Cosmose AI lands €12.5 million Series A to help stores predict foot traffic

Warsaw and Shanghai-based Cosmose AI, the platform that predicts and influences how 1 billion people shop offline, today announced the completion of a €12.5 million Series A investment round, valuing the company in excess of around €83.4 million. The Series A round was led by institutional capital from Tiga Investments, OTB Ventures and TDJ Pitango, supported by a number of ultra-high net worth individuals in Asia.

Founded in 2014, Cosmose harnesses anonymous mobile user IDs and high precision location data to empower some of the world’s most prominent companies including LVMH, Richemont, Walmart, L’Oreal and Samsung. The Cosmose platform gathers anonymised data on consumer behaviour to help retailers inform their sales and advertising strategies, retain their customer base and improve the shopping experience of customers in their stores. 

Following their seed funding in 2019, today’s Series A reflects the business’s commercial momentum with retailers in Asia in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic and the easing of local lockdown restrictions. Earlier this year, the Cosmose platform gathered data from over 360,000 stores – including over 600 luxury and beauty brands and major shopping malls in mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau – to assess how brands can recover from the fall in retail as a result of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions. 

In recent months, Cosmose has entered commercial engagements with Marriott and Walmart to help them understand offline shopping habits and drive footfall. During that time, Cosmose has expanded its operations to Japan, partnering with Japan’s leading e-commerce company to offer Cosmose’s technology to its clients and bring seamless retail experience.

The Series A round was led by investors in Cosmose’s growth markets in Asia and supported by investors in its engineering base in Eastern Europe. New capital has been raised from Tiga Investments, founded by Raymond Zage and based in Singapore. Ultra-high net worth individuals from India, Israel and Singapore have joined the Series A round, underpinning the broad appeal of Cosmose’s platform and validating opportunities for geographic expansion. The Series A round was also supported by TDJ Pitango and OTB Ventures, the largest dedicated technology VC firm in Central and Eastern Europe, which led Cosmose’s seed funding in 2019. The world-class engineering team at Cosmose is based in Warsaw, Poland and includes four world championship programming medalists (ICPC, IOI, TCO). Cosmose growth teams are located in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Tokyo.

Today, Cosmose gathers insights from over 1 billion smartphones and 360,000 stores. By 2022 the company aims to expand its ecosystem to over 2 billion smartphones and 10 million stores across Asia. Later this year Cosmose will launch its product in Southeast Asia, followed by Middle East and India. In light of these growth opportunities, and commercial momentum in Asia, Cosmose is expecting to breakeven and generate profit in 2021.

Miron Mironiuk, CEO and Founder of Cosmose AI, said: “Today is an important milestone for Cosmose and a big boost for retailers looking for ways to recover from the pandemic. At Cosmose, machine learning is the foundation of everything we do, and I am proud that our technology can help the retail industry in this challenging environment. We are seeing great momentum across Asia and, with the backing of the world’s largest companies, I look forward to a bright and profitable future in retail.”

Raymond Zage, CEO and Founder of Tiga Investments, said: “Cosmose is a unique technology proposition at a time that retailers in Asia are craving innovation. I was attracted by the strong results Cosmose is already achieving for some of the world’s recognisable brands, while simultaneously ensuring user privacy is protected. Cosmose team is saving stores while enhancing consumer experience.”

Adam Niewiński, Managing Partner and co-founder of OTB Ventures, said “Cosmose is a European technology success story, demonstrating the potential of human capital and engineering talent. Today, accurate data insights are more important than ever before, and we are delighted to see Cosmose create value for the global retail ecosystem at a crucial time when technology can underpin a new economy.”


New telemedicine service The Cusp rolls out at-home hormone test for women to predict menopause

The Cusp, a newly launched startup offering telemedicine services for women in perimenopause and menopause, is launching an at-home hormone test service that slashes the cost of in-office visits and lab tests.

Women in California can order the test at a cost of $ 159 for a telemedical consultation and test, versus roughly $ 500 for having the same test and lab work administered in a clinic, according to the company.

Unlike other, commonly prescribed hormone tests, The Cusp bases its still-to-be-clinically-validated test on new research that a key hormone measurement can help predict the time to menopause. The company is currently working with researchers to help the broader medical community validate these findings. 

Although the test may not be clinically validated, the company said that its use of “menopause specialists” with specific training in issues surrounding perimenopause and menopause can provide a more complete diagnosis of a woman’s current state and what is likely to come next based on both clinical and laboratory data.

“Menopause is very stigmatized and midlife care is a highly underserved market. We launched The Cusp to provide women with a new model of care during this stage of life so women can optimize their health,” said The Cusp, chief executive, Taylor Sittler. “Our focus begins with perimenopause treatment, as early care can lead to healthier outcomes.”

The company said that the test is best for women experiencing early signs of perimenopause, typically between the ages of 42 and 50.

“Throughout my career I’ve been focused on the intersection of women’s health, menopause and breast cancer. It was shocking to me how little information is out there for women, so I worked with national committees helping establish guidelines for managing menopause symptoms and sexual functioning in cancer survivors,” said Dr. Mindy Goldman, director of the Gynecology Center for Cancer Survivors and At-Risk Women Program at UCSF, and a physician working with The Cusp . “I’m thrilled to be a part of  The Cusp, as we are on the front lines providing women with comprehensive diagnostic tools and personalized care so that menopause can be faced head-on and managed with a multi-pronged approach that can include medical interventions, naturopathic solutions and/or hormone replacement therapies.”

The company is providing care to roughly 75 patients, and is growing its membership rapidly. With its recent launch, The Cusp has joined startups like CurieMD, Elektra Health and Geneve, which are all focused on providing medical services to women in perimenopause and menopause.

To date, the company has raised $ 4 million from investors, including HomeBrew, Village Global and individual investors like Katie Stanton and Megan Pai.

Sittler, a co-founder of Color Genomics, sees an opportunity in applying new diagnostics tests and technology to treating women as they enter menopause.

The Cusp charges an initial $ 210 for tests and the first three months of care and then an additional monthly fee of $ 72 per month.

“Being able to provide these personalized solutions that involve proprietary technologies… we would love to get into newer treatments… once we get a few zeros to our member number… there’s an initial advantage that we have in terms of the integration we’ve already done and the advantages that we have,” said Sittler.

Startups – TechCrunch

UK startup NumberEight raises a €2 million seed round to predict consumer behaviour

UK-based NumberEight, a contextual intelligence platform for mobile devices that predicts consumer context to deliver the right content at the right time, has closed a €2 million seed round led by Nauta Capital.

NumberEight leverages advanced context recognition, artificial intelligence, and signal processing techniques to produce over 100 contextual insights such as “travelling to work on a bicycle” to provide mobile apps with real-time behavioural and situational consumer insights.

Their online dashboard takes these real-time events, anonymises and correlates them with in-app activity to empower its customers to deliver context-driven, real-time personalised experiences to the user.

Founded in 2016, the UK-based company was founded on the back of co-founder and CEO Abhishek Sen’s research into signal processing and recommender systems at TU Delft and after working in mobile companies including Apple, Palm, and BlackBerry.

CEO Abhishek said: ”The idea of NumberEight started by asking a simple question: why can’t my sophisticated smartphone automatically recommend music to me based on my current mood and activity?

For technology to truly be transformative, machines need to become more like humans, and not vice-versa. As we interact with more devices around us, empowering devices with the cognitive ability to think for themselves, without compromising our privacy, is paramount. This is what contextual intelligence is. It unlocks the ability for companies to deliver hyper-personalised and relevant experiences across all devices.”

“User privacy was at the heart of our decisions from day one. The common approach of collecting bulk user data for analysis in the cloud introduces difficult consent issues, so instead, we researched new algorithms that allow this advanced technology to work on humble consumer phone hardware. The hard-earned result is a platform where sensor data never leaves the user’s device, and privacy is preserved,” explains Chris Watts, NumberEight’s CTO and co-founder.

Context-based personalisation is an emerging concept within mobile computing – driven by the need to have frictionless and tailored interactions with mobile devices on one hand, while on the other anticipating user actions and behaviour when delivering content at an individual level.

NumberEight’s technology can power the entire mobile app ecosystem across various sectors, however, the company is currently focused on the €132 billion Media and Entertainment market– from music streaming and online radio to mobile gaming and advertising. Furthermore, the cash injection comes as the global COVID-19 pandemic has led to a significant increase in media consumption across all generations as revealed by Global Web Report.

The round will support NumberEight’s enhancement of its patent-pending technology, hire new engineering and commercial talent, and accelerate their business growth.

As part of the round, Nauta Capital’s General Partner, Carles Ferrer, will join NumberEight’s board. Commenting on the investment, Carles said: “NumberEight’s ability to apply edge AI and mobile sensor data to truly power real-time user context is a highly compelling proposition. Abhishek and Chris have built a best-in-class solution providing powerful consumer insights while putting privacy first. We are thrilled to join the team as they go on to scale their context-as-a service offering.”


Top investors predict what’s ahead for Boston’s VC scene in Q1

Before the COVID-19 pandemic shook up the world and reshaped the economy, Boston was quietly setting records.

According to new venture data compiled by TechCrunch, the region set what was at least a local maximum in venture capital raised in the space of a single quarter in Q1 2020.

But while Boston’s startup market announced a number of huge rounds that bolstered its total venture dollars raised in the first quarter, there were signs of weakness: Deal volume was its best since Q2 2019, according to a set of data compiled and released by PwC and CB Insights, but was still a little under the pace set in 2018.

So Boston’s startups raised lots of money, but couldn’t match prior highs when it came to the number of checks written. And those results were largely recorded before COVID-19 shuttered the city. Since then, we’ve seen a number of area startups lay off staff, something we explored last week.

Now, with fresh data in hand, we can take a closer look at the city’s first quarter of 2020. To better understand what we’re unpacking, we asked a number of local venture capitalists to weigh in. Let’s look back at Boston’s Q1 as we stride into Q2 with the help of Venture Lane, .406 Ventures, Volition Capital and Flybridge Capital Partners.

The data

Starting with a programming note is counter-flow, but bear with us. TechCrunch is starting a regular, monthly series on Boston and its startup market. This is a second prelude of sorts. Normally we’d hold news and interviews for a later date so that we’d have plenty of material for a column. In the face of relentless change, however, we didn’t want to hold off on reporting and synthesizing new information. When things are more normal, our pace will follow.

Per PwC and CB Insights, here’s the last few quarters of data, along with a few yearly totals to draw you the picture we can now see:

Startups – TechCrunch