Ikonerx | Interactive content consulting.: STARTUPSSTORY
Showing posts with label STARTUPSSTORY. Show all posts
Showing posts with label STARTUPSSTORY. Show all posts

U.K. startup 'Rebank' has raised $2.8 million in seed funding from ADV, Y Combinator and others to build a better banking experience for high-growth companies

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U.K. startup 'Rebank' has raised $2.8 million in seed funding from ADV, Y Combinator and others
Ask almost any startup founder and they’ll tell you that business banking is mostly broken. Legacy banks typically provide a clunky user experience trapped in the past. New challenger banks show a lot of promise on the UX front but often come with an immature feature set that hits a wall as soon as a company grows larger.
The solution, says Y Combinator graduate Rebank, is a new digital business banking platform that runs on top of existing business bank accounts. The idea is to provide a single, consolidated view of your business banking activity, coupled with various day-to-day functionality, to enable you to speed through business banking tasks and spend more time actually growing your business.
To continue building out its product and move beyond the current invite-only launch, the U.K. startup has raised $2.8 million in seed funding. Leading the round is ADV, with participation from YC, Oriza Ventures and angel investors, including Jude Gomila.
“Companies today face two major problems; janky banking interfaces and unnecessarily expensive payments,” Rebank  co-founder and CEO Juan Andrade tells TechCrunch.
“Despite this, very few actually want to switch banks — it’s just more time wasted. They don’t have to anymore with Rebank because we work in connection with their existing banks. This means it’s easier and faster to start using Rebank than other options out there.”
Andrade started his career in insurance before moving into payments and building new card products for Ukash, the payments startup based in London that was acquired by Skrill in 2015. He was also most recently head of Payments at Secret Escapes, the Google Ventures-backed travel company.
Rebank’s other co-founder, Simon White, started his career as a systems engineer at Unisys and Thales, working with the Australian government on large-scale defence and military projects before relocating to London. He was also an early engineer at Fincluster before joining the founding team at Soreto, the e-commerce rewards startup backed by New Look founder Tom Singh.
Andrade says it was while at Secret Escapes that he saw up close many of the pain-points of business banking, especially for a fast-growing company. “We founded Rebank back in January 2018 after Simon and I had shared the pains of working with various business banks during our previous roles. Every subsequent conversation with founders and finance teams only fueled the desire to work on this problem more,” he tells me.
Specifically, Rebank has been built to address two main issues faced by companies today: “unintuitive interfaces and complicated payments.” The platform offers a consolidated and real-time picture of money going in and out across multiple connected bank accounts and also can be used to initiate payments.
Andrade says finance teams are already preferring it to their existing banking apps and that Rebank has customers in the U.S., Canada and the U.K., amounting to 70 startups and mid-size companies generating $50 million in transactions. For the time being, the business model remains straightforward, too. Rebank charges a subscription fee, starting at $50 per month.
“We bootstrapped the first year; setting up a regulated company as a team of two was demanding. Despite having to split legal, compliance, tech and product between two people, we made good progress and were accepted into Y Combinator at the end of 2018. After graduating from YC we raised our seed round from U.S. and U.K. investors. Things have been moving pretty quickly since then!”

Licious raises $30M in India meat market to grow its meat and seafood e-commerce platform

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Licious is an Indian meat and seafood company, headquartered in Bengaluru, Karnataka, India. The company operates on a farm-to-fork model owning the entire back-end supply chain and cold chain.

The new financing round, dubbed Series E, for the four-year-old startup was led by Singapore-based Vertex Growth Fund,  it said Monday. Existing investors 3one4 Capital, Bertelsmann India Investments, Vertex Ventures Southeast Asia and India and Sistema Asia Fund also participated in the round.
The Series E pushes Licious’ to-date raise to $94.5 million.
Licious operates an eponymous e-commerce platform to sell meat and seafood in cities in India (Bengaluru, NCR, Hyderabad, Chandigarh, Panchkula, Mohali, Mumbai, Pune, and Chennai). The startup does not stock any inventory, so any raw material it procures, it processes and ships on the same or next day. It processes more than 17,000 orders every day.

The startup, which employs more than 2,000 people, has built its own supply chain network to control sourcing and production of food, it said. Licious executives said the startup is growing at a healthy rate of 300% year-over-year and aims to generate $140 million in annual revenue by 2023.
Licious will use the fresh capital to expand to more cities in India, and launch new products, said Vivek Gupta, co-founder of the startup.
The startup competes with Bangalore-based FreshToHome, which has amassed more than 650,000 customers in 10 cities in India. As of August, when FreshToHome raised $20 million in a new funding round, the startup was handling 14,000 orders a day.
Gupta said the vast majority of the Indian meat and seafood industry remains unorganized, which has created an immense opportunity for startups to address the sector. The cold-chain market of India is estimated to grow to $37 billion in the next five years, according to industry estimates.
“The traditional meat and seafood industry are in dire need of tech intervention, quality standardisation and a skilled talent pool. Licious is working towards creating these differentiators and will stay committed towards elevating India’s meat and seafood experience,” he said.

Jiji raises $21 million for its Africa online classified business as competition with OList becomes rigid

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Jiji raises $21 million for its Africa online classified business as competition with OList becomes rigid
According to the company, the new raise will be used to increase engagement and acquire more customers to the platform. It also wants to develop better technology for listing categories. Importantly Jiji is hoping the new technology will match users with the right adverts, especially real estate adverts. Alongside vehicle sales and electronic sales, real estate is one of Jiji’s biggest revenue stream and listing.

Jiji, the Nigeria-based classifieds listing company, has raised $21 million Series C funding from six investors. The round was led by Knuru Capital, an Abu Dhabi-based venture capital fund that focuses on late-stage companies.
Founded in 2014 by Ukrainians Anton Wolyansky and Vladimir Mnogoletniy, Jiji is one of the biggest classifieds listing company in Africa. It operates several categories primarily designed to help people buy and sell items and services.
It is the biggest classifieds platform in Nigeria with over two million listings and millions of users. In April it acquired its biggest competitor, OLX, a Naspers-backed company for an undisclosed amount. That acquisition allowed it to expand to four other African countries namely Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania and Uganda. Together, these five countries have a potential market size of 400 million people.


Now, in October, TechCabal wrote about the challenges of finding a house in Lagos. While there are a couple of real estate platforms, Jiji is an important platform for people seeking to rent. But the platform doesn’t allow users to complete transactions online. So when people find a house on Jiji, they can’t pay the rent online. This makes it easy for real estate agents in Nigeria to simply deceive people with images of good houses that are sometimes no longer on the market.
Jiji’s cofounder, MnogoLetniy, says the platform has made a lot of efforts to control fake listings. “We were able to eliminate a high percentage of fraud listings and estimate fraud listings at less than 1%,” he told TechCrunch. He said there have also been some conversations about adding other services like payments to their portfolio, although no concrete plans have been reached.
Nevertheless, Jiji’s latest funding round comes at a time when the company is facing new competition from different directions. Its biggest competitors are online services that are providing specialised services for one of Jiji’s categories.
For instance, Jiji operates categories for car sales and real estate. But Cars45, a Nigeria based platform, allows specialises in car sales and provides other services such as valuation and car verification. Cars45 is backed by Frontier Car Group (FCG), a company that recently raised $400 million.
Fibre, Spleet and Muster are all real estate platforms that help people to find good houses in different parts of Nigeria. These startups cut out the real estate agents and allow users to pay rents online and digitally manage their dealings with landlords.
With their specialised services, the existence of all four companies could cause Jiji to lose some users in the real estate and car sales category.
But Jiji’s latest headache is not even these specialised services, it is from OList, a classifieds clone operated by Opera.
OList is still less than six months old but it is already positioning itself as a strong player in the Nigerian market. According to Opera, OList now boasts over one million listings and is growing aggressively thanks Opera’s strong suite of services and market presence.
“OList has benefited a lot by having Opera browser traffic that’s also why we actually are growing so fast in such a short time frame and growing,” said Opera’s Chief Operating Officer, Lin Song in Opera’s third quarterly earnings call.
But the Norwegian company has deeper plans for OList. Lin says OList is “quite ambitious” and says “instead of doing a bit more high level, like a simple app initiative… I think it makes sense for companies like us to go even deeper in the transaction level, to be able to smoothen the whole transaction flow, to ease the user pain points, not just selling some simple ads.”
So like Spleet, Muster and Fibre, OList has an eye on Nigeria’s real estate market and wants to provide specialised services for this vertical.
The “Nigerian real estate market alone represents a $20 billion market annually, which however is both inefficient and fragmented, and we think we can play a key part there,” Lin told investors in the call.
So for Jiji, Opera’s OList is a challenger it has to be wary of. Mnogoletniy, Jiji’s co-founder, has already dropped some subtle shades at its competitor.
“We’ve spent five years and raised $50 million to build Jiji to where it is today,” he told TechCrunch. “It would take $50 to $100 million for these others to have a chance at building a similar business.”
Backed by a new $21 million funding, Jiji appears to be posturing and asserting its lead. But Opera has an aggressive agenda for its verticals, it won’t back down easily.

Amazon finally launches a battery-powered portable Echo speaker in India

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What is Echo Input Portable Smart Speaker?

Echo Input Portable Smart Speaker is a limited edition voice-controlled smart speaker with Alexa that is designed to be carried around your home while you continue to listen to your favourite music. No more searching for plug points – the built-in rechargeable 4800 mAh battery lets you access Alexa from anywhere in your home.

After launching nearly a dozen Echo speaker models in India in two years, Amazon said on Wednesday it is adding a new variant to the mix that addresses one of the most requested features from customers in the nation: portability.
The e-commerce giant today unveiled the Echo Input Portable Smart Speaker Edition, a new variant in the lineup that includes a built-in battery. The 4,800 mAh enclosed battery will offer up to 10 hours of continuous music playing or up to 11 hours of stand-by life, the company said.
“Portability has been one of the most requested features in India,” said Miriam Daniel, VP of Alexa Devices. “You want to be able to carry Alexa with you from room to room within your homes. So we have designed something just for you.”
The company said the Echo Input Portable Smart Speaker Edition (which remains a mouthful) shares the same “hardware architecture” as the Echo Input, a device it launched last year that does not feature a speaker.
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The battery-powered Echo model, designed exclusively for India, is priced at 5,999 Indian rupees ($84). Users can currently purchase it at an introductory price of 4,999 Indian rupees ($70) and the device will begin shipping on December 18.
Other than the built-in battery pack, the new speaker model offers an identical set of features — access to some 30,000 Alexa skills, compatibility with a range of home devices and, of course, support for Alexa voice assistant — as other Echo variants. (The new model additionally carries an array of four LEDs that light up when a user taps the power button, to show battery level.)
Amazon has never disclosed how many Echo speakers it has sold in India, but it has noted that the country is one of its most important markets. At a conference in September, Rohit Prasad, VP and head scientist of Alexa AI at Amazon, said the “adoption of Alexa in India has been phenomenal.”
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Over the years, a number of companies, including LG, Motorola and Sony, have added support for Alexa to their headphones and smartphones.
The e-commerce giant, which has invested north of $5 billion in India, is among many international firms that are currently betting to turn the nation of 1.3 billion people into one of its biggest markets. Winning that market means customizing many of their products and services to align with local conditions in the nation. In September, Amazon announced Alexa was adding support for Hindi language to broaden its appeal in the nation.
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MEET ART DIRECTOR/ILLUSTRATOR - MARGHERITA URBANI

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An Italian-born American art director and illustrator, Margherita Ubani brings a wry sense of humor to her work. Pairing a graphic sensibility with a love of typography, she explores the elements of balancing her two cultures and the challenges, both linguistic and otherwise, of being “other.”
She was recently Associate Art Director at Urban Outfitters, covering branding, packaging and print-based projects, and is currently freelancing while collaborating with Andy Rementer on commercial projects and social media. 

QA-17sTell us about your education and career path.

 The path that took me where I am is not really linear. In Italy, where I grew up, there is a lack of creative degrees offered by universities, especially compared to the States. My father is an architect, like all of the older generations of Italian designers, so I always thought the only creative path was through architecture.I graduated in Industrial Design and then continued with a masters in Visual and Multimedia Communications at IUAV University of Venice. Between my studies I worked for a design firm there called Studio Camuffo. The experience was very formative, and opened my eyes to the idea that illustration and making comics can be a career.As I moved to the States, I immediately began working as a graphic designer, doing illustration on the side. That's what I still do now: I'm a designer in the Anthropologie Catalog team, and I run an illustration studio where I collaborate with Andy Rementer.

QA-17sHow did your project begin? 
 
I craved visiting Japan for so long that I decided to keep a sketchbook so the memories wouldn't fade. Every day I tried to draw everything I could remember seeing. I was in touch with Commune already, and I shared the making of the journal with them. Eventually they liked it so much that they offered to publish it.

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QA-17sWhat does your day-to-day work on the Anthropologie catalog entail?

It's a very fast-paced environment, having 15 printed catalogs per year to send out... it kinda never stops. I'm involved in the type and layout explorations, but mainly I focus on the execution and edits of each issue. I love when sometimes I can squeeze in some illustrations for the blog.



QA-17sWhat were your fears before going?

Leaving my comfort zone and exploring differences is a source of excitement for me. My only fear was not having enough time to see it all. 
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QA-17sWhat were you most excited about? 

Everything! And all my expectations were exceeded greatly, especially in the art and design field.
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QA-17sOutside of your work at Anthropologie, what is exciting you about your art?

First of all, Iʼm very lucky to be working in a creative environment like Anthropologie, with so many other talented people. On top of that, the whole Urban Outfitters campus is a place that really respects other creative endeavors — you can tell because everybody has other passions on the side. Itʼs very exciting to talk to your coworkers and know youʼre not alone pulling all-nighters on your personal projects.

Going to work everyday gives me the discipline that I need creatively, while the motivation I put into my nights at the studio feeds the focus in my job. Itʼs a good balance.

QA-17s
Who did you share your trip with?


I was there with Andy Rementer who is my life and work partner. He had an art show in Shimokitazawa, so that was the perfect excuse to finally plan the trip.


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QA-17sHow would you describe your personal take on design, your aesthetic?

I donʼt know if I am good at describing what I do (laughs). Overall, my illustration work is very colorful. Typography is very important, and I often end up doing something bold, but somehow feminine, even though I'm not girly.
In my comics I try to inject a sense of humor and criticism. Sometimes I draw myself as a cartoon to vent some frustrations. I'm not sure if this is typical of female illustrators, but it just comes natural to go down that path. I like that with personal work you are free to be more edgy, or harsh, or more critical. While with commissioned jobs you have to...well, I donʼt want to say that you have to be more careful, but definitely there is a bit of a filter.
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