British fintech PPRO achieves Unicorn status after raising €148M at €823M valuation: Know more here

PPRO

After the pandemic began, the world witnessed a rise in the need for digital services, including the banking sector. In a recent development, a London-based fintech company PPRO, a provider of local payment infrastructure for online commerce, has raised $ 180M (approx €148.5M) in a fresh round of funding.

Investors in the round

The round saw participation from Eurazeo Growth, Sprints Capital, and Wellington Management.

Prior to this, the company had raised $ 50M (approx €48.1M) from Sprints Capital as well as Citi Ventures and HPE Growth. The company’s current valuation after the latest round is now over $ 1B (approx €823.6M).

Financial Technology Partners acted as exclusive financial advisor and Noerr as legal advisor to PPRO in the transaction.

Use of the raised capital

The latest round will be used by the company to fuel its continued global expansion and support the development of its border-free payment technology and services.

Simon Black, CEO of PPRO, says “Beyond securing the support of such prestigious investors and achieving a milestone valuation, we’ve enabled our customers to grow at record numbers during what has been a tough time for many. By giving businesses the ability to offer payment choice, we’ve helped give people around the world better access to goods and services that improve their lives.”

Black continues, “Our unique local payments infrastructure empowers our customers to quickly increase their global footprint. This investment will help us deliver the highest performance possible for companies leading the global payments industry.”

About PPRO

Founded in 2006 by Philipp Bock, Philipp Nieland, and Tobias Schreyer, PPRO’s local payments platform and expert services help its users to get the industry’s best conversion rates in markets globally by allowing online shoppers to pay with their preferred payment method.

According to the company, its technology allows payment services providers and enterprises with payment platforms to plug in via simple APIs and offload the intricate complexities and massive costs of providing payment method choice to local consumers. Its singular focus on local payment methods helps its customers rapidly speed up time to market and reduce operational costs up to 10 times, claims PPRO

The company says its vision from the start has been to simplify access to the many different payment methods required by consumers and businesses across the world.

In addition, PPRO also offers e-money issuing programs for consumers and corporate. They are FCA licensed to issue e-money as they continue to strengthen their links with alternative payment method schemes and banks around the world.

PPRO claims to have established itself as a trusted infrastructure provider in the cross-border payments space powering international growth for payment service providers and platforms such as Citi, Elavon, Mastercard Payment Gateway Services, Mollie, PayPal, and Worldpay.

Recent development

Last year, the company doubled its year-on-year transaction volumes in the fourth quarter, expanded its global team by 60 per cent, and developed new strategic partnerships with local payment methods in high-growth markets like Indonesia and Singapore.

Commenting on the market, Nathalie Kornhoff-Bruls, MD at Eurazeo Growth, says, “All signs for the future indicate that digital commerce, and even more so cross-border commerce, will continue to grow exponentially while innovation in payment methods remains strong. As a result, facilitating local payments is becoming increasingly complex. Payment service providers, however, no longer have a choice as merchants and their customers are pushing for the adoption.”

In December 2020, Apexx Global, a global payments platform, announced its partnership with PPRO to drive cost savings and conversion rates for merchants globally. Through the sharing of industry expertise, the partnership was aimed at providing benefits to merchants seeking a wide range of payment options and increased transaction flexibility.

Prior to that in June 2020, PPRO announced direct integration with Paysafecash. With this integration, Paysafecash will be available for 24 markets, including the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Romania, and other markets where cash remains a preferred payment method. Payment service providers (PSPs) and their merchants who partner with PPRO get easy access to consumers in over 175 e-commerce markets through just one API and one contract.

Startups – Silicon Canals

Offline travel app Maps.me lands €41M to roll out these key features; find out here

Maps.me

Offline travel app Maps.me has raised $ 50M (approx €41.3M) in a fresh round of funding led by Alameda Research, a Hong Kong-based investment firm and liquidity provider. Genesis Capital and CMS Holdings also participated in this round.

Use of the raised capital

Reportedly, the new funds will help the company to roll out a multi-currency wallet on Maps.me and enable a decentralised finance (DeFi) ecosystem on the platform. With DeFi, it looks to develop the tool into an “everyday app,” making Maps.me more mainstream.

This means that the Maps.me 2.0 version would allow users to store values and earn yields of up to 8 per cent, as well as make both domestic and international transactions. The app would also have a cashback feature on its transactions.

“By embedding and democratising access to yield-earning finance to millions of users via an everyday app, Maps.me has the potential to really propel DeFi mainstream adoption and bring a groundbreaking technology to the masses,” says, Sam Bankman-Fried, founder and CEO of Alameda Research and also crypto exchange FTX.

About Maps.me

The company was founded in 2011 by Alex Zolotarev, Siarhei Rachytski, Victor Govako, and Yury Melnichek. Maps.me is a free mobile offline map for travellers which covers all countries of the world which are available for download from within the application.

Maps.me gets its map data from OpenStreetMap.org (Wikipedia of maps) – an open database of geographic information which is updated by the community of 5.7 million contributors. The application includes the map data in full details with streets, house names, tourist attractions, hiking/cycling trails, local businesses and other key information. 

After the download, the maps and all the built-in features work offline and do not require an internet connection (map, search, filters, car/pedestrian/bike/transit routing and navigation with voice instructions). With the internet connection, you can also get free car traffic in 38 countries and access a public catalogue with thousands of travel guides and itineraries, created by professional companies, individual bloggers, and active travellers.

Currently, the company has over 140 million installations globally, available for iOS and Android and translated into 28 languages. According to the Coindesk report, over 58 per cent of Maps.me users come from the European continent, and more than 70 per cent are between the ages of 18 and 40.

The company is said to have been registered in Cyprus, however, as per its LinkedIn profile, Maps.me is currently headquartered in Amsterdam.

About Mail.ru

In 2014, Mail.ru Group, an Amsterdam-based Russian internet company, acquired 100 per cent stakes of Maps.me for RUB 542M (approx €6M). According to Mail.ru, in 2019, the travel app’s revenue amounted to RUB 159M (approx €1.7M) with an EBITDA loss of RUB 25M (approx €279K).

Maps.me was recently sold to Daegu Limited for about €17M.

Mail.ru Group is an internet company in the high-growth Russian-speaking Internet markets (Russia is Europe’s largest Internet market measured by the number of users, comScore). The company claims to own Russia’s leading email service and is one of Russia’s largest internet portals. It operates all three of the Russian language social networks, Vkontakte (VK), Odnoklassniki (OK) and Moi Mir (My World), and Russia’s largest online games business. 

In 2013, Mail.ru Group launched its first global project My.com that provides a suite of communication and entertainment apps.

Startups – Silicon Canals

Here are the top 3 predictions by PitchBook on what may be in store for European PE and VC industries in 2021

Pitchbook growth

It would be an understatement to say that the year 2020 was difficult. However, we’ve entered 2021 and it’s worth having a positive outlook towards the coming year. Businesses need some expert insight into what they can expect in 2021 and the SaaS company PitchBook that delivers data, research and insights has shared some predictions that apply to European PE and VC industries. Here are the predictions;

European PE deal activity to cross €480B in 2021

Private Equity or PE deals are expected to cross the €480B mark in 2021. The rationale behind the prediction is provided by PitchBook’s EMEA Private Capital Analyst Dominick Mondesir. He notes that 2021 will primarily be about recovery. 

“Many managers have stated  their deal pipelines across all strategies are particularly robust going into 2021, and recent GP surveys indicate deploying capital in 2021 is the main priority for managers,” says Modesir. “When analyzing previous downturns, it took managers around one year post-crisis to deploy capital at scale, and we expect outsized figures in 2021 to reflect that trend. Finally, pent-up demand from sponsors that were not able to hit deal volume and capital deployment targets in 2020 will also contribute.”

While PitchBook’s prediction seems sunny, there’s also a caveat. COVID-19 is still raging on, which is expected to lead to considerable dispersion across European economies and dampen economic and PE deal activities. Furthermore, Brexit and associated European geopolitical tensions could cause material disruption to PE deals in the Europe’s largest PE market. 

VC follow-up rounds will remain above 90% of overall capital invested across Europe

Nalin Patel, EMEA Private Capital Analyst at PitchBook, notes that during the last decade, capital pouring into first-time rounds has remained consistent, whereas capital within follow-on rounds has soared. “Capital has not been siphoned away from first-time rounds. Rather, there is a wider array of sources and greater amounts of capital flowing into the European VC landscape, with a particular focus on the early and late stages. We do not expect the tap at each financing stage to shut off anytime soon,” Patel notes. 

The PitchBook prediction takes note that over 90% of overall VC deal value took place within follow-on rounds for the first time in 2019 and 2020. Median VC deal sizes and valuations are said to have grown notably during COVID-19 as well. The possible caveat here is that there could a stagnation in terms of follow-on round investment as growth becomes harder to capture during the uncertain period of COVID-19, which is characterised by rising unemployment figures and limited sustainable macroeconomic growth.

European SPAC listings could hit double digits in 2021

In 2020, we witnessed a surge in US SPAC (Special Purpose Acquisition Company) with over 220 listings, while Europe observed only four European SPAC listings. However, this year, SPAC listings in Europe are expected to rise notably and could hit double digits. As per Mondesir, the outsized activity in the US will affect Europe and Multiple European exchanges

and regulators are said to be competing to become the most favourable exchange and jurisdiction to list a European SPAC. 

“Duplicating the favourable portions of the US SPAC structure, improving upon its weaker areas, and changing exchange rules will be crucial in unleashing European SPACs as an option for sponsors and institutional investors,” Mondesir notes. 

The challenge for the European SPAC market is touted to be a thin investor base, a perceived lack of credible managers, and key structural and regulatory challenges. 

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Startups – Silicon Canals

Berlin-based Sennder crosses €820M in valuation after securing €131.64M in series D funding: Here is all you need to know

Sennder

There are few companies that can continue a growth streak, especially after last year. However, the Berlin-based digital road freight forwarder Sennder is a company that has shown remarkable growth over the years. It is now continuing its growth streak as it raises €131.64M in its series D funding round. With the latest funding, the company’s valuation surpassed €820M.

Funding details

In its latest series D funding round, Sennder raised a notable €131.64M. Participants in the round included all of the company’s existing investors such as Accel, Lakestar, HV Capital, Project A and Scania, among others. With this funding round, the total amount raised by the company till date stands above €214M. The company plans to invest €82.3M from fresh funds into growing and developing its technologies.

The latest investment will also help Sennder expand its 200-people technology team and accelerate its research and development into automation, digitalisation, optimisation and decarbonisation of road freight. It will also channel funds towards expanding its business into new European markets and replicating the success it witnessed with Poste Italiane. Through the Italian joint venture, Sennder is said to have helped the business save 6% of its €100m annual spending and it aims to replicate the same with its other partners. 

David Nothacker, CEO and Co-Founder of sennder, says, “As a data-driven company, we contribute to making the logistics industry fit for a sustainable future; ensuring transparency, flexibility and efficiency in the distribution of goods. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the importance of a digitalised logistics industry. Throughout 2020, we helped our carriers increase their profitability by enhancing operating margins by up to 80% during a challenging time.“

Enabling transparency and efficiency

Sennder is a road freight forwarder that banks on digitisation of the sector to provide its services. The company directly connects enterprise shippers with trucking companies via its proprietary technology, which is said to provide greater transparency and efficiency to both carriers and shippers. It also uses data to optimise route efficiency, which not only decreases the cost of transportation but also helps in reducing the environmental impact of road freight.

Sennder predicts that it will move over 1M truckloads this year, making it Europe’s leading digital road freight forwarder. Founded in 2015 by David Nothacker, Julius Köhler and Nicolaus Schefenacker, the company now has over 800 employees, which work across its seven international offices. It enables transport services for over 10 organisations listed in the German DAX 30, and 11 companies from the Euro Stoxx 50. 

The year 2020 was notable for Sennder as the company merged with French competitor Everoad in June and  acquired Uber Freight’s European business in September.

Startups – Silicon Canals

Here is a compiled list of 9 startups from Amsterdam participating this time

Amsterdam

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2021 has officially begun this week, and it’s digital this time! Even though it’s remote, CES aims to do what it does the best, showing off the latest innovations, discoveries, and ideas in the field of tech. To reiterate, CES is an annual trade show organised by the Consumer Technology Association in January at Las Vegas.

From the Netherlands, more than 90 of the brightest and most forward-thinking startups are participating in the CES 2021 to explore the power of technology and collaboration in solving societal challenges worldwide. Out of 90 Dutch startups, we have compiled a list of 9 startups from Amsterdam participating in this year.

Image credits: Roger Cremers

Amberscript 

Founder/s: Peter-Paul de Leeuw, Thomas Dieste and Timo Behrens

Founded year: 2017

Funding: NA

Amberscript is an Amsterdam-based startup that created a specialised AI-enabled speech-to-text engine to ease the efforts of manual transcription. Its SaaS software enables users to automatically transcribe audio and video into text using speech recognition. 

The company’s platform is used by journalists, scientists, students, doctors, lawyers, and many others all over the world. The company deploys its AI algorithms and its web text editor for enhanced accuracy.

Picture Credits: BrainCreators

BrainCreators

Founder/s: Gerbert Kaandorp, Jasper Wognum, Peter Eijk

Founded year: 2016

Funding: €50K

BrainCreators, an Artificial Intelligence (AI) scaleup delivers digital inspectors for the construction, manufacturing, and infrastructure sectors that automate a repetitive task, enabling businesses to scale effectively and cost-efficiently. 

Image credits: LALALand

LALALand

Founder/s: Michael Musandu, Ugnius Rimsa 

Founded year: 2019

Funding: N/A

Based out of Amsterdam, LALALand uses neural networks to generate images of artificial humans. It is disrupting e-commerce apparel webshops by letting shoppers turn their online shopping experience into a personalised and customised shopping spree. 

Through its platform, LALALand offers brands, a vast library of age, size, and ethnic-inclusive models so that online shoppers can see themselves in the latest apparel as per their requirements.

Image credits: Edge Technologies

Edge Technologies

Founder/s: Coen van Oostrom

Founded year: 2018

Funding: N/A

Edge Technologies, a company by OVG Real Estate, develops the most sustainable office buildings in the world. The company is on a mission to build a greener, smarter, and healthier ecosystem with a user-centered approach that intuitively learns from use.

Image credits: Swipeguide

Swipeguide

Founder/s: Daan Assen, Willemijn Schneyder

Founded year: 2015

Funding: €1.3M

The Amsterdam startup Swipeguide aims to simplify work with digital instructions, getting rid of papers, and PDFs in the process. The company aims to eliminate useless instructions and delivers the most intuitive way to standardise work in the manufacturing industry.

hiber coen janssen
Image credits: Hiber

Hiber

Founder/s: Coen Janssen, Erik Wienk, Erik Wienk, Ernst Peter Hovinga, Ernst Peter Hovinga, Laurens Groenendijk, Maarten Engelen.

Founded year: 2016

Funding: €28.2M

Hiber, a space-based IoT startup from Amsterdam was founded by a team of satellite experts and tech entrepreneurs. The company is on a mission to launch and run a nano-satellite constellation in space. 

The space startup aims to help with tackling climate change, growing crops efficiently, managing natural resources better, and protecting wild animals. Hiber had a successful 2018, as the company triumphantly launched 2 nanosatellites and also got named as Amazon Web Services Commercial Startup Launch of 2018.

Image credits: Aectual

Aectual

Founder/s: Hedwig Heinsman

Founded year: 2017

Funding: €1.8M

Aectual develops industrial digital production technologies and software tools to create customisable and affordable building solutions. Meaning, the platform enables rapid, high-quality customised production of 3D printed architectural products at an industrial scale more affordably and sustainably. 

Image credits: Bird.ai

Birds.ai

Founder/s: Pieter Oranje, Anouk Visser, Camiel Verschoor, and Kitso Epema,

Founded year: 2016

Funding: €350K

Amsterdam-based Birds.ai develops a cutting-edge image analysis platform to locate objects and defects for visual inspections. The company provides a cloud-based service to generate digital actionable reports with the location and status of objects and defects.

Image credits: Closing the loop

Closing the loop

Founder/s: Joost de Kluijver

Founded year: 2012

Funding: €400K

Closing the Loop, the Amsterdam startup offers users, buyers, and sellers of devices an easy way to compensate for the waste of the product purchase and use. The company collects scrap phones (in developing countries, at the end of their useful lives) on behalf of customers, thereby compensating their IT devices.

Startups – Silicon Canals

If you read my previous post about the game publisher, I met with them, and now I’m here (Part 2)

They are an extremely reputable publisher and I don't feel entirely comfortable revealing who they are currently, but they deal with some pretty big titles.

Anyway, met with the CEO, extremely nice guy, very understanding of my situation. My situation: Developing for two years, don't really know what I'm doing in the marketing side of things, but I guess he saw the game has potential.

Moving on, he gave me a high level overview of their services, from technical help, to design help and he mentioned their consumer base is usually a million+ users for each title. This would pretty much change my life. We didn't get into specifics such as cuts of the revenue and so forth, but I feel I am good at reading people, and since it was just him and myself in the chatroom, I felt no hostility or malintent. (I've delt with people and their lawyers before, this guy was just him, but you never know)

He wants me to send a prototype in two weeks and he wants to play the game. The issue here is that….he'll have access entirely to the game which is about 95% done. I trust his intentions, but that still makes me a bit nervous.

Is there a polite way to ask him/the company to sign an NDA, or something that allows protection over my IP?

Anyway, this is where I'm at, let's chat, and let's learn from this together.

EDIT 1: I didn't feel comfortable going into financials yet, but I am of course hoping for a lump sum if things work out. We need finances to develop comfortably, and I want to know what you think at this point. Let's say they enjoy the game, see potential and want to partner up, what exactly should I be looking for from them. The truth is I don't mind if they take a decently sized cut (I imagine like 20%). Their outreach will totally allow me to develop EVEN MORE games and expand my career even further. So looking at the big picture, I am very open to things but I don't want to get Fd over of course.

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

Any Australians here.

I've researched online. Does anyone know how difficult the process is? It's a retail biz for all but mostly fem products. I was thinking to open a store in USA first but curious if anyone can break it down. Do I just need capital. I've done WHV in NZ 10 months and WHV in Aus for 1 month. I'm not too sure about the foot traffic nowadays? Sorry if this is the wrong sub. For the year 2022

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

Novice here: When and When Not to Use a CDN?

Alright, so I'm creating my first POC for a product I am building. As of now, I am creating this project as fast as I can to create a demo in React/Nodejs-Postgress stack. I will be deploying this to Heroku as I found this to be the simplest and easiest for a small scale startup project and yet scalable. ( if there is a better alternative please let me know.) One thing I have been wondering is, my project allows users to upload pictures like profile pictures and what not to the website. As a small scale startup, should I be using a CDN for this type of picture content? If so what would you say is the best startup-friendly preferably free at the beginning and scalable later. Thank you all so much!

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

Has anyone here tried Blitzscaling ?

Really enjoyed the book by Ried Hoffman as well as his podcast(masters of scale). It seems like he intentionally embraces chaos for pure speed.

It seems feasible to me but I know some people have come out and said it’s dangerous for the company. It’s odd that I do not see much discussion of it on this sub so I thought I’d ask.

I'm wondering if anyone here has used the approach to grow big fast? and what are your thoughts on it?

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!