Dutch fintech Silverflow nabs €2.6 million to launch its cloud-native card payments platform in early 2021

Silverflow, a global payment technology company, is announcing a €2.6 million seed funding round, led by UK-based seed-stage investor Crane Venture Partners, with participation from INKEF Capital and notable angel investors and industry leaders from Pay.On, First Data, Booking.com and Adyen. With this seed round, Silverflow has now raised €3 million in total funding. Founded…

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Index nabs $2.6M seed to create BI dashboards without coding

Index founders, Xavier Pladevall and Eduardo Portet, have been friends since they were small children in the Dominican Republic. Both came to college in the U.S., and last year the two decided to launch a startup to help non-technical users build business intelligence dashboards without coding.

Today they get to keep building on that dream with the help of a $ 2.6 million seed investment from David Sacks, Slack, Gradient Ventures, Y Combinator and other individual investors.

What has attracted this investment is a couple of young founders who are passionate about making it simple to build a data dashboard without help from experts like engineers or data analysts.

“Essentially what we do is we help companies build their business metrics dashboards with as little code or technical knowledge as possible. The byproduct of that is that anyone in the company can build their own metrics for their teams,” co-founder Xavier Pladevall told TechCrunch.

End users can connect to a growing list of data sources and Index deals with building the queries and displaying the data for the users without data scientists or data analysts to help. For now, that includes Salesforce and Hubspot for CRM data, Stripe payments data and certain databases from Postgres and MongoDB.

(Xavier Pladevall (left) and Eduardo Portet (right) founders of Inex

Company co-founders Xavier Pladevall and Eduardo Portet. Image Credits: Index

As the founders build out the product, they want to stay lean with just the two founders and perhaps two additional engineers. “We’re actually looking to hire two people full time, and that’s going to take us to the Series A, and we’ve been very clear with investors about that,” he said.

As Latino immigrant founders, they want to build a company that’s diverse and inclusive. He says that’s it’s not hard for him and his co-founder to find people of color because they have formed friendships with a diverse  network of people they can tap into.

“Our job is to keep doing what we’re doing, which is to be friends with a bunch of different people because that is genuine and people can definitely tell you’re trying to meet some diversity quota versus when you’re generally a diversity-oriented type of company because it comes back to the founders themselves,” he said.

The two founders and their families have been friends since they were children. Growing up in the Dominican Republic, they didn’t have access to computer science classes, but they did have access to the internet and they got the startup bug from reading U.S. tech publications like this one, and learned to code from YouTube videos and StackOverflow. They both came to college in the U.S. and both interned at large companies — Pladevall at Facebook and Portet worked at Metadata in New York.

The idea came together because Pladevalll was part of a team at Facebook building a similar tool for internal use. He decided that it would be a viable commercial idea for companies without the resources of Facebook. He came together with his childhood friend and began building the company in January as the pandemic hit.

He acknowledges the hardship of this year, but says it really helped them focus because there wasn’t anything else to do. While they are amazed at having $ 2.6 million in the bank, he says they still have the hunger that he believes is part of the immigrant founder ethos.

“It’s just hunger to just prove yourself and if coding is what it takes, learn how to code. If it’s going through an early visa process, which is by the way, way harder than raising millions of dollars and going through YC, in my opinion, [you do that]” he said. He said it’s about doing whatever it takes.

As the two friends take their first steps as a company, they have some early customers and continue to refine the product. With today’s funding they have some lofty goals for the next year, which include building out that product, reaching $ 1 million in ARR and building distribution for the dashboard.

If they can meet those goals, Pladevall says, they should be able to get their Series A. I wouldn’t bet against them.

Startups – TechCrunch

Zurich-based Bota Systems nabs around €150K so robots can better interact and work with humans

Swiss startup Bota Systems, which is aiming to help robotic systems safely work in a dynamic environment and close to humans, has landed around €150K from Venture Kick. Founded in the middle of the pandemic lockdown in March 2020, Bota Systems equips robotic systems with ’force sensing’ to feel and shape interactions within their environment….

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[Armory in TechCrunch] Armory nabs $40M Series C as commercial biz on top of open-source Spinnaker project takes off

As companies continue to shift more quickly to the cloud, pushed by the pandemic, startups like Armory that work in the cloud-native space are seeing an uptick in interest. Armory  is a company built to be a commercial layer on top of the open-source continuous delivery project Spinnaker. Today, it announced a $ 40 million Series C.

Read more here.

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Swedish martech Mediatool nabs €2.5 million to grow its cloud-based remote marketing platform

Stockholm-based Mediatool, the startup that offers media management software for omnichannel marketeers, has received €2.5 million in an investment round led by Newion, early stage investor in B2B software companies, together with J12 Ventures, Almi Invest and current investor Twig. The Swedish company Mediatool allows marketing professionals of brands and agencies to plan, execute, analyze…

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Commercializing the open-source FingerprintJS browser fingerprinting tech nabs Chicago entrepreneur $4M

Chicago-based serial entrepreneur Dan Pinto has raised new cash and launched a new company looking to commercialize a years-old open-source project that purports to solve one of the web’s hardest problems — fraud prevention.

The company he launched in January, FingerprintJS, touts itself as a new kind of toolkit offering browser fingerprinting as a service for any application.

The company, based on an open-source project that already has 5 million downloads and 8,000 websites using the service (and hundreds of paying customers, according to the company), is a variation on the browser fingerprinting technology that companies have been using for years.

FingerprintJS uses the same canvas fingerprinting, audio sampling, WebGL fingerprinting, font detection and browser plugin probing tech that’s available on the market, but de-identifies the fingerprint from a specific device by generating a unique identifier of a browser without using cookies. Companies can store the identifier in their database and then track its behavior, the company said on its website.

The open-source project was actually started five years ago by Valentin Vasilyev, according to the project’s GitHub page. Vasilyev and Pinto worked together at Pinto’s last startup, Machinio, which was sold back in 2018. The two men launched a business around Vasilyev’s project in January and have raised $ 4 million in financing to support the commercialization of the project.

“The open source community was pivotal to our success thus far,” said Vasilyev, in a statement. “We will continue to build upon that base and focus on selling to developers first. Software engineers understand technology and are starting to recognize how effective our product is to help stop fraud.”

Funding came from Nexus Venture Partners, with participation from Hack VC, the Entrepreneur Roundtable Accelerator’s Remarkable Ventures fund and angel investors like Rony Kahan, the chair and co-founder of Indeed, according to a statement from FingerprintJS.

“FingerprintJS APIs make it possible for developers to quickly embed fraud detection and prevention capabilities into their code,” said Abhishek Sharma, principal at Nexus Venture Partners, in a statement. “We are excited to partner with the FingerprintJS team because of their product-led bottom-up technology development and distribution in a category that has historically been reliant on top-down enterprise sales.”

One potential roadblock to FingerprintJS’ growth comes from the recent General Data Protection Regulations enacted by the European Union and better known by their acronym, GDPR. Those regulations restrict the use of several browser fingerprinting and tracking technologies. Some browsers, including Chrome, Firefox and Safari, have even set up their own controls to limit the amount of data a website can use to track visitors online.

Pinto is undeterred.

“We have a unique opportunity to disrupt the fraud technology market by enabling our customers to build fraud prevention in their applications rather than it being an afterthought just as Stripe has done with payment processing,” he said in a statement provided by the company. “Think of online fraud as a shell game where malicious users are constantly trying to hide themselves in order to commit fraud. Existing solutions try to generate a fraud score for each visitor without trying to understand who they are. We focus on uniquely identifying malicious users which directly solves the underlying fraud problem.” 

Startups – TechCrunch

Armory nabs $40M Series C as commercial biz on top of open-source Spinnaker project takes off

As companies continue to shift more quickly to the cloud, pushed by the pandemic, startups like Armory that work in the cloud-native space are seeing an uptick in interest. Armory is a company built to be a commercial layer on top of the open-source continuous delivery project Spinnaker. Today, it announced a $ 40 million Series C.

B Capital led the round, with help from new investors Lead Edge Capital and Marc Benioff along with previous investors Insight Partners, Crosslink Capital, Bain Capital Ventures, Mango Capital, Y Combinator and Javelin Venture Partners. Today’s investment brings the total raised to more than $ 82 million.

“Spinnaker is an open-source project that came out of Netflix and Google, and it is a very sophisticated multi-cloud and software delivery platform,” company co-founder and CEO Daniel R. Odio told TechCrunch.

Odio points out that this project has the backing of industry leaders, including the three leading public cloud infrastructure vendors Amazon, Microsoft and Google, as well as other cloud players like CloudFoundry and HashiCorp. “The fact that there is a lot of open-source community support for this project means that it is becoming the new standard for cloud-native software delivery,” he said.

In the days before the notion of continuous delivery, companies moved forward slowly, releasing large updates over months or years. As software moved to the cloud, this approach no longer made sense and companies began delivering updates more incrementally, adding features when they were ready. Adding a continuous delivery layer helped facilitate this move.

As Odio describes it, Armory extends the Spinnaker project to help implement complex use cases at large organizations, including around compliance and governance and security. It is also in the early stages of implementing a SaaS version of the solution, which should be available next year.

While he didn’t want to discuss customer numbers, he mentioned JPMorgan Chase and Autodesk as customers, along with less specific allusions to “a Fortune Five technology company, a Fortune 20 Bank, a Fortune 50 retailer and a Fortune 100 technology company.”

The company currently has 75 employees, but Odio says business has been booming and he plans to double the team in the next year. As he does, he says that he is deeply committed to diversity and inclusion.

“There’s actually a really big difference between diversity and inclusion, and there’s a great Vernā Myers quote that diversity is being asked to the party and inclusion is being asked to dance, and so it’s actually important for us not only to focus on diversity, but also focus on inclusion because that’s how we win. By having a heterogeneous company, we will outperform a homogeneous company,” he said.

While the company has moved to remote work during COVID, Odio says they intend to remain that way, even after the current crisis is over. “Now obviously COVID been a real challenge for the world, including us. We’ve gone to a fully remote-first model, and we are going to stay remote-first even after COVID. And it’s really important for us to be taking care of our people, so there’s a lot of human empathy here,” he said.

But at the same time, he sees COVID opening up businesses to move to the cloud and that represents an opportunity for his business, one that he will focus on with new capital at his disposal. “In terms of the business opportunity, we exist to help power the transformation that these enterprises are undergoing right now, and there’s a lot of urgency for us to execute on our vision and mission because there is a lot of demand for this right now,” he said.

Startups – TechCrunch

Envisics nabs $50M for its in-car holographic display tech at a $250M+ valuation

The jury is still out on what might become the most viable business models for augmented reality technology, but in the meantime a startup out of the UK is betting one big area will be in vehicles, in the form of holographic displays. And today it is announcing a significant round of funding from strategic investors to fill out its vision (so to speak).

Envisics, which brings together technologies like computer vision, machine learning, big data analytics and navigation to build hardware that integrates into vehicles to project holographic, head-up displays providing enhanced “dashboards” of information to drivers — with features like mapping, navigation guidance and hazard warnings — is today announcing that it has raised $ 50 million in a Series B round of funding.

Dr. Jamieson Christmas, the founder of the company, said in an interview that the funding is being made at a valuation of over $ 250 million, “significantly up” on its previous round, although Envisics, based in the town of Milton Keynes in England, has never disclosed its valuation before.

The capital is coming from a strong group of strategic investors that points to the companies that are already working with the startup. Hyundai Mobis, General Motors Ventures, SAIC Motors and Van Tuyl Companies (the family office of the Van Tuyl Group, which made a fortune in automotive dealerships and related services) all participated in the round.

Envisics is already working with car companies to integrate its technology into vehicles. Initially, it’s focusing on the higher end of the market and integrating its tech into models from Jaguar Land Rover (owned by Tata Motors), Christmas said. Mass production of vehicles using its technology is slated for 2023.

At a time when AR startups have been on somewhat shaky ground, the funding is a validation not just for Envisics, but for the wider market in which it operates.

Christmas first got into holographic displays through his first startup, Two Trees, which eventually got acquired in 2016 by Daqri, and AR glasses company that was looking for more tech to better compete with Microsoft and its HoloLens.

Christmas said that while Daqri was focused on headsets, he still saw an opportunity to work on holographic tech for automakers (indeed, when it was acquired, Two Trees already had automotive customers).

That eventually led to Christmas, two years later in 2018, spinning out Envisics (once again as a UK startup, like his previous one) to focus just on the holographic automotive opportunity.

It turned out to be a very timely move: Daqri eventually shut down in September 2019 after failing to find its footing as a business and running out of money in what was already a challenging climate for AR. It was not the only one: other casualties at that time included patent and asset sales from the Osterhout Design Group and Meta.

If Envisics managed to jump off the burning platform that was AR headset displays, it arguably went from the frying pan into the fire (excuse the mixing of a few heated metaphors): billions of dollars have been invested into the automotive sector and its hot pursuit of what it hopes will be the next generation of transportation, autonomous vehicles.

Yet if you think AR has yet to find a landing place as a business, self-driving cars are even further from their destination. Experts agree that we are many years away still from fully-autonomous vehicles capable of making decisions as reliably as humans, and some skeptics wonder if we’ll ever get there at all.

Enter technology like Envisics’. The company’s tools are not a replacement for human drivers, but they definitely enhance how a human can drive, and in the many steps that we’ll see between today and some future where cars can actually drive themselves, tech like Envisics’ will continue to play a vital and interesting role, one that you can imagine has lots of room to evolve along with the cars themselves. (For example, today it provides vital data; tomorrow it could also provide… useful diversions if you no longer have to do any driving?)

“Hyundai Mobis will jointly develop autonomous driving specialized AR HUDs with Envisics, targeting mass production by 2025,” Executive Vice President, CTO, Sung Hwan Cho said in a statement. “We will proactively present the next generation AR HUD to global automakers with increased safety and convenience to avoid distracting the driver.”

“GM is very impressed with Envisics’ holographic augmented reality-enhanced head-up display technology,” added Matt Tsien, president of GM Ventures. “This technology will help us revolutionize the in-vehicle experience with a variety of safe, highly integrated and intuitive applications, including applications that will enhance the hands-free driving experience in future EVs, like the Cadillac LYRIQ.”

“We are very excited to be part of Envisics journey to commercialize its revolutionary holographic technology and look forward to partnering with them to deploy advanced AR-HUDs in our next generation of cars for both the Chinese domestic and global markets,” said Michael Cohen, Investment Director at SAIC Capital, in his own statement.

Startups – TechCrunch

Nivelo nabs $2.5M seed to reduce risk in digital ACH payments

As we plunge deeper into the pandemic, online transactions have become increasingly important, and ACH transactions, the ones that help us get direct deposit of our paychecks or pay our bills are growing ever more essential. Nivelo, an early stage startup from a former JP Morgan executive wants to take the risk out of ACH transactions and today the company announced a $ 2.5 million seed investment, which closed in mid-August.

FirstMark, Barclays and Anthemis led the round with help from Dash Fund and several individual investors. While the company was announcing its first funding, it also launched a private beta of a Risk Scoring API for payments.

Company co-founder Eli Polanco says that ACH payments are a huge business, but mostly haven’t been updated for quick and safe digital transactions “We protect digital payments in real time, but taking a step back our focus is ACH payments, which are the most ubiquitous payment channel in the U.S.,” Polanco told TechCrunch.

To give you a sense of how big this business is, more than $ 55 trillion worth of transactions moves through the ACH channel annually, yet Polanco says for the most part, it remains mired in legacy technology. Her company wants to update the risk component by building a set of APIs that companies can tap into and understand the risk associated with a particular transaction.

“We’re unbundling this risk assessment service and packaging it in the easiest way possible in the form of APIs and embedding it into the most critical payment use cases in the U.S.,” she said.

Polanco, who is a Black woman who grew up in the Dominican Republic, started the company in January and went to raise money. She had a lot going for her including a strong background in payments products, a working product and paying customers. While she faced a lot of due diligence, she expected that, especially as a newly minted founder at a time when she couldn’t meet with investors in person.

Still, she knows the odds for Black founders are abysmal, but she says she could only come armed with data and tell her story. “I know that discrimination and racism exist in the world, but I can just live and play offense as much as possible and come prepared,” she said. Ultimately she prevailed and got her funding.

She said that the pandemic has reinforced how important having a safe digital payment system is. “COVID really shone a light into how unprepared we are for where the world is moving to. When COVID happened and a lot of folks were no longer able to rely on checks and cash […] it elevated the prominent rise of moving to digital payments,” she said. And investors saw this too.

Polanco says that she is also building her financial services tooling with the idea of leveling the playing field for everyone. “My hyper focus on risk infrastructure is directly tied to my outsider experience as an immigrant. When you’re trying to get access to any financial service, you’re always the edge case in the risk models that they have, and you’re always going to have additional friction. So when you grow up as a product manager who has always experienced this, you always have a keen sight on building accurate, but accessible FinTech tools,” she said.

Nivelo is taking its first steps as a company with this funding, but it’s on its way with an alpha product and a future road map of products and services. The company is live with a couple of thousand customers today.

Startups – TechCrunch

[BioCatch in No Camels] Israeli Behavioral Biometrics Firm BioCatch Nabs $20M From 4 Major Banks

Israeli-founded cybersecurity firm BioCatch announced on Wednesday that four major global banks – Barclays, Citi, HSBC and National Australia Bank (NAB) – are investing $ 20 million in the company, extending its recent Series C fundraising round to$ 168 million. Investors Industry Ventures and existing shareholders American Express Ventures, CreditEase, Maverick Ventures and OurCrowd participated in that round.

Read more here.

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