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.

Super-high-tech Turkish startups

Despite the coup attempt in Turkey, investments in technology enterprises did not pause. The most popular business areas were: financial technology, real estate, software services and marketplace applications. When compared with European countries, it is visible that Turkey heads South Eastern Europe countries. Yet, when we consider leading European countries such as Britain, Germany and France, the volume of investment is very low. As you will see below, the Turkish ecosystem has a lot of promising key players and excellent examples of notable start-ups:

NanoDev is an initiative for design and production of high-end automated opto-electronic instruments which are equipped with high-tech know-how. The startup develops software as well as hardware parts in-house. It has achieved a product portfolio consisting of: a multi-functional SPR Imager System, a compact Handheld SPR Reader, a Fluorescence Optical Microscope and a Desktop Photolithography Instrument. Current analysis are concentrated on design and production of a Laser Scanning Confocal Attachment and a Visible Spectroscopic Ellipsometer.

Quantag produces fiber optic based fluorescence sensors which are able to perceive very low concentrations of quantum dots. Sensitive perception of quantum dots is needed in many different applications varying from security to biotechnology. At present the startup is concentrated on digital tagging of fluids with quantum dots and real-time perception of these tags with ultra-sensitive sensors.

Hemodyn assures a virtual surgery platform and CFD analysis reports based on the modified cardiovascular geometry. The company has been developed by a researcher from Koç University, who got a donation from the European Research Council for developing the fundamental studies which eventually resulted in founding of Hemodyn.

Greencoat produces green areas indoor and outdoor without soil with minimum means such as water and maintenance for low money. This way the startup provides biodiversity, reduces air pollution, fights global warming.

Ingenious – this startup is a winner of Intel Challenge Turkey 2013. It provides a plug and play smart home system that ameliorates people’s quality of life by ensuring them an enhanced user experience and also optimizing the energy consumption.

Enigma – the company developed a crucial optical technology empowering the best medium of health vital analysis. People’s blood can be researched easily and cost effectively thanks to this a non-invasive method. A light based sensor inside the ear canal determines minute changes in glucose, cholesterol and many other vitals in the near future, helping people keep interested in their health.

Maxwell Innovations is executing high-performance VTOL (vertical take-off & landing) specialized in the industrial applications under fastidious circumstances. The experienced team provides industrial control services with their remote-controlled air vehicle and payload systems.

Sensobright – develops high sensitive palpable sensing for robot technologies that can serve as human like tactile sensing talented artificial skin for robotics and devices. It is developed with parts that are common, easy to provide and suitable for production of common use in areas such as: robots and robot technology employed in production, medical applications, operation, chemical, logistics, distribution, mine clearance, bomb destruction, hazardous waste.

Events that will support startups in Middle East

Increasing access to the latest technologies in countries where the largest social group are young citizens, lets us hope that technological revolution in the MENA region will come. In countries where the main problem is unemployment, the best alternative for many young entrepreneurs is to develop their own startup. A significant proportion of women in technology industry in the Arab world shows that, in the future, it can have a positive impact also on increasing their professional activity.

Development of the industry and encouraging innovation in emerging markets is an opportunity not only for the local community. The potential of the IT sector in developing countries is increasingly perceived in the West. Interest in the Middle East and achievements of local startups increases due to significant success of projects undertaken in this region.

Nowadays, five years after the Arab Spring, the economy in the region is slowly stabilizing, and entrepreneurs who want to develop their own startup have more opportunities for business growth and success. There are numerous programs such as accelerative Oasis500 in Jordan or MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab, which currently runs recruitment for the ninth edition of the program in the MENA region.

In the Middle East they are also organized numerous international events, which aim to promote local projects outside the region, as well as integration of the market with Western entrepreneurs and investors. During such events it is possible to exchange experiences and knowledge, and to become familiar with achievements of local startups in the Middle East region, which has the potential to play an increasingly important role in the global market. In the last year, conferences in the Middle East were attended by: Mike Butcher from TechCrunch, Boris Veldhuijzen Van Zanten from TheNextWeb or Dave McClure from 500 Startups. It is worth looking at some major events in the Middle East, whose further editions will be held this year: Step Conference (Dubai, 5-7 April 2017); MENA Games (Beirut, April); ArabNet Digital Summit (Dubai, 16-17 May); Startup Istanbul (Istanbul, 6 -10 October 2017); Webrazzi Summit (Istanbul, October 18-19 2017); RiseUp Summit (Cairo, December 2017).

The main objective of the organizers of these conferences is to gather specialists who want to share their knowledge and experience. An important point of events such as ArabNet, Turkey Startup or Startup Istanbul is to present startups, whose creators throughout duration of the conference participate in numerous workshops and compete for the opportunity to present in front of investors. During the events organized by Webrazzi in Turkey, as well as RiseUP Summit, a conference on the latest technologies in Egypt, the creator of the best startups also has the opportunity to meet with the conference participants and present their ideas in designated areas at the festival. MENA Games, organized in Beirut, is in turn one of the largest festivals dedicated to computer games in the region.

The organizers believe that promotion of local innovations and projects in the technology industry in the Middle East is crucial for accelerating economic growth and consistently improves quality of life in the region. The stories of many successful local startups can also be inspiring for Western companies, who are increasingly thinking about expansion into emerging markets.

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.

Apple acquires Israeli startup RealFace

Apple bought Israeli startup RealFace, which specializes in technologies related to face recognition. Thanks to that, in the new iPhone Apple may use phone-unlock-system based on the appearance of the owner.RealFace is a company from Tel Aviv, which was founded in 2014. The startup page does not work anymore, but the promotional materials said that the company has developed a very unique face recognition technology which integrates artificial intelligence and human perception moves to digital processes. It is suggested that Apple paid for RealFace at least $ 2 million. Some may associate RealFace with the application Pickeez, which is based on advanced algorithms for facial recognition and helps users choose their best photos for publication on social networking profiles.

iPhone 8, except that it will be a very unique smartphone, could be the first Apple phone with implemented new solutions for AR. Probably at the top there would be a new laser sensor able to recognize the user. So it will be another solution, beside the Touch ID, to secure data stored on your phone. Everything will become clear in September. Besides, Apple invests a lot of money in the extended reality and some observers even suggest that within 2-3 years Apple becomes a giant of AR market.