Startups Venture

Last Week In Venture: Weapon-Watching AI, Law-Automating Bot Apps, And Funding Nonprofit Tech Ventures

Hi. Hello. How are you? Welcome back to Last Week In Venture, a weekly rundown of startup deals which may have flown under your radar.

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But before those, a quick little highlight reel of other coverage by Crunchbase News. We covered the ongoing success of public SaaS companies

We unpacked big new rounds raised by Ola’s electric vehicle rental offshoot, self-driving startup Tier IV, and industrial AR hardware company RealWear. And we covered new venture funds and filings by firms like E.Ventures, Susa Ventures, Sony and Daiwa, Upfront Ventures, and Haystack VC. Lastly, we’d be remiss to not mention an analysis of venture funding in the fashion sector or a survey of startups which emerged from alumni of Obama’s campaigns.

Of course, this is just a portion of our coverage, which is in turn a small fraction of all that went on this week at the intersection of tech and finance. There are plenty of organizations operating outside of the unicorn and public-company spotlights. But in their stories we can find trends and hints of what’s to come.

So without further ado, let’s dive into a few other deals from the week that was in venture-land.

Fast Forward

Though it’s not the usual type of financial event we cover here on Last Week In Venture, we thought it’s worth highlighting the $5 million in additional funding raised by Fast Forward. The San Francisco-based accelerator program runs a competitive selection process to grant $25,000 in unrestricted funding to tech-enabled nonprofits, according to coverage in TechCrunch. Why? There are plenty of problems that aren’t suited to the VC business model, which could benefit from the mentorship aspects of seed-stage accelerator programs.

Fast Forward’s website states that Fast Forward funded 41 tech nonprofits, of which 84 percent “have a founder who is a woman or person of color.” Fast Forward alumni—including mental health crisis response platform Concrn, bankruptcy-focused legal aid organization Upsolve, and on-demand STEM tutoring service UPchieve—have raised over $100 million in follow-on funding.

Fast Forward’s fresh $5 million came from a number of corporate donors, including Google.org, Twilio.org Impact Fund, Okta, the Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) Foundation, Amazon Web Services (through the AWS Foundation), PagerDuty, GitHub, and BlackRock, among others.

Aegis

Let’s talk about a difficult situation hopefully none of us finds ourselves involved in: A person pulls out a gun in public. What happens next? Someone calls 911. But what if you’re a convenience store employee being held at gunpoint? What if you’re a school administrator, trying to talk down a disturbed student? Dialing the police could get you killed. In a country as big as America, with as many firearms as America, gun violence is a terrifying and everyday occurrence.

For $30 per month per camera, Aegis AI analyzes security footage to identify weapons, provide near real-time incident notifications to its customers, and give first responders information about the suspect before they arrive on scene. Aegis’s AI tools can “instantaneously” identify firearms in video with 99% accuracy, according to its website. Aegis AI raised $2.2 million in seed funding led by Bling Capital. Upside Partnership, and Tensility Venture Partners participated in the round. It’s unfortunate that such a business opportunity exists, but it makes sense.

DoNotPay

You may have already heard of DoNotPay. Launched in 2015 by Joshua Browder, then 18 years old, the site helped U.K. drivers challenge parking tickets. (He started by writing code to automate disputes for some 30 parking tickets he accumulated as a London-dwelling teen.)

In 2016, Browder formed a business around the site. It’s since expanded in geographic scope to the U.S., and scaled its offerings beyond parking tickets. Now through an app, the company alerts people to possible over-charges on bank statements, and notifies them of fresh deals on flights and hotels, among other services.

This week, the now Silicon Valley-based legal automation venture raised $4.6 million in seed funding from Felicis Ventures, Founders Fund, Index Ventures, Tuesday Capital (formerly known as CrunchFund), Coatue Management, Highland Capital Partners, and Global Founders Capital, among other institutional and individual backers.

One other tidbit: for a time, Browder had rented the same Palo Alto house rented by Mark Zuckerberg during Facebook’s early days, according to a March profile of Browder by The Mercury News. “We try to think about which issues affect most people — starting with ourselves — and then figure out if there’s a way to automate it completely,” the 22 year-old CEO told the paper.

We hope all of our American readers had a safe and pleasant Independence Day. See you next week!

Image Credits: Last Week In Venture graphic created by JD Battles. Photo by Guillaume Lebelt, via Unsplash.