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.

Pyka – Unmanned Electric Airplane Manufacturer Raises $11M in Seed Round

pyka

Pyka, a battery-powered autonomous airplane maker targeting aircraft spraying business market, added to our portfolio in 2017 has collected a whooping $11M in seed round. The funding round was led by Prime Movers Lab with the help of Y Combinator, Bold Capital Partners, Greycroft, Data Collective and Metaplanet Holdings.

Pyka aircrafts can fly up to 90 mph cruise speed and take off/land in 150 feet. At the rate of 2 gallons water per acre, Pyka airplanes can spray 135 acre area within an hour however for 5 gallons per acre, they cover 85 acres in an hour. Pyka airplanes are fast, safe, cost effective and have ultra low drift because of their on-board sensors that help them to spray on specific paths with minimum drift.

Pyka claims to be the only company in the world with a commercially approved large autonomous electric aircraft. Small ones like drones have been approved left and right, but the Egret is approaching the size of a traditional “small aircraft,” like a Piper Cub.

Of course, that’s just the craft — other regulatory hurdles hinder wide deployment, like communicating with air traffic management and other craft; certification of the craft in other ways; a more robust long-range sense and avoid system and so on. But Pyka’s Egret has already flown thousands of miles at test farms that pay for the privilege. (Pyka declined to comment on its business model, customers or revenues.)

The company’s founding team — Michael Norcia, Chuma Ogunwole, Kyle Moore and Nathan White — comes from a variety of well-known companies working in adjacent spaces: Cora, Kittyhawk, Joby Aviation, Google X, Waymo and Morgan Stanley (that’s the COO).

Please read full story at TechCrunch.

Gravitational – Secure Access & Application Deployment Service Raises $25M in Series A

Gravitational

Gravitational, an Oakland, California based company allowing its customers to securely access servers and deploy cloud-native applications to any Linux-based infrastructure has raised $25M in Series A round led by Kleiner Perkins in participation with Y Combinator and S28 Capital.

Gravitational was founded in 2015 and had a seed round of almost $6M but with current Series A round, total funding amount has reached almost $31M now. They offer products like Teleport for safe remote access with plenty of authentication and authorization features and Gravity for secure deployment of applications using the power of Kubernetes, an open source system to automatically deploy, scale and manage containerized applications.

In just a couple of years, our customer base has exploded from a handful of early adopters to an impressive portfolio of some of the world’s largest and most innovative companies, including NASDAQ, Splunk, TicketMaster, Mulesoft and Samsung.

While we were recently able to reach profitability by delivering valuable software solutions to our customers, this Series A financing provides us with even more resources to execute on the company’s vision faster. We will be accelerating our product development and making our products even more capable and easier to use. The additional funding will also allow us to build a world-class enterprise support organization to serve our customers better.

Please read full story at Gravitational Blog.

Eight Sleep – Healthy Sleep Technology Raises $40M

Starting as a smart bed cover under the name of Luna and now evolving into a sleep fitness company offering smart beds and accessories for healthy sleep, Eight Sleep (formerly known as Eight and one of our portfolio startups) has also went through a Series C round and raised $40M of funding. Eight Sleep raised $5M and $14M in Series AB respectively and collectively with recent Series C, Eight Sleep’s total funding amount has reached $70.1M.

The funding round was led by Founders Fund in participation with old investors: Khosla Ventures, Craft Ventures, 8VC, Y Combinator and Kevin Hartz. Moreover, Ryan Petersen has also joined as a new investor in this round.

With the additional $40 million, the company plans to invest heavily in scientific research and development as well as workforce and retail growth. They plan to launch a scientific trial with Stanford University focused on the effects of temperature regulation on sleep using Eight Sleep products, and are currently conducting studies with Mount Sinai and UCSF. They aim to double their team of 50—bringing their New York-based workforce to 100—as soon as possible. Though the company operates largely direct-to-consumer, they’re bringing the slumber party to a showroom at San Fransisco’s B8ta, building on the success of their exhibition space at New York’s Showfields and foreshadowing their larger retail strategy.

The company currently sells tech-enabled mattresses, pillows, blue-light filtering glasses and bed frames. Their signature product “the Pod” starts at $2,295, a competitive price for a premium mattress, features a heating and cooling system, and is compatible with the Eight Sleep app, which workshops sleep success through analytical reporting, exercises and more. Zatarain says that 84% of Eight Sleep’s customers who sleep cool on the Pod report improved sleep. And Pod fans apparently include some of the top names in performance: 12-time Olympic medalist Ryan Lochte, Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry and supermodel Coco Rocha.

For lead investor Trae Stephens, a partner at Founders Fund, the reason to invest in Eight Sleep (and join the board of directors), was the major improvement in his sleep with an Eight Sleep Pod. “Rather than fixing economics of mattress industry, Eight Sleep is actually thinking of sleep as a fitness category–something that can be enhanced with the use of technology,” says Stephens who strayed from his govtech investment vertical for Eight Sleep due to personal satisfaction with the product.

Please read the full story at Forbes.

Algolia – Search-as-a-Service for Websites and Apps Raises $110M

Algolia, one of our fastest growing portfolio startups has bagged a whooping $110M funding in a Series C round led by Accel in participation with Salesforce Ventures. With 8000 customers and 70 billion queries served per month, Algolia is massively growing to become one of the biggest hosted search APIs in the market.

Since its seed funding in 2014, Algolia went through its Series A and B rounds which summed up to a funding of $74.22M but after this recent Series C, Algolia’s total funding amount has increased to $184.2M.

There you go Algolia! Keep up the good work.

Having Salesforce as a strategic backer in this round is notable, as the CRM giant has only made smaller steps into search: a tool launched last month to search better on Salesforce services, and some discovery and search features in its Commerce Cloud. But there is no native search product equivalent to what Algolia does, with Salesforce instead opting for endorsed integrations with third parties, such as Algolia competitor Coveo. The plan will be for Algolia to integrate with Salesforce to continue expanding what it’s doing in Commerce Cloud with search, although there are no products to speak of as of yet

“Algolia has been a great search innovator and delivers unique experiences for customers across Commerce,” said Mike Micucci, CEO, Salesforce Commerce Cloud. “Algolia’s integration into the Commerce Cloud platform will continue to drive momentum and mutual success with our developer, partner and customer community.”

“We have no plans to build a consumer service,” CEO Nicolas Dessaigne said. “There are a lot of companies like Amazon and Google doing a great job. We like to think of them as partners in a way, educating the whole world about search.”

“Behind a world-class team of search experts and a passionate customer base, Algolia has become the market leader in Search-as-a-Service,” said Nate Niparko, partner at Accel. “Algolia is accelerating innovation in personalized and intelligent search, enabling companies to deliver a great user experience that drives improved business results. We are excited to double down on Algolia and support their mission to lead the search and discovery market.”

Please read the full story at TechCrunch.

Oasis – Photo-real avatars over a synthetic video chat network

TheOasis.com

Oasis is a synthetic reality social app focused on meeting new people & making new friends.

Founder Matt Mireles is an American technology entrepreneur and investor. Matt runs Oasis and is the founder of Guerrilla Capital, Dishcraft Robotics & SpeakerText (acquired). Matt explains:

Our mission is to allow people to feel psychologically safe enough to be who they really are so that they can be emotionally present with each other.

Oasis works by connecting users via photo-real avatars over a synthetic video chat network. Their radical technology eliminates camera anxiety and reduces people’s social inhibitions. In the Oasis, you are encouraged to express yourself by creating multiple personas, each with its own identity, interests & social network.

The patent-pending Oasis network uses 100x less bandwidth than traditional video chat because Oasis has invented a neural network that can synthesize a video chat in realtime on the receiver’s smartphone without ever sending pixels over the internet.

Due to the minimal bandwidth needs of its network, Oasis makes a new kind of video chat accessible to the billions of people on earth who lack broadband internet.

Zillionize welcomed Oasis into it’s portfolio under its original name TalkPresent and look forward to seeing how the Oasis Team take things forward. Learn more about Oasis here – https://theoasis.com/

Pesto – Career Accelerator for Software Engineers

Pesto

Pesto is an intensive training program to help software engineers in India break into international tech careers via full-time remote jobs.

Co-founders Ayush Jaiswal and Andrew Linfoot originally met in a co-working space and realised the disparity between software engineer remuneration in India and the US.

Now they are on a mission to give everyone equal access to opportunity, regardless of where they were born.

Today we are focusing on upskilling India’s 5 million software engineers and pairing them with the worlds top tech companies.

Pesto works by providing training with zero upfront cost to students. Once the students complete the training and get hired, they pay a portion of their income to Pesto under an Income Share Agreement.

After gaining initial traction and focusing on the quality of business, the team is now focused on increasing the frequency of batches to help more students.

Zillionize was lucky to get the opportunity to invest in Pesto and we look forward to helping them on their mission. For more details, check out https://www.pesto.tech/.

ReadMe – an Interactive API Documentation Platform Raises $9M

ReadMe, a company allowing its customers to build custom API documentation and provide personalized support to users by tracking API usage has raised $9M in a Series A round led by Accel in partiticpation with Y Combinator. After this round, ReadMe’s total funding amount has reached $10.1M.

Prior to today’s funding announcement, the company had taken just a $1.2 million seed round in 2014. Today, it reports 3,000 paying customers and that it has been profitable for the last several years, an unusual position for a startup. In spite of this success, co-founder and CEO Gregory Koberger said as the company has taken on larger customers, they have more sophisticated requirements, and that prompted them to take this round of funding.

In addition, it has expanded the platform to use a company’s API logs to help create more dynamic documentation and improve customer support kinds of scenarios. But by taking on data from other companies, it needs to make sure the data is secure, and today’s funding will help in that regard.

“We’re going to still build the company traditionally by hiring more engineers, more support people, more designers, the obvious stuff, but the main impetus for doing this was that we started working with bigger companies with more secure data. So a lot of the money is going to help make sure that we handle that right,” Koberger explained.

Please read full story at TechCrunch.

Vitau – Your Intelligent Pharmacy

Vitau

Vitau are an intelligent pharmacy that takes care of patients suffering from chronic illnesses by sending their medications monthly. They also help with insurance reimbursements so that customers do not need to waste time at the pharmacy or doing paperwork.

Zillionize recently invested in the startup after they launched in Mexico and recently participated in YCombinator S19.

Co-founder and CEO, Tuto Assad, knows the pain and requirements of receiving regular medication after being diagnosed with diabetes from a long age. Vitau’s easy to use subscription service helps simplify the process.

For more information and to check out the fast growing online pharmacy visit https://vitau.mx/.