London-based Hopin raises €35.6 million to boost its online events platform

UK startup Hopin, an all-in-one live online events platform, has raised a Series A funding round of around €35.6 million led by IVP, and participated in by Salesforce Ventures and existing investors including Accel, Northzone, Seedcamp, and Slack Fund. 

Founded in 2019, Hopin is an online event space which offers full conference capabilities: stages, networking, breakout sessions (roundtables), sponsors, tickets, analytics, and sponsors. It’s aim is to be a place where attendees can learn, interact, and connect with people from anywhere in the world, in a more human way. Additionally, they emphasise the ‘sustainable’ aspect of online events, avoiding the negative environmental impact of flights, trains and car travel. 

After months of lockdown and many in-person events cancelled or forced online, this was Hopin’s unique opportunity to shine. In the past few months, Hopin has quadrupled the number of attendees on the platform each month, bringing together nearly one million attendees already this year. To get an idea of the scale of their growth, they state that they have more than 50,000 customers on their waiting list, growing daily.

Founder and CEO Johnny Boufarhat, explained: “We’ve been excited to see that while many of our customers are first coming to Hopin because of the pandemic, they are so energized by the experience that they plan future events right away. Our customers love that geography no longer has to be a limiting factor for their attendees. And they love that Hopin is the only venue that doesn’t have a maximum capacity. It means their good ideas get heard by more people—typically three times more than an in-person event. It means they can amplify insights and learnings across borders and boundaries. And it means they can help people network who would otherwise never be in the same room.”

“We now have the resources we need to meet our soaring demand, to continue bringing innovations online, and ultimately, to make virtual events a central part of the way we interact with each other – as communities, as companies, as organizations, and as friends,” CEO Johnny added.

It seems that the space around whether to cancel, reschedule or take events online caught the attention of firm IVP, and sparked their attention for a possible investment. The IVP team commented: “In March of this year, we started to see our portfolio companies cancel their annual user conferences and regional sales events, and realized that businesses across the world are scrambling to fill a gaping hole in their go-to-market playbooks. That began our search for a technology company with the ambition to fill the massive void left by coronavirus, and create a new model for event marketing.”

This was also IVP’s first fully online investment, which seems incredibly fitting: “We are still looking forward to meeting Johnny in person! It feels fitting that our first fully-remote investment would be in a company with a fully-remote workforce with a product that creates online connections. Johnny’s ambitious vision echoed far beyond his home office, and his mission to chart a new future for online experiences spoke deeply to us. Thank you to Johnny for letting us join the Hopin team. We can’t wait to build the future of events together.”


[CyberX in Forbes] Microsoft Acquires CyberX To Boost IoT Deployments

Microsoft said it’s acquiring CyberX, a cybersecurity start-up that focuses on detecting, stopping, and predicting security breaches on the internet of things networks. Various reports mention that the acquisition could be around $ 165 million.

Read more here.

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Stuttgart-based Smark lands €3.1 million to boost its automated food shopping services

Today German startup Smark has nabbed €3.1 million funding from investors CAMPO and Mutschler Ventures, which it will use to boost its digital shopping services with new team members and new locations.

Founded in 2016, Smark offers a new kind of shopping experience with fully automated shopping stations. Co-founders Philipp Hoening and Max Ittermann created the concept to make grocery shopping easy, quick, convenient and possible at any time, for anyone. Items are ordered in advance via smartphone or onsite via a touch screen. Within a minute, the shopping basket is automatically assembled and dispensed by the station. The technology behind the process was created by the startup and is called the ‘smarkBox’ – a combination of hardware, automation technology and web technologies.

Demand has risen, especially in view of the Corona pandemic. “Nowhere else is it as safe and uncomplicated as in supermarkets with smark technology,” said co-founder Hoening. From ordering to pickup, shopping can be done completely contactless.

Thanks to the funding, things can now move forward quickly. “This gives us a real boost and is an important step on the way to further development and the opening of new locations”, said co-founder Itterman. “We are expanding our team in order to be able to open more smarkBoxes and at the same time make the shopping experience more and more attractive for the customer,” explained Ittermann, defining the next steps. 

In the future, the focus will be increasingly on intelligent software around the smarkBox. According to the founders, numerous further projects both in Germany and abroad are already planned.


[CyberX in TechCrunch] Microsoft confirms acquisition of CyberX to boost security in its Azure IoT business

Today Microsoft announced that it would be acquiring CyberX, a security startup that focuses specifically on detecting, stopping, and predicting security breaches on internet of things networks and the networks of large industrial organizations.

Read more here.

The post [CyberX in TechCrunch] Microsoft confirms acquisition of CyberX to boost security in its Azure IoT business appeared first on OurCrowd.


London-based Propoly lands €2.2 million to boost its integrated lettings platform

UK proptech Propoly, an integrated lettings platform, launches with a new investment of around €2.2 million behind them, in a round led by Foxtons Plc, Countrywide Plc, Seedcamp and Pi-Labs, as reported by UKTN.

Founded in 2014, Propoly’s lettings platform reduces admin, maximises revenue and provides transparency to all parties involved. Letting agents can track all of their properties in one place, handling every step of the renting process from digital deposit registration to utility switching.

At a time when face-to-face contact with tenants should be minimised due to social distancing measures, and letting agents increasingly choose digitalised (instead of paper-based) administration, the startup is indeed well-poised to respond the current demands of the proptech sector.

Edward Gazelle, CEO and co-founder of Propoly, commented: “We are very pleased to have launched our unique product to market after three years of build, with the help and input of our investors including Countrywide Plc and Foxtons Plc. Propoly empowers letting agencies to be able to focus on the key aspects that generate business whilst allowing the Propoly system to take care of the administrative burden, the upselling of revenue generating products and any compliance issues that arise.”

Patrick Franco, Chief Operating Officer, Foxtons, said: “We’re excited to see Propoly launching its best-in-class lettings solution in a box, following extensive beta testing and feedback from agency customers. We believe that Propoly offers an affordable, subscription-based product that can help smaller and medium sized letting agents, who don’t have the scale to develop their own technology, still adapt their business models under these challenging market conditions and help ensure they maintain safe workplaces.”

Paul Chapman, National Head of Sales and Lettings at Countrywide added: “Countrywide are delighted to see Propoly launch to market having supported them throughout their journey. Being the largest UK agency business, we fully appreciate the time, admin savings, revenue opportunities and reduced compliance burden that the Propoly system offers.”


Paris-based I MAKE raises €1.5 million to boost its DIY ‘makers’ marketplace

French startup I MAKE, the French marketplace offering over 50,000 items to help people make things themselves instead of buying ready-made products online, has just raised €1.5 million from Eutopia, Kima Ventures (Xavier Niel‘s fund dedicated to startups), and various private investors, including Thibaud Hug de Larauze (co-founder and CEO of Back Market).

Founder Elodie Abécassis created I MAKE in 2019, motivated by the idea that “doing things yourself” is, and will increasingly be, part of building a more responsible society. Whatever your project, be it clothes, cosmetics, cleaning products, cooking, gardening, or decoration, I MAKE offers all the supplies users need from one place to make things themselves instead of buying ready-made products. Convinced that the future will focus on responsible consumption, I MAKE is part of the societal ‘Do-It-Yourself’ trend which has been amplified during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. 

Elodie Abécassis, founder of I MAKE, explains: “I’m convinced that the “Make versus Buy” is the new way of consumption. Making rather than buying is, in my opinion, a lifestyle which goes far beyond the creative hobby. However, I find that it is sometimes difficult to get supplies, and that it happens very often to go to 3 different shops for a single project. That is why I decided to create I MAKE, and propose a website that gathers all the supplies in the same place but also shares tips and inspirations to make everything by yourself”.

In addition to providing supplies, I MAKE has also been able to quickly gather a community of 50 content creators, who give their advice and share their knowledge on the website, as well as on I MAKE’s social networks. They are also building up a unique ‘makers’ community online, where customers share their creations and give each other tips. 

Using the fresh funds, the I MAKE team will accelerate its technical development in order to offer more inspiring, easily accessible, educational and high-quality content. The startup will also continue to develop its product range and to cover more and more everyday activities, thanks to a large number of diversified vendors.

Antoine Régis, Partner and co-founder at Eutopia, commented: “When Elodie introduced us to the ‘I MAKE’ concept, we were immediately convinced by her ‘do-it-yourself’ approach, which not only allows us to consume more responsibly, but also to express our individual talents. We are at the heart of the ‘good for me, good for communities, good for planet’ logic that is dear to us at Eutopia”.

The €1.5 million fundraising will also allow the company to expand its team by recruiting new talents in the coming months, so keep an eye out for open positions.


10 Reasons Why Micro-Influencer Campaigns Interest Gen Z (and How They Can Boost Your Business)

Targeting a young audience? Micro-influencers just may be the answer. Aiming to capture this audience (those born after 1995) can be lucrative, as Gen Z now accounts for around 40 percent of all consumer shopping. The best part is that Gen Z is fairly easy and cheap to market to — if you know how.

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Below, we explain why Generation Z will ignore your traditional advertising efforts and your attention-grabbing ads, and what you can do to capture this audience.

  1. Gen Z is technology-focused

Also known as iGen, this generation has grown up with a steady stream of technology.

While baby boomers might be technophobes and millennials are tech-savvy, Generation Z are the experts when it comes to social media and the internet. As such, they’ve been exposed to a lot of online trends, including micro-influencers. As a general rule of thumb, members of Gen Z are quick to adapt to technological and virtual change, making them the perfect audience for digital campaigns.

What does this mean for your business?

You’ll need to keep up with technological advancements and get to grips with the fast-paced nature of Gen Z. When advertising your business, you’ll need to suss out technology early in the game before a new platform becomes old news.

  1. They take notice of influencers

Influencer marketing seems to be more effective than traditional advertising when it comes to young audiences. In particular, Gen Z women find that influencer content sticks in their minds, with one in four Gen Z-aged women claiming this is how they typically learn about new products.

Even though male peers are less likely to name influencers as their primary source of information, this entire generation laps up more commercial content on social platforms than anyone else, regardless of gender.

It’s safe to say you should spend a healthy portion of your marketing budget on social media. Try to limit your traditional advertising spend to reflect the taste and preferences of this age group.

  1. Gen Z seeks diverse audiences

According to Business Insider, Generation Z is “the youngest, most ethnically-diverse, and largest generation in American history,” explaining why this group prefers minority representation.

It’s no surprise that members of Gen Z will choose to pay attention to influencers who reflect the eclectic mix of their peers. Major influencers with mass appeal aren’t as appealing to Gen Z, who prefer personalities with a smaller slice of the pie.

While Gen Z might all recognize Kylie Jenner, they’re less likely than millennials to watch her content. These teens instead subscribe to more accounts than other generations, favoring choice over fangirling.

This is exactly why working with micro-influencers can prove so effective. Once you’ve allocated a healthy spend to influencer marketing, avoid putting all your eggs in one basket. Instead, spread your sponsorship funding across multiple, lesser-known accounts, and you’ll find that you have a better reach despite their smaller audience sizes.

  1. Gen Z hates advertising

Traditional advertising doesn’t get far with this demographic — neither does any form of outright advertising.

In short, this generation hates to feel sold to and mentally shuts off if exposed to blatant adverts. Thus, marketers need to get creative to reach Gen Z, namely making their campaigns subtler and less promotional.

Micro-influencer content often fits this bill. Rather than watching a commercial, this generation likes to listen to a peer review or watch a how-to demonstration. Brand-led content is ineffective, meaning your messaging needs to come through another medium.

Above all, Generation Z respects the independence of influencer content. Micro-influencer campaigns often feel like disguised ads. Each campaign feels completely different from the other, allowing your product to be the chameleon that consumers are curious about. 

Related: How to Team Up With the Right Micro-Influencer

  1. Generation Z thrives off active relationships 

Need another reason why Gen Z hates ads? They can’t interact with them.

Major influencers might be too busy to chat with their large fanbase, but micro-influencers (those with audiences of around 50K followers) have a much more manageable following, allowing them to interact with users in real-time.

For Gen Z, this chance to engage feels both valuable and reciprocal. Importantly for Generation Z, micro-influencers can take specific feedback points and apply them to their content.

While this serves as another reason to invest in multiple small-scale social campaigns, it can also prove a lesson for your brand’s internal marketing.

As Gen Z values interaction, it’s a great idea to start investing in job roles that focus on social communication. Make tasks like responding to social comments and creating interactive content a top priority.  

  1. Authentic content entertains Generation Z

For Generation Z, the mundane parts of everyday life that feel authentic are the most entertaining. When micro-influencers create content like this, the results are diverse.

While millennials might have been riding a brand sponsorship wave, Gen Z has missed the boat, preferring less luxurious content formats. As such, you’ll want to steer away from polished advertisements and conventional social formats.

Instead, Generation Z audiences will respond well to more meaningful, authentic content. Share conversations with your internal team, ask real people questions on the street, and cast a diverse crew for any high-end promo you might be planning.

  1. Micro-influencers are more trusted than celebs…

… at least in the eyes of Generation Z.

A recent study reveals that 52 percent of Gen Z trusts the influencers they follow on social media, while only 44 percent of this demographic trust their favorite celebrities and athletes.

This information illustrates Generation Z’s reliance on social media and indicates major influencers who cross the celebrity threshold aren’t seen to be as trustworthy as smaller influencer accounts.

You won’t impress Generation Z with celebrity endorsements and name dropping. This fact makes this lucrative customer segment a fairly affordable market to attract, as it requires more imagination than investment to work.

In other words, you’ll need to put little in to get a lot back.

  1. Generation Z flocks to micro-influencer hotspots

Gen Z tends to pay attention to functionalities within platforms like Twitter and IGTV, for example.

While most of us might incessantly refresh our Instagram explore page, Generation Z is always looking for upcoming talent in more unexpected places.

How can you find out where Gen Z is currently exploring? You’ll need to keep your finger on the social media platform pulse. Try to actively follow Gen Z accounts and micro-influencers to understand their latest migration patterns.

  1. Gen Z is migrating to new platforms

As well as flocking to micro-influencer hotspots, Generation Z is actively creating them by populating new platforms like TikTok. This video sharing platform has quickly amassed 500 million global users each month, with 66 percent of its users under 30.

Platforms like TikTok are allowing micro-influencer marketing to grow by creating a level playing field for all influencers to start growing audiences and gaining exposure.

While trying to make it big on Instagram might feel like fighting a losing battle, gaining traction on TikTok may not be. There’s no advanced algorithm that pushes known accounts to the top. Instead, Generation Z uses platforms like this to beat social giants and take back control of minority visibility. User-generated content is particularly popular with this crowd.

As a brand, you should spend time on elements of content rather than a finished product. Think stickers, filters and even hashtags that individuals can use to promote your brand on their behalf.

  1. Gen Z prefers short content

Major influencers post long-form content regularly. But this just isn’t Generation Z’s vibe. This generation would rather watch eight-second clips of content from a variety of small sources.

Put simply, Generation Z is a mobile-first generation that has never used desktops as a primary device. As a result, their tolerance for long-form content is much lower, meaning smaller chunks from smaller sources is their favorite way to consume content.

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What does this mean for my business?

If your business is repositioning its focus to Generation Z, you’ll need to focus on three things:

  • Technology: Your focus must be on technology and specifically how Gen Z likes to use it. We used Instagram as an example still populated with members of Generation Z, yet different functions like IGTV tend to engage this age group versus the average user.
  • A new pace: Content quickly becomes outdated, and project times are much shorter. You can’t afford to spend time scrutinizing your long-term strategy or being precious about production value. Soon, the entire scene might change anyway.
  • Different values: If you’re not part of Generation Z, it might be hard to wrap your head around the generation’s focus. Try to adapt to these newfound values and understand the need for shorter, more realistic content.

Do you have a business with a Generation Z target audience? Learn how to team up with the right micro-influencer for your next winning campaign.

The post 10 Reasons Why Micro-Influencer Campaigns Interest Gen Z (and How They Can Boost Your Business) appeared first on StartupNation.


Nantes-based Boost My Mail lands €1 million to grow its email signature tech

French startup Boost My Mail, which is specialised in updating and optimizing email signatures, has raised €1 million, with the support of the BPI and Ouest Croissance.

Launched in 2018 by Arnaud Guillet, Boost My Mail wants to transform our email signatures into a marketing, communications and sales assets. The SaaS application allows companies and organisations to create a branded email signature model for all employees to use, and then helps to deploy it, being compatible with messaging services such as Outlook and G Suite. These non-intrusive, email signature banners can help with promoting events or special offers to a previously untapped audience. Users can also keep track of how well their banners are doing, by checking how many clicks they achieved.

Arnaud Guillet, president of Boost My Mail, explained further: “Boost My Mail is based on a simple and effective positioning: using emails to reinforce the brand image, and communicate company news. We want to support companies in the amplification and multiplication of their communications using email signatures.”

The startup has already nabbed more than 20,000 users, and plans to boost its marketing further with around 12 new team members in the commercial, marketing, development and support departments. Aiming high, Boost My Mail expects to have 100,000 users and 600 corporate customers by June 2022. “Today, we are able to open up internationally,” concludes Arnaud Guillet.


Berlin-based Back lands €2.9 million to boost its employee request platform across the US and Europe

Today German HRtech startup Back Technologies, the employee service platform, announces that it has raised a seed round of around €2.9 million. The startup aims to help employees get their requests at work solved quicker, especially in this era of remote working, when face-to-face interactions are minimal and digital communications can easily get forgotten.

The investment was led by La Famiglia, with participation from Gradient Ventures (Google’s AI-focused venture fund) and angel investors such as Charles Songhurst (Microsoft’s former Head of Corporate Strategy), Matthias Hilpert (Orange’s former Board Member), Renaud Visage (Eventbrite’s founder), and the founders of Tourlane and Personio. Existing investors Point Nine Capital and Seedcamp also participated in the seed round.

From a broken keyboard, to finding payslips from last year, to getting a copy of company policy, there can be any number of issues that an employee can request help to solve. Add in email, messaging services like Slack, and workflow platforms, and HR managers and team leaders can easily lose track of such requests, leaving employees floating without an answer. 

This is where Back comes in. Its cloud-based employee service platform seamlessly integrates with popular workplace chat software (such as Slack) to quickly solve and manage employee requests. Many of these messages are repetitive employee requests, which Back can help to solve automatically by combining case management, project management, and knowledge automation.

So how does it work in more detail? Thanks to the software, a concierge bot for employees on Slack automatically answers questions based on previous answers or related knowledge documents. Alternatively, it will route the request to the appropriate team, and keep the employee updated on its progress. The platform offers 1-click integrations with knowledge management systems like Confluence and core HR systems like BambooHR and Personio to find related information for any request. Current customers include some of the fastest-growing tech companies in Europe, such as Choco, Marley Spoon, Personio, and Statista.

“Using Back, we’re able to better serve our employees and help our team to work more efficiently. The technology has allowed us to reduce our response time to within a day and our resolution times by 71% on average,” said Laura Christenhuß, People Operations Manager at Marley Spoon.

With this new funding, the company plans to grow its market presence in the US, while also expanding across Europe. It plans to hire new talent for engineering, marketing and sales roles and hopes to double its team this year.

“Companies are struggling to rapidly adapt to digital communication environments. Back provides employees with a seamless experience while also helping companies reduce workload through clever automation. This is a game changer for any team in our hectic and remote work environment,” said Christian Eggert, CEO and cofounder of Back Technologies. “We’re pleased to have the support from our new investors which will help us to service more customers around the globe.”

“The remote-work economy is here to stay and existing solutions for internal case management are failing to meet the needs of workers,” said Darian Shirazi, General Partner at Gradient Ventures. “We’re excited by Back’s novel solution to automate the development of internal content and answer the questions workers have to excel at their jobs.”