SOUNDBOKS – Portable Bluetooth Speakers manufacturer raises 52M DKK

Soundboks

Graduated from Winter 2016 batch of Y Combinator and one of our portfolio startups, SOUNDBOKS that builds battery-powered Bluetooth speakers has raised 52M DKK (almost $8.3M) from local venture capital firm, Heartcore Capital, Vaekstfonden (Danish state’s investment fund) and M-Venture (the investment unit of Mast-Jägermeister SE which is a German liquor company).

SOUNDBOKS speakers come with 30 days return policy however the latest version, SOUNDBOKS 3 offers 100-day return policy with a limited offer of FREE additional battery. Check out the NEW SOUNDBOKS!

The money will be used for marketing and sales, and enhancing the scale and the scope of the product development.

Soundboks, founded in 2015 by Christoffer Nyvold, Hjalte Emilio Wieth and CEO Jesper Theil Thomsen, is a consumer electronics company that designs and manufactures hardware, namely portable sound systems and speakers for outdoor and mobile usages such as for festival seasons and beaches, enabling users to carry their own sound system wherever they go. The company, which is co-located in Copenhagen and Los Angeles, had a 47% growth in 2019 and continued strong growth throughout the first half of 2020.

Please read the full story at Nordic 9.

Lambda School – Intensive Online Training with Payment After Getting Hired Raises $74M in Series C

Lambda School

Lambda School, a San Francisco based remote training startup founded in 2017 has raised $74M in Series C. The funding round was led by Gigafund in participation with Y Combinator, Tandem Capital, GGV Capital, Stripe and GV.

Since its launch, Lambda School has always been able to generate interest in investors. Series A in 2018 ($14M), B in 2019 ($30M) and the current Series C in 2020 are good enough to prove that. After this latest funding, the total funding amount of Lambda School has now raised to $122.1M.

Lambda School’s vision is quite revolutionary. Instead of making their students pay first, they enroll and train their students for 9 to 18 months without any upfront fees. After training, Lambda School also helps its students with interviews and job placement. Even after getting a job, if a student doesn’t earn $50,000 or more, Lambda School doesn’t get anything from the student. ISA (Income Sharing Agreement) based payments for Lambda School only start after their graduates start earning $50K or more. According to Lambda School, they want to bet on their students first instead of asking their students to bet on them.

Only two courses: Full Stack Web and Data Science are being offered by Lambda School at the moment whose duration per course is 9 months for full time and 18 months for part timers.

Currently there are about 3,000 students enrolled, all taking live (not on-demand) classes according to timetables programmed for different timezones. All the classes are set up on a specific personalised basis, with labs to extend your learning and “live” projects to put you in the middle of the kind of work that you would be expected to do with the skills your’re picking up. (It’s partly for this reason that Lambda doesn’t work like a typical MOOC and is more complicated to scale.)

The money will specifically be used to continue expanding the range of what Lambda School offers, both in terms of content but potentially also in terms of developing its business model.

Case in point: just yesterday, the startup got approved by California’s Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education, after a prolonged period of difficulties with the bureau that saw Lambda cease teaching in the state and get fined.

But part of the deal for approval involved Lambda no longer offering Income Share Agreements to students, for the moment at least. With ISAs a cornerstone of how the company presents its deferred-payment model, Allred said Lambda is still working on making ISAs available but is also looking at “student-friendly substitutes” in the interim.

To be clear, getting approved by that board is not the same as accreditation: Lambda School doesn’t offer official degrees but certificates when students complete the courses. Currently there is no plan to get accreditation to offer degrees, Allred said.

Please read full story at TechCrunch.

Rippling – All-in-One Employee Management Platform Raises $145M in Series B

Rippling

Rippling, an all-in-one employee management platform managing all types of data about employees has raised a huge $145M in Series B after they had a Series A of $45M just an year ago.

Collectively, Rippling’s total funding amount now stands at $197M. The latest funding round was led by Founders Fund with help from Y Combinator, Kleiner Perkins, Initialized Capital, Greenoaks Capital, Bedrock Capital and Coatue Management.

First is the business itself. HR and employee management software are two major areas of IT that have faced a lot of fragmentation over the years, with many businesses opting for a cocktail of services covering disparate areas like employee onboarding, payroll, benefits, device management, app provisioning and permissions and more. That’s been even more the case among smaller organizations in the 2-1,000 employee range that Rippling targets.

Rippling is approaching that bigger challenge as one that can be tackled by a single platform — the theory being that managing HR employee data is essentially part and parcel of good management of IT data permissions and device provision. This funding is a signal of how both investors and customers are buying into Rippling and its approach, even if right now the majority of customers don’t onboard with the full suite of services. (Some 75% are usually signing up with HR products, Conrad noted.)

“We like to think of ourselves as a Salesforce for employee data,” Conrad said, “and by that, we think that employee data is more than just HR. We want to manage access to all of your third-party business apps, your computer and other devices. It’s when you combine all that that you can manage employees well.”

Please ready full story at TechCrunch.

GO1 – Online Training Platform for Businesses Raises $40M in Series C

GO1 Raises $40M in Series C

GO1, a Brisbane based online training platform allowing enterprises to provide necessary training on compliance, business and IT skills development to their employees has raised $40M in Series C. The funding round was led by SEEK and Madrona Venture Group in participation with M12, Salesforce Ventures and TechCrunch Innovation Fund.

GO1 already raised $40M collectively from Series A (2018) and B (2019) rounds so the total funding amount of GO1 now stands at $83.7M.

“GO1’s growth over the last couple of months has been unprecedented and the use of online tools for training is now undergoing a structural shift,” said Andrew Barnes, CEO of GO1, in a statement. “It is gratifying to fill an important void right now as workers embrace online solutions. We are inspired about the future that we are building as we expand our platform with new mediums that reach millions of people every day with the content they need.”

“GO1 has been critical for business continuity as organizations navigate the remote realities of COVID-19,” said Nagraj Kashyap, Microsoft Corporate Vice President and Global Head of M12 in a statement. “The GO1 integration with Microsoft Teams offers a seamless learning experience at a time when 75 million people are using the application daily. We’re proud to invest in a solution helping keep employees learning and businesses growing through this time.”

“We are excited about partnering with GO1 as it looks to scale its online content hub globally. While the majority of corporate learning is done in person today, we believe the new digital imperative will see an acceleration in the shift to online learning tools. We believe GO1 fits well into the Trailhead ecosystem and our vision of creating the life-long learner journey,” said Rob Keith, Head of Australia, Salesforce Ventures,  in a statement.

“We met GO1 many months before COVID-19 was on the tip of everyone’s tongue and were impressed then with the growth of the platform and the ability of the team to expand their corporate training offering significantly in North America and Europe,” commented S. Somasegar, managing director, Madrona Venture Group, in a statement. “The global pandemic has only increased the need to both provide training and retraining – and also to do it remotely. GO1 is an important link in the chain of recovery.” As part of the funding Somasegar will join the GO1 board of directors.

Please read full story at TechCrunch.

UpKeep – Maintenance Management Software Designed for Mobile Use Raises $36M in Series B

UpKeep - Mobile-first CMMS

After going through seed round in 2017 and raising Series A of $10M in 2018, the maintenance management software designed specially with mobile-first mindset, UpKeep CMMS has raised another $36M in Series B round. The funding round was led by Insight Partners in participation with Y Combinator, FundersClub, Mucker Capital, Emergence and Battery Ventures. With the newly acquired amount in Series B, UpKeep’s total funding amount has raised to $48.8M.

UpKeep offers plenty of features to help technicians and maintenance teams become more productive and agile. The pricing plans of UpKeep CMMS start from $35/m per user and go up to $180/m per user for large enterprises.

Technicians have to log plenty of information when they’re out on the job, but this usually involved writing this info down on paper and then returning to a desk to input the data into the system.

With UpKeep, the requester can use the app itself to notify the facilities manager of problems, or send an email that flows directly into the UpKeep system. Facilities managers use UpKeep to prioritize and assign issues to their team of technicians, who then receive the work orders right on UpKeep.

Instead of logging information on paper, these technicians can take pictures of the problem and note the parts they need or other details of the job right in the app. No duplication of effort.

“Yes, we track technicians and it’s a tool to manage work done by people,” said Chan. “But a manufacturing facility really cares much more about the equipment. They can use UpKeep to manage things like how many hours of downtime a piece of equipment has, etc. It’s more targeted toward the actual asset and the equipment versus the person completing their work.”

Chan said that around 80 percent of the company’s 400,000 users are on the free version of the app. Some brands on the app include Unilever, Siemens, DHL, McDonald’s, and Jet.com. Chan said UpKeep saw a 206 percent increase in revenue in 2019.

Please read full story at TechCrunch.

Motiv’s Smart Ring Technology is Acquired by Proxy

Proxy acquires Motive

It is a great pleasure for us to announce that one of our portfolio startups, Proxy which magically unlocks doors and access devices by securely transmitting a user’s digital identity signal over Bluetooth has acquired a smart ring wearable company, Motiv.

If you study both startups, you will find out that it’s just natural for both startups to merge. Why?

The newly acquired startup, Motiv offers smart rings that not just track your fitness but also keep your digital identity safe so that you can simply login to your online accounts with just a gesture before your computer. This online security feature of Motiv rings opens lots of innovative options for Proxy because Motiv rings also use Bluetooth for communication, have battery life of not hours but days and are fully waterproof. Currently, Proxy uses your mobile phone to transmit ID signal through Bluetooth which users can’t keep with them all the time. But with Motiv rings which are designed and built for 24/7 use, users can take them anywhere whether they go to swim, bath, cook or even sleep. With this always-on ability of Motiv rings, Proxy can offer its customers to interact with more and more devices anywhere building a smart, innovative and touchless lifestyle for everyone.

Just a month ago, Proxy raised $45M in Series B and they quickly acquired Motiv the very next month without wasting any time. This shows that how much Motiv is important for Proxy. We look forward to see some exciting ideas coming to reality in future from Proxy.

The smart ring offers the unique opportunity for biometric authentication that is constantly in contact with you, continuously confirming your identity and augmenting you and your presence along with your personal preferences, and secure credentials towards devices and spaces around you. The possibility of an ever-present, ever-authenticating identity device, working passively and wirelessly in the background, opens up new ways to augment humans in the physical and digital worlds, create powerful new experiences, and change the way people interact with their environment.

By incorporating much of Motiv’s patents, technology, and advanced manufacturing, Proxy will accelerate our wearables timeline by at least a couple of years. I wish I could share all of the exciting things we’re working on to advance the smart ring forward. What I can say right now is Proxy has already begun work to foster the next paradigm in what wearables can do and has a number of smart rings under design and development, aimed at creating new experiences and unlocking new use cases that will move us further into the post-smartphone era.

This acquisition places Proxy at the forefront of human-machine symbiotic technology that will lead a revolution in the way we identify ourselves to all objects around us and how we interact with our environment. With AR, VR and advancements in crypto coming together, the timing is right for us to create a future we can all look forward to, one where your privacy and personal data stays yours and in your control, where everyone has their own terms of service and is empowered to curate personalized experiences everywhere they go and with everything they interact with. 

Please read full story at Proxy Blog.

Roundee, Video Conferencing Platform is Acquired by SendBird

SendBird Acquires Roundee

Almost an year ago, SendBird raised $102M in Series B and we were thinking that what’s next. We believed the next thing was the voice calling and video recording features that were launched few days ago by SendBird. But, there was more to it and that was the acquisition of Roundee, a video conferencing platform.

The timing to launch voice and video features by SendBird, the world’s leading chat and messaging API platform is very important because video conferencing platforms are most popular and under heavy use these days due to Coronavirus pandemic. SendBird, founded in 2013 and graduated from Y Combinator W16 batch plans to use Roundee’s key technology and experiences for improving its newly launched voice and video features.

“Voice, video, and chat capabilities have never been more important than they are today,” said SendBird CEO and Co-Founder John S. Kim. “Much like messaging technologies, voice and video engineering requires a very specialized skill set if you want to do them well. The Roundee team has developed sophisticated technology from expertise built over many years. It will allow us to accelerate development of our voice and video APIs and continue to push the envelope of what’s possible in an increasingly app-driven world.”

“We’re excited to join the SendBird family. SendBird has created the world’s best chat and messaging technology, and now we can help it further differentiate its service through best-in-class voice and video capabilities” said Sunghyuk Kim, CEO of Roundee.

Please read full story at The Investor.

Deepgram – Speech Recognition for Enterprises Raises $12M in Series A

deepgram

Deepgram, a speech recognition company offering enterprises to build analytical insights from their audio data with highest accuracy and affordability has raised $12M in Series A round. The funding round was led by Wing Venture Capital with help from Y Combinator, Nvidia GPU Ventures and SAP.io.

Deepgram went through seed round in early 2016 and also had a venture round from September 2016 till March 2018 as per CrunchBase Financials data. Overall, the total funding amount raised so far is $13.9M.

Deepgram’s product also called Deepgram MissionControl works in three steps. In first step (DataFactory module), it allows enterprises to prepare their data by uploading and labeling it. In 2nd step (ModelForge module), it allows customers to build and train custom models and in the final step, enterprises can transcribe their bulk audio data using their custom models. Deepgram claims to offer more features than Google, Amazon, Nuance and IBM. Make sure to give them a try.

What’s the money for? Adding staff, among other things. Deepgram has about 40 people today, but declined to tell TechCrunch how quickly it will scale personnel (oddly, as that’s a pretty standard question), saying instead that it’s hiring aggressively, with a focus on go-to-market and engineering. The firm also intends to use some of its Series A on hardware.

TechCrunch spoke with Deepgram CEO Scott Stephenson about his company’s product during our call about the round itself. Summarizing our chat, here’s what we found out. Instead of trying to improve existing tech — which doesn’t sport strong gross margins, the CEO said — Deepgram started from scratch, building a deep learning tool that, after a few years’ work, was a step ahead of other speech recognition technologies in terms of accuracy.

Its investors agree. In a call with TechCrunch, Nvidia’s Jeff Herbst, who took part in the investment, said that Deepgram was “one of the best, if not the best” speech recognition companies around. Deepgram provides its services in two ways, hosted on its own hardware (the firm claims better margins by running its own metal, and, you now know why Nvidia is involved) and on-prem on client hardware. The startup is targeting enterprise call centers and voice platforms as customers.

Please read full story at TechCrunch.

Proxy – Touchless Door Unlocker & Device Access Platform Raises $42M in Series B

Proxy, a smartphone-based digital identity platform that interacts with devices through BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) signals without touching them has raised $42M in Series B round led by Scale Venture Partners in participation with Kleiner Perkins, Y Combinator, Silicon Valley Bank and a venture studio, West. Last year, Proxy raised $13.6M in Series A and with the latest Series B funding, their total raised amount has reached $58.8M.

Proxy provides mobile access hardware devices (Mobile Reader Pro, Edge & Nano) for different environments, a secure cloud service that interacts with your existing control systems, a dashboard to manage access of your workplaces & users and most importantly an API and SDK to integrate Proxy with any device and create unlimited possibilities for businesses.

The raise brings Proxy to $58.8 million in funding so it can staff up at offices across the world and speed up deployments of its door sensor hardware and access control software. “We’re spread thin” says Mars. “Part of this funding is to try to grow up as quickly as possible and not grow for growth sake. We’re making sure we’re secure, meeting all the privacy requirements.”

How does Proxy work? Employers get their staff to install an app that knows their identity within the company, including when and where they’re allowed entry. Buildings install Proxy’s signal readers, which can either integrate with existing access control software or the startup’s own management dashboard.

Employees can then open doors, elevators, turnstiles, and garages with a Bluetooth low-energy signal without having to even take their phone out. Bosses can also opt to require a facial scan or fingerprint or a wave of the phone near the sensor. Existing keycards and fobs still work with Proxy’s Pro readers. Proxy costs about $300 to $350 per reader, plus installation and a $30 per month per reader subscription to its management software.

Luckily, Proxy has found a powerful growth flywheel. First an office in a big building gets set up, then they convince the real estate manager to equip the lobby’s turnstiles and elevators with Proxy. Other tenants in the building start to use it, so they buy Proxy for their office. Then they get their offices in other cities on board…starting the flywheel again. That’s why Proxy is doubling down on sales to commercial real estate owners.

Please read full story at TechCrunch.

Flutterwave – African Payment Platform for Businesses Raises $35M in Series B

Flutterwave, an African fintech startup graduated from Y Combinator S16 batch that allows businesses to make and receive payments has secured $35M investment in Series B round. The funding round was led by e.ventures and Greycroft in participation with Visa, Green Visor Capital, Golden Palm Investments, FIS, Endeavor, CRE Venture Capital and 9Yards Capital. After this round, Flutterwave’s total funding amount has raised to $64.5M.

In 2016, while having seed round, they started offering a payment infrastructure that businesses could integrate with by using their API.

Later during 2017 & 2018, they raised $20M (collectively) in Series A and Series A Extension rounds. By that time, they had processed 100M transactions of payments worth $2.5B and also had partnerships with Uber, Booking.com, TransferWise and Flywire in Africa.

But now, Flutterwave is not just a payment processing API but a complete payment platform. Whether you want to add a checkout process to your website or want your own store to sell and accept payments, Flutterwave has complete built-in solutions for you. You can even create and manage custom virtual cards, send invoices to customers and more using Flutterwave. With current Series B announcement, Flutterwave has also announced their partnership with Worldpay allowing them to also accept payments from 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.

“We don’t just want to be a payment technology company, we have sector expertise around education, travel, gaming, e-commerce, fintech companies. They all use our expertise,” said GB. That means Flutterwave will provide more solutions around the broader needs of its clients.

“Our business goes beyond payments. People don’t want to just make payments, they want to do something,” he said. And Flutterwave aims to offer more capabilities toward what those clients want to do in Africa.

“If you are a charity that wants to raise money for cancer research in Ghana, or you want to sell online, or you’re Cardi B…who wants to do concerts in Africa…we want to be able to set up payments, write the code and create the platform for those needs,” GB explained.

That also means Flutterwave, which built its early client base across global companies, aims to serve smaller African businesses, including startups. Current customers include African-founded tech companies, such as moto ride-hail venture Max.ng.

Please read full story at TechCrunch.