Startups Venture

Last Week In Venture: Hearing Help, Soirée Sites, And Death Deals

Hello and welcome back to Last Week In Venture. It’s the weekly rundown of rounds announced by neat companies that may have flown under your radar this week.

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This week, the Crunchbase News team covered a number of emerging trends. We looked at where seed and early stage funding is growing (or not), new evidence of a possible slowdown in China’s startup market, and we began tracking all VC rounds over $250 million. Beyond that, we covered the ignominious demise of Munchery, explored venture-backed companies in the Amazon Alexa ecosystem, and profiled a number of Latina VCs.

Also, huzzah! The U.S. federal government is no longer shut down and is funded for at least the next three weeks. What happens after that is unknown, but in the meantime we’re excited to cover the IPO and other regulatory filings that will no doubt shake out of the backlog.

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

Dancing To The Bank

Most of the rounds we cover here for Last Week In Venture are smaller sums raised by early stage-companies. Breaking the mold a bit, let’s take a quick look at the $83 million Series E deal Austin, Texas-based legal tech company DISCO announced this week. The late-stage deal was led by SaaS investor Georgian Partners and saw participation from a number of other firms.

Founded in 2012 the company provides a suite of tools for professionals in the field of “ediscovery.” In the legal field, “electronic discovery” describes the process whereby data is sought and analyzed for the purposes of using it as evidence in a proceeding civil or criminal case. It is a multibillion-dollar market.

Now, with over $133 million in VC raised to date, DISCO says it’s raised “more than any other enterprise legaltech company.” DISCO recently relocated to Austin from Houston.

Founder and CEO Kiwi Camara said in a statement provided to Crunchbase News that “DISCO’s mission is to create technology to modernize the practice of law.” DISCO’s software offerings let law firms and corporations analyze incoming information using AI, manage complex legal workflows, and search databases using a visual interface.

Camara told Built In Austin that the company plans to grow the team by 200 people in 2019.

Other Interesting Rounds

  • The reaper has spared no soul and will inevitably find you one way or the other. You’re going to die. I’m going to die. Them’s the breaks. Hopefully we’ll leave something behind to benefit a future generation, and to ensure that transfer goes smoothly, you’re going to need a will. Farewill is a U.K.-based company that helps individuals and couples from England and Wales set up wills online for later on-paper signing and storage. For individuals, the service costs £90 up front, and for £10 per year wills can be updated as needed. (Talk about lifetime customer value, amirite?!) The company announced £7.5 million in new venture funding led by Augmentum Fintech; a number of other firms participated in the deal.
  • Many of us will host at least one big event in our lives. But finding inspiration (and, my gosh, all the help) needed to bring a party together is hard. PartySlate aims to help on both fronts. PartySlate raised $3 million in a seed round led by Hyde Park Venture Partners. Other Chicago-based groups that invested in the round include Purple Arch Ventures, Hyde Park Angels, and InvestHER Ventures, which all participated alongside other firms from Nebraska and California. The site lets event professionals share photos (which are tagged and searchable by categories like “lighting at fundraisers”) from an event and, also, creates a list of which providers did what, like credits at the end of a movie. It’s functionality is a remix of a certain photo-pinning website, a professional services marketplace, and, for the event professionals themselves, a portfolio site for their work.
  • According a 2011 study cited on an NIH informational page, one in eight people in the U.S. has some hearing loss in both ears. The problem is that good quality hearing aids are expensive and visits to an audiologist can be inconvenient. New York-based Lively raised $16 million in Series A funding to scale up its business of delivering comparatively inexpensive ($2,350, according to the website) hearing aids that can be tuned remotely during an online appointment with a licensed audiologist, which is facilitated through Lively’s mobile app. Declaration Capital (the family office of Carlyle Group co-founder David M. Rubenstein) and Tiger Management invested in the deal.
  • Market indexing firm MSCI estimates that the “professionally managed global real estate investment market” grew to $8.5 trillion in 2017, the most recent year for which reliable data was available. Some might think that pricing an asset—in this case a building or piece of land—is more of an art. For years, an abundance of data has made real estate investing into a science, leaving ample opportunity for entrepreneurs. Dutch real estate tech upstart GeoPhy developed a supervised machine learning model that produces valuations that dynamically adjust as new data becomes available. The company says it’s “twice as accurate as traditional appraisals.” GeoPhy raised $33 million in a Series B round led by Index Ventures. Prior Series A investors INKEF Capital and Hearst Ventures followed on in this round.

And with that, we’re done for the week! Have a fantastic and restorative weekend.

Image Credits: Last Week In Venture graphic created by JD Battles. Cover image by Ray Hennessy, via Unsplash.

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