Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Cash available for Fintech

Extract from Startup smart by Dinushi Dias 

Investment in Australia’s fintech sector soared to more than $US600 million ($780 million) in 2016 up from just over $US50 million four years prior, according to a KPMG report
The Pulse of Fintech .

In 2015 $US185 million injected across 23 fintech investments in Australia and a year later, $US656 million was injected into 25 deals.

Prospa's recent  $25 million investment round led by AirTree Ventures, shows that their is an appetite for Australian  tech companies by Aussie VCs, says  Prospa founder and chief Beau Bertoli.

An opportunity to attract Chinese Investors into Fintech 

Victor Jiang, founder of Australian venture capital fund Sapien Ventures, which targets Chinese investors, says opening up the door for overseas investors to participate in the local startup sector is also helping to strengthen the fintech market Down Under.

“Recent changes in policies such as the Significant Investor Visa (SIV) program has strongly catalysed foreign inbound capital into the much needed early-stage venture capital and entrepreneurial ecosystem,” says Jiang.

“With US policy uncertainties and Brexit, the time is ripe for Australia to become a leading regional hub of fintech investment and excellence.”

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Edtech startup AdmitHub scores $2.95 mln seed


Edtech startup AdmitHub has secured $2.95 million in seed funding. Relay Ventures and Reach Capital led the round with participation from other investors that included University Ventures.


BOSTON – January 11, 2017 – AdmitHub, an edtech startup which builds conversational artificial intelligence (AI) to guide students on the path to and through college, has raised $2.95 million in seed funding. The funding round was co-led by Relay Ventures and Reach Capital, with participation from University Ventures and others. The new funding will be used by AdmitHub to grow its team of AI engineers and build out its sales team, with the goal of expanding its technology platform and scaling its reach to more colleges in the US and abroad.

AdmitHub’s conversational AI platform is the first of its kind to be used by colleges to support students with 24/7 engagement and expert advising. AdmitHub’s virtual assistants reach students via the medium this millennial generation uses most: chat. Students receive important reminders, supportive guidance, and answers to thousands of questions via text message or Facebook Messenger. Because AdmitHub’s virtual assistants are capable of handling the vast majority of messages, counselors are liberated to support students that most require their attention.

“The medium for this generation is messaging,” noted Andrew Magliozzi, CEO and co-founder of AdmitHub. “A nudge can incite action, but a conversation can transform a student’s mindset. With our latest updates, AdmitHub’s conversational AI can now provide all students with access to expert college advising via text message or Facebook Messenger.”

AdmitHub already has a diverse group of college partners spanning the breadth of higher education, from large public universities like Georgia State University, West Texas A&M University, and Bowling Green State University, to small liberal arts colleges like Allegheny College and The Cooper Union.

“To us, AdmitHub is not just a platform, it’s a solution,” says Scott Burke, Assistant Vice President for Undergraduate Admissions at Georgia State. “They are a true partner who’ve radically exceeded our expectations. To handle more than 185,000 messages with 3,600 students without AdmitHub would have required us to hire at least ten full-time staff members. It is also extremely rare to see such significant impact in the first year of implementing any product.”

College partners using AdmitHub generally realize three primary benefits: 1) students receive on-demand access to college counseling; 2) admissions officers enjoy greater insight into student progress; and, 3) counselors have more time to focus on students most in-need of personal attention.

“AdmitHub has already successfully applied conversational AI at multiple colleges to engage students in their native mobile environment,” said Kevin Talbot, Managing Partner at Relay Ventures. “AdmitHub’s AI platform drives immediate and sustainable value for their customers.”

About AdmitHub
Founded in 2014, AdmitHub is an edtech company committed to fostering college success with conversational artificial intelligence. AdmitHub’s chatbots provide on-demand assistance via chat by gathering data, sending reminders, answering questions, surveying students, and connecting students to appropriate advisors. Using Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Machine Learning (ML), AdmitHub can calibrate a chatbot for any campus community. Currently, AdmitHub has various university partnerships focusing on recruiting prospects, yielding admits, and retaining enrolled students. AdmitHub’s co-founders, Andrew Magliozzi and Kirk Daulerio, have a combined thirty-three years’ experience in higher education and software development. Additional information is available at AdmitHub.com.

Cannabis Startups Raise $66.3m in 2016 as Canopy Leads 2017 with $300k Accelerator

cannabis startups

Cannabis-related technology startups raised $66.3 million in venture capital investment in 2016, according to AgFunder’s 2016 AgTech Investing Report
Of the 27 deals captured in 2016, the vast majority were "seed stage"rounds. This is unsurprising for an emerging sector that is still finding its feet in the US, let alone elsewhere globally. These figures hit strikingly close to those in 2015 when cannabis tech startups raised $64.8 million across 33 deals.
Diversifying Sector
In contrast to their adolescence, however, cannabis startups are already well on their way to covering an impressive array of technologies. In 2015, the cannabis startups that raised funding were targeted more toward developing social and delivery networks and supply chain technologies. In 2016, they diversified to include biotechnologies – such as breeding tech, cannabis-derived pharmaceutical products, and cannabis farm inputs. There were also a growing number of on-farm data collection and software services, and indoor farms dedicated to growing the crop.
US-based startups dominated the year accounting for 23 of the 27 total deals, with Colorado, where cannabis is legal, the leading state with eight startups. California followed with five of the year’s deals. Startups also yielded from Canada, Belgium, Israel, and Ireland.
While cannabis remains an illegal substance at the federal level, there are at least at least 18 funds dedicated solely to backing cannabis-focused technologies, including Snoop Dogg’s Casa Verde Capital and Peter Thiel-backed Privateer Holdings.
Canopy Leads 2016 Investment in Cannabis Startups
CanopyBoulder, the Colorado-based accelerator program focused exclusively on cannabis startups, was the most active investor in 2016 with five deals. The program made more investments than that during the year, but not all made it into the AgFunder technology report as Canopy focuses on all startups innovating ancillary cannabis products and services for the cannabis sector, so not all will have made it into AgFunder’s technology report.
Today, Canopy announced its Spring 2017 cohort.
The program is investing $300k in 10 cannabis startups that are taking part in its Spring 2017 cohort. The companies participating in the 16-week accelerator program will each receive $30k in seed funding. They will also have an opportunity to score an additional $50k at the program’s conclusion. 
Throughout the program, the companies will have access to mentors and a cannabis investor network maintained through The Arcview Group, Canopy’s partner in the program.
Founded in 2010, The Arcview Investor Network encompasses over 600 accredited investors who have invested more than $91 million in 135 companies. Arcview produces the State of Legal Marijuana Markets report and co-founded Cannasure Insurance Services, which provides business insurance to cannabis operations. The Arcview Group also backed online ordering platform CannaBuildand social media for marijuana platform MassRoots.
Canopy’s 2017 Spring Cohort
The 10 cannabis startups participating in Canopy’s spring cohort range from very consumer-focused products, to cannabis retail services, to technologies aiding the farming of cannabis.
  • Bloom Automation, based in Massachusetts, provides robotics for the cannabis industry to help solve the high cost of manual labor. Bloom creates high-tech robotics that allows for tasks within a cultivation setting to be automated. 
  • Cannabis Big Data, based in Colorado, integrates with data sources such as point-of-sale and accounting to publish critical business management reports that identify areas for improved efficiencies and revenue. 
  • CannaZoning, based in Washington State, is a platform that provides visualization of state and local marijuana zoning laws, helping businesses understand the lay of the land, filter the noise, and avoid costly pitfalls associated with cannabis business zoning. 
  • Croptimize, based in Colorado, provides technology to drive efficiencies for growers, encouraging energy savings and conservation. They optimize demand profiles and reduce operating expenses through machine learning to leverage rate structure management and utility incentives. 
  • Estrohaze, based in New York, is a cannabis-focused media outlet designed to break the stigma surrounding women and minorities. The platform includes resources, career opportunities, and lifestyle content that focuses on women of color benefiting from the cannabis plant. 
  • Firesale, based in California, uses geo-mapping technology to provide real-time information on cannabis deals in any location. Its user-friendly search functionality allows consumers to find a flower based on potency, strain, or price. 
  • Sana Packaging, the product of two founders located in Connecticut and Switzerland respectively, believes current packaging solutions are wasteful, don’t store efficiently, and don’t allow space for branding and compliance labels. Sana offers rectangular, stackable cannabis containers made from biodegradable hemp-based plastic, resulting in a reduction of their carbon footprint by eliminating traditional petroleum-based plastic from the equation.
  • Snapp Digital, based in Ohio, provides ad control for digital networks. Snapp’s platform allows advertisers to buy ad space and manage content from a simple dashboard, solving the problem of buying and managing ad space in a simplified and cost-effective platform. 
  • Solutions Vending, based in Florida, believes smart vending machines aren’t smart enough. It utilizes facial recognition software to convert standard vending machines into an intelligent data collection kiosk, collecting valuable purchasing information. 
  • Who Is Happy connects cannabis consumers around the globe with an international geo-location based social network. Launched in 2016, the app quickly grew to 170,000 users and now has almost 1 million check-ins to date.
Some of Canopy’s existing portfolio companies include plug-and-plant home cannabis grow system maker Leafsensing and automation platform developer Growneticsvaporizer developer Ananas, online wholesale marijuana marketplace Tradiv, vaporizer accessories maker Healthy Headie Lifestyle, premium cannabis subscription delivery service Ganja Boxes, cannabis media company TwoCubes, and curated accessories provider Glasshous.
Canopy isn’t the only cannabis-focused accelerator. Oakland, California-based Gateway launched in Fall 2015. It backs biannual classes of 10 cannabis startups with $30k each and almost half a year of office space in exchange for a 6% stake in the startup.
Cannabis startups have also made appearances in non-sector specific accelerators. Meadow, a San Francisco startup offering medical marijuana delivery, is a 2015 Y Combinator alum, scoring $120k in funding from the accelerator. And motorleaf, an automation and data analysis tool for indoor farms, including cannabis growers, is raising a round on AgFunder.
Top 10 Cannabis Startup Fundings in 2016
Here’s a look at the 10 biggest cannabis-tech funding rounds in 2016:
CompanyCategoryAmount raisedRoundCountryCity
EazeMiscellaneous$13,000,000BUSASan Francisco
CBC BiotechnologiesAg Biotechnology$7,000,000AUSATampa
CanndescentNovel Farming Systems$6,500,000SEEDUSASanta Barbara
Prairie Plant SystemsAg Biotechnology$6,500,000ACANSaskatoon
AphriaNovel Farming Systems$6,000,000DEBTCANLeamington
Pono Life SciencesNovel Farming Systems$5,300,000AUSAHonolulu
PharmaCieloNovel Farming Systems$4,000,000ACANToronto
Supreme PharmaceuticalsNovel Farming Systems$3,600,000LATECANVancouver
GrowlifeRobotics & Mechanization$2,800,000LATEUSASeattle
Green GorillaSupply Chain Technologies$2,500,000

Deliveroo cofounder develops Peanut - a friend dating site for mums to be

Deliveroo Greg Orlowski
LinkedIn/Greg OrlowskiDeliveroo cofounder Greg Orlowski.

The cofounder and chief technology officer of food delivery service Deliveroo has built a new startup called Peanut. 

Greg Orlowski, who cofounded Deliveroo in 2012 left last year as he wanted to spend more time with his wife and newborn daughter in Chicago. 

Obviously retirement is not for Greg!!!!

It seems that he identified a gaping need for mummy's to be to share their experiences! He cofounded a company called Peanut — a new friend-dating app for mums and mums-to-be — with Michelle Kennedy, the former deputy CEO of dating app Badoo.


Peanut’s early investors include Facebook exec Julien Codorniou and venture capitalists NEA, Felix Capital, and Partech.

The app, focussed on chat and discovery, is similar in design and appearance to other dating apps. 

Users log in with their Facebook accounts before answering some questions relating to their due date and any other children they may have. The app uses these answers, in conjunction with location-based information, to recommend potential mummy-matches in their area.

VC Deals this Month

From GSViQ 

Top Deal - North America


SoFi, an online personal finance company that provides student loan refinancing, mortgages and personal loans, raised $500M in a Series F round of funding from Silver Lake, SoftBank and GPI Capital. The round reportedly values SoFi at $4.3 B, up from the company’s last valuation of $3.2B. The company currently has 250,000 members and originates $1B in credit per month.


Top Deal - Asia


BlueGogo, a bike sharing platform enabled by smartphone, GPS and solar technology wherein users can search, reserve, unlock and pay for bikes via the mobile app, raised CNY 400M in a Series A funding from Black Hole Capital and others. This funding round valued the company at CNY 1B. The company operates across 5 cities in China with over 15,000 vehicles.


Top Deal - Europe

Mobility Tech Green

Mobility Tech Green, a France based company which provides an online automated fleet management system, raised €5M in funding from Financi√®re Fonds Priv√©. The company claims to have achieved €1.5M in sales over 2015-2016 and targets €3M in 2017. 


Top Deals

  1. Layer, $15M, Series B, USA
  2. Zongmutech, $14.5M, Series B, China
  3. Orangefamily, $10.18M, Series B, China
  4. Nativis, $10M, Unattributed, USA
  5. Jushuitan, $7.2M, Series A, China
  6. SAV Group, $5.28M, Unattributed, France
  7. Kaching, $3.3M, Unattributed, Sweden
  8. Bigscreen, $3M, Seed, USA
  9. SurveyMe, $2.49M, Unattributed, UK
  10. Sofdesk, $2.27M, Series A, Canada


Saturday, February 25, 2017

Artificial Intelligence Activity by Selected Investors – July - Sep 2016

Posted by

The following graph summarizes the investor activity in the Artificial Intelligence (AI) space. Please note these graphics are made using data through October 2016.



The above analysis summarizes the total number of investment rounds AI investors participated in, and the number of unique companies funded by selected investors. 500 Startups and Y Combinator take the lead in both the total number of investments into the space at around 23, and the number of companies backed at around 21.

We are currently tracking 1,612 AI companies in 13 categories across 70 countries, with a total of $12 Billion in funding. Click here to learn more about the full Artificial Intelligence landscape report and database.

2 trends in VC that he believes will creat the next google/Facebook/Microsoft in "Frontiertech


There are two macro trends occuring within venture capital (VC) which are combining to have a transformative impact, writes John Greathouse of Forbes

1. Specialised Seed Funds and Huge Generslust Funds 

The seed funds tend to be highly fragmented, targeting specialized and narrow niches whilst the bigger  funds (Founders Fund, A16Z, Sequoia, Kleiner Perkins, Benchmark, Bessemer, IVP, etc.), are relative generalists, investing in a wide variety of industry sectors.

2. Frontiertech stocks 

The other trend  is the emergence of frontier tech, encompassing drones, space, augmented reality and virtual reality. Between January 2014 to June 2015, CB Insights notes that $3.15 billion was invested in such companies, across 183 deals, as shown in the following graph.

 Graph via CB Insights

The smaller funds seed the innovation, and once there is validation, the larger funds go for the series A, B and C rounds. Those that don't get funded , die or get swallowed up.

Most frontier tech deals, because they are not only solving problems in new ways, but often also creating new markets, ultimately require relatively large amounts of capital. Thus, the combination of small, specialty funds and large, generalist funds is an ideal match for the emerging world of frontier tech.

Unanswered Questions

Despite the power of these trends, their long-term impact on VC returns is unexplored territory. A number of questions will only be answered over time, including:

  • Will the small funds maintain meaningful positions after big funds invest? 
  • There is significant risk in startups - especially in frontier tech.  Will the inevitable failures sour the market? 
  • Will the small firms have adequate capital to allow their frontier tech portfolio companies to prove their value prop sufficiently to attract the attention of the megafunds?
  • Will mid-tier funds become irrelevant as the larger funds continue to invest earlier and earlier in companies’ life cycles?

Given that the average time to exit for a venture backed company is five years via M&A and seven years via IPO, we are still several years away from knowing the full impact on frontier tech investing. 

The collision of these two trends will result in the creation of a handful of companies that will have an outsized, global impact.

You can follow John on Twitter: @johngreathouse. You can also check out his hands-on startup blog HERE.


The second edition of the annual African Tech Startups Funding Report, published by Disrupt Africa, finds African tech startups raised almost US$130 million in funding in 2016.

The report contains statistics and analyses for a host of African countries, as well as nine sectors. It also makes available data on startup acquisitions which took place in 2016; as well as the results of surveys relating to preferences and trends within the entrepreneur and investor communities on the continent.

VC4A community members can obtain a 25 per cent discount on purchasing the report using the code “angelspecial” here. Below are five key trends pertaining to investments in African tech startups in 2016.

1. More startups raise less money

A total of 146 tech startups from across Africa raised funding totalling US$129.1 million in 2016, demonstrating significant growth on the previous year in the number of companies raising money, even though the total amount raised fell year-on-year.

The general theme of 2016 was more rounds, but with fewer standout tickets. This suggests there is a growing appetite to invest in African startups at an earlier stage, with the angel investment scene on the continent growing in size.

2. Peripheral markets see more interest

Unsurprisingly, South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya remained the three most popular investment destinations, followed by Egypt and Ghana. It is clear which countries are the most attractive to investors.

We are starting to see a trickle down effect to startups in other countries, however, as investors gradually become more pan-African in their outlook. The share of total investment secured by startups from outside the “big five” increased to 4.84 per cent this year from 1.3 per cent in 2015.

3. Egypt is back

Funding gradually began to return to the Egyptian tech space after a number of years in 2015, and that process continued as 2016 progressed.

The amount of Egyptian startups that secured investment increased by 62.5 per cent, with total funding increasing by 105 per cent. Moroccan and Tunisian startups also had a good year, suggesting investors are returning to the region as it puts political turmoil behind it.

4. Fintech the biggest beast

Fintech became the most popular sector for tech investment in 2016, with startups in that space raising 24 per cent of the overall total.

Investors clearly see huge potential in tech startups to reach unserved or underserved populations with financial services, and are putting their money behind such companies in their droves.

5. Impact is big business

There is certainly a valid argument that any investment in an African business is an impact investment, but sectors that very clearly fall into that category – fintech aside – had a good year.

While investments in, say, e-commerce companies fell off a cliff, other sectors shone. E-health was the third most popular category by number of startups and the fourth for total funding. Agri-tech saw a 8,660 per cent increase in total funding, while e-learning also performed better. Clearly investors are looking for social impact as well as financial returns.

Tom Jackson is co-founder of African tech startups news site Disrupt Africa. Tom is based out of Cape Town, Nairobi and Lagos.