Amsterdam-based Gamgee partners with Lithuanian IoT hardware manufacturer Teltonika to expand its IoT reach

IoT or the Internet of Things is a fast growing sector which is expected to reach a value of $ 1256.1B (nearly €1060.6B) by 2025. One of the notable players in the field is moving forward by forging new partnerships and expanding its services. The Lithuanian IoT hardware manufacturer Teltonika Networks has announced its partnership with Amsterdam-based smart home and managed Wi-Fi company Gamgee. 

The fellowship of increased connectivity

Under the newly formed alliance, the two companies, Teltonika and Gamgee, will target to launch new smart home and managed wireless services. These devices and services will be developed by Gamgee and powered by Teltonika Networks products and the setup will include 4G LTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS connectivity. This partnership is for expanding the companies’ capacities to offer managed Wi-Fi and smart network services to more consumers and business customers across multiple technology platforms. 

“Teltonika Networks is largely recognised for developing innovative IoT business and office solutions that are driving the upcoming IoT revolution. Thanks to this partnership, Gamgee will be able to expand its reach and deliver the unique value of easy network management to a large audience that includes businesses and public institutions,” says Paul Hendriks, the CEO of Gamgee.

According to the company, the name Gamgee comes from Samwise Gamgee, also known as Sam, a Hobbit of the Shire – a prominent character from J. R. R. Tolkien’s epic fantasy novel, The Lord of the Rings. “As Sam proved himself to be Frodo’s closest and most dependable companion, the most loyal of the Fellowship of the Ring. He also played a crucial role in protecting Frodo and destroying the One Ring. It is Gamgee’s aspiration to be the wireless smart home network companion,” the company explains. 

“We are looking forward to extending our presence to not only industrial and business areas but also a smart-home environment with the help of Gamgee,” comments Julius Švagždys, Chief Corporate Marketing at Teltonika .

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Startups – Silicon Canals

[Nexa3D in Business Wire] Nexa3D Partners with Siemens to Automate Additive Manufacturing for Ultrafast Polymer Production

  • Partnership underscores both companies’ commitment to prepare AM for Industry 4.0 through innovative collaborations, open architecture and digital twin predictive operability and serviceability
  • Nexa3D’s entire Quantum Laser Sintering (QLS) product line is standardized to Siemens advanced factory automation and edge computing technologies
  • Planned commercial Q1 2021 delivery for Nexa3D’s QLS™350 Polymer 3D printer, powered by Siemens automation controls

Read more here.

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Indian e-commerce deals site CashKaro gets $10 million Series B led by Korea Investment Partners

CashKaro co-founders Rohan and Swati Bhargava

CashKaro co-founders Rohan and Swati Bhargava

CashKaro, one of the leading cashback and coupon sites in India, will expand its range of services for e-commerce after raising $ 10 million in Series B funding, the New Delhi-based startup announced today. The round was led by Korea Investment Partners, with participation from returning investor Kalaari Capital.

TechCrunch last covered CashKaro five years ago when it raised a $ 3.8 million Series A. The latest round brings the company’s total funding so far to $ 15 million.

Over the past five years, the company has introduced new products, including a price comparison service, and EarnKaro, a social commerce cashback app that launched about 18 months ago. Part of the Series B will be used to expand EarnKaro, which has about one million registered users. It allows social commerce sellers, or people who use social media platform and messaging apps like WhatsApp to sell items, make extra cash by creating affiliate links to major e-commerce sites like Amazon and Flipkart. The launch of EarnKaro also allowed CashKaro to reach into smaller cities and rural areas, where shoppers often prefer to order from people whose recommendations they trust (i.e. “micro-influencers”) instead of e-commerce sites.

Founded in 2013 by husband-and-wife team Swati and Rohan Bhargava, CashKaro currently claims about five million users and has partnerships with more than 1,500 e-commerce sites, including some of the biggest players in India, like Amazon, Flipkart, Myntra and Ajio. The company monetizes by charging brands a commission for transactions made through CashKaro links. The commissions are also how CashKaro is able to give cash back to shoppers, which can be deposited into their bank accounts or redeemed as gift vouchers for Flipkart and Amazon. CashKaro’s founders says it currently processes more than one million monthly transactions.

CashKaro competes for the attention of online shoppers with a bevy of other coupon and cashback services in India. Some of its rivals include CouponDunia, GrabOn and GoPaisa.

“We are the only VC-funded cashback site in India. While capital itself is not the differentiator, it is what we have been able to do with that capital which sets us apart,” Bhargava told TechCrunch, adding that CashKaro’s cashback rates are among the highest in the market.

“Given that we now drive close to a half a billion dollars in GMV through CashKaro and EarnKaro to our partner sites, we are able to get higher commission rates from partner sites, which in turn helps us pass the most benefit to our members.”

While COVID-19 has affected e-commerce businesses around the world because of sudden changes in consumer habits, the situation in India was particularly complicated in April and May because there were containment zones throughout the country, and in some zones, deliveries of non-essential items was not allowed until May.

“COVID-19 caught us by surprise and Indian e-commerce was neither prepared to handle the surge in demand, nor did we expect so many supply side and delivery issues,” said Bhargava. “Given CashKaro works with all e-commerce sites, we saw these trends as well.”

Since June, however, sales have started to recover and is seeing growth as people continue to stay home and shop online.

“Our business is growing month on month and, in fact, the pandemic spurred our expansion into new digital categories, like education, gaming and online video streaming, which have seen exponential growth,” Bhargava added. Sales of electronics, home and kitchen items, personal care and beauty have also increased over the past few months.

At the same time, the economic impact of the pandemic has prompted more people to seek cashback offers and other money-saving deals.

“We are seeing that saving consciousness has gone up amongst online shoppers and people are finding services like CashKaro and EarnKaro more useful than ever before,” Bhargava said. “On the client side, our partners, such as Amazon, Myntra and Ajio, are also working with us more closely because they are seeing that our performance marketing model is the perfect way to scale while keeping profitability in mind amidst these tough times.”

The new round of capital will be used for CashKaro’s goal of doubling its registered member base over the next 12 months from the current 5 million. Bhargava told TechCrunch that it will expand cashback offers into categories like credit cards and education, and launch new marketing campaigns focused around events like upcoming festivals and the Indian Premier League season, which starts this weekend.

The company is also “chasing aggressive growth for EarnKaro and reaching out to more influencers, resellers, housewives and students who are our primary target market for this product,” she added. Finally, part of the Series B will be used for hiring, including leadership positions.

For Korea Investment Partners, one of the largest South Korean venture capital firms, CashKaro represents a chance to tap into India’s fast-growing e-commerce market. In a statement, managing partner Hudson Kyung-sik Ho said, “We believe this is a highly scalable opportunity and both Swati and Rohan have set it on a truly exciting growth trajectory. CashKaro and EarnKaro together have shown exceptional unit metrics and we are really excited to be a part of India’s affiliate story.”

Startups – TechCrunch

Delivery Hero partners with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to integrate a donation feature

Delivery Hero, a leading food delivery platform who we recently featured in our article Glovo vs. Deliveroo vs. Delivery Hero: Battle of the food delivery scaleups, has today announced a global partnership with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). The partnership will roll out the WFP’s ‘ShareTheMeal’ donation feature to Delivery Hero’s delivery platforms…

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EU-Startups

German air-taxi startup Lilium partners with Dusseldorf and Cologne/Bonn airports to promote regional air mobility

Known for its fully electric, 5-seater aircraft Munich-based aviation startup Lilium plans to establish regional air mobility as a new mode of transportation by 2025. In this regard, the company announced a partnership with Dusseldorf and Cologne/Bonn airports to develop the necessary infrastructure to support the regional air services spanning North Rhine-Westphalia.

Image credits: Lilium

First of many agreements to come

The partnership was announced in Dusseldorf in the presence of the Transportation Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia Hendrik Wüst. North Rhine-Westphalia Transport Minister Hendrik Wüst explains: “What sounds like science fiction today may soon be a reality. In the federal state with the highest mobility needs, smart ideas for better mobility are always welcome. We need all modes of transport in order to provide people with a convincingly diverse range of mobility options.“

Why North Rhine-Westphalia?

With 18 million inhabitants, North Rhine-Westphalia is the largest and most densely populated German state, including 40 universities and colleges and four international trade fair locations, and 10 cities with over 300,000 inhabitants. 

“North Rhine-Westphalia is a model region for the mobility of the future. We want digitally-networked mobility in North Rhine-Westphalia not only to be researched and developed but also experienced as soon as possible. This is why we support and promote many future-oriented projects and research projects here in North-Rhine-Westphalia,” Wüst adds. 

According to the company, both Cologne/Bonn and Dusseldorf airports have perfect connections to air, rail, and road traffic, making it an ideal starting point for the development of networked mobility

“We are excited to bring our innovative service to North Rhine-Westphalia,” says Lilium COO Dr. Remo Gerber. “Cities such as Aachen, Bielefeld, Münster, and Siegen will be directly connected to the region’s largest international airports within 30mins, providing emission-free, high-speed connectivity at an affordable price.”

Image credits: Lilium

What do you need to know about 5-seater aircraft!

Co-founded in 2015 by four engineers, Daniel Wiegand (CEO), Sebastian Born, Matthias Meiner and Patrick Nathen, Lilium is an aviation company developing an emissions-free regional air mobility service.

It has designed and prototyped the Lilium Jet, which is a 5-seater, all-electric aircraft that can take-off and land vertically (eVTOL). Since, this signature maneuver is one of aerospace’s most significant challenges, it gives Lilium Jet its range advantage.

Introduced back in May 2019, first flight testing was completed in less than six months. As per the company, the emission-free aircraft has flown at speeds exceeding 100 km/h, in increasingly complex maneuvers.

The Lilium Jet  has a top speed of 300 km/h and 60 min flying time. It’s worth mentioning that the jet is powered by 36 all-electric jet engines and has zero operating emissions. Notably, it requires less than 10% of its maximum 2000 horsepower during horizontal cruise flight.

According to the company, the aircraft is being engineered to the requirements of EASA’s (European Union Aviation Safety Agency) SC-VTOL regulations (2019) and their Associated Means of Compliance (2020). It is being certified by EASA in Europe and the FAA in the United States.

Image credits: Lilium

Raised €317M funding so far

Lilium has attracted more than $ 375M (approx €317M) in funding from numerous investors including Atomico, Tencent, Baillie Gifford, LGT, Freigeist and Obvious Ventures. Back in June, the company crossed the €1B valuation, making it one of the most valuable and highly capitalised aviation companies.

Main image credits: Lilium

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[MeMed in The Times of Israel] MeMed partners with Italy’s DiaSorin to commercialize bacteria vs virus test

MeMed Diagnostics, a Haifa-based firm that develops diagnostic solutions to monitor the body’s immune state, said it will partner with Italian diagnostic firm DiaSorin to commercialize a test that is able to distinguish between bacterial and viral infections.

Read more here.

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[Zoomcar in Express Drives] Zoomcar partners with Pascos for pan-India distribution of Zoomcar Mobility Services

Zoomcar and PASCOS partnership will help distribute the Zoomcar Mobility Services tech stack which focuses on reducing operating costs, enhancing safety, increasing vehicle monetization and improving customer engagement.

Read more here.

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Thunes, a fintech startup serving emerging markets, raises $60 million led by Africa-focused Helios Investment Partners

Thunes, a Singapore-based startup developing a cross-border payments network to make financial services more accessible in emerging markets, announced today it has raised a $ 60 million Series B. The round was led by Africa-focused firm Helios Investment Partners, with participation from Checkout.com, and returning investors GGV Capital and Future Shape.

Thunes launched in 2019 when financial tech company TransferTo split into two companies: Thunes for business-to-business solutions, and DT One, which focuses on consumer services like mobile top-ups and data bundles.

Thunes develops APIs and other technology for financial companies, including banks, digital wallet providers, and money transfer services, that helps them reach customers in emerging economies, who often don’t have access to traditional bank accounts. Instead, many rely on digital wallets or mobile money accounts to make or receive online payments.

The company now operates in about 100 countries, up from 40 when TechCrunch covered its $ 10 million Series A in May 2019. The latest round will be used to grow its operations across Africa, Asia and Latin America, and brings Thunes’ total raised so far to $ 70 million.

Headquartered in Singapore, Thunes also has offices in London, Shanghai, New York, Dubai and Nairobi. Chief executive officer Peter De Caluwe told TechCrunch that Thunes looked for active investors who could help it work with banks and regulators in new markets, and help them connect with potential clients. Part of its Series B round will be used to hire teams in countries it wants to enter or expand its operations in, including Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, and Ethiopia.

“Having Helios, who know many of the regulators and players already in Africa, will allow us to grow faster and get introductions,” said De Caluwe. “GGV did the same for us in China, because GGV is well-established in China and the [San Francisco] Bay Area.”

In an email to TechCrunch, Helios Investment Partners co-founder and managing partner Tope Lawani said the firm focuses on fintech, especially payments, in Africa, and backed Thunes because it is building important financial infrastructure.

Its other investments include online payment platform Fawry, which recently went public on the Egyptian Stock Exchange.

“Cross-border payments represents a significant market opportunity globally given increasing cross border trade and globalization; yet, across several emerging markets, fragmented and complex payment ecosystems often leave businesses and consumers struggling with slow, costly and unreliable ways of moving money,” Lawani said. “Thunes’ unique platform which was set up to address these pain points by providing accessible, fast and reliable payment solutions stood out to us as a company very well positioned to capture this growth”

Peter De Caluwe, the chief executive officer of cross-borders payment network Thunes

Peter De Caluwe, chief executive officer of cross-border payments network Thunes

Pulling together a fragmented ecosystem

Similarly to how the SWIFT system connects traditional banks, Thunes’ cross-border payments network makes it easier to transfer money online to recipients in different countries, even if they use different financial services, by serving as a hub for financial institutions, digital wallets and other payment systems.

De Caluwe said Thunes divides its markets’ needs into four categories. The first are countries that are primarily cash-driven, like the Philippines. The second are places where there is a dominant digital wallet, like MPesa in Kenya (one of Thunes’ clients). Then there are countries like Indonesia, where there are a host of new financial instruments, like GrabPay or GoPay. Finally, Thunes also serves banks that usually work with businesses.

“Nobody really connects all these players together. It might sound very logical to do that, but it’s almost like building an infrastructure, making sure there are pipes, tunnels, or whatever you want to call it, going between a wallet in Africa, a bank in China or accounting in Southeast Asia,” said De Caluwe.

SWIFT (or the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication), founded in 1973, revolutionized the financial industry by connecting banks through a standardized messaging system. This is what enables people to deposit checks from another bank into their accounts.

Thunes wants to do the same thing with digital financial services in emerging markets. “All of these e-wallets, bank accounts, mobile money accounts, we plug them into our central platform, so they become interoperable, which means that you can easily transfer money from one country to another country over our network,” De Caluwe said.

Thunes’ market opportunity is massive: based on data from a strategic workshop it conducted with financial research firm EY, about $ 45 trillion flows between the countries Thunes operates in. That amount includes many different kinds of transactions, but Thunes is taking a focused approach to which ones it handles, with APIs designed for specific use cases.

The first example De Caluwe gave is for remittance companies, including MoneyGram, Western Union and Remitly (all Thunes clients), to move money into digital wallets and bank accounts. Another API was developed for processing large amounts of payments and is used by clients like VIA, a region-wide mobile wallet alliance launched by Singtel Group, the Singapore-based telecommunications conglomerate. Thunes’ technology allows people to make payments from their VIA wallets in different currencies and countries. A major part of Thunes’ business is also its B2B solutions, designed for cross-border trade, that allows companies in different countries to transfer money directly into each other’s bank accounts without needing to deal with a maze of interbank connections and long wait times.

How Thunes’ technology helps

Part of Thunes’ Series B is earmarked for product development, specifically technology that will enable more collections from countries. De Caluwe explained that so far, most of Thunes’ solutions have focused on moving money into its markets. A potential use case for collections are Chinese retailers who sell to customers in African countries. Thunes’ new solution will allow them to collect payments directly from a digital wallet like MPesa, while making it easier for people to make payments on sites that don’t accept digital wallets or mobile money accounts. To serve those customers, Thunes is also working on digital bank accounts, which it has already begun piloting in Indonesia. Users are able to deposit cash into their digital bank accounts at ATMs, and then use those funds for online payments.

Other noteworthy Thunes clients include Grab, which uses its real-time payment system to make daily transfers to drivers’ digital wallets, bank accounts or cash pick-up locations, and the National Bank of Dubai.

Traditional methods of sending money across international borders are time-consuming and expensive, and there many financial tech companies looking to solve some of those pain points. Some of the best-known are Transferwise, Revolut and Payoneer.

Thunes differentiates by focusing almost exclusively on emerging markets, where the barriers to entry are high. Transferwise theoretically is a competitor, but it doesn’t serve as many markets as Thunes, and is also a potential client for Thunes’ technology, De Caluwe said.

Thunes does compete with regional digital payment hubs, but De Caluwe said the market opportunity is so vast he’d be “happy to share that $ 45 trillion with many players, because even if we could get one or two percent of that, we would already be a very larger business.” He added, “the market is so large and the systems that are currently used are broken or not helpful because many consumers can’t even get access to it since they don’t have a bank accounts, they only have a digital wallet or mobile money account.”

One advantage of Thunes’ technology is that it significantly reduces the amount of transaction fees consumers or businesses need to pay. The company makes revenue by charging a fixed transaction fee between two cents to $ 2, depending on the destination country. If there is a currency exchange involved, it charges a small markup on the exchange rate, using mid-market rates for reference.

“We need to make money, but our price also needs to be very attractive for a bank, a financial institution, digital wallet or mobile money accounts, so they can also make a markup on what they’re selling to the customer,” De Caluwe said. “So we operate on small margins, high volumes and high frequency.”

Startups – TechCrunch

What you need to know about VC firm, V8 Capital Partners and its Growth Labs programme – Techpoint Africa

What you need to know about VC firm, V8 Capital Partners and its Growth Labs programme  Techpoint Africa
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