Welcome to Last Week In Venture, the weekly roundup of venture deals inked with interesting companies that you may have missed.
To be sure, there was plenty of other news to focus on. Here’s just a handful of examples:
- Someone beat the world record marathon time by over a minute.
- Uber is reportedly in talks to buy London-based Deliveroo for several billion dollars, according to Bloomberg. This news came out as Uber formally enters into buyout talks with its chief Middle Eastern rival, Careem, this week.
- Amazon released new cylinders, screens, and microwaves that talk.
In spite of all that, though, investors continued to funnel staggering amounts of capital into companies like Convoy, WalkMe, Indigo, and Gitlab, among others which raised this week. It’s easy to overlook what companies outside the spotlight are contributing to startup ecosystems around the world. But that doesn’t mean their stories aren’t worth sharing.
Here we go!
SEC Sighting: Halan
Egyptian ride-hailing and logistics service Halan raised all but $20k of a $4.38 million venture round, according to SEC filings. Back in March 2018 it was reported that the company landed $2 million in pre-Series A funding from unnamed Silicon Valley-based and Singaporean investors.
The $4.4 million round filed this week is likely the company’s Series A. Apart from company executives, Karim Hussein of Algebra Ventures, Nader Ghabbour of local auto manufacturer Ghabbour Group, and Ed Simnett of The Arnold Group sit on the company’s board, per the filing.
In conjunction with the $2 million reported pre-A round and a $525,000 seed round from November 2017, Halan has raised over $6.9 million in known venture funding to date.
Market Hot Spot: University Spin-Outs
As Crunchbase News has covered in the past, there is a lot of potentially world-changing technology developed out of university research labs.
Startups founded around a scientific discovery may benefit from longer runways and a known source of funding (often the university itself, but sometimes industry partners or wealthy alumni, too), but at the expense of going through the hassle of technology transfer.
Here are some university spinouts that got funded this week:
- As its name might suggest, Oxford VR is a virtual reality company spun out of the University of Oxford. Its website makes a clear statement: “Our mission is to build psychological treatments that really work using state-of-the-art immersive technology.” Oxford VR is currently developing clinically validated VR programs for treating fear of heights, psychosis, and social anxiety, with treatments for more conditions coming in 2019. The company raised £3.2 million in a venture round. Investors include the University of Oxford, Rt Capital Management, Oxford Sciences Innovation, GT Healthcare Capital Partners, and Force Over Mass Capital.
- Another Oxford spinout, Oxbotica, raised capital this week. After leaving the lab four years ago, the company has developed a suite of self-driving software that could turn “any vehicle” in “any domain and across any industry” into an autonomous one, according to its website. Oxbotica is currently partnered with Gatwick Airport and IAG Cargo to deploy its autonomous tech in airports. Its self-driving “CargoPod” van has “delivered groceries to Ocado [online grocery] customers in the residential environment of Greenwich, London.” The Financial Times reports that Oxbotica’s systems are used on the Mars Rover. The company raised £14m in a Series A round from IP Group, Parkwalk Advisors, and AXA XL. It’s the first outside equity funding the company has raised. Oxbotica has been grant-funded and bootstrapped to this point.
- DarwinAI raised CA$3.9 million in a seed round co-led by iNovia Capital and Obvious Ventures. Creative Destruction Lab participated in the round. Spun out of the University of Waterloo, the Canadian AI company is basically using AI to build AI that explains itself. A profile of the company’s technology in Next Platform makes for interesting reading, even if you aren’t an AI expert.
Followup: Accessibility Tech
Using this new capital, the company plans to further develop its mobility devices’ self-driving and self-stopping capabilities and continue to build out the B2B service side of its business as it pilots personal transport solutions for low-mobility visitors of big public venues like airports. The round brings WHILL’s total funding to $80 million.
Other Interesting Deals
- Social stock trading app Matador raised $2 million in a seed round led by Greycroft. The app lets users follow their friends’ portfolios, track trending stocks on the platform, and make free stock trades. CEO Jannick Malling told Finextra, “[i]nvesting in the stock market remains one of the best ways to grow wealth, but you shouldn’t have to do it alone. That’s what we’re going to change.” A finance app for young people that ingrains herd mentality into the user experience? There’s no way this could end poorly.
- Munich-based lithium-ion battery analytics startup TWAICE raised €1.2 million in a seed round. It was co-led by German firm Unternehmertum Venture Capital Partners and Speedinvest, which is based out of Austria. In a blog post announcing his firm’s investment, Speedinvest principal Andy Schwarzenbrunner says TWAICE’s AI technology can “significantly” extend battery lifetime, compared to battery systems that don’t use its modeling and control features. This could prove useful for electric vehicle fleet operators
- Setoo raised €8 million in a Series A round led by Kamet, the insurance technology studio run by French multinational insurance firm AXA. The U.K.-based company develops a B2B SaaS product which helps its customers spin up bespoke insurance products. For example, Setoo has helped an online travel agent develop a connecting flight guarantee; in another case, an e-commerce platform developed a delivery guarantee product. Setoo’s CEO, Noam Shapira, told TechCrunch that “[t]his investment from Kamet is key to helping us expand across the EU and build further new products to empower more businesses to take control of insurance for their consumers.”
Image Credits: Last Week In Venture graphic created by JD Battles. Featured image by pinkomelet provided by iStock.