YC-backed Heru raises $1.7M to build software services for Latin American gig workers

Given the attention that TechCrunch pays to Y Combinator’s Demo Days, we also try to keep tabs on the same startups as they scale and raise more capital. Yesterday we covered YC Winter 2020 participant BuildBuddy, for example. Today we’re taking a look at Heru, a startup based in Mexico City that is announcing a $ 1.7 million raise after taking part in YC’s Summer 2019 session.

The pre-seed round was led by Mountain Nazca, and participated in by Magma Partners, Xtraordinary Venture Partners, Flourish Ventures, YC itself and a handful of angels. The investment was raised in two pieces: a $ 500,000 check in February and the other $ 1.2 million closing a few weeks ago.

Heru wants to provide software-based services for gig workers in Mexico, and eventually other countries. Its founders, Mateo Jaramillo and Stiven Rodríguez Sánchez, are both ex-Uber employees, which is how they wound up in Mexico from their native Colombia.

But Heru didn’t have a straightforward path to existence. The founding duo told TechCrunch their original idea, something similar to OYO, was what they went through Y Combinator and initially raised money for. But after finding OYO already in their target market, the company took three months to rethink and, keeping investors on board, pivoted to Heru.

Heru is a package of software products aimed at delivery drivers and the like, helping provide insurance, credit and tax preparation support. The tax element is key, as the company’s founders explained to TechCrunch that Mexico now expects independent workers to file taxes on a monthly basis. Folks need help with that, so Heru built them a tool to do so.

There’s competition to that element of its product, Heru said, noting that there are accountants in the market that will do the work for $ 25 to $ 30. Heru’s tax service, in contrast, costs a smaller $ 5 each month (100 pesos). Insurance is another $ 5 each month for accident-related coverage. The startup worked with an insurance provider to build what it describes as a “tailor-made” policy for gig workers who need low-cost coverage.

The founding duo, via the company.

Heru is not only targeting Uber drivers and their like, however. The company noted that it also wants to support freelancers more broadly, a population that is much larger than the three million gig workers it counts in the Mexican market.

The company’s app has been soft-launched in the market for a few weeks, with the startup now making more noise about its existence. According to its founders, around 1,200 users were accepted during its test period. Another 20,000 are in line.

Among its early user base, customers are buying on average 1.2 Heru products, a number that I’ll track as the startup scales.

Heru’s app is neat, its market large and the need it is serving material. But in the background of the software story is a brick-and-mortar tale. The startup, in addition to building its app, put together a number of so-called “Heru Casas,” places where gig workers can recharge their phones and use a bathroom. You need the app to enter a Heru Casa, helping the startup find early users.

Currently all Heru Casas are located in Mexico City. The startup is not sure about expanding that part of its efforts to more cities where its app may attract users. Why? It’s hard to scale physical build-outs, it told TechCrunch. Software is much better for quick expansion, and as that’s the name of the startup game, holding off on more physical locations could make good sense until the company can raise more capital.

Heru has big plans to double-down its product work, and eventually add more countries to its roster. The Latin American market is a ripe place for startups to shake things up. Let’s see how quickly Heru can make its mark.

Startups – TechCrunch

Loop Team wants to give remote workers an in-office feel

As we’ve moved to work from home during the pandemic, it’s been challenging for remote workers to feel connected. Loop Team, a new entrant into the enterprise communications space, thinks the way we are communicating needs improvement. That’s why the startup is releasing Loop Team today, a tool that is trying to use software to reproduce the in-office experience.

Company founder and CEO Raj Singh says that he learned about the problems of feeling disconnected first-hand at a previous remote-first company, but in spite of his best attempts to use technology to produce that in-office feel, he said he continued to feel out of the loop (so to speak). That’s when he decided to build the solution he wanted.

“We’ve looked at a lot of the interactions that happen when you’re physically in an office — the visual communication, the background conversations, the hallway chatter, the serendipitous bumping, things like that. And we built an experience that effectively is a virtual office. And so it tries to represent the best parts of what a physical office experience might be like, but in a virtual form,” Singh explained to me.

While he created this company prior to COVID, the pandemic has highlighted the need for a tool like this. Before he created the software, he interviewed hundreds of people who worked from home to understand their issues working outside of the office and he heard a lot of common complaints.

“There was an office and they didn’t necessarily know what was going on. They didn’t know who was available. They didn’t know who was around. It was difficult to connect. Everything was scheduled through calendar. They were missing some of that presence — and they were feeling lonely or out of touch or out of the loop,” he said.

His company’s solution tries to reproduce the office experience using AI, good, old-fashioned presence awareness and other tech to let team members know what you’re doing and if you’re available to chat. So just as you would wander down the hall and see your colleague on the phone or deeply involved with work on the laptop, and know to leave them be, you could get that same feel with Loop.

Loop Team Highlights

Image Credits: Loop Team

It gives the current status of the person, and you can know from looking at the list of people on your team, who’s available to talk and who’s busy. As you go into virtual discussions, the team can see who’s having meetings and individuals can pop in too, just as you might do in the office.

What’s more, you can set up rooms (like in Slack), but these are designed to give you a more personal connection using video and audio for actual discussion. You can work on projects via screen share and people who miss these meetings because of other obligations or time zone differences, can always review what they missed.

While you can do all of these things in Slack and Zoom, or in some combination of similar tools, Loop’s layout and presentation is designed to help you see the conversations in a clear way and expose what you want to see, while hiding parts of the day that don’t interest you.

The product is available for free starting today, but Singh wants to introduce a pricing model sometime next year based on team size. He expects there will always be a freemium version for teams under 10 people.

The company was founded in 2018 and nurtured at the Stanford SRI Institute. It has raised $ 4.75 million so far. Today it starts on its journey as a startup with its first product, and it’s one that comes with good timing as more teams find themselves working remotely than every before.

Startups – TechCrunch

[DailyPay in Business Insider] Workers may be too scared to tap early-paycheck cashouts if they think their employer is watching. Here’s how players like DailyPay and ADP are making privacy a priority

Earned wage access — giving employees access to their wages between paychecks —  has become a growing trend in recent years.

Read more here.

The post [DailyPay in Business Insider] Workers may be too scared to tap early-paycheck cashouts if they think their employer is watching. Here’s how players like DailyPay and ADP are making privacy a priority appeared first on OurCrowd Blog.

OurCrowd Blog

Public health unit advises restaurant workers in Kingston to get tested for COVID – Yahoo News Canada

Public health unit advises restaurant workers in Kingston to get tested for COVID  Yahoo News Canada
“nigeria startups when:7d” – Google News

Public health unit advises restaurant workers in Kingston to get tested for COVID – Yahoo News Canada

Public health unit advises restaurant workers in Kingston to get tested for COVID  Yahoo News Canada
“nigeria startups when:7d” – Google News

Berlin-based Bliq secures €2 million to help delivery and ridesharing workers streamline jobs from Uber, Free Now, Bolt & Ola

Today German mobility software startup Bliq has closed a heavily oversubscribed seed funding round of €2 million. The Berlin-based investor Amplifier Ventures led the round with New York-based Space Capital, with Atlantic Labs, Proeza Ventures, Revel and the angel investor Andreas Kupke also participating in the round. The Bliq Ride app aids self-employed drivers (so-called…

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The post Berlin-based Bliq secures €2 million to help delivery and ridesharing workers streamline jobs from Uber, Free Now, Bolt & Ola first appeared on EU-Startups.

EU-Startups

Rally Cap is getting money from Silicon Valley workers to invest in African startups – TechCabal

Rally Cap is getting money from Silicon Valley workers to invest in African startups  TechCabal
“nigeria startups when:7d” – Google News

Kinetic Raises Another $11.25M to Protect Industrial Workers with its Patented Wearable Device

Industrial companies are constantly seeking new ways to keep their workforces safe and KINETIC has been one of the key solutions. The company’s patented wearable device, Reflex, detects unsafe postures and provides real-time alerts to employees whenever they are engaging in high-risk motions. The company’s dashboard layers software so that managers and safety personnel can have a bird’s eye view into safety and incident data; now address workplace issues with a data-driven approach. AlleyWatch caught up with CEO and Cofounder Haytham Elhawary to learn about KINETIC’s technology is keeping workforces globally safe, how warehouses are able to leverage the platform, and the company’s recent funding round from investors that include Crosslink Capital, Primary Venture Partners, Nationwide Ventures, Prologis Ventures, and Ubiquity Ventures.
AlleyWatch