Startups Venture

Startups To Watch: Qualee Technology, Koala, Artist Republik, Competitive Wedge, Simply Speak

We typically cover larger rounds of funding, but this week there were five companies that caught my eye. Despite their small seed raises we thought they were worth noting for their interesting approaches.

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Qualee Technology

Helping companies in their hiring process, Singapore-based Qualee Technology raised a $1 million seed round from Tandem Technology Partners.

The employee onboarding and engagement technology company uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to automate employee experiences so new hires understand the culture, values and operating procedures of their new company before their first day on the job.

Qualee Technology will now focus on client acquisition and use the new funding to extend features available on the platform and expand its international team, the company said via email.

“Our technology roadmap includes the implementation of cutting edge AI and machine learning capabilities to further improve the productivity of our clients and their staff,” said co-founder and CEO Vipula Samarakoon, via email. “This will take the form of advanced image detection, identity verification, sentiment analysis and predictive data analytics.”


Although not much travel is happening right now, Paris-based insurtech startup Koala is gearing up for when it does. The startup landed a 1.6 million euro seed round ($1.8 million) led by Insurtech Gateway with participation by Playfair Capital and Techstars Ventures.

Koala’s first product offers flight disruption insurance, providing instant compensation when delays and cancellations occur, company co-founder and CEO Ugo Weyl, told me via email. Over the next three months, Koala will be available when booking via two airlines and four travel agencies.

The company will use the new funding for hiring purposes and scaling the team, going from the three co-founders today to 10 employees by the end of 2020 and 20 by the end of 2021, Weyl said.

“People got their trips and flights cancelled, but have not managed to receive refunds, so they are scared to book their next holidays now because of the uncertainty of the overall situation,” he said. “Down the road, we wish to go beyond insurance, to become the ultimate travel companion from the moment you leave your front door to the moment you safely arrive back home.”

Artist Republik

Business online marketplace Artist Republik, based in Providence, Rhode Island, raised $540,000 in investment capital to go after a piece of the $2 billion indie music industry with its commerce platform that returns career control and expenses back to the music artists.

David Beirne, Lameck Humble Lukanga, Bob Brown and former Bryant University president Ron Machtley were investors in this round.

The social networking and career management platform helps artists direct business connections, spend less on marketing, and retain revenue, founder and CEO Nick Cianfaglione said via email.

Artist Republik plans to use the funding to boost its development team and marketing strategies to generate more users, he said.

“The big thing for us right now is building a strong team,” Cianfaglione said. “Our long term goal is to change the entire life cycle of an independent music artist…so that in five years, we can see a world where artists are their own bosses and retain as much control over their career as possible.”

Competitive Wedge

Now that much of our work interaction is remote, Holland, Michigan-based Competitive Wedge raised a $1 million seed round, from undisclosed investors, to develop its video interviewing tool for recruiters.

“Employers can add custom interview questions in categories such as problem-solving and emotional intelligence and can keep track of pending interviews through the Wedge dashboard,” said Wedge CEO Matt Baxter in a written statement. “For candidates, it enables them to use any device and a communications medium they’re already familiar with.”

Simply Speak

If you haven’t experienced the virtual doctor visit yet this year, chances are you will as long as COVID-19 is prevalent. New York-based Simply Speak emerged from stealth mode this week with a $1.1 million seed round from undisclosed investors and a tool to help physicians document their patient encounters via telemedicine visits.

“Simply Speak is on a mission to ease the transition into telehealth for physicians in states where COVID-19 is surging,” Moti Tomashin, co-founder and CEO, told me via email. “The company initially focused on the tri-state area and is now expanding to other states.”

In the near future, the company is planning to integrate its virtual scribe offering with additional telehealth platforms to a more comprehensive experience for its users, he added.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

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