Startups Venture

Last Week In Venture: Bionic Arms, Paywall Purveyors, Better Packing, And Boats

Hello and welcome back to Last Week In Venture! Happy 2019 from your favorite weekly rundown of deals that may have flown under your radar.

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This week, the Crunchbase News team has been hard at work knocking out a series of reports about the VC industry in Q4 and 2018 as a whole. We covered investment and liquidity around the world, in the U.S. and Canada and in Texas. We assessed VC interest in A.I and who might go public in 2019, but not via the traditional IPO path. Beyond that we covered the concentration of capital raised supergiant rounds, alongside several deals of $100 million or more, including N26, OneLogin, The We Company (née WeWork), and ClearMotion. Of course, that’s just a small slice of what happened.

Between the lingering holiday haze, flu season, a protracted U.S. government shutdown, and everything else going on these days, it’s easy to miss what companies outside the unicorn spotlight are contributing to the startup ecosystem. But that doesn’t mean their stories aren’t worth sharing.

Let’s dive into the week that was in venture-land.

Even Banks Big B Round, maker of a personal finance app which aims to help its users manage their income and savings, announced this week that it raised $40 million in a Series B deal led by Khosla Ventures. Aaron Levie, CEO of Box, participated in the round alongside other investors; early Tableau hire and senior executive Kelly Breslin Wright joined Even’s board.

Although individuals can pay a $6 monthly subscription fee, works with companies to offer its app as a benefit to employees, bringing in that sweet, sweet recurring enterprise revenue. For tight times between paychecks, app users whose employers partner with Even can access up to half of their earned but unpaid wages through one-day bank transfer or in-person pickup at a Walmart store location.

Media Money Moves

In business, everyone’s gotta make a buck. And for better and worse (but mostly worse) there may be no better way for media companies to shove customers through the subscription purchase funnel than to put up paywalls, subvert user-installed ad-blockers, and meter engagement (you’ve probably already read your three free articles for the month on a lot of sites).

Piano is a one-stop shop for all these tools that may neither surprise nor delight readers, but shuttles dollars through the door for publishers. The New York ad-tech company announced $22 million in Series B funding led by Updata Partners.

Other Interesting Rounds

  • Open Bionics developed the world’s first 3D printed, medically-certified bionic hand that it builds into lightweight, muscle-controlled prosthetics for children and adults with limb differences. Its Hero Arm devices, which can be customized with different coverings (including Disney-licensed designs for younger users) look like something out of a movie, in the coolest way possible. This week, the Bristol, U.K.-based company announced £5 million in Series A funding which included participation from Formula 1 auto racing team Williams.
  • Richmond, VA-based sustainable packaging manufacturing upstart TemperPack raised $22.5 million in a Series B round led by D.C.-based Revolution Growth. According to the company, its thermal insulating material, dubbed ClimaCell, performs as well as expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam and is certified curbside recyclable. Plastic straws had their sea turtle moment in 2018 (though the viral video that catalyzed the movement to ban plastic straws originally surfaced in 2015). When will styrofoam?
  • If market volatility is leaving you a little apprehensive about buying a boat, you can always Borrow A Boat. The U.K.-based company—which facilitates peer-to-peer boat chartering—raised £1.5 million in an equity crowdfunding round announced earlier this week. The company raised the capital through the equity crowdfunding website Crowdcube, and the round was massively oversubscribed, originally intending to float £600,000 in new shares.

And with that, we’re done with this week’s edition of LWIV! Here’s to hoping your first full week back at work or school was relaxing. 2019 is going to be a wild year.

Image Credits: Last Week In Venture graphic created by JD Battles. Photo by Marc Szeglat on Unsplash.

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