Category Archives: Funding & Acquisitions

Funding news and acquisitions

Google Launchpad Accelerator expands to Europe and Africa

If you are trying to develop innovative business in the field of IT and telecommunications, your corporate sponsor can now be Google itself. Launched in 2015 Launchpad Accelerator, initially addressed to the countries of Asia and Latin America, is opening up to new territories to include startups from Certain European and African countries. Now, entrepreneurs from these regions can join the 47 graduates and 31 currently participating startups.

There are very few companies that could match the reach and resources of Google, and now these resources can be made available for free to all those who want, through science, to solve real problems of their city, region or country. The program is organized by a global team of Google Developers for startups with a proven history of success in the marketplace, who want to reach the next million users.

The program begins with a two-week training in San Francisco, whose main feature are mentoring sessions with engineers and product managers from 20 Google teams and an international team of external mentors. Participants will receive financial support of $ 50.000, free access to paid Google services and help of local Google teams for six months.

For the new training cycle now there can sign up startups from Central and Eastern Europe – Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, and Africa – Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa. Of course, Google does not guarantee that it will accept all. On the contrary, the competition may be intense. In the program there also participate startups from India, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Mexico. Applications will be accepted until April 24. Training will begin on 17 July. More information can be found on the Launchpad Accelerator website.

Booksy raised $4.2M

Polish application for booking visits, for example hairdressers and beauty salons, has closed another round of financing. This time Booksy received more than $ 4 million. It will be allocated in further development of several functions, such as allowing in-app payments, enabling larger merchants to handle personnel through the software, and development of better reporting systems.

Many of the beauty service providers do not have time to pick up calls and make appointments after their work hours. Customers, on the other hand, want to book a visit twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Booksy helps both clients and owners of premises in solving this problem. Customers – because they have access to the platform at any time, and entrepreneurs – because it happens without them, so that they can do other things at that time. Adoption of the app has been shown to improve customer loyalty and frequency of bookings. It is partly because by using Booksy, businesses are able to accept bookings outside of working hours for the first time. In addition to scheduling, Booksy helps entrepreneurs with several other features meant to support and boost their processes, such as a CRM, marketing automation, inventory management, point-of-sales, reports, management of commission for employees, and (soon) in-app payments.

In contrast to its competitors, Booksy does not act as a marketplace or even does not charge for reservations. It operates in a SaaS model with a monthly subscription. The application has competitors in every market, for example: Treatwell from the UK, LadyTime from Poland, StyleSeat from the U.S., Vaniday from Brazil. Each of them acts as a marketplace and charges for reservations. Entrepreneurs are not content with that.

This round of financing led the Open Ocean fund with participation of the Australian company and investor Investible, as well as Polish Nomad Fund, Kai Hansen (ex-Lieferando), Apostolos Apostolakis, as well as the head of the Google Campus in Warsaw – Rafal Plutecki. In 2015 Booksy already received EUR 700 thousand, which was invested in the project. Among others, the investor was Inovo vc fund.

Kinnevik earns $220mln from partial Rocket stake sale

Shares in the German e-commerce company Rocket Internet fell 14% after its main investor sold half its stake as the two firms have been increasingly becoming competitors. Sweden’s Kinnevik, which clashed with Rocket last year over the valuations of some of their joint investments, sold a 6.6% stake in Rocket at 19.25 euros per share, netting $220 million. Rocket Internet will not receive any proceeds from the transaction.

Berlin-headquartered Rocket Internet was founded in 2007. It has built up several businesses from fashion e-commerce to food delivery, but its shares have slid in the last year because many investors have become concerned about hight losses and falling valuations for its key start-ups. The company is facing heat from its investors due to continuous losses and a decline in revenue of its portfolio companies globally. Rocket Internet’s experience in India, for example, is far from being profitable. It made bigger bets on food-tech venture Foodpanda, fashion e-tailer Jabong and furniture portal FabFurnish. Most ventures quickly expanded in the beginning, but later started to struggle to survive. Last year, Rocket Internet sold Jabong and FabFurnish in misery sales. Last year Future Group acquired FabFurnish.com in an all-cash deal and Jabong was sold to Indian e-commerce firm Flipkart’s fashion portal Myntra for $70 million.

Kinnevik was one of the first investors in Rocket and was its biggest shareholder after the Samwer brothers who founded it and who have a 37%stake. Kinnevik also owns stakes in several Rocket’s major startups. There is a very high probability that Kinnevik will sell its remaining stake in Rocket because Kinnevik and Rocket are potential competitors for new investments. There might be conflicts of interest as Rocket moves from an initial attention on setting up new online businesses to being more of an investment firm with a model identic to Kinnevik’s. Kinnevik has not invested with Rocket in its food holdings, which now justifies the enormity of its valuation after it made a big push into the sector in 2015, a shift away from its preliminary attention on ecommerce in emerging markets.

Meanwhile, even as Rocket Internet has struggled with its bets on Indian companies, it has collected $1 billion in a new fund to support Internet companies globally. The Rocket Internet Capital Partners fund is Europe’s biggest fund concentrated on the Internet sector. The new fund will make early-stage and growth-equity investments in high-growth Internet-related businesses. It plans to invest in key attention fields of the Internet sector including marketplaces, e-commerce, financial technology, software and travel. The fund gained essential support from a diverse group of global investors, including financial organizations, pension funds, asset managers, foundations and wealthy individuals.

Startups from Croatia

Croatia has been unending marveled for its Adriatic coastlines, distant islands, and moody seaside castles. Yet, nowadays primal and historic wonders are playing second role compared to a growing number of young, talented tech professionals trying to put up the country out of recession. Many startups have successfully raised funds and every year more and more projects contribute to the growing prominence of the region’s young ecosystem. Below are the  brightest Croatian tech startups worth to know about:

Memgraph is a scalable and enterprise ready graph database that comprehends the connection between its data points, provoking meaning just like a human brain. It contains import, data processing and visualization tools. The startup offers complete ecosystem for technology innovators to tackle the future challenges of big data. The company was launched in 2016 and it successfully participated in the renowned Techstars accelerator in London.

Adopto is an applicant tracking system and recruiting software created to support users find and hire the best tech candidates faster and more efficiently and make their recruiting process better. The recruiters simply set up their careers page, publish a job accouchement, search for the best people, and gain candidate info with a single click through one interface. The startup was launched in 2015.

BabyWatch enhances the prenatal experience with technology. Thanks to the specially-designed device and app, future mothers can hear and visualize their child’s heartbeat 24/7 and share the memorable experience with friends and family.

Locodels is a service for small e-commerce, online sellers and individuals. It offers the easiest way to ship your items. The startup manages a network of drivers and senders via a phone and web application so that it assures options and varieties in the transportation service. The idea is that everyone can send stuff and everyone can deliver stuff. The startup was launched in 2015 and in December 2016 it secured $600K in seed funding.

Visiobike makes high tech electric bicycle with carbon fiber frame. The startup has developed technology that lets integration of every smartphone with components on the Visiobike. On the application the rider can track speed, battery level, change electric motor assistance level and plan the route on the navigation screen. Small HD camera placed under the seat sends the image to the application which changes the smartphone screen into the most advanced rear view mirror ever seen on a bicycle.

Vollo offers the simplest way to search, compare and book bus tickets in Croatia. It analyses hundreds of lines, routes and connections to provide users with the best solution for their travel. Vollo is Croatia’s leading online retailer of bus tickets. The company was launched in 2016.

Canelio offers a smart device (clicker) and a mobile app, that can change your dog’s training into a mobile game. It works like a universal communication tool between you and your dog. It is based entirely on positive training methods. It includes a great number of videos and a personalized training guide. The startup was launched in 2015 and it successfully participated in the most recent phase of the ABC Accelerator.

IBM plans to train 25 million Africans at its IT academy

IBM is going to train 25 million Africans in digital skills development during the next 5 years. The aim is help improve the level of digital literacy and expand capabilities of the workforce. IBM will spend $70m on the program which will cultivate skills for jobs in cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and the cloud computing.

The initiative is called “IBM Digital – Nation Africa” and it will offer a range of programs from basic IT literacy to highly sought-after advanced IT skills: social engagement, digital privacy, and cyber protection. Advanced students will study career-oriented IT subjects like programming, cybersecurity, data science and agile methodologies, and also business skills like critical thinking, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

The initiative will be organized via platform that is based on IBM’s artificially intelligent system Watson. It will analyze several interactions that the initiative will have with it users to guide them to proper courses and help IBM enrich the courses to better adjust the topics to students’ needs. It will also gather anonymous info from students to further rationalize the service, and establish tips to help users better find adequate courses for them.

In South Africa 31% of people between 15 and 24 are unemployed. Other countries which are supposed to benefit from the IBM’s initiative are: Nigeria, Kenya, Morocco and Egypt. This will let to expand the initiative across the African continent. Africa will have the biggest workforce by 2040, so IBM is already setting the base to create a digital workforce. The company has been present in Africa since the 1920’s, and has a long history of partnership with educational institutions and assuring transformational solutions concentrated on ensuring value to higher education and its input to community.

The IBM’s initiative will be merited by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), which aims to promote market-driven ICT skills in Africa and the Middle East. IBM will work together with UNDP on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) skills delivery, certification, and accreditation. UNDP will cooperate with their network of existing government collaborations to develop the initiative across Africa.