Launched in January 2020, this French fintech raises €15M despite pandemic hurdles

Pennylane

Pennylane, a French fintech that created an online full-stack accounting service, has raised $ 18M (approx €15M) in its Series A round of funding from investors including Global Founders Capital and Partech.

Founded just a year ago, Pennylane raised its Seed round funding of $ 4.3M (approx €4M) from Global Founders Capital, Partech, and Kima Ventures in May 2020, and has been quickly growing since. 

Use of the currently raised funds

Speaking on the utilisation of the current raised capital, Arthur Waller, co-founder and CEO of Pennylane, says, “This new round of financing will enable Pennylane to fully pursue its mission of supporting the company’s management team in this context of crisis and forced digital transformation.”

He also mentioned that the company is developing a full-stack financial management platform which will automatically integrate all data for a clear view of the business and real-time management. This solution will be developed entirely in-house and will connect third-party tools to offer better user experience by integrating advanced features to make it a real day-to-day decision-making tool.

“For Pennylane, digital alone can do nothing, it must serve and empower managers and accountants,” says Waller.

Launches SaaS for businesses

Business leaders are close to their accountant but can sometimes get frustrated by the tools they use, which limit collaboration and real-time visibility into their company’s financial data. This is where Pennylane wants to help out and has expanded its offerings.

Besides the fresh funding round, the company has also announced the launch of a new solution that centralises all purchasing, sales, and banking transaction data to make it real management and decision-making tool for company managers. Managers will, of course, have the opportunity to give access to their accountants so they may keep the books.

About Pennylane

The company was launched in January 2020 by the founders of PriceMatch (acquired by Booking.com in 2015) Arthur Waller, Alexandre Roquoplo, Felix Blossier, and Edouard Mascré. Pennylane uses accounting data to help entrepreneurs manage their day-to-day business.

For every business, there are too many tools that are poorly synchronised with each other, the collaboration with accountants seems outdated, and visibility on activity and cash flows is lacking too. Pennylane thus developed an innovative accountancy service, Pennylane Compta, which reconciles accounting and management, in particular the use of a platform shared between the accountant and the business manager.

The company markets its product in the form of a monthly subscription which includes both the bookkeeping and the consulting part, as well as the provision of the software.

Pennylane provides solutions to businesses such as:

  • Connected: All of the company’s financial data (banking, accounting, supplier invoices, customer invoices, expense reports) are synchronised on a single platform.
  • In real-time: Every data is updated in real-time on the platform so business owners can make informed decisions anytime.
  • Smart: Pennylane makes data actionable to help leaders make the right decisions for their business.
  • Automated: The platform saves time by replacing manual actions.

Since its inception, the startup claims to have generated a revenue of more than $ 2.4M (approx €2M), hired about 30 accountants and 15 developers, and now supports over more than 500 customers on a daily basis (mostly start-ups, SMEs, e-commerces, and restaurant owners).

Startups – Silicon Canals

5 Amsterdam-based fintech startups that were launched in 2020

Amsterdam has a history of financial innovation. It was in the Dutch capital that the first joint stock company and the first central bank were established. Eventually, Amsterdam became the centre of the Dutch banking sector and leading financial centres in Europe.

There are over 200,000 jobs in the Dutch finance sector. And a large chunk of these fintech jobs is in the Amsterdam Area. The city is home to a slew of major Dutch banks such as ING and ABN AMRO and also home to offices of over 50 international banks.

What makes Amsterdam stand out in fintech? Well, the city has a combination of a strong fintech sector, entrepreneurial spirit, and vibrant startup scene. Also, there are big players such as the fintech unicorns Adyen and Mollie. These fintech successes of Amsterdam have inspired many entrepreneurs to launch their fintech startups in 2020 despite the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. Here, we have listed the Amsterdam-based fintech startups that were launched in 2020, as sourced from Dealroom.

Picture credits: Insify

Insify

Amsterdam-based Insify, founded by Koen Thijssen, claims to be the insurance designed for entrepreneurs. Insify touts to ensure that you can focus on what really matters. It claims to take business insurance 100 per cent digital, 100 per cent online and 100 per cent how insurance should be – with less manual work and questions.

Picture credits: Verne

Verne

Verne based out of Amsterdam claims to be a leading IT partner that enables digital transformation of insurance companies and service providers. With this platform, IT will not be a bottleneck in realising ambitions. Verne platform is secure, open, configurable and based on best practice processes and results in a smart and flexible solution.

Picture credits: Helios Staking

Helios Staking

Helios Staking founded in September 2020 aims to make staking accessible to the everyday cryptocurrency investor by doing the tech-heavy work and managing the day-to-day operations. Helios touts to offer investors a simple way to earn rewards by staking their coins while only charging a small percentage fee.

Picture credits: Greenchi

Green Chi Holdings

Green Chi Holdings, founded by Henk Abbink, Emile Westergaard, and John Weeden, is an investment, education and media platform, which claims to improve quality of life and foster sustainable, circular, inclusive and cradle2cradle thinking in products, solutions and services.

Picture credits: Blockspot

Blockspot

Blockspot.io claims to be one of the largest blockchain databases. Its operational goal is to be an informative platform for all topics related to blockchain technology. Its aims to achieve that goal by providing investors and enthusiasts with reliable and accurate information about blockchain projects and companies from all over the world. The company claims to grow its database continuously with new data and is kept up-to-date using various data validity techniques.

If your Amsterdam-based fintech startup was founded in 2020 and not included in the list, let us know, we will make sure to add it.

Startups – Silicon Canals

New London-based VC firm launched; here’s how it plans to invest over €50M

New London-based venture capital firm Sova VC has launched yesterday with plans to invest over €50M in building a portfolio of more than 20 early-stage tech companies. It claims its strategy is centred on recognising high-potential, disruptive tech companies in Late Seed and Series A stages with a focus on B2B and B2B2C marketplaces as well as software platforms that have the potential to expand across sectors and markets.

Launch of VC firm

Sova VC is a part of Sova group of companies, which also includes the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) regulated London-based broker Sova Capital. Although the VC firm claims to be sector agnostic, it has “a particular expertise and interest” in Urban Tech, Fintech and Healthcare sectors. The firm will initially focus on partnering with growth-stage companies in the UK, Baltic States, the US East Coast and Nordics.

“Typically, our partner companies will have developed a product, have a proven track record and are looking to accelerate their growth and development. In such cases an initial investment from us will typically be in the range of €0.5-1.5 million, growing to as much as €4M in a single portfolio company,” says Alexander Chikunov, partner at Sova VC.

Completes first Series B round

According to the firm, it has already completed its first investment of $ 2.5M (nearly €2.06M) in a Series B round in Smartcat, a global B2B translation platform solution. This platform serves over 9000 corporate clients and 5000 translation agencies and has witnessed a 100% year-on-year growth recently.

Chikunov announced that they have already developed a strong pipeline and will reveal further investment plans soon.

Sova Capital has also recently announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire the banking business of Posojilnica Bank eGen (Poso Bank). According to the company, the acquisition of an Austrian credit institution will give Sova Capital a direct presence in the European Union, giving Sova Capital, and its clients, additional flexibility in the post-Brexit era.

It plans to expand its business lines following the transaction, which adds commercial and retail banking to the firm’s capabilities in independent investment research, securities trading, electronic and high-touch execution, public capital markets financing, and prime brokerage services.

Startups – Silicon Canals

Longtime investor and operator Adam Nash says he just launched a new fintech startup

Adam Nash, a Silicon Valley-born-and-bred operator and investor, is back at it again.

Today, on his personal blog, he announced that he has started a consumer fintech company that has already garnered initial funding from Ribbit Capital, along with other “friends and angels” who appear to have also pitched into the round, including Box CEO Aaron Levie, Mighty Networks founder Gina Bianchini, Superhuman founder Rahul Vohra and Amy Chang, who sold her startup Accompany to Cisco in 2018.

Nash didn’t reveal many details in the post or later on Twitter, saying he’ll have more to say when the company is closer to launching. But a new SEC filing suggests the company is called Silverback Ventures and that it has raised $ 4.85 million so far. Nash also co-founded the company with Alejandro Crosa, an Argentinian software engineer who most recently spent five months at Slack but logged more than three years at both Twitter and LinkedIn before that.

Nash said on Twitter that the two met at LinkedIn, where Nash was himself VP of product management for four years beginning in 2007. It’s a good detail to know, considering that Nash has logged time at a wide variety of tech outfits over the years, making it hard to guess at whom he knows and from where.

A computer science graduate of Stanford, where he later nabbed a master’s degree, Nash began his career interning at NASA, HP and Trilogy before landing his first big job as a software engineer at Apple in 1996 (when former PepsiCo exec John Sculley was briefly running the place).

After moving on to a bubble-era company that no longer exists, Nash tried his hand at VC for the first time, joining Atlas Venture as an associate. To get more operating experience, he then jumped to eBay, where he was a director; LinkedIn, where he met Crosa; then Greylock, where he spent just over a year as an entrepreneur-in-residence (EIR) before joining the wealth-management startup Wealthfront as its president and CEO.

A little more than four years later, in 2016, Wealthfront’s original CEO and founder, Andy Rachleff, reclaimed the role. But Nash didn’t disappear from the scene. Instead, he rejoined Greylock as an EIR for another year before joining Dropbox shortly after it went public in 2018 as its VP of product and growth, leaving that post back in February to start his own thing, he said on his way out the door.

That Nash would start a fintech company specifically isn’t surprising, considering his involvement with Wealthfront, as well as some of the personal investments he has made in recent years.

In 2018, for example, he wrote a check to LearnLux, a five-year-old, Boston-based educational startup that helps employees better understand their 401(k), health savings accounts and stock options. He is also an investor in Human Interest, a five-year-old, San Francisco-based startup that offers automated, paperless 401(k) plans.

Nash is also riding a very big wave.  According to PitchBook, consumer fintech is on pace to attract a record amount of venture funding in 2020, at least in North America and Europe.

Either way, it’s notable that Nash is trying his hand at starting a company from scratch for the first time in his career, and we’ll let you know more about what he’s building as soon as he’s ready to share more.

The little that Nash is saying publicly for now is that he and Crosa believe there is “still a lot more to do in consumer fintech, and that through software we can help bring purpose to the way people approach their financial lives.”

Startups – TechCrunch

After 18 months of work, we’re finally launched our iOS app: your DIY therapist, career coach, and relationship counselor in one

https://www.producthunt.com/posts/life-intelligence-for-ios

Last year, I left my dream job at a hedge fund to create the product I wish I’d had. As an investor, I had all this research and analysis to back up my stock picks. 📈 But why hadn’t I put the same sort of rigorous study into my most important investment: me?

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on many of us. However, the problem I see is bigger than mental fitness. It’s threefold:

1) Self, career, and relationships are intertwined. Missing any one piece of the puzzle misses the full picture and cure. Yet, most apps focus on just one vertical.

2) Content that lacks depth and nuance is going to bore a Type-A like me. I wanted something science-backed with real “ah-ha” moments.

3) “Tell me and I forget… involve me and I learn.” A lot of us jump to seeking advice from others. Yet, coming to conclusions on our own makes lessons stick much longer. (Plus, it’s more appealing to introverts like me).

I couldn’t find this type of holistic education anywhere, so I decided to research and write it myself. My requirements for differentiation were:

1) A comprehensive course/training/tool that

2) Was backed in science with no fluff and

3) Could make me my own coach or therapist: actionable, efficient, with lasting change

Having written a thesis at Princeton, I knew there were decades of psychology research that rarely reach those who could benefit from it most: users like you and me. So, I took my skill set studying stocks and applied it to the biggest life questions I had. Today, the result of that effort is a comprehensive course and cognitive training. It’s taken months of research and writing to create not only complete content that gets at the “how,” but also a thoughtful, curated flow. Inside, you’ll see we offer three main features.

📘 (1) First is a 9-Mission course, comprised of hundreds of 5-min bite-sized daily lessons of snippet reading and reflection. To: 1 Build mental resilience and emotional management skills 2 Develop self-awareness and emotional intelligence 3 Discover values, set goals, track habits, stay motivated 4 Minimize regret and manage time 5 Make difficult decisions, avoid mental biases, determine direction 6 Harness stress, anxiety, and social influence 7 Understand attraction, attachment styles, dating and relationships 8 Practice communication and conflict resolution 9 Become an effective leader, mentor, manager (Add our iOS 14 widget to your home screen, so you can get a beautiful next-lesson preview)!

😧 (2) Second is an immediate mood-management tool. I spent a great deal of time researching the basis of emotions. How is envy different from jealousy? How do we categorize them? Do they belong in anger, disgust, or sadness? I drew from multiple academic sources to build a mood wheel. It might actually be the part of the app I’m most proud of  Why is this so important? Sometimes I would feel “bad” but be unable to pinpoint how I was feeling or what was bothering me. After looking into it, I discovered that “emotional granularity,” or the ability to name exact emotions, is the first step to gaining control over moods. LIFE’s user-friendly mood wheel gets super specific, and is sorted by color as well as intensity, so you can see how moods, like colors, combine or change in intensity. After choosing your mood, you’ll find exact coping, communication, and problem-solving exercises that can get you out of your bad mood in minutes. For example, if I’m frustrated, I can use the 5-Whys exercise to figure out the root cause. If I’m insecure, I can use a self-affirmation exercise. And so on.

💌 (3) Third, relationship prompts. Why don’t we learn marriage counseling topics until it’s too late? Consider this question I saw on a forum: “We seem to agree what toxic and dysfunctional families look like. My question is: what is a functional and healthy family supposed to look like? Is there a guide somewhere?” A lot of replies said things like, “great communication,” “support,” “stability,” or “compromise.” The problem is, these say what to do, but not how to do it. I tried to get specific in LIFE: for example, I now know what the multiple types of support are, and when to use each. Or, what the 4 relationship ruining ways to fight are (stonewalling, contempt, defensiveness, criticism), when they might come up, and what we can do about them. It doesn’t mean I don’t mess up, but it does mean I’m far more aware of actionable ways I can improve.

— I cited all research, something very important to me. The real experts are those researchers in the psychology lab, who over decades have dedicated their lives to studying why we act the way we do. Don’t believe me: believe them. I am simply a mere curator whom I hope does a decent job of scouring, drawing conclusions from, and relating to you their findings in a relatable and insightful way.

Ultimately, my goal is to serve every person, of every culture, who could use more insight into some aspect of their lives. LIFE can be used solo, or among families, teams, companies and schools. It takes two to communicate and our moods often easily affect others. Today, LIFE helps me stay sane, happy, and healthy as a solo founder. My hope is that if it speaks to you, you can also gain a more fulfilling, purposeful, positive life.

submitted by /u/yourbestinvestment
[link] [comments]
Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

This is how I launched 6 failed side-projects in 10 months

After losing my job in December of 2019, I decided to step into bootstrapping my own ideas for a while.

First (don't do this), I worked for more than 6 months on my first idea, a very simple one, but difficult to execute. An email service provider, nomadmail.io. It wasn't easy, but I did it.

I launched. 1 upvote on Product Hunt, mine… Crickets. I probably cry on the inside.

After spending an immense amount of hours tweaking and fixing and making sure everything was workings, 99.9% of the visits to the landing page, never past from there.

2,058 visits since 20th May. 0 clients. No one has seen my app.

After that, I thought: Ok, if people don't pass from the landing page, I am going to create landing pages and test ideas.

So I create

nomadnest.org and alternative to Couchsurfing, 2,162 visits, I made more money from it than from nomadmail. And I did it in one weekend.

coffeelist.co: a coffee community, 1,716 visits. I got a bit excited and did some features.

nomadasdigitales.com, a digital nomads community in Spanish.

lanzame.net, a Product Hunt in Spanish.

classline.io, a SaaS for teachers to simply communicate with students over email, this is using the technology that I created for nomadmail.

What I learned

  • Don't rush into solutions. Find people that have a real problem, talk to them, and then, think of solutions. Every problem, has many solutions, don't rush into making the first one that you can think of.
  • Find clients before making anything. I always think… I will make it share it, and people will see and use it. It doesn't work like that.
  • Don't do it if you need money NOW. Making a product's success takes time. If you are doing it for the money, you are going to rush into the wrong decisions.

That's it. Honestly, I sometimes think to stop and to just work for others. To think that I don't have it, or that I am just not good enough.

But I keep thinking and thinking and making. I can't help it. I am sure many of you can relate. At the end of the day, you only need to win once.

For more disastrous bootstraps projects, you can follow me on Twitter.

submitted by /u/jrleonr
[link] [comments]
Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

Here’s how Google’s newly launched updates can help you; now hum to search your earworm

Google

The internet we all know and use today has certainly changed a lot from its humble beginnings, back in the 1960’s. Google is a company that has made great strides in enabling people to sift through a large amount of data on the vast internet. During its recent Search On livestream, the company announced a host of new changes it’s making to Search, along with some new helpful features. Here’s a quick rundown. 

Using AI to better Search, correct spelling errors and more

Google listed a whole lot of improvements that it is making to Search but there are some notable ones that stand out. Search is now almost completely using BERT or Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (BERT). BERT was developed by Google as a technique for natural language processing (NLP) pre-training for bettering search results. 

Additionally, the company’s latest research in AI has enabled it to better understand misspelled words. As per Google, one in 10 search queries every day are misspelled and the company is now introducing a new spelling algorithm. This new algorithm makes use of a deep neural net to improve misspellings detection by helping Google understand the context of misspelled words. This way it can help you find the right results in under 3 milliseconds.

Spelling

Google Search is also getting some upgrades that come into play when one searches for specific topics. In depth scrounging of web pages is now better, which makes it easier for finding the answer to a user’s specific query. Google says that alongside web pages indexing, it is now able to index individual passages from the pages. The tech is claimed to improve 7 percent of search queries across all languages as it is rolled out globally. Google is also using neural nets to display subtopics better around a search query. This is expected to deliver better diversity for content when users search for something broad. 

Understanding Passages

Helping people be safe during the pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic is something that has changed our lives forever. With contact tracing capabilities being built into the Android and iOS operating systems, it is clear that we need measures in place to help contain the pandemic’s spread. To further help people make smart decisions, Google will now show how busy a place is right now with the new live busyness update. 

This is expected to help people decide when to visit an establishment so that social distancing is possible. There’s also a new feature to Live View, which will help people get essential information about a business before visiting. New COVID-19 safety information is being added to Business Profiles across Google Search and Maps. It will help you learn whether a business needs its patrons to wear a mask, make advance reservations and more. 

Lens will now help with homework, and humm to find that song

Sometimes, simply searching via text is not enough. This is when other techniques to search come into play. Google offers voice and even the ability to search through a phone’s camera. During its Search On event, the company announced that the Lens service will now enable users to get step by step help while doing their homework. One simply needs to use the Lens from the search bar of the Google app on Android or iOS. 

Lens Homework

Google Lens can now also help users search for apparels or something else in a photo, to shop for it online. Additionally, if you want to buy a car, going to the showroom might not be the best option right now. Considering this, Google is enabling new Augmented Reality features that will let users check out some car models right from home. This feature is currently being experimented in the US with auto brands, such as Volvo and Porsche. 

Ever had a song or tune stuck in your head but you can’t remember it? Well, Google is rolling out a new hum to search feature. It works exactly as it sounds. One simply needs to hum the melody to the audio option in the Google Search widget and hum for 10-15 seconds. You can do the same while using Google Assistant by opening the voice assistant and asking  “Hey Google, what’s this song?” and then humming the tune. It will then automatically search for the nearest song match. The hum to search option is currently available in English on iOS, and in more than 20 languages on Android. 

Image credits: Google

Startups – Silicon Canals

This recently launched platform aims to be the ‘Glassdoor for VCs’ and bring transparency to fundraising landscape

Glassdoor

You might have probably heard of Glassdoor by now – a website where current and former employees anonymously review companies. Now, with a similar idea, a UK-based entrepreneur Joe Perkins has decided to start a community project named Landscape – an online review platform for tech startup founders to discover and find investment opportunities.

Joe Perkins studied computer science at Bangor University. After graduating in 2016, he started his first business, Coursematch, an app to help students decide what course to study.

He took the business from the idea stage to launching the product to tens of thousands of users and generating revenue. He remains part of Coursematch in an advisory capacity.

While he was raising funds for Coursematch, he noticed that there were investors who were wasting his time and realised that there was no mechanism to provide feedback to other founders, as well as warn them. This gave him the idea for Landscape.

About Landscape

Landscape started as a community project to help founders better navigate the fundraising ecosystem. The platform aims to increase fairness, accessibility, and transparency in fundraising.

With the help of this platform, entrepreneurs can now provide transparent feedback of their experiences with European venture capital firms and accelerators. Recently, operating under its beta phase, Landscape clocked-up 700 over reviews and has collected 83 ‘Verified Partners’ on the platform.

Founded in May 2020, the startup aims to start with the UK and Europe and later expand to the US market.

Speaking on the development, Perkins, founder of Landscape says, “I started exploring the concept of building a Glassdoor for VC, a resource that would empower founders to share their fundraising interactions for the good of the community. More transparency in the ecosystem would not only provide visibility to all founders but accountability to investors as well.”

Score Factors for VCs and Accelerators

The platform reviews are powered by anonymous founders, who score VCs and accelerators they have interacted with throughout their fundraising journey on 12 different score factors.

Score factors for VCs include approachability, beyond money, board activity, close time, diversity, due diligence, fees, punctuality, professionalism, response time, supportiveness, & terms & conditions.

As for the accelerators, the factors include the application process, approachability, cohort quality, diversity, mentors, network, post programme support, programme, raising possibility, and response time.

During the process of leaving a review, founders are asked for more information about themselves, the business, and whether the firm they are reviewing invested in their startup, to provide context while remaining anonymous.

The platform is free for founders to use, however, it offers a paid subscription for VCs enabling them to unlock premium services. These include replying to reviews, a custom feedback automation, and an insights dashboard that empowers them to see the reasons they are losing marks. The ambition being that they can iterate on their own product while maintaining anonymity for the founders.

Check Warner, partner, Ada Ventures & co-founder, Diversity VC, says “The VC and accelerator landscape is regularly called out due to bad actors or for not doing enough to be more inclusive. There are some great organisations already working with firms to make things better, but data is incredibly important and founders often feel powerless when raising money in the beginning.”

“Landscape’s platform not only provides much-needed transparency for everyone, but also levels the field, and means investors will have to take consistent and sustained action rather than provide lip service, or a one-off. Even better – investors will have more insight into how founders perceive them and have the insights they need to improve,” she adds. 

The Data So Far

According to Landscape, the 10 Best Performing European VC Firms rated by its community with over five reviews include 7percent Ventures, Ada Ventures, Ascension Ventures, Backed VC, Connect Ventures, Dynamo Ventures, Episode 1 Ventures, Kindred Capital, Seedcamp, and Talis Capital.

Additional insights based on almost 700 reviews so far include:

  1. VCs score worst on “Diversity”, and “Beyond Money”
  2. Accelerators score worst for Post Programme Support
  3. Female founders typically feel less supported by their investors than male founders
  4. Founders who didn’t successfully raise capital rate VC “Response Time” lower than those who did

Landscape has built an extensive advisory group including Alexandra Depledge MBE (founder and CEO of Resi), Eamonn Carey (MD of Techstars London and partner at The Fund), Emma Sinclair MBE (co-founder of Enterprise Alumni), Hussein Kanji (partner at Hoxton Ventures), and Jon Bradford (partner at Dynamo Ventures).

Image credits: Landscape

Startups – Silicon Canals

Leo Stan Ekeh, the whiz who launched Nigeria’s first locally manufactured computers – Nairametrics

Leo Stan Ekeh, the whiz who launched Nigeria’s first locally manufactured computers  Nairametrics
“nigeria startups when:7d” – Google News

St. Louis VC firm Cure8 Ventures, launched in 2019, makes first investments – St. Louis Business Journal

St. Louis VC firm Cure8 Ventures, launched in 2019, makes first investments  St. Louis Business Journal
“nigeria startups when:7d” – Google News