Sequoia Capital India’s Surge invests $2M in sales engagement platform Outplay

A Zoom screenshot showing members of Outplay's team on a video call

Outplay’s team members on a video call

Sales engagement platforms (SEP) help sales teams automate and track the large number of tasks they need to do each day as they contact leads and hone in on potential deals. Focused on small-to-medium-sized companies, SEP startup Outplay announced today it has raised $ 2 million from Sequoia Capital India’s Surge program for early-stage startups.

Outplay was founded in January 2020 by brothers Ram and Laxman Papineni and now counts more than 300 clients. Before launching Outplay, the Papineni brothers built AppVirality, a referall marketing tool for app developers.

Laxman told TechCrunch that Outplay’s customers come from sectors like IT, computer software, marketing and advertising and recruiting, and most are based in North America and Europe.

Outplay is designed for teams that use multiple channels to reach potential customers, including phone calls, text messages, email, live chats on websites, and social media platforms like LinkedIn or Twitter. It integrates with customer relationship management platforms like Salesforce and Pipedrive, giving sales people a new interface that includes productivity and automation tools to cut the time they spend on administrative tasks.

Screenshots of Outplay's sales engagement platform for automating sales tasks

Outplay’s platform

For example, Outplay can be used create sequences that send initial messages through different platforms, and then automatically follows up with new messages if there isn’t a reply within a pre-set time frame. Outplay also provides analytics to help sales people track how well sales campaigns are working.

Two of Outplay’s biggest competitors are Outreach and SalesLoft, both of which hit unicorn status in recent funding rounds. Laxman said Outplay is focused on ease of use, with other differentiators including more integrations with CRMs and other software, and a strong customer support team.

Startups – TechCrunch

Vestiaire Collective raises $216 million for its second-hand fashion platform

Vestiaire Collective announced a new funding round. The company has raised $ 216 million, or €178 million — it has reached a valuation above $ 1 billion, making it a unicorn. French fashion and luxury group Kering is leading the round with Tiger Global Management. Kering now owns 5% of Vestiaire Collective.

The startup operates an online marketplace where you can find pre-owned luxury and fashion items. And it’s a complicated industry as you don’t want to buy a damaged item or a cheap knockoff. The company controls and authenticate some items before they reach the buyer. If you opt for direct shipping, you can get reimbursed if there’s something wrong with what you ordered.

In addition to the two lead investors, many of the company’s existing shareholders are investing once again, such as Vestiaire Collective’s own CEO Max Bittner, Bpifrance’s Large Venture fund, Condé Nast, Eurazeo through Eurazeo Growth and Idinvest Venture, Fidelity International, Korelya Capital, Luxury Tech Fund and Vitruvian Partner.

As you may have noticed, it’s been a bit harder to travel and buy fashion items in store. Many fashion e-commerce companies have been thriving during the coronavirus outbreak, and Vestiaire Collective is one of them. Transaction volume doubled in 2020 compared to 2019. There are 140,000 new listings every week.

In addition to the current pandemic, many consumers are concerned about the impact of fashion on the environment. At the lower end of the spectrum, retailers and fast fashion brands encourage you to buy more and more stuff as trends change with each season. At the higher end of the spectrum, luxury brands don’t want to undermine the value of their goods by putting items on sale to clear room for a new collection.

That’s why Vestiaire Collective is particularly well positioned to find new customers who are looking for quality goods that are going to last for a while and that haven’t been specifically produced for them. Similarly, people can sell their stuff instead of throwing them away.

While Vestiaire Collective originally started in Europe, the company is now growing rapidly in the U.S. and Asia. “As of January 2021, local sellers in those regions had increased their items sold by more than 250% year-over-year,” Tiger Global partner Griffin Schroeder said in the release.

With today’s funding round, the company plans to further develop partnerships with brands through buy-back circular solutions. The company also wants to encourage more people to sell something every time they buy something. Vestiaire Collective aims to be carbon neutral by 2026 and get the B Corp certification. The startup will also hire 155 people in the technology team.

Startups – TechCrunch

Dutch conversational commerce platform CM.com acquires Amsterdam-based fintech PayPlaza for €10M

CM

Netherlands-based CM.com, a cloud software for conversational commerce, has reached an agreement to acquire Amsterdam-based PayPlaza, a point of sale (POS) payment acceptance platform. According to CM.com, the transaction comprises a consideration of €10M (excluding a capped earn-out). Upon closing, the acquisition will be immediately accretive to EBITDA.

Conversational commerce is e-commerce done via various means of conversation and using technology such as speech recognition, speaker recognition, natural language processing, and artificial intelligence.

Aim of the acquisition 

According to CM.com, this acquisition forms a next step for it to offer omnichannel communications and payments solutions from one single platform. 

With this development, CM.com plans to merge its payments solutions with PayPlaza’s technology, thereby offering its existing and new customers quick access to additional payment options from one single platform. 

“The anticipated growth of unattended POS terminals for self-checkout and the increasing demand for mobile payment solutions in the delivery, retail, and hospitality market provides ample growth opportunities,” it mentions in the press release. 

Jeroen van Glabbeek, CEO of CM.com, “We see an increased demand for integrated online and mobile payment and physical in-store solutions, like mobile pin terminals. With PayPlaza we strengthen and further enrich the payments proposition on our conversational commerce platform.”

What does PayPlaza offer?

Founded in 2010 by Edgar Antonio Plasa, PayPlaza connects partners to its POS Gateway, POS, and mobile-POS terminal devices and serves large retailers such as Zeeman, and Dutch government departments such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The company employs about 50 people across offices in the Netherlands, Germany, and Spain, and has around 20,000 payment terminals connected to its platform. It runs a high margin and profitable business with currently €4M in annual recurring revenues, which are primarily license-fee based.

Edgar Plasa, CEO of PayPlaza comments, “We operate a payments processing platform that also includes a physical instore solution that facilitates purchases, can scan items, and serves as a complete mobile cash register. In the Netherlands, we have grown rapidly in recent years. Being part of CM.com enables us to accelerate our expansion across Europe.”

The founder of PayPlaza will stay on and is fully committed to executing the growth strategy.

Last year, in November, PayPlaza unveiled a new corporate identity – new brand design, website, and logo. 

About CM.com

Founded in 1999 by Jeroen van Glabbeek and Gilbert Gooijer, CM.com connects businesses to people and people to businesses via telecom operators, worldwide payment providers, and messaging channels. It is a listed company (Euronext Amsterdam: CMCOM) and provides conversational commerce services from its cloud platform.

The company provides messaging and voice channels such as SMS, Over The Top (OTT) (e.g. WhatsApp Business, Apple Business Chat, Google RCS, Facebook Messenger, and Viber), Voice API, and SIP. These messaging channels can be combined with cloud platform features, like Ticketing, eSignature, Customer Contact, identity services, and a Customer Data Platform.

CM.com is a licensed Payment Service Provider (PSP) offering card payments, domestic payment methods, and integrated payment methods like WeChat Pay. The company currently employs about 550 people in 20 different countries worldwide.

Startups – Silicon Canals

Atlassian is acquiring Chartio to bring data visualization to the platform

The Atlassian platform is chock full of data about how a company operates and communicates. Atlassian launched a machine learning layer, which relies on data on the platform with the addition of Atlassian Smarts last fall. Today the company announced it was acquiring Chartio to add a new data analysis and visualization component to the Atlassian family of products. The companies did not share a purchase price.

The company plans to incorporate Chartio technology across the platform, starting with Jira. Before being acquired, Chartio has generated its share of data, reporting that 280,000 users have created 10.5 million charts for 540,000 dashboards pulled from over 100,000 data sources.

Atlassian sees Chartio as way to bring that data visualization component to the platform and really take advantage of the data locked inside its products. “Atlassian products are home to a treasure trove of data, and our goal is to unleash the power of this data so our customers can go beyond out-of-the-box reports and truly customize analytics to meet the needs of their organization,” Zoe Ghani, head of product experience at platform at Atlassian wrote in a blog post announcing the deal.

Chartio co-founder and CEO Dave Fowler wrote in a blog post on his company website that the two companies started discussing a deal late last year, which culminated in today’s announcement. As is often the case in these deals, he is arguing that his company will be better off as part of large organization like Atlassian with its vast resources than it would have been by remaining stand-alone.

“While we’ve been proudly independent for years, the opportunity to team up our technology with Atlassian’s platform and massive reach was incredibly compelling. Their product-led go to market, customer focus and educational marketing have always been aspirational for us,” Fowler wrote.

As for Chartio customers, unfortunately according to a notice on the company website, the product is going to be going away next year, but customers will have plenty of time to export the data to another tool. The notice includes a link to instructions on how to do this.

Chartio was founded in 2010, and participated in the Y Combinator Summer 2010 cohort. It raised a modest $ 8.03 million along the way, according to Pitchbook data.

Startups – TechCrunch

Estonian startup MyGames raises €100K for its ‘self-service’ courts and booking platform for racket sports

Estonia-based sportstech startup MyGames has announced raising around €100K pre-seed funding, which it will use to build up its solutions for tennis and padel sports players. Founded in 2019, MyGames is a relatively young but fast-growing startup building booking and automation solutions for tennis and padel courts. In late 2019, the startup launched their first application…

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EU-Startups

Terminus raises $90M to grow its B2B marketing platform, now valued at around $400M – TechCrunch

Terminus raises $ 90M to grow its B2B marketing platform, now valued at around $ 400M  TechCrunch
“nigeria startups when:7d” – Google News

Docyt raises $1.5M for its ML-based accounting automation platform

Accounting isn’t a topic that most people can get excited about — probably not even most accountants. But if you’re running any kind of business, there’s just no way around it. Santa Clara-based Docyt wants to make the life of small and medium business owners (and their accounting firms) a bit easier by using machine learning to handle a lot of the routine tasks around collecting financial data, digitizing receipts, categorization and — maybe most importantly — reconciliation.

The company today announced that it has raised a $ 1.5 million seed-extension round led by First Rays Venture Partners with participation from Morado Ventures and a group of angel investors. Docyt (pronounced ‘docket’) had previously raised a $ 2.2 million seed round from Morado Ventures, AME Cloud Ventures, Westwave Capital, Xplorer Capital, Tuesday and angel investors. The company plans to use the new investment to accelerate its customer growth.

At first glance, it may seem like Docyt competes with the likes of QuickBooks, which is pretty much the de facto standard for small business accounting. But Docyt co-founder and CTO Sugam Pandey tells me that he thinks of the service as a partner to the likes of QuickBooks.

Image Credits: Docyt

“Docyt is a product for the small business owners who finds accounting very complex, who are very experienced on howto run and grow their business, but not really an expert in accounting. At the same time, businesses who are graduating out of QuickBooks — small business owners sometimes become mid-sized enterprises as well — […] they start growing out of their accounting systems like QuickBooks and looking for more sophisticated systems like NetSuite and Sage. And Docyt fits in in that space as well, extending the life of QuickBooks for such business owners so they don’t have to change their systems.”

In its earliest days, Docyt was a secure document sharing platform with a focus on mobile. Some of this is still in the company’s DNA, with its focus on being able to pull in financial documents and then reconciling that with a business’ bank transactions. While other systems may put the emphasis on transaction data, Docyt’s emphasis is on documents. That means you can forward an emailed receipt to the service, for example, and it can automatically attach this to a financial transaction from your credit card or bank statement (the service uses Plaid to pull in this data).

Image Credits: Docyt

For new transactions, you sometimes have to train the system by entering some of this information by hand, but over time, Docyt should be able to do most of this automatically and then sync your data with QuickBooks.

“Docyt is the first company to apply AI across the entire accounting stack,” said Amit Sridharan, Founding General Partner at First Rays Venture Partners. “Docyt software’s AI-powered data extraction, auto categorization and auto reconciliation is unparalleled. It’s an enterprise-level, powerful solution that’s affordable and accessible to small and medium businesses.”

Startups – TechCrunch