on at the moment.

YC alum Paragon snags $2.5M seed for low-code app integration platform

Low-code is a hot category these days. It helps companies build workflows or simple applications without coding skills, freeing up valuable engineering resources for more important projects. Paragon, a member of the Y Combinator Winter 2020 cohort, announced a $2.5 million seed round today for its low-code application integration platform.

Investors include Y Combinator,  Village Global, Global Founders Capital, Soma Capital and FundersClub.

Misfits Market raises $85 million Series B to send you ‘ugly’ fruits and veggies

Misfits Market,  the ecommerce platform that sells ‘ugly’ produce (among other things), has today announced the close of an $85 million Series B financing round. The funding was led by Valor Equity Partners, with participation from Greenoaks Capital, Third Kind Venture Capital, and Sound Ventures.

Misfits Market started out as a subscription box that allowed folks to buy ugly or misshapen product on the cheap each week. This product would have been thrown out at the farm, before ever heading to a distributor or grocery store, because it usually goes to waste sitting on a grocery store shelf.

There’s nothing actually wrong with this produce, except for the fact that shoppers wouldn’t normally choose it from a pile of fruit or vegetables that look more pleasing.

Since raising its Series A, Misfits Market has been working to expand its selection, which now includes chocolate, snacks, chips, coffee, herbs, grains, lentils, sauces and spices. Users can add these products to their usual weekly produce box on an a la carte basis, and they’re priced 20-25 percent below retail. These products are available to ‘add to box’ once a week (on Thursdays).

Sora raises $5.3M to power its HR automation service

Think back to the last time you onboarded at a new job. Was it a mishmash of documents and calendar invites and calls and, generally speaking, a mess?

Probably. That’s likely because onboarding is a process that often depends on disparate, unconnected HR tools. Sora, a startup that today announced $5.3 million in collected fundraising, wants to shake up the HR software world with a low-code service that helps companies connect their tooling and automate their HR processes. The startup might be able to make things like onboarding better for employees and companies alike.

Shelf Engine has a plan to reduce food waste at grocery stores, and $12 million in new cash to do it

For the first few months it was operating, Shelf Engine,  the Seattle-based company that optimizes the process of stocking store shelves for supermarkets and groceries, didn’t have a name.

Co-founders Stefan Kalb and Bede Jordan were on a ski trip outside of Salt Lake City about four years ago when they began discussing what, exactly, could be done about the problem of food waste in the U.S.

Kalb is a serial entrepreneur whose first business was a food distribution company called Molly’s, which was sold to a company called HomeGrown back in 2019.

YC-Backed FamPay Launches First Numberless Payments Cards For Teens

Y Combinator-backed fintech startup FamPay, on Thursday (July 16), launched FamCard, a numberless card to allow teenagers to independently transact online with minimal intervention from parents.

However, the card requires top-ups from an adult but lets children spend it the way they want, under supervision. This relieves parents from giving children physical cash or their debit/credit card, and gives a sense of financial freedom to teens. FamPay believes that such an offering can efficiently teach children about financial management.

Mighty Health created a wellness app with older adults top of mind

Virtual classes might make it easier to work out anywhere, anytime, but not for anyone. Mainstream fitness tech often targets the young and fit, in advertisements and cardio-heavy exercises. It effectively excludes aging adults from participating.

This gap between mainstream fitness and elders is where Mighty Health,  a Y Combinator  graduate, comes in.

Mighty Health has created a nutrition and fitness wellness app that is tailored to older adults who might have achy hips or joint problems. Today, the San Francisco-based startup has announced it raised $2.8 million in funding by Y CombinatorNextView VenturesRRE Ventures, Liquid2 VenturesSoma Capital and more.

Lattice, a people management platform, picks up $45M at a $400M valuation

Working these days is not what it used to be. To enforce social distancing and slow the spread of the COVID-19 health pandemic, many of us have decamped from our offices to our homes, we only connect with colleagues and others virtually, and it’s all too easy to lose sight of our focus and strategy in the midst of it all.

But in the grand tradition of enterprise IT, that creates an opportunity, and today, a startup called Lattice, whose platform helps track, reward and set goal achievement in the workplace, has closed a round of $45 million to help address some of those issues.

Flatfile scores $7.6M seed investment to simplify data onboarding

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One of the huge challenges companies like enterprise SaaS vendors face with new customers is getting customer data into their service.

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Athlane looks to connect brands and esports streamers with a fresh $3.3 million in funding

Athlane, the YC-backed company from the Summer ’19 cohort, is today ready to launch with a fresh $3.3 million in capital. Investors include Y Combinator, Jonathan Kraft (New England Patriots), Michael Gordon (President of Fenway Sports Group, which owns the Red Sox and Liverpool Football Club), Global Founders Capital, Romulus Capital, Seabed VC and more.

The startup originally positioned itself as the “NCAA of esports” but, after some time in stealth, has taken a new approach. Athlane is looking to be the connective fiber between streamers and brands, facilitating sponsorship and endorsement deals with more transparent data and analytics and a streamlined communications flow.

Nayya, bringing transparency to choosing and managing healthcare plans, raises $2.7 million

Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator -backed Nayya is on a mission to simplify choosing and managing employee benefits through machine learning and data transparency.

The company has raised $2.7 million in seed funding led by Social Leverage,  with participation from Guardian Strategic Ventures, Cameron Ventures, Soma Capital, as well as other strategic angels.

The process of choosing an employer-provided healthcare plan and understanding that plan can be tedious at best and incredibly confusing at worst. And that doesn’t even include all of the supplemental plans and benefits associated with these programs.

Quaestor is reinventing business metric collaboration for the startup party-round era

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Quaestor wants to upend the static spreadsheets and PDFs sent to dozens if not hundreds of people on cap tables today with a software-first solution that allows executives and their investors to hold better, more intelligent conversations about business performance.

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Exclusive: Swap Taps $3.3M Seed Round To Create Better Infrastructure For Fintechs

Brazil-based Swap raised a $3.3 million seed round to help financial institutions create their own internal financial technology businesses faster and more effectively.

“We are like AWS [Amazon Web Services] for payments, helping companies improve connection, experience and embed finance into their business so they can stop outsourcing those functions,” Swap`s co-founder and Chief Product Officer Ury Rappaport, told Crunchbase News.

ONEVC led the seed round, with participation from GFCSOMA CapitalBrad FloraABSeedFlourish VenturesRhombuz, Canary, Hustle Fund and Patrick Sigrist.

Karat launches a credit card for online creators

Karat is a new startup promising to build better banking products for the creators who make a living on YouTube, Instagram, Twitch and other online platforms. Today it’s unveiling its first product — the Karat  Black Card.

The startup, which was part of accelerator Y Combinator’s Winter 2020 batch, is also announcing that it has raised $4.6 million in seed funding from Twitch co-founder Kevin Lin, SignalFire, YC, CRV and Coatue.2

Astranis reaches key milestone with MicroGEO communication satellite, aims for service to begin next summer

Satellite telecommunications startup Astranis has achieved a key technical milestone with its MicroGEO product, a small geosynchronous communications satellite that it will use to launch its first commercial service starting next summer for customers in Alaska. This is a big milestone for Astranis  because the MicroGEO satellite test article that passed this round of thermal-vacuum qualification testing will serve as the basis for a whole planned line of first products, designed to affordably provide low-cost broadband to specific geographic markets using individual spacecraft, region by region.

Benepass raises $2.4 million to help employees get the most out of their tax-advantaged benefits

Tax-advantaged benefits, like flexible spending accounts, can save employees in the United States thousands of dollars annually, and reduce the amount of payroll taxes companies pay. But those benefits are often underutilized, simply because they can be confusing to navigate. Benepass wants to make the process easier with a mobile app that centralizes all of an employee’s tax-advantaged accounts, and is linked to physical and virtual payment cards. The startup announced today that it has raised a $2.4 million seed round.

Remote work start-up Deel scores $14 million investment led by Andreessen Horowitz

Amid a sharp pullback in venture capital activity during the coronavirus pandemic, one Silicon Valley start-up is showing what could be a path forward for other new companies seeking funding.

The business, a payroll platform for remote workers called Deel, has secured a $14 million series A round led by Andreessen Horowitz, sources told CNBC exclusively. As part of the investment, Andreessen general partner Anish Acharya is joining the San Francisco-based company’s board.

African fintech firm Flutterwave launches SME e-commerce portal

San Francisco and Lagos-based fintech startup Flutterwave has launched Flutterwave  Store, a portal for African merchants to create digital shops to sell online.

The product is less Amazon  and more eBay — with no inventory or warehouse requirements. Flutterwave insists the move doesn’t represent any shift away from its core payments business.

The company accelerated the development of Flutterwave Store in response to COVID-19, which has brought restrictive measures to SMEs and traders operating in Africa’s largest economies.

ElectroNeek, A Y Combinator Robotic Process Automation Startup, Raises $2.5M To Increase Remote Work Productivity

The novel coronavirus pandemic has forced many non-essential businesses across the US to close their offices in a bid to stop the spread of the virus. The disruption caused by the virus has diminished consumer demand and severely impacted the day-to-day operations of firms of any size. Sergey Yudovskiy, Dmitry Karpov, and Mikhail Rozhin started ElectroNeek to help businesses increase their productivity, given the necessity for remote work during the pandemic. ElectroNeek picked up $2.5 million in their seed round led by 645 Ventures, with participation from Soma Capital, I2BF Global, and other funds and angel investors. The San Francisco-based startup was recently in Y Combinator’s (YC) Winter 2020 batch.

WorkClout shifts focus to manufacturing performance support and raises $2.3M seed

WorkClout, a graduate of the Y Combinator Winter 2019 cohort, announced today that it has shifted its focus from manufacturing automation to manufacturing performance support and has raised a $2.3 million seed round.

The funding was led by Spider Capital with participation from Y Combinator,  Liquid 2, Soma Capital, Pioneer Fund, Mehta Ventures and several individual investors.

When the company launched last year, it was looking at helping customers drive operational efficiency in their processes, but WorkClout founder and CEO Arjun Patel says they were seeing that there was a ceiling in terms of how much efficiency they could squeeze out of work processes using software.

Accel-Backed Searchlight.ai, A B2B Hiring Software Startup, Fixes The Broken Interviewing Process

As global economic competition grows each year, firms work tirelessly to recruit the best talent available on the market. Companies invest in university and college recruiting sessions extensively. They also incentivize their employees with cash rewards to tap their networks to fill empty positions. Many think the problem with hiring top talent is related to not reaching enough potential candidates. However, Kerry and Anna Wang viewed the problem differently and created Searchlight.ai as their solution. Searchlight.ai is a hiring software startup integrating automated reference checks to companies’ hiring processes to build in-depth profiles of prospective candidates. The startup was in Y Combinator’s Winter 2019 batch.

Forager raises $10 million Series A for cross-border tech

Forager, the Chicago-based technology and logistics company focused on cross-border freight, announced Wednesday morning that it had closed a $10 million Series A round of venture capital funding.

The Series A was led by Silicon Valley firm U.S. Venture Partners (USVP); previous investor Chicago Ventures and new investor Soma Capital also participated in the round. Forager’s valuation was not disclosed.

CEO Matt Silver, VP of Finance & Analytics Jordan Salins, and COO Jessie Essman founded Forager in January 2019. Silver’s industry experience came from growing up at Coyote Logistics, the freight brokerage founded by his father in 2006, where he managed cross-border operations in Mexico and Canada. In November, Forager launched the first version of its cross-border freight matching and pricing platform, SCOUT.

FamPay Bags $4.7Mn Seed Funding To Build Fintech Platform For Teenagers

Bengaluru-based fintech startup FamPay, on Thursday (March 12), announced a $4.7Mn seed funding round from Y Combinator, Venture Highway, Sequoia India and Global Founders Capital (GFC).

Founded by recent graduates of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Roorkee, Kush Taneja and Sambhav Jain, FamPay is currently building a payments network which will specifically cater to teenagers in India.

Glisten uses computer vision to break down product photos to their most important parts

It’s amazing that in this day and age, the best way to search for new clothes is to click a few check boxes and then scroll through endless pictures. Why can’t you search for “green patterned scoop neck dress” and see one? Glisten is a new startup enabling just that by using computer vision to understand and list the most important aspects of the products in any photo.

Now, you may think this already exists. In a way, it does — but not a way that’s helpful. Co-founder Sarah Wooders encountered this while working on a fashion search project of her own while going to MIT.

“I was procrastinating by shopping online, and I searched for v-neck crop shirt, and only like two things came up. But when I scrolled through there were 20 or so,” she said. “I realized things were tagged in very inconsistent ways — and if the data is that gross when consumers see it, it’s probably even worse in the backend.”

Human Interest Raises $40M Series C To Close Retirement Savings Gap for SMBs

When it comes to small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), it’s not always as easy to offer 401(k)s as a benefit. And owners of those businesses often struggle with being able to save for retirement themselves. A startup out to change that has just raised a new round of funding to help it advance on its goal.

Human Interest, a retirement plan provider for SMBs, announced today it has closed a $40 million Series C round just months after raising a $15.4 million Series B.

Oberndorf Enterprises LLC, a family-owned office led by William Oberndorf, led the latest round, which brings Human Interest’s total debt and (mostly) equity raised to just over $75 million since its April 2015 inception. Combined, the last two rounds total more than three times the capital Human Interest raised during its first four years of operation, the company said.

YC-backed Cleanly merges with NextCleaners to vertically integrate

Cleanly,  the YC-backed company that looked to bring tech to the laundry industry, has today announced a merger with NextCleaners. The New York-based companies signed an all-stock deal after more than a year of negotiations, with Cleanly founder and CEO Tom Harari serving as Chairman of the Board and Next CEO Kam Saifi will stay in the Chief Executive role at the new company.

Palm oil alternative startup C16 Biosciences raises $20 million

C16 Biosciences, a company seeking to commercialize a manufactured alternative to palm oil, announced yesterday that it has raised $20 million in Series A funding from backers including the Bill Gates-led Breakthrough Energy Ventures.

Why it matters: Palm oil is used in a massive array of products — from shampoo to foods to biofuels.

  • Palm plantations are fueling deforestation that releases CO2 and erodes wildlife habitat in multiple countries.

How it works: The New York-based startup has a fermentation-based “bio-manufacturing” process for “brewing palm oil like beer.”

VCs bet millions on Microverse, a Lambda School for the developing world

The student loan crisis in the U.S. has left venture capitalists searching for novel approaches to financing higher education, but can the same systems designed for helping coders in Silicon Valley get jobs at Google help underserved students in developing countries become part of a global work force?

Similar to the buzzy San Francisco startup Lambda School,  Microverse is a coding school that utilizes ISAs, or Income Share Agreements, as a means of allowing students to learn now and pay later with a fixed percentage of their future salary. Microverse  isn’t aiming to compete heavily with Lambda School for U.S. students, however, they are looking more heavily at courting students in developing countries. The startup currently has students in 96 countries, with Mexico, Brazil, Kenya, Nigeria, Cameroon and India among their most represented, CEO Ariel Camus tells TechCrunch.

Cruise can now transport passengers in self-driving cars in CA

Cruise  recently received a permit to transport passengers in its autonomous vehicles in California. Granted by the California Public Utilities Commission, the permit is part of the state’s Autonomous Vehicle Passenger Service pilot.

As part of the program, Cruise must provide data and reports to the CPUC regarding any incidents, the number of passenger miles traveled and passenger safety protocols. Cruise must also have a safety driver behind the wheel and not charge passengers for rides.

Cruise is now one of five self-driving companies allowed to participate in this program. The others are Zoox, Waymo, Pony.ai, Aurora and AutoX. This program is a bit different from the one run by the California Department of Motor Vehicles, which has granted 66 companies permits to test their respective vehicles in the state.

Astranis raises $90 million for its next-gen satellite broadband internet service

YC-backed Astranis has raised $90 million of new combined debt and equity funding in a Series B round led Venrock,  with a sizeable contribution by existing investor (and lead of their 2018 round) Andreessen Horowitz. The funding will be used to help the company launch its first commercial satellites, the bedrock of its future internet service offering, aimed at connecting the massive market of underserved populations around the world.

Ramp is a corporate card focused on helping you spend less

Meet Ramp, a new startup that offers corporate credit cards with 1.5% cash back on everything. The company thinks that a cash-back program combined with an analysis of your payments to help you spend less is more valuable than alternative corporate card offerings.

Ramp is launching publicly today and has raised $25 million in funding from Keith Rabois, Coatue, BoxGroup, Conversion Capital, Soma Capital, Backend Capital and more than 50 business angels.

Quo, A Stanford Consumer Fintech Startup, Leverages AI To Provide Financial Security

The car payment is due in seven days. The electric bill is past due. The cable service has been shut off. You need to go to the doctor, but you’re uninsured.

You also found out that your house needs significant repairs. You’ve hit your credit card limit, and your next paycheck doesn’t come for another week and a half.

These challenges are all too familiar in the United States of America. In the midst of an unprecedented stock market rally and record-low unemployment, many Americans still struggle to meet their financial needs. CNBC reports that roughly 40% of Americans can’t handle a $400 emergency. Anyone can fall behind on these recurring bills, and unexpected expenses can make the financial constraints even worse. Payday loans are used to bridge the gap between paychecks, but end up making a cash-flow issue worse due to their usurious interest rates. Financial disaster can happen to anyone in the United States.

YC-backed Commercial Real Estate Startup Obie Raises $2.8M

Obie, a Chicago startup that’s building a commercial real estate platform, announced it has raised a seed round of funding and officially launched its product to the public.

Obie said Tuesday that it raised $2.8 million in seed funding from Y Combinator, MetaProp, FundersClub, Liquid 2 and Soma Capital. Opendoor founder JD Ross, Inkling founder Matt MacInnis and Rentlytics founder Justin Alanis also invested in the round.

The startup has built a cloud-based insurance and portfolio management platform for small- and medium-size commercial real estate funds and managers. Obie’s platform gives owners information about their assets in once place, and allows them to collaborate with property managers, leasing brokers, LPs and others who need access to the property data.

Obie also offers property and casualty insurance and says it can help customers cut premiums by 10-15%.

African fintech firm Flutterwave raises $35M, partners with Worldpay

San Francisco and Lagos-based fintech startup Flutterwave has raised a $35 million Series B round and announced a partnership with Worldpay FIS for payments in Africa.

With the funding, Flutterwave  will invest in technology and business development to grow market share in existing operating countries, CEO Olugbenga Agboola — aka GB — told TechCrunch.

The company will also expand capabilities to offer more services around its payment products.

New Arizona Development Bans Residents From Bringing Cars

Culdesac is a $140 million Arizona development is banning residents from bringing their own cars in favor of scooters, bikes and ride-sharing, testing demand for a new type of walkable neighborhood.

The 1,000-person rental community, which broke ground this month in Tempe, won’t allow residents to park cars on site or in the surrounding area as a term of their leases. The founders say it will be the first of its kind in the U.S.

India’s Razorpay launches corporate credit cards, current accounts support in major neo banking push

India’s Razorpay, one of the largest payments processing firms in the country, today announced a range of new services aimed at startups, businesses, merchants and freelancers as the Bangalore-based firm expands the reach of its financial platform in the nation.

The startup, which raised $75 million from Ribbit Capital and others in June this year, today introduced a new kind of corporate credit card and some banking services for startups and SMEs, and a new payment option for individuals to quickly receive money from their clients.

Hype & Vice, A Y Combinator Collegiate Apparel Startup, Raises $1.5M From Founders Fund To Create Women’s Sportswear

College apparel is an integral part of how students express their pride for their universities and unique identities. However, university-branded clothing is not designed or reflective of women’s taste in fashion, as most sizes and designs are based on the average male body size. Cecilia Gonzalez, 25, and Kimberly Robles, 26, have started Hype and Vice (H&V) to create “cute, trendy, and fashionable” university clothing for women to wear on any occasion. The Los Angeles-based startup has successfully raised $1.5 million in a seed round led by Founders Fund’s Delian Asparouhov, with participation from Soma Capital, USC Marshall Venture Fund, and angel investors such as Jessica Livingston (co-founder of Y Combinator).

Eight Sleep Raises $40 Million To Make Slumber A Medical Solution

Eight Sleep wants hitting the pillow to be the equivalent of hitting the doctor’s office. The company, founded in 2014 by husband-wife duo Alexandra Zatarain (VP of Brand & Marketing) and Matteo Franceschetti (CEO) as well as Massimo Adreasi Bassi (CTO), makes high-tech mattresses and sleep products to turn bedtime into recovery time—filled with healthcare insights and analytics–with hope of sleep quality translating to life quality. Forbes is the first to report the company’s $40 million growth funding round, which brings their total funding to $65 million. This round was led by Founders Fund and joined by Khosla Ventures, Y Combinator, Craft Ventures, 8VC, Flexport Founder Ryan Petersen and Eventbrite Cofounder and Chairman Kevin Hartz.

“We’re a sleep-fitness company. The night is a moment for you to recharge and really wake up at your peak,” 38-year-old CEO and cofounder Franceschetti

Brazilian Mobility Startup Kovi Raises $30M Series A From Global Investors

Kovi, a fast-growing 17-month-old Brazilian mobility startup, has raised a $30 million Series A led by Global Founders Capital.

New investor Quona Capital and existing investors MonasheesMaya CapitalAccel partner Kevin EfrusyY Combinator, Broadhaven Ventures, Tinder founder Justin Mateen and ONEVC also participated in the financing, which brings Kovi’s total raised since its inception to $40.6 million.

Founded in 2018 by two former 99 (Brazil’s first tech unicorn) executives, São Paulo-based Kovi rents vehicles to on-demand drivers who work for ride-hailing companies such as Uber, Didi and Lyft. It operates under the premise that more people in Latin America would work for these companies if they could afford to operate the necessary vehicle. Less than half the population in Brazil own a car. Also, cars are significantly more expensive in countries like Brazil than in the U.S. and the difference is even greater when it comes to the average income of the population. Kovi gives drivers who don’t necessarily want, or cannot afford, to own a vehicle “quick access to quality cars” at what it says is “a fair price”

YC grad Taskade raises $5M to take on Notion with a more collaborative productivity platform

Enterprise software tool startups are so often birthed to either un-bundle or re-bundle what came before them. In an age where “consumerization of the enterprise” is a trendy phrase for investors, it was natural a startup would come along to bundle its take on some of the trendiest startup tools.

Taskade appears to be the love child of Notion, Slack and Asana. It’s a tool for startup teams to collaborate around projects that can be re-organized based on how the individual user best works through tasks. The startup graduated from YC in the most recent batch and has now locked down $5 million in seed funding from Grishin Robotics and Y Combinator, Taskade CEO John Xie tells TechCrunch.

ZeroDown, valued at $150M, plans to take on Zillow

Days out of Y Combinator, venture capitalists valued ZeroDown, a financial and real estate technology startup, at $150 million, the company has confirmed. The startup had the perfect match of experienced founders and eye-popping ambitions to carve a new path to home ownership.

“I think we will be known as a company that makes it easier to buy a home in every single aspect,” ZeroDown co-founder and chief executive officer Abhijeet Dwivedi tells TechCrunch.

Tiger Global values people management tool Lattice at ~$200M

The secretive New York-based hedge fund Tiger Global Management  has led a $25 million Series C investment in Lattice, an employee performance and engagement management tool, with participation from the startup’s existing investors.

The round, which values Lattice  in the ballpark of $200 million, says co-founder and chief executive officer Jack Altman,  comes just six months after the business closed a $15 million Series B led by Shasta Ventures. The HR tool, founded in 2015 by Altman and Eric Koslow, is also backed by Thrive Capital, the Slack Fund, Khosla Ventures and Y Combinator.

Get guaranteed rent for your home from new startup Doorstead

Missing out on a month’s rent because you can’t find a tenant is a huge loss. Searching for someone to fill a home takes work, while property managers are incentivized to price your place too high, leading to costly vacancies.

 

But new startup Doorstead wants to take on the risk and the work for you. It acts as a property manager for single-family homes, but guarantees you rent at a specific rate starting in a certain number of days, even if it can’t fill the house or apartment. It also handles all the algorithmic pricing, advertising, tenant interviews, repairs, maintenance, leases and online payments in exchange for 8% of rent. Owners just sit back and receive the money, making it much easier to profit off of distant real estate. The startup claims to earn users 3% to 9% more than other property management models.

Self-Driving Startup Embark Raises $70 Million, Opens Freight Transfer Hubs For Robot Big Rigs

Embark Trucks, a self-driving tech firm created by two twenty-something Canadian computer scientists, just landed $70 million in new funding, its biggest investment round to date, and is opening the first cargo transfer hubs for its growing fleet of robotic semis.

 

The San Francisco-based startup is among a wave of companies including Alphabet’s Waymo, TuSimple, Starsky Robotics, Kodiak and Ike that see commercial opportunities to apply the same type of technology developed for autonomous robotaxis to long-haul trucks ferrying goods cross country. Three years after college friends (and Forbes 30 Under 30 alums) Alex Rodrigues, 23, and Brandon Moak, 24, founded Embark, the company has raised a total of $117 million, including the latest round. It operates 13 18-wheelers and has 70 employees.

Fintech firm PayMongo attracts $2.7m in seed funding from Stripe, Y Combinator, others

Manila-based financial tech startup PayMongo has raised $2.7 million in seed funding to give merchants in the Philippines and other Southeast Asian markets simple ways to set up online payments. Investors included Founders Fund, Peter Thiel and Stripe, with participation from Y Combinator (PayMongo  is the first Philippine fintech company it has funded), Global Founders Capital, Soma Capital, Tinder co-founder Justin Mateen and other angel investors.

An Indian startup that uses WhatsApp to serve thousands with chronic disease raises $5.5M seed round

Another startup in India is cashing in on the popularity of WhatsApp,  the most popular app in the country with more than 400 million users, to build a business around it.

Digi-Prex is a seven-month old startup that runs an eponymous online subscription pharmacy in Hyderabad and serves patients with chronic diseases. Patients share their prescription with Digi-Prex through WhatsApp and the startup’s workers then deliver the medication to them on a recurring cycle.

Ironclad raises $50M Series C round for its digital contracting platform

Ironclad, a startup that makes it easier for legal teams to manage their contracts workflow, today announced that it has raised a $50 million Series C round led by Y Combinator Continuity, with participation from Emergence Captial, as well as existing investors including Accel and Sequoia Capital. This round brings Ironclad’s  total funding to $83 million, according to Crunchbase.

In addition to the new funding, Ironclad, which was part of Y Combinator’s  Summer 2015 class, also today announced the launch of its Workflow Designer. This tool allows teams to easily create their own custom workflows based their individual business processes and timelines. Setting up those workflows looks be a pretty straightforward process. After tagging the existing contract, teams can then set up their processes based on what’s in a specific document. If a contract is over a specific value, for example, they can add a payment clause, or set up an approval process based on that value.

Colombian Startup Rappi Plans to Expand to 100 New Cities

Colombian delivery app Rappi is reportedly set to expand operations to nearly 100 new cities around the world by the end of this year.

Rappi is currently operating in 55 cities across seven Latin American countries including, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay.

The news comes barely three months after the Colombian firm received US$1 billion in venture capital from Japanese investment group Softbank, setting a milestone in the region’s startup scene.

YC-backed Eden Farm wants to cut out the middlemen between farmers and restaurants in Indonesia

Eden Farm is a startup with the ambitious goal of building a food distribution network for Indonesia, where many restaurants currently rely on markets for fresh ingredients.

But this means high markups and unreliable supplies for restaurant owners and lower profits for farmers, co-founder and CEO David Gunawan tells TechCrunch. The company, part of Y Combinator’s current batch, wants to help both by simplifying the supply chain, ensuring stable pricing and reducing food waste. Eden Farm currently focuses on fresh produce and non-perishable items, but plans to expand its product line to meat and seafood, too.

Flutterwave and Alipay partner on payments between Africa and China

San Francisco and Lagos-based fintech  startup Flutterwave  has partnered with Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba to offer digital payments between Alipay  and African merchants.

Flutterwave is a Nigerian-founded B2B payments service (primarily) for companies in Africa to pay other companies on the continent and abroad.

Alipay is Alibaba’s digital wallet and payments platform. In 2013, Alipay surpassed PayPal in payments volume and currently claims a global network of more than 1 billion active users, per Alibaba’s latest earnings report.

This 4-month-old Y Combinator startup wants to be the Stripe for the Philippines

Francis Plaza, a serial entrepreneur, was long frustrated with the poor digital payments services in his home country the Philippines. One day, he decided to do something about it.

About four months ago, Plaza sat together with his Software Engineer friends to discuss the issues in the payments space in the country and developed a solution.

And it has now made it to Y Combinator’s summer batch 2019, the first Filipino fintech startup to achieve the feat.

Electric scooter and bike startup Grow hits 10 million trips across Latin America

Latin America-based Grow, which formed after micromobility companies Grin  and Yellow merged earlier this year, has hit 10 million rides. Grin, which first started operating about one year ago in Mexico, has since expanded into 23 cities across Latin America. That is, of course, thanks in part to its mergers with Yellow and Ride.

Nowports raises $5.3 million to become Latin America’s digital shipping answer to Flexport

Nowports, a developer of software and services to track freight shipments from ports to destinations across Latin America, has aims to become the regional answer to Flexport’s billion-dollar digital shipping business.

Almost 54 million containers are imported and exported from Latin America each year, and nearly half of them are either delayed or lost due to mismanagement.

Machine learning for everyone startup Intersect Labs launches platform for data analysis

Machine learning is the holy grail of data analysis, but unfortunately, that holy grail oftentimes requires a PhD in Computer Science just to get started. Despite the incredible attention that machine learning and artificial intelligence get from the press, the reality is that there is a massive gap between the needs of companies to solve business challenges and the availability of talent for building incisive models.

YC-backed Intersect Labs is looking to solve that gap by making machine learning much more widely accessible to the business analyst community. Through its platform, which is being launched fully publicly, business analysts can upload their data, and Intersect will automatically identify the right machine learning models to apply to the dataset and optimize the parameters of those models.

Online payments provider Razorpay raises $75M in Series C round led by Ribbit Capital and Sequoia India

Bengaluru-based online payments solution provider Razorpay on Tuesday said it had raised $75 million as a part of its Series C funding, led by new investors Ribbit Capital and Sequoia India. The round also saw participation from existing investors Tiger Global Management and Y Combinator.

Earlier, the company had raised a total of $31.5 million across Series A (2016) and Series B (2018) rounds, from 33 angel investors and a strategic investment by MasterCard. Matrix Partners had also participated in Razorpay’s last fundraise.

Dubai-based heavy equipment rental marketplace Tenderd raises $5.8 million seed from Y Combinator, BECO, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel & others

Dubai-based heavy equipment renal marketplace for the construction industry has raised $5.8 million in what it’s calling the largest ever seed funding round of MENA from some of the leading investors of Silicon Valley and the region. The round is led by Y Combinator and BECO Capital and joined by Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, Paul Buchheit, Justin Mateen, Matt Mickiewicz, VentureSouq, SOMA, Dynamo, and Global Founders Capital.

Tesla loses key Autopilot engineer to self-driving truck start-up Embark

Zeljko Popovic, a leader within Tesla’s Autopilot team, is leaving for Embark, the autonomous trucking start-up in San Francisco, according to a person familiar with the move. Embark confirmed the hire.

The departure comes at a critical time, as Tesla is promising its electric vehicles will be capable of operating as “robotaxis” by the end of next year — which is to say, they’d be fully self-driving in normal conditions, without human intervention. Tesla also says it plans to start production of its long-awaited electric semi trucks by the end of 2020.

Shield Diagnostics announces launch of Target-NG test for antibiotic susceptibility in Neisseria gonorrhoeae

SAN JOSE, Calif.March 13, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Shield Diagnostics, an Andreessen Horowitz-backed clinical laboratory tackling antibiotic resistance by bringing precision medicine to infectious disease, announced the launch of Target-NG, a rapid molecular test for antibiotic susceptibility in Neisseria gonorrhoeae.

A common sexually transmitted infection, Gonorrhea has quickly become resistant to most major classes of antibiotics and resistance has now been reported in the final class of antibiotics we have left, requiring those patients to be hospitalized and treated with broad spectrum antibiotics in order to be cured. With 820,000 cases of Gonorrhea each year in the US, the CDC has named antibiotic resistant gonorrhea (dubbed “Super Gonorrhea”) a top 3 urgent public health threat.

Nectar’s sonar bottle caps could save $50B in stolen booze

Bars  lose 20% of their alcohol to overpours and “free” drinks for friends. That amounts to $50 billion per year in booze that mysteriously disappears, making life tough for every pub and restaurant. Nectar wants to solve that mystery with its ultrasound depth-sensing bottle caps that measure how much liquid is left in a bottle by measuring how long it takes a sonar pulse to bounce back.

SoftBank Is Near $1 Billion Investment in Colombia’s Rappi

SoftBank Group Corp. is close to making a $1 billion investment in Latin American delivery app Rappi, according to people familiar with the matter.  The investment is likely to be led by the Japanese company’s newly formed Innovation Fund, which was launched by SoftBank Chief Operating Officer Marcelo Claure to focus on technology investments in Latin America, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the details aren’t public. It’s expected to invest alongside the conglomerate’s Vision Fund, the people said.

Lattice raises another $15M to improve performance reviews

Jack Altman,  whose resume includes a stint as vice president of business development at Teespring,  has raised $15 million in Series B funding for his startup, Lattice, a modern approach to corporate goal setting. Shasta Ventures led the round, with participation from Thrive Capital, Khosla Ventures and Y Combinator, the latter being the organization his brother led as president until very recently.

Lattice, used by high-growth companies like Reddit, Slack, Coinbase and Glossier, helps human resources professionals develop insights about their teams. Founded in 2015, Altman and Eric Koslow, like most entrepreneurs, developed the idea for Lattice  out of their own pain points.

Skymind raises $11.5M to bring deep learning to more enterprises

Skymind, a Y Combinator-incubated AI platform that aims to make deep learning more accessible to enterprises, today announced that it has raised an $11.5 million Series A round led by TransLink Capital, with participation from ServiceNow, Sumitomo’s Presidio Ventures, UpHonest Capital and GovTech Fund. Early investors Y Combinator,  Tencent, Mandra Capital, Hemi Ventures, and GMO Ventures, also joined the round/ With this, the company has now raised a total of $17.9 million in funding.

GM’s Cruise gets $2.25B from SoftBank’s Vision Fund, $1.1B from GM

General Motors  today announced a large investment into its self-driving unit, Cruise. SoftBank’s  Vision Fund will invest $2.25 billion in GM Cruise Holdings LLC and when the deal closes, GM will invest an additional $1.1 billion. The investments are expected to inject enough capital into Cruise for the unit to reach commercialization at scale beginning in 2019.

Laika: The app where you find everything your pet needs

Laika , the new digital tool provides all the support to people so that the needs of your pet do not become a problem and customers always get the lowest prices.

This app seeks to prevent you from leaving your home, to become your assistant so you don’t have to worry about your dog or cat. Laika has a wide variety of food and products of all brands and services ranging from daycare, home bathroom, veterinary at home to the funeral home when the pet ceases to exist.

Taskade is a gorgeous to-do list manager that makes collaboration easy

As someone who struggles with personal organization, I often find myself experimenting with new to-do apps and productivity tools, in order to cure my scatterbrained ways. The latest app I’ve tested is Taskade, from the company of the same name.

Taskade’s biggest strength is that it doesn’t do too much. It lets you effortlessly group your to-do lists into folders, allowing you to segment your business and personal duties.