China’s electric carmaker WM Motor pulls in $1.47 billion Series D

Chinese electric vehicle startup WM Motor just pocketed an outsize investment to fuel growth in a competitive landscape increasingly coveted by foreign rival Tesla. The five-year-old company raised 10 billion yuan ($ 1.47 billion) in a Series D round, it announced on Tuesday, which will pay for research and development, branding, marketing and expansion of its sales channel.

WM Motor, backed by Baidu and Tencent, is one of the highest-funded EV startups in China, alongside Nio, Xpeng and Li Auto, which have gone public in New York. With its latest capital boost, WM Motor could be gearing up for an initial public offering. As Bloomberg’s sources in July said, the company was weighing a listing on China’s Nasdaq-style STAR board as soon as this year.

Days before its funding news, WM Motor unveiled its key partners and suppliers: Qualcomm Snapdragon’s cockpit chips will power the startup’s in-cabin experience; Baidu’s Apollo autonomous driving system will give WM vehicles self-parking capability; Unisplendour, rooted in China’s Tsinghua University, will take care of the hardware side of autonomous driving; and lastly, integrated circuit company Sino IC Leasing will work on “car connectivity” for WM Motor, whatever that term entails.

It’s not uncommon to see the new generation of EV makers seeking external partnerships, given their limited experience in manufacturing. WM Motor’s rival Xpeng similarly works with Blackberry, Desay EV and Nvidia to deliver its smart EVs.

WM Motor was founded by automotive veteran Freeman Shen, who previously held executive positions at Volvo, Fiat and Geely in China.

The startup recently announced an ambitious plan for the next 3-5 years to allocate 20 billion yuan ($ 2.95 billion) and 3,000 engineers to work on 5G-powered smart cockpits, Level-4 driving and other futuristic auto technologies. That’s a big chunk of the startup’s total raise, which is estimated to be north of $ 3 billion, based on Crunchbase data and its latest funding figure.

Regional governments are often seen rooting for companies partaking in China’s strategic industries, such as semiconductors and electric cars. WM Motor’s latest round, for instance, is led by a state-owned investment platform and state-owned carmaker SAIC Motor, both based in Shanghai where the startup’s headquarters resides. The city is also home to Tesla’s Gigafactory, where the American giant churns out made-in-China vehicles.

In July, the Chinese EV upstart delivered its 30,000th EX5 SUV vehicle, which comes at about $ 22,000 with state subsidy and features the likes of in-car video streaming and air purification. The company claimed that parents of young children account for nearly 70% of its customers.

Startups – TechCrunch

Espoo-based Fixably, the software to help fix hardware, raises €1.6 million to extend the lifetime of a billion devices

Today Fixably, the software allowing repair shops and technicians to manage their workflow more efficiently to get hardware fixed, has secured approx. €1.6 million in funding, led by Icebreaker.vc – the early stage venture capital fund operating in Finland, Estonia and Sweden. Fixably, founded in 2015, is a fast-growing SaaS provider located in Espoo, Finland. The team has created…

This content is for members only. Visit the site and log in/register to read.

EU-Startups

Ukrainian Developer Built a $19.3 Billion App — Because Silicon Valley Was Too Ignorant to Do It

33-year-old Jan Koum capitalized on Silicon Valley’s blind spot and built the world’s largest messaging platform with $ 0 ad spend

Entrepreneur's Handbook – Medium

Klarna raises $650 million at a $10.6 billion valuation

Fintech startup Klarna has raised a mega-round of funding led by Silver Lake. The company is raising $ 650 million at a post-money valuation of $ 10.65 billion. Klarna says it is now the highest-valued private fintech company in Europe following today’s funding round.

In addition to Silver Lake, GIC (Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund) and funds and accounts managed by BlackRock and HMI Capital are also participating in today’s funding round. Merian Chrysalis, TCV, Northzone and Bonnier have bought out existing shareholders.

Klarna’s main product is an alternative payment method on e-commerce platforms. It lets you buy now and pay later over three or four installments with 0% interest. It has been quite popular in different European markets as many customers don’t have credit cards and/or don’t want to pay the fees involved with revolving credit lines.

Merchants get paid when the initial transaction occurs with Klarna transparently managing credit lines for customers. In addition to transaction fees, the company also generates revenue from late fees.

More recently, the company expanded to the U.S. where it now has 9 million customers out of 90 million customers in total. It mainly competes with Affirm in the U.S. Klarna has also been expanding its offering by targeting consumers directly — not just e-commerce companies.

You can now download the Klarna app to see all your Klarna payments, access a marketplace of stores, track deliveries and set up price-drop notifications. Using the app, you can also create virtual cards to pay with Klarna on unsupported stores, such as Amazon. It’s not as straightforward as clicking Klarna when you check out, but it works. The app has 12 million monthly active users and 55,000 daily downloads.

The company launched a rewards program this summer called Vibe. It is only available in the U.S. for now. It lets you earn points for every dollar you spend using Klarna as your payment method. You can exchange points for gift cards at H&M, Amazon, Walmart, Uber, etc.

Klarna is now working with 200,000 retail partners, such as Sephora, Groupon and Ralph Lauren. During the first half of 2020, the company reported $ 466 million in revenue and $ 59.8 million in losses.

Startups – TechCrunch

DCM has already made nearly $1 billion off its $26 million bet on Bill.com

David Chao, the cofounder of the cross-border venture firm DCM, speaks English, Japanese, and Mandarin. But he also knows how to talk to founders.

It’s worth a lot. Consider that DCM should see more than $ 1 billion from the $ 26.4 million it invested across 14 years in the cloud-based business-to-business payments company Bill.com, starting with its A round. Indeed, by the time Bill.com went public last December, when its shares priced at $ 22 apiece, DCM’s stake — which was 16% sailing into the IPO — was worth a not-so-small fortune.

Since then, Wall Street’s lust for both digital payments and subscription-based revenue models has driven Bill.com’s shares to roughly $ 90 each. Little wonder that in recent weeks, DCM has sold roughly 70 percent of its stake for nearly $ 900 million. (It still owns 30 percent of its position.)

We talked with Chao earlier today about Bill.com, on whose board he sits and whose founder, René Lacerte, is someone Chao backed previously. We also talked about another very lucrative stake DCM holds right now, about DCM’s newest fund, and about how Chao navigates between the U.S. and China as relations between the two countries worsen. Our conversation has been edited lightly for length and clarity.

TC: I’m seeing you owned about 33% of Bill.com after the first round. How did that initial check come to pass? Had you invested before in Lacerte?

DC: That’s right. Renee started [an online payroll] company called PayCycle and we’d backed him and it sold to Intuit [in 2009] and Renee made good money and we made money. And when he wanted to start this next thing, he said, ‘Look, I want to do something that’s a bigger outcome. I don’t want to sell the company along the way. I just want this time to do a big public company.’

TC: Why did he sell PayCycle if that was his ambition?

DC: It was largely because when you’re a first-time CEO and entrepreneur and a large company offers you the chance to make millions and millions of dollars, you’re a bit more tempted to sell the company. And it was a good price. For where the company was, it was a decent price.

Bill.com was a little bit different. We had good offers before going public. We even had an offer right before we went public.  But Renee said, ‘No, this time, I want to go all the way.’ And he fulfilled that promise he’d made to himself. It’s a 14-year success story.

TC: You’ve sold most of your stake in recent weeks for $ 900 million; how does that outcome compare with other recent exits for DCM? 

DC: We actually have another recent one that’s phenomenal. We invested in a company called Kuaishou in China. It’s the largest competitor to Bytedance’s TikTok in China. We’ve invested $ 49.3 million altogether and now that stake is worth $ 3.8 billion. The company is still private held, but we actually cashed out around 15% of our holdings. and with just that sale alone we’ve already [seen 10 times] that $ 30 million.

TC: How do you think about selling off your holdings, particularly once a company has gone public?

DC: It’s really case by case. In general, once a company goes public, we probably spend somewhere between 18 months to three years [unwinding our position]. We had two big IPOs in Japan last year. One company [had] a $ 1 billion market cap; the other was a $ 2 billion company. There are some [cases] that are 12 months and there are some [where we own some shares] for four or five years.

TC: What types of businesses are these newly public companies in Japan?

DC: They’re both B2B. One is pretty much the Bill.com of Japan. The other makes contact management software

TC: Isn’t DCM also an investor in Blued, the LGBTQ dating app that went public in the U.S. in July?

DC: Yes, our stake wasn’t  very big,  but we were probably the first major VC to jump in because it was controversial.

TC: I also saw that you closed a new $ 880 million early stage fund this summer.

DC: Yes, that’s right. It was largely driven by the fact that many of our funds have done well. We’re now on fund nine, but our fund seven is on paper today 9x, and even the fund that Bill.com is in, fund four, is now more than 3x. So is fund five. So we’re in a good spot.

TC: As a cross-border fund, what does the growing tension between the U.S and China mean for your team and how it operates?

DC: It’s not a huge impact. If we were currently investing in semiconductor companies, for example, I think it would be a pretty rough period, because [the U.S.] restricts all the money coming from any foreign sources. At least, you’d be under strong scrutiny. And if we invested in a semiconductor company in China, you might not be able to go public in the U.S.

But the kinds of deals that we do, which are largely B2B and B2C — more on the software and services side — they aren’t as impacted. I’d say 90% of our deals in China focus on the domestic market. And so it doesn’t really impact us as much.

I think some of the Western institutions putting money into the Chinese market — that might be decreasing, or at least they’re a little bit more on the sidelines, trying to figure out whether they should be continuing to invest in China. And maybe for Chinese companies, less companies will go public in the U.S., etcetera. But some of these companies can go public in Hong Kong.

TC: How you feel about U.S. administration’s policies?  Do you understand them? Are you frustrated by them?

DC: I think it requires patience, because what [is announced and] goes on the news, versus what is really implemented and how it truly affects the industry, there’s a huge gap.

Startups – TechCrunch

WJR Business Beat with Jeff Sloan: Huntington Commits $5 Billion to Michigan Small Businesses (Episode 112)

Yesterday, Huntington Bank and Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer announced a $ 5 billion investment commitment to help Michigan businesses, consumers and communities. The funding plan will be focusing broadly on providing capital to small business owners with an emphasis on those owned by minorities, women and veterans.

You may recall that as we highlighted previously on the Business Beat, TCF Bank announced a similar program with a $ 1 billion-dollar commitment in July.

Tune in to this morning’s WJR Business Beat to learn more about this great initiative: 


StartupNation exclusive discounts and savings on Dell products and accessories: Learn more here

“Michigan’s rural small businesses and urban micro-businesses have been especially hard hit as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on Michigan’s economy, and minority- and women-owned businesses throughout the state are seeking opportunities to stabilize and thrive. Our commitment to Michigan’s small businesses reflects the role they play in driving the state’s economy and the foundation they provide for our economic health.”

– Sandy Pierce, Huntington’s director of private banking, in a press release

Tune in to News/Talk 760 AM WJR weekday mornings at 7:11 a.m. for the WJR Business Beat. Listeners outside of the Detroit area can listen live HERE.

Are you an entrepreneur with a great story to share? If so, contact us at editor@startupnation.com and we’ll feature you on an upcoming segment of the WJR Business Beat!

WJR Business Beat Transcript

Good morning, Kevin.

Yesterday, Huntington Bank announced a $ 5 billion investment commitment to help Michigan businesses, consumers and communities get through the pandemic crisis and beyond. You may recall that as we highlighted previously on the Business Beat, TCF Bank announced this past July a similar program with a $ 1 billion-dollar commitment.

The funding plan will be focusing broadly on providing capital to small business owners with an emphasis on those owned by minorities, women and veterans. Over the next several months, Huntington will announce specific initiatives under the plan that it is putting in place to support these business owners.

In a press release issued yesterday, Sandy Pierce, Huntington’s director of private banking, had this to say about the investment commitment:

“Michigan’s rural small businesses and urban micro-businesses have been especially hard hit as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on Michigan economy and minority- and women-owned businesses throughout the state are seeking opportunities to stabilize and thrive. Our commitment to Michigan small businesses reflects the role they play in driving the state’s economy and the foundation they provide for our economic health.”

Just as we were thankful when we heard the announcement made by Gary Torgow and TCF Bank, we’re equally thrilled now to receive Huntington Bank’s commitment to invest in our small business community and the citizens of the great state of Michigan.

I’m Jeff Sloan, founder, and CEO of StartupNation.com, and that’s today’s Business Beat on the Great Voice of the Great Lakes, WJR.

The post WJR Business Beat with Jeff Sloan: Huntington Commits $ 5 Billion to Michigan Small Businesses (Episode 112) appeared first on StartupNation.

StartupNation

Before becoming a self-made billionaire worth $3.1 billion, he spent time homeless on the streets. This is a story of his climb out of poverty and achieving the American Dream.

John Paul Jones DeJori was born in Los Angeles, CA and comes from Italian and Greek descent. John showed his first entrepreneurial spirit when he was only 9 years old. He began by selling newspapers to support his family.

When his single mother proved unable to support her children, John DeJoria was sent to a foster home. DeJoria saw his economic obstacles as an opportunity to work hard. "The only way I could go was up," he said.

In 1966, his then wife abandoned DeJoria and their two-year-old son. She secretly took the rent money and the only car they owned. Two days after she left, DeJoria and his son were evicted from their apartment for nonpayment and forced to live on the street.

He held a series of jobs as a janitor, door-to-door salesman, and insurance salesman. DeJoria initially entered the world of hair-care, where he found his later success when he worked at Redken and Fermodyl. He got fired from both.

In 1980, John DeJoria teamed up with hairdresser Paul Mitchell to start John Paul Mitchell Systems with only $ 700 in cash. The company was founded on the idea of sculpting lotion that protected hair against the heat of a blow dryer.

The eventual success of JPMS was the result of word-of-mouth and finding their first distributor, who delivered to many salons. The best part? In just 2 years, DeJoria and his partner turned $ 700 into a million-dollar company.

John DeJoria's hair-care company proved to be just the start for him. In 1989, DeJoria co-founded Patrón Spirits Company – to produce the smoothest tequila people had ever tried. Now more than 2 million cases are sold each year.

But DeJoria doesn’t measure his success only in terms of money and power. Today, this iconic entrepreneur is a philanthropist who supports many social causes. Among other things, he helps people dealing with homelessness.

So how did DeJoria maintain motivation when he was down and build such an expansive empire?

He says there were three rules he followed on his path to success.

You can read them along with following more educational threads here https://twitter.com/MattHlavacka/status/1303332096992260098

submitted by /u/matulko
[link] [comments]
Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

India’s online learning platform Unacademy raises $150 million at $1.45 billion valuation

India has a new startup unicorn. On Wednesday, Bangalore-based online learning startup Unacademy announced it has raised $ 150 million in a new financing round that valued the Facebook-backed firm at $ 1.45 billion (post-money).

SoftBank Group — through its Vision Fund 2 — led Unacademy’s Series F financing round, while existing investors Facebook, Blume Ventures, Nexus Partners, General Atlantic and Sequoia Capital participated in it. The new deal pushes four-and-a-half-year old Unacademy’s to-date raise to about $ 350 million.

Unacademy helps students prepare for competitive exams to get into a college, as well as those who are pursuing graduate-level courses. On its app, students watch live classes from educators and later engage in sessions to review topics in more detail. In recent months, the startup has held several online interviews of high-profile individuals, such as Indian politician Shashi Tharoor, on a range of topics, which has expanded its appeal beyond its student base.

Last year, the startup launched a subscription service that offers students access to all live classes. The platform, which has 30 million registered users, has amassed more than 350,000 paying subscribers.

“Our goal always has been to democratise knowledge and make it more affordable and accessible by getting the best experts of the world help everyone achieve their goals. We are just getting started,” said Gaurav Munjal, co-founder and chief executive of Unacademy, in a tweet.

The growing valuation of Unacademy — which was valued at over $ 400 million in February this year when it closed its Series E financing round — comes as education startups report massive growth in their usage.

Unacademy’s rival, Byju’s — also backed by Sequoia Capital India — was valued at $ 10.5 billion in its recent financing round from Mary Meeker’s Bond, TechCrunch reported earlier. Byju’s is now the most valued edtech startup in the world.

As the coronavirus outbreak began to spread in India earlier this year, New Delhi enforced a nationwide lockdown that saw schools close across the nation. This has led many parents to explore digital learning services alternatives for their kids.

Even as most Indians tend not to pay for online services — just ask Facebook, which has amassed over 400 million users in India and makes little in the country — the education category has become an outlier. Indian families continue to spend heavily on their children’s education in hopes of paving the way for a better future.

Online learning platforms have dominated deal flows in recent months. Earlier this week, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative backed Mumbai-headquartered Eruditus in a $ 113 million fundraise. Toppr, which offers four products and services that are aimed at K-12 students, raised $ 46 million, while Bangalore-based Vedantu raised $ 100 million.

There has also been some consolidation. Unacademy acquired PrepLadder, which offers courses aimed at medical students, for $ 50 million in July. It also led an investment round of $ 5 million to acquire a majority stake in Mastree. And Byju’s acquired 18-month-old WhiteHat Jr., which teaches coding to kids, for $ 300 million.

Startups – TechCrunch

Polish startup tracking over 1 billion smartphones raises €12.6M in its Series A funding

With increasing digital awareness, numerous online services and the pandemic, shopping online is more or less the new norm. However, offline marketplace is said to account for 80 percent of retail, which is a major chunk of the market. Enabling companies to figure out ways to tap into the offline retail space is big business, one which the Warsaw-based startup Cosmose has already figured out. The company is also making headway and has now announced raising €12.6 million in its Series A funding round. 

Cosmose’s valuation soars

The latest series A funding round for Cosmose was led by institutional capital from Tiga Investments, OTB Ventures and TDJ Pitango. In addition, it was supported by a number of “ultra-high net worth individuals” from India, Israel and Singapore. To summarise, this funding round was led by the company’s investors in Cosmose’s growth markets in Asia and supported by investors in its engineering base in Eastern Europe. It is also expected to enable new opportunities of geographic expansion for the company. 

Cosmose gathers insights from over 1 billion smartphones and 360,000 stores. It aims to expand its ecosystem to over 2 billion smartphones by 2022 and 10 million stores across Asia. Later this year Cosmose will launch its product in Southeast Asia, followed by Middle East and India. Seeing the growth opportunities and commercial momentum in Asia, Cosmose expects to breakeven and generate profit in 2021.

Miron Mironiuk, CEO and Founder of Cosmose AI, says, “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.”

Gathers insights from over 1 billion smartphones

Cosmose was founded in 2014 by Miron Mironiuk, who worked several years in the digital media planning department and couldn’t find an adequate solution to integrate offline retail with online advertising. The startup uses AI to know  everything there is to know about what people are doing offline and it uses that knowledge for ultra precise recommendations and advertising. 

As mentioned earlier, the company gathers insights from over 1 billion smartphones and 360,000 stores. Cosmose accesses the data from over 400,000 apps, which include leading social, transportation, fitness, radio, gaming, news and weather apps. This is also seamless since no additional hardware or installation is required.

Image credits: Miron Mironiuk/Facebook

The post Polish startup tracking over 1 billion smartphones raises €12.6M in its Series A funding appeared first on Silicon Canals .

Startups – Silicon Canals