[CropX in Amazon Web Services] CropX Runs Soil Sensor Application on AWS to Help Global Farmers Enable Sustainability 2020

“AWS provides easy-to-deploy and scalable technology, managed with a simple console,” says Sagi Briteman, vice president of research and development for CropX. “It is also easy to establish the architecture. We started with building blocks, with uncertainty about our physical deployment and how much we needed. Using AWS, it was easy to create instances as we grew.”

Read more here.

The post [CropX in Amazon Web Services] CropX Runs Soil Sensor Application on AWS to Help Global Farmers Enable Sustainability 2020 appeared first on OurCrowd Blog.

OurCrowd Blog

The Seed Squeeze: 3 Ways Founders can Navigate the Fundraising Labyrinth of 2020

Fundraising has never been easy, what are investors looking for in 2020?

Created by DocSend

It’s clear that 2020 has thrown a wrench in the gears of startup fundraising; conferences are canceled, meetings are virtual and spontaneous, in-person investor/founder meet-and-greets are almost completely nonexistent. What’s less clear, however, are the right steps a founder should take to make the most of this virtual world, especially with regards to their fundraising pitch deck.

With larger funding amounts per round and more dollars per investor meeting on the table than ever before, founders in the modern seed round either sink or swim in the fundraising process, especially in this chaotic year.

Fortunately, DocSend’s new report on seed-level fundraising provides some helpful insights and guidance for startups on what constitutes a successful fundraising process. After looking at a year’s worth of data and input we uncovered a condition we call the Seed Squeeze — seed startup founders caught between the pressure of more discerning and decisive investors and increasingly demanding market expectations. Founders can learn from the experience of other startups to best navigate this situation.

Based on the trial and error data of 175 opt-in seed-stage founders, we’ve gleaned three steps fundraisers can take to maximize their chances of wowing investors and securing a term sheet.

Show investors your product is ready to roll (and don’t be shy about it)

When making your case to earlier-stage investors, your business model, team and “why now” sections of the pitch deck did a lot of the heavy lifting. But in the seed round, the state and viability of your “product” can make or break your pitch.

According to the report, not only did successful companies (those that achieved funding) have product slides 10 percent more often, they also had at least one more page of product details demonstrating traction than their unsuccessful (those who didn’t achieve funding) counterparts.

In this sense, “traction” refers to any measurement of product success: the number of people using the product, success in competitions, industry awards, credible testimonials, and other indicators. While 1.6 pages was the average length of the traction section for a pre-seed round, 2.3 pages was the average for successful seed rounds. Also, 75 percent of successful seed founders had demonstrable traction, as opposed to just 60 percent in pre-seed.

The bottom line is seed investors need to believe your company has made the successful transition from just a “good idea” to a profitable venture.

Don’t make the investor’s job harder, use a clear format

As an early-stage founder, a lot of factors are outside of your control, from your geographic location to your age and founding team size. While it’s what’s INSIDE your deck that matters, HOW you present your deck has a big impact on how potential investors digest your pitch.

The golden number of slides is 20. There are some instances where you might need more slides if your product or space is exceptionally technical, but that’s the number that investors prefer, according to the report.

By examining the most successful decks, we can gain a fairly clear picture of the ideal way to order your pitch deck. The chart below shows how often each slide was present in the given order in successful seed decks.

Created by DocSend

While a “why now?” section is important (and you definitely should include one if your business has had to significantly pivot since the pandemic), the timing of your fundraise takes a back seat to the product in the seed round. In the seed round, investors can generally trust that the proper “why now” vetting and due diligence has already taken place by earlier investors.

To reiterate the earlier section, it’s the product information that should take precedence in your deck, 87% of successful decks had a product section of 3.58 pages.

Plan your outreach well in advance, the stakes are getting higher for each meeting

Across the entire sample size, the average amount raised per meeting in 2019 was $ 52,600, an increase of almost 40% since 2015.

With more money on the table, contacting more investors may seem like a logical strategy, but the data shows that’s not the case. While it has the potential to garner more meetings, pitching more investors doesn’t equate to more funding. In the Seed round, there is a clear point of diminishing returns when contacting investors (it’s somewhere around 70).

Created by DocSend

In a chaotic year, focus on what you can control

For better or worse, the fundraising demands of 2019 have prepared seed-stage startup founders for the 2020 digital-first approach to pitching investors and closing deals. While very few founders planned for a pandemic to dominate the fundraising ecosystem in 2020, they were in many ways prepared to succeed under its virtual conditions.

Founders are by nature adaptable and should be able to read the room when necessary. With these data-driven steps, founders can ensure they’re putting their best foot forward in the seed round.

Unfortunately, perfecting your process is only half the battle. DocSend’s data uncovered a serious Funding Divide in the seed round that’s keeping many founders stuck on the sidelines. Read more about the challenges facing women and minority founders and what DocSend is doing to help here.


The Seed Squeeze: 3 Ways Founders can Navigate the Fundraising Labyrinth of 2020 was originally published in Entrepreneur's Handbook on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Entrepreneur's Handbook – Medium

[Tala in Security Boulevard] Tala wins “Transaction Security Solution of the Year” in 2020 Cybersecurity Breakthrough Awards

Tala is proud to have won the overall Transaction Security Solution of the Year in the 2020 Cybersecurity Breakthrough awards. With over 3700 nominations from all over the world, competition was strong and we are proud to have been judged “breakthrough” leaders.

Read more here.

The post [Tala in Security Boulevard] Tala wins “Transaction Security Solution of the Year” in 2020 Cybersecurity Breakthrough Awards appeared first on OurCrowd Blog.

OurCrowd Blog

Global Web Video Conferencing Software Market 2020 Trends Analysis and (COVID-19) Effect Analysis | Key Players Market With COVID-19 Impact Analysis | In Depth Insight | Growth & Research Finding TO 2025 – PRnews Leader

Global Web Video Conferencing Software Market 2020 Trends Analysis and (COVID-19) Effect Analysis | Key Players Market With COVID-19 Impact Analysis | In Depth Insight | Growth & Research Finding TO 2025  PRnews Leader
“nigeria startups when:7d” – Google News

Weekly VC Overview: All 65 European funding rounds we tracked this week (Oct. 19-23, 2020)

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The post Weekly VC Overview: All 65 European funding rounds we tracked this week (Oct. 19-23, 2020) first appeared on EU-Startups.

EU-Startups

Here’s how fast a few dozen startups grew in Q3 2020

Earlier this week I asked startups to share their Q3 growth metrics and whether they were performing ahead of behind of their yearly goals.

Lots of companies responded. More than I could have anticipated, frankly. Instead of merely giving me a few data points to learn from, The Exchange wound up collecting sheafs of interesting data from upstart companies with big Q3 performance.


The Exchange explores startups, markets and money. Read it every morning on Extra Crunch, or get The Exchange newsletter every Saturday.


Naturally, the startups that reached out were the companies doing the best. I did not receive a single reply that described no growth, though a handful of respondents noted that they were behind in their plans.

Regardless, the dataset that came together felt worthy of sharing for its specificity and breadth. And so other startup founders can learn from how some of their peer group are performing. (Kidding.)

Let’s get into the data, which has been segmented into buckets covering fintech, software and SaaS, startups focused on developers or security and a final group that includes D2C and fertility startups, among others.

Q3 performance

Obviously, some of the following startups could land in several different groups. Don’t worry about it! The categories are relaxed. We’re here to have fun, not split hairs!

Fintech

  • Numerated: According to Numerated CEO Dan O’Malley, his startup that helps companies more quickly access banking products had a big Q3. “Revenue for the first three quarters of 2020 is 11X our origination 2020 plan, and 18X versus the same period in 2019,” he said in an email. What’s driving growth? Bank digitization, O’Malley says, which has “been forced to happen rapidly and dramatically” in 2020.
  • BlueVineBlueVine does banking services for SMBs; think things like checking accounts, loans and payments. The company is having a big year, sharing with TechCrunch via email that has expanded its customer base “by 660% from Q1 2020 to” this week. That’s not a revenue metric, and it’s not Q3 specific, but as both Numerated and BlueVine cited the PPP program as a growth driver, it felt worthy of inclusion.
  • Harvest Platform: A consumer-focused fintech, Harvest helps folks recover fees, track their net worth and bank. In an email, Harvest said it “grew well over 1000%+” in the third quarter and is “ahead of its 2020 plan” thanks to more folks signing up for its service and what a representative described as “economic tailwinds.” The savings and investing boom continues, it appears.

Software/SaaS

  • Uniphore: Uniphore provides AI-based conversational software products to other companies used for chatting to customers and security purposes. According to Uniphore CEO Umesh Sachdev, the company grew “320% [year-over-year] in our Q2 FY21 (July-sept 2020),” or a period that matches the calendar Q3 2020. Per the executive, that result was “on par with [its] plan.” Given that growth rate, is Uniphore a seed-stage upstart? Er, no, it raised a $ 51 million Series C in 2019. That makes its growth metrics rather impressive as its implied revenue base from which it grew so quickly this year is larger than we’d expect from younger companies.
  • Text Request: A SMS service for SMBs, Text Request grew loads in Q3, telling TechCrunch that it “billed 6x more than we did in 2019’s Q3,” far ahead of its target for doubling billings. A company director said that while “customer acquisition was roughly on par with expectations,” the value of those customers greatly expanded. I dug into the numbers and was told that the 6x figure is for total dollars billed in Q3 2020 inclusive of recurring and non-recurring incomes. For just the company’s recurring software product, growth was a healthy 56% in Q3.
  • Notarize: Digital notarization startup Notarize — Boston-based, most recently raised a $ 35 million Series C — is way ahead of where it expected to be, with a VP at the company telling TechCrunch that during “the first week of lockdowns, Notarize’s sales team got 3,000+ inquiries,” which it managed to turn into revenues. The same person added that the startup is “probably 5x ahead of [its] original 2020 plan,” with the substance measured being annual recurring revenue, or ARR. We’d love some hard numbers as well, but that growth pace is spicy. (Notarize also announced it grew 400% from March to July, earlier this year.)
  • BurnRate.io: Acceleprise-backed Burnrate.io hasn’t raised a lot of money, but that hasn’t stopped it from growing quickly. According to co-founder and CEO Robert McLaws, BurnRate “started selling in Q4 of last year” so it did not have a pure Q3 2019 v. Q3 2020 metric to share. But the company managed to grow 3.3x from Q4 2019 to Q3 2020 per the executive, which is still great. BurnRate provides software that helps startups plan and forecast, with the company telling TechCrunch with yearly planning season coming up, it expects sales to keep growing.
  • Gravy AnalyticsLocation data as a service! That’s what Gravy Analytics appears to do and apparently it’s been a good run thus far in 2020. The company told TechCrunch that it has seen sales rise 80% year-to-date over 2019. This is a bit outside our Q3 scope as it’s more 2020 data, but we can be generous and still include it.
  • ChartHopTechCrunch covered ChartHop earlier this year when it raised $ 5 million in a round led by Andreessen Horowitz. A number of other investors took part, including Cowboy Ventures and Flybridge Capital. Per our coverage, ChartHop is a “new type of HR software that brings all the different people data together in one place.” The model is working well, with the startup reporting that since its February seed round — that $ 5 million event — it has grown 10x. The company recently raised a Series A. Per a rep via email, ChartHop is “on-target” for its pre-pandemic business plan, but “far ahead” of what it expected at the start of the pandemic.
  • Credo: Credo is a marketplace for digital marketing talent. It’s actually a company I’ve known for a long-time, thanks to founder John Doherty. According to Doherty, Credo has “grown revenue 50% since June, while only minimally increasing burn.” Very good.
  • Canva: Breaking my own rules about only including financial data, I’m including Canva because it sent over strong product data that implies strong revenue growth. Per the company, Canva’s online design service has seen “increased growth over both Q2 and Q3, with an increase of 10 million users in Q3 alone (up from 30 million users in June).” 33% user growth from 30 to 40 million is impressive. And, the company added that it saw more team-based usage since the start of the pandemic, which we presume implies the buying of more expensive, group subscriptions. Next time real revenue, please, but this was still interesting.

Developer/Security

Startups – TechCrunch

Highlights in Fintech in the Middle East and Africa: Events and Initiatives October 2020 – The Fintech Times

Highlights in Fintech in the Middle East and Africa: Events and Initiatives October 2020  The Fintech Times
“nigeria startups when:7d” – Google News

VC investments in Poland skyrocketed in 2019; 2020 poised to surpass last year’s record: Report

Poland

Located in the very centre of Europe, Poland is becoming an integral part of the European tech ecosystem, flourishing with many interesting startups and record levels of growth and investments in recent years. 

One of the best places in Europe 

In a new study on the best place to establish a startup, Poland ranked 3rd in Europe in terms of the relative strength of a country’s economy. The healthiest economy was ranked to consider various factors including GDP, GDP growth, GDP per capita, and unemployment rate. It’s worth mentioning that Poland has the third-lowest unemployment rate behind the Czech Republic and Germany.

Venture capital investments in Q3

Based on the latest report from PFR Ventures, the value of venture capital investments in Poland in Q3 2020 amounted to €156M. According to the data, 88 transactions were conducted between July and September 2020, with 80 funds involved. 

Klaudia Babraj, the Analyst, PFR Ventures, says “Comparing Q3 2020 and Q3 2019 (without unusual transactions), our Polish market received twice as much capital.”

Out of €156M in total, €73M was secured by Polish and Finnish company ICEYE in a Series C funding round. In Q3 2020, the value of VC investments in the Polish market grew dynamically in comparison with the previous quarters.

Upward trend on Polish VC market

Przemysław Kurczewski, Deputy Director at the NCBR, says, “In Q3, notwithstanding the ICEYE megaround, we recorded a dozen of interesting transactions, including, without limitation, another fund investment from the PFR NCBR CVC portfolio: Icos III. Co-investments made by domestic and international funds more than doubled.”

Around 45% of the funds invested in Q3 constituted public-private capital, and the share of international funds in the transactions was 65%. At the same time, 71 out of 88 transactions were based on public-private capital. As many as 75 transactions were conducted by Polish teams. Also, 14 out of 88 transactions were investments involving PFR Ventures funds.

“The third quarter set the seal on the upward trend on the Polish venture capital market. We can be almost sure that in terms of the value of transactions it will be a record-breaking year and we will beat the result from 2019,” says Aleksander Mokrzycki, Vice-President of PFR Ventures.

In Q3, they provided 18% of the capital for innovative enterprises. A significant role in the seed segment is played by the funds of the National Centre for Research and Development (NCBR), which were used to conduct 46 transactions. On the other hand, the ten largest rounds of financing accounted for 85% of the value of all rounds of financing in Q3.

“Since the beginning of 2020, almost a quarter of a billion euros in total has flowed through our market. This confirms the increasing trend has been maintained. The forecasts indicate we can stay calm, expecting a new record at the end of the year,” Mokrzycki adds. 

Main image credits: Georgios Tsichlis/Shutterstock

Startups – Silicon Canals

10 Zurich-area investors on Switzerland’s 2020 startup outlook

European entrepreneurs who want to launch startups could do worse than Switzerland.

In a report analyzing Europe’s general economic health, cost of doing business, business environment and labor force quality, analysts looked for highly educated populations, strong economies, healthy business environments and relatively low costs for conducting business. Switzerland ended up ranking third out of 31 European nations, according to Nimblefins. (Germany and the UK came out first and second, respectively).

According to official estimates, the number of new Swiss startups has skyrocketed by 700% since 1996. Zurich tends to take the lion’s share, as the city’s embrace of startups has jump-started development, although Geneva and Lausanne are also hotspots.

As well as traditional software engineering startups, Switzerland’s largest city boasts a startup culture that emphasizes life sciences, mechanical engineering and robotics. Compared to other European countries, Switzerland has a low regulatory burden and a well-educated, highly qualified workforce. Google’s largest R&D center outside of the United States is in Zurich.

But it’s also one of the more expensive places to start a business, due to its high cost of living, salary expectations and relatively small labor market. Native startups will need 25,000 Swiss Francs to open an LLC and 50,000 more to incorporate. While they can withdraw those funds from the business the next day, local founders must still secure decent backing to even begin the work.

This means Switzerland has gained a reputation as a place to startup — and a place to relocate, which is something quite different. It’s one reason why the region is home to many fintech businesses born elsewhere that need proximity to a large banking ecosystem, as well as the blockchain/crypto crowd, which have found a highly amenable regulatory environment in Zug, right next door to Zurich. Zurich/Zug’s “Crypto Valley” is a global blockchain hotspot and is home to, among others, the Ethereum Foundation.

Lawyers and accountants tend to err on the conservative side, leading to a low failure rate of businesses but less “moonshot innovation,” shall we say.

But in recent years, corporate docs are being drawn up in English to facilitate communication both inside Switzerland’s various language regions and foreign capital, and investment documentation is modeled after the U.S.

Ten years ago startups were unusual. Today, pitch competitions, incubators, accelerators, VCs and angel groups proliferate.

The country’s Federal Commission for Technology and Innovation (KTI) supports CTI-Startup and CTI-Invest, providing startups with investment and support. Venture Kick was launched in 2007 with the vision to double the number of spin-offs from Swiss universities and draws from a jury of more than 150 leading startup experts in Switzerland. It grants up to CHF 130,000 per company. Fundraising platforms such as Investiere have boosted the angel community support of early funding rounds.

Swiss companies, like almost all European companies, tend to raise lower early-stage rounds than U.S. ones. A CHF 1-2 million Series A or a CHF 5 million Series B investment is common. This has meant smaller exits, and thus less development for the ecosystem.

These are the investors we interviewed:

 

Jasmin Heimann, partner, Ringier Digital Ventures

What trends are you most excited about investing in, generally?
Consumer-facing startups with first revenues.

What’s your latest, most exciting investment?
AirConsole — a cloud-gaming platform where you don’t need a console and can play with all your friends and family.

Are there startups that you wish you would see in the industry but don’t? What are some overlooked opportunities right now?
I really wish that the business case for social and ecological startups will finally be proven (kind of like Oatly showed with the Blackstone investment). I also think that femtech is a hyped category but funding as well as renown exits are still missing.

What are you looking for in your next investment, in general?
I am looking for easy, scalable solutions with a great team.

Which areas are either oversaturated or would be too hard to compete in at this point for a new startup? What other types of products/services are you wary or concerned about?
I think the whole scooter/mobility space is super hyped but also super capital intensive so I think to compete in this market at this stage is hard. I also think that the whole edtech space is an important area of investment, but there are already quite a lot of players and it oftentimes requires cooperation with governments and schools, which makes it much more difficult to operate in. Lastly, I don’t get why people still start fitness startups as I feel like the market has reached its limits.

How much are you focused on investing in your local ecosystem versus other startup hubs (or everywhere) in general? More than 50%? Less?
Switzerland makes — maximum — half of our investments. We are also interested in Germany and Austria as well as the Nordics.

Which industries in your city and region seem well-positioned to thrive, or not, long term? What are companies you are excited about (your portfolio or not), which founders?
Zurich and Lausanne are for sure the most exciting cities, just because they host great engineering universities. Berne is still lagging behind but I am hoping to see some more startups emerging from there, especially in the medtech industry.

How should investors in other cities think about the overall investment climate and opportunities in your city?
Overall, Switzerland is a great market for a startup to be in — although small, buying power is huge! So investors should always keep this in mind when thinking about coming to Switzerland. The startup scene is pretty small and well connected, so it helps to get access through somebody already familiar with the space. Unfortunately for us, typical B2C cases are rather scarce.

Do you expect to see a surge in more founders coming from geographies outside major cities in the years to come, with startup hubs losing people due to the pandemic and lingering concerns, plus the attraction of remote work?
I think it is hard to make any kind of predictions. But on the one hand, I could see this happening. On the other hand, I also think that the magic of cities is that there are serendipity moments where you can find your co-founder at a random networking dinner or come across an idea for a new venture while talking to a stranger. These moments will most likely be much harder to encounter now and in the next couple of months.

Which industry segments that you invest in look weaker or more exposed to potential shifts in consumer and business behavior because of COVID-19? What are the opportunities startups may be able to tap into during these unprecedented times?
I think travel is a big question mark still. The same goes for luxury goods, as people are more worried about the economic situation they are in. On the other hand, remote work has seen a surge in investments. Also sustainability will hopefully be put back on the agenda.

How has COVID-19 impacted your investment strategy? What are the biggest worries of the founders in your portfolio? What is your advice to startups in your portfolio right now?
Not much. I think we allocated a bit more for the existing portfolio but otherwise we continue to look at and discuss the best cases. The biggest worries are the uncertainties about [what] the future might look like and the related planning. We tell them to first and foremost secure cash flow.

Are you seeing “green shoots” regarding revenue growth, retention or other momentum in your portfolio as they adapt to the pandemic?
Totally! Some portfolio companies have really profited from the crisis, especially our subscription-based models that offer a variety of different options to spend time at home. The challenge now is to keep up the momentum after the lockdown.

What is a moment that has given you hope in the last month or so? This can be professional, personal or a mix of the two.
What gives me hope is to see that people find ways to still work together — the amount of online events, office hours, etc. is incredible. I see the pandemic also as a big opportunity to make changes in the way we worked and the way things were without ever questioning them.

 

Katrin Siebenbuerger Hacki, founder, Medows

Startups – TechCrunch

Rocket Lab’s Peter Beck is coming to TC Sessions: Space 2020

Over the last few years Rocket Lab has gone from its very first orbital launch to regular commercial missions, with the goal of being the most responsive launch provider on the planet. Founder and CEO Peter Beck will join us at our all virtual TC Sessions: Space event happening on December 16 & 17 to talk about the new launch ecosystem and building a company to compete with industry giants.

Rocket Lab’s 15th mission, “In Focus,” is scheduled to take off this very afternoon, with 10 Earth observation satellites from Canon Electronics and Planet. It has already put satellites in orbit for NASA, the NRO and numerous private companies. The company’s launch cadence has slowly increased, though the loss of a mission in July soured its plan to go from months to weeks between launches.

But Beck, who has led the company from its inception in 2006, saw this as just another challenge to take head-on, and within the month Rocket Lab had gotten to the bottom of the issue and was clear to fly again.

“If you’re going to own a rocket company and launch vehicles, you have to be prepared for this kind of thing,” he said at the time. And now Electron is even more reliable than it was before, he pointed out.

Now Rocket Lab is expanding into adjacent businesses as well, with the secretive launch of its First Light satellite platform, demonstrating tech that it hoped to share with customers who don’t want to build a satellite from scratch. “It’s just really painful to go from an idea to getting something in orbit,” he said, and by making it easier to actually build a spacecraft, it both democratizes space and creates customers out of thin air.

At TC Sessions: Space, Beck will discuss all of this and more. You can get early-bird tickets right now, and save $ 100 before prices go up on November 13 — and you can even get a fifth person free if you bring a group of four from your company. Special discounts for current members of the government/military/nonprofit and student tickets are also available directly on the website. And if you are an early-stage space startup looking to get exposure to decision makers, you can even exhibit for the day for just $ 360.

Is your company interested in presenting your company at TC Sessions: Space 2020Click here to talk with us about available opportunities.

Startups – TechCrunch