Searchable.ai nabs additional $4M seed to continue building AI-driven search

Searchable.ai is an early-stage startup in the alpha phase of testing its initial product, but it has an idea compelling enough to attract investment, even during a pandemic. Today the company announced an additional $ 4 million in seed capital to continue building its AI-driven search solution.

Susquehanna International Group and Omicron Media co-led the round with participation by Defy Partners, NextView Ventures and a group of unnamed angel investors. Today’s investment comes on top of the $ 2 million in seed money the startup announced in October.

Company co-founder and CEO Brian Shin said that when he presented to his investors in early March at the last event he attended before everything shut down, they approached him about additional money, and given the economic uncertainty he decided to take it.

“Honestly we probably would not have taken additional money if it was not for the uncertainty around the macro environment right now,” he told TechCrunch.

The company is trying to solve enterprise search and being pre-revenue, Shin recognized that having additional capital would give them more room to build the product and get it to market.

“We are trying to solve this problem where people just can’t find information that they need in order to do their jobs. When you look within the workplace, this problem is just getting worse and worse with the proliferation of different formats and people storing their information in many different places, local networks, cloud repositories, email and Slack,” he explained.

They have a few thousand people in the alpha program right now testing a personal desktop version of the application that helps individual users find their content wherever it happens to be. The plan is to open that up to a wider group soon.

The road map calls for a teams version where groups of employees can search among their different individual repositories, a developer version to build the search technology into other operations and eventually an enterprise tool. They also want to add voice search starting with an Alexa skill with the general belief that we need to move beyond keyword searches to more natural language approaches.

“We believe that there’ll be a whole new category of search, search companies and search products that are more conversational. […] Being able to interact with your information more naturally, more and more conversationally, that’s where we think the markets is going,” he said.

The company now has more money in the bank to help achieve that vision.

Startups – TechCrunch

AWS focused consulting firm CirrusHQ raises €446k to continue its expansion across the UK

CirrusHQ, a leading Amazon Web Services (AWS) consulting firm, today announced it has secured a €446k growth capital funding plus the appointment of Alastair Mills as the company’s new Chairman. The UK-based company will use the fresh capital to further expand its presence in the UK, most notably in the education sector where it is the first and only UK Consulting Partner to hold the ‘AWS Education Competency’ and the ‘Well Architected Framework’ certification. CirrusHQ also specialises in public sector and enterprise deployments.

The investment round was led by Alastair Mills and Ronnie Smith. The pair have worked together previously, having co-founded managed services provider Six Degrees Group in 2011, which was acquired by Charlesbank Capital Partners in 2015. Both investors have now joined CirrusHQ’s board of directors, with Mills taking on the role of Chairman and Smith adding his 25 plus years of financial expertise to the firm’s leadership. CirrusHQ also appointed Daemonn Brody, who has previously held senior roles in the cloud and managed services industry, as its Managing Director.

Founded in 2011 and with offices in Edinburgh, Oxford and London, CirrusHQ focuses exclusively on the AWS platform and its experience and comprehensive levels of certification mean it is uniquely positioned to help its customers maximise the performance, security and cost-effectiveness of their AWS workloads. Within the education sector, in particular, as schools and universities are temporarily closed, many are relying on cloud technology and tools to help students continue to learn online.

James Lucas, CEO and founder of CirrusHQ commented: “Our expertise and deep insights into the AWS cloud has enabled our clients to innovate and exploit the potential of the public cloud. The UK edtech sector in particular is thriving as organisations put in place strategies to scale without compromising cybersecurity. We are delighted that Alastair and Ronnie are joining the Board to help CirrusHQ in the next phase of our ambitious growth plans.”

Alastair Mills, the company’s new chairman, added: “We are witnessing an unprecedented demand for cloud computing and AWS is the undisputed global leader in the market. With its deep understanding of the vertical markets it serves, together with an unrivalled technical expertise, CirrusHQ is perfectly positioned to take full advantage of the business opportunity afforded by the cloud. I’m very excited to be joining the team on this journey.”

EU-Startups

.Coms Continue to Dominate the DNJ Sales Chart but Non .Com gTLDs & ccTLDs Had Big Hits Too

 DNJournal: The new DNJ domain sales report is out.Coms swept 17 of the Top 20 but we also saw one the year’’s top 5 non .com gTLD sales a Top 10 ccTLD sale.
Domaining.com

“Customers will continue to question their consumption”: Interview with Vestiaire Collective’s CEO Max Bittner

With growing consciousness of sustainability, it looks like fast fashion might not be so on trend anymore. Currently benefitting from that shift is Vestiaire Collective, a French fashion tech startup based in Paris. Founded over ten years ago, the company has raised €209 million, closing a recent funding round just weeks ago totalling €49 million.

We caught up with CEO Max Bittner, who took the helm of the startup in 2018. A former founder himself (of the e-commerce giant Lazada), we discussed tips for first-time entrepreneurs, as well as Vestiaire Collective’s unique value proposition, future trends in sustainable fashion, and how the company is faring during COVID-19.

Thanks for your time, Max! For our readers who don’t know, what is Vestiaire Collective and what problem is it trying to solve?

Vestiaire Collective is the leading global resale platform for desirable pre-owned fashion. Our community of 9 million fashion activists worldwide inspire one another whilst selling and buying unique pieces from each other’s wardrobe. An increased interest in sustainability and the rise of social media has driven consumer interest in the pre-owned market. Gen Z and Millenials want to access the fashion they desire in a more sustainable way whilst also feeling connected to a wider community, which is where Vestiaire offers a unique proposition that meets a growing demand driven by the younger generations.

Congratulations on closing the latest most recent funding round! You’ve stated that one use of the cash is to keep fuelling Vestiaire Collective’s international expansion. What have you found to be the key challenges of continued growth?

This is really the moment for resale. There are so many opportunities we could pursue, one of my personal biggest challenges has been to keep the team focused on the big topics that really make a difference. The biggest challenge overall for the business has predominantly been scaling internationally. Each market has its own cultural nuances, meaning you need to dedicate a lot of time to research each market, building a broad understanding of all the factors that can impact your ability to scale successfully. It’s important to build a strong local team that understands each market you want to reach.

This is the second time you’ve chosen to personally participate in a funding round during your time leading Vestiaire Collective. What motivated that decision?

The first thing that struck me when considering joining Vestiaire Collective was the huge potential for the business model. I strongly believe the platform answers a number of today’s growing consumer needs and this shift in the consumer landscape will continue to escalate over the coming years, this is why I wanted to invest in the business myself shortly after I joined in 2019. I’ve reinvested again in this round as I am personally convinced that this unprecedented period of disruption will not only challenge where we shop but how we shop which will further drive adoption of online resale platforms.

Vestiaire Collective was founded in 2009 – it’s already been over ten years! As the business has grown – and investor cash has flowed – how do you believe the company goals and objectives have changed?

I’ve been with the business for just over a year and a half, but I believe the fundamental goals of the company remain the same as they were in the founding years. Encouraging a sustainable approach to fashion consumption was a core founding pillar of the Vestiaire Collective model when it launched, and this remains key to the company’s future objectives.

When the founders launched the platform they spotted a shift in the way people were starting to think about and consume fashion. This evolution has continued to grow and we believe this will be further escalated by the impact of the current crisis. We want to encourage more people to join our circular fashion community and explore a more sustainable way to enjoy fashion.

In these ten years, more fashion startups with similar circular business models have arrived on the scene. What continues to make Vestiaire Collective unique?

The platform remains unique due to its highly engaged global community, its rare desirable inventory and the high level of trust we have developed in the company and the community. There are no other players in the market that offer this unique combination. I also believe that you should always be willing to self-disrupt so we are constantly looking for new ways to innovate and evolve to ensure we can continue to provide for the ever-changing needs of today’s customer.

What trends do you see taking off in the fashion e-commerce industry over the next five years – will sustainable alternatives really triumph over fast fashion?

We live in a world where consumers, especially younger generations, have really been changing the paradigm of the way things are done. There has been a shift of consumer behaviour towards a circular economy and digital landscape. I think customers will continue to question and change their approach to consumption. Where they are becoming more conscious of both sustainability and the impact of consumerism, this will be further escalated by the current crisis which will ultimately force brands to rethink their current model.

How has the COVID-19 crisis impacted business at Vestiaire Collective, if at all?

As a C2C platform we have been able to be quite agile in the way we operate during this period, and this has allowed the business to rebound from an initial impact quite quickly. We are seeing positive figures on both order and deposits right now. Central European orders are +20% on our pre-Covid-19 February average, and overall deposits are +33% for the same period. We’re also seeing our community continue to be strongly engaged on our app.

Finally, as a founder yourself, what advice do you have for those hoping to take the plunge and start their own company?

Follow your passion and your instincts – you need to start a company that will make you want to get out of bed in the morning. Always keep an entrepreneurial state of mind. Innovation is key to any business maintaining a competitive edge, so never miss the opportunity to drive change where you believe it’s needed.

EU-Startups

At Continue For! A Work From Home Computer Program Designed Just For You!

Second thing to know is to commit to writing. Home business freelance writing can be very lucrative and nicer. Like anything else, money won’t fall regarding your lap even though this is the internet. The truth is that they’ve got a lot of competition for the. What will make you easier than anyone else is your commitment and difficult work. Having said that however, you will be able underestimation . goodbye special daily commute and work in your pajamas from the comfort of your lounge.

Hence, 90% of the people in our planet needs start out your own business, with a home based business. In this article, we will be going to looking in the top 3 reasons why you need to work from home and generate residual income that will feed both you and your family for life.

You could start a dsl business blog and monetize it with Google AdSense ads. Precisely what people even start your own consulting business and teach people where to get started dollars from home based.

Getting started in direct sales is actually really easy. Some companies even allow to be able to join their ranks with no charge. Most of them want some kind of start-up costs, but they are quite considerable. For instance, you can start selling Avon for around like covers the money necessary your first shipment of catalogs. For sales opportunities that expect you to actually a good inventory for your customers to view, you’ll find a steeper start-up cost. For instance, Thirty-One Gifts requires around 0 for start-up consultants, nevertheless, you receive around 0 in merchandise showing at partners.

1) Might over-react (maybe even fire you) should you look up their phone, or various other info regarding their company. If you search at the web and see something “funny”, a reputable work-at-home company will explain the answers. Valid reasons include envious competitors, or a few crazy rabbits. If they over-react in your own question, a new online an individual read online might attend least partially true.

The primary advantages of a work at home Internet business have been obvious for stay in your own home moms in a very many years. A woman can attend home with her children and also not have to work, but she might as well make money doing something she take interest in. This means she can get time along with her kids and nevertheless bring money to her family.

One of the first steps that ought to taken inside start-up phase of your home business is actually establish a low priced advertising limited budget. Generally, your home business advertising budget should be anywhere from two to seven percent of their total revenue. If you are able to it, ten percent is considered ideal.

Am I able invest some little money? Even if you can commence a home company on a shoestring budget, you should bear in your head that firm is all about investment. Really are you throughout your enterprise for in which earn what you expect to get from doing it?

How do you continue traction after launch?

We had a quite successful Product Hunt launch considering we went from MVP to launch/Front Page of Product Hunt in under a week. Now that the launch is over traffic has tailed off significantly.

Google is still catching up on indexing our site.

We are looking into doing a limited campaign for FB ads and Google Adsense.

Any tips to keep this going?

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

Oriente raises $50 million to continue building its infrastructure for digital financial services

Oriente, a Hong Kong-based startup that develops tech infrastructure for digital credit and other online financial services, has raised $ 50 million for its ongoing Series B round. The funding was led by Peter Lee, co-chairman of Henderson Land, one of Hong Kong’s largest property developers, with participation from investors including website development platform Wix.com.

Launched in 2017 by Geoff Prentice (one of Skype’s co-founders), Hubert Tai and Lawrence Chu, Oriente focuses on markets that are underserved by traditional financial institutions. The new funding will be used for growth in Oriente’s existing markets, the Philippines and Indonesia, and expansion into new countries, including Vietnam.

It will also be used to continue building Oriente’s technology, which uses big data analytics to help merchants increase sales conversions and lower risk. Oriente has now raised more than $ 160 million in equity and debt, including a $ 105 million round in November 2018.

While many large tech companies, including Grab, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Uber, Apple and Samsung, are looking at digital payments and other online financial services, they need the tech infrastructure to do so, and partners that can also help them handle regulations in different markets.

Oriente doesn’t compete with payment providers. Instead, it is “innovating credit as a service,” Prentice told TechCrunch, by building technology that allows offline and online merchants to launch digital credit solutions quickly.

Oriente “is the only company that is focusing on building an end-to-end digital financial services infrastructure,” he added, with services created for consumers, online and offline merchants, and enterprise clients.

For consumers, the startup currently offers two apps, Cashalo in the Philippines and Finmas in Indonesia, which it says has a combined 5 million users and more than 1,000 merchants. Services include cash loans, online credit and working capital for small to medium-sized enterprises.

Oriente says that in 2019, it saw a 700% year-over-year growth in transactions and served more than 4 million new users, while merchant partners had a more than 20% increase in sales volume.

Over the next few months, Oriente plans to expand its Pay Later digital credit feature and launch new growth capital solutions for small businesses that need financing. Oriente also has several partnerships in the works to expand its enterprise solutions for larger businesses and corporations.

In Vietnam, Oriente is currently beta testing a consumer platform similar to Cashalo and Finmas. It will offer online credit and financing, as well as other services in partnership with local companies.

Oriente has also started focusing on how to serve businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, since many merchants are coping with revenue declines, loss of users and cash flow issues.

“Over the past few weeks, we’ve reprioritized our corporate strategy to focus on the top opportunities within each market. We have also taken various steps to rebuild our organizations for optimized operational and financial efficiency in line with current and forecasted market conditions and our more focused strategy,” Prentice said.

“Our aim is not only to mitigate anticipated headwinds on liquidity but to demonstrate that our business has the potential to overcome and outperform the market in a recession—unlocking value for all stakeholders for years to come.”

Startups – TechCrunch

Finnish VC Icebreaker launches second fund to continue backing “pre-founders” and pre-seed startups

Icebreaker.vc, the Finnish venture capital firm that backs “pre-founders” and pre-seed to seed-stage startups, has launched a second fund, with a first close of €50 million.

That’s already significantly larger than Icebreaker’s first fund (which closed at €20 million) and reflects the VC’s geographical expansion. In addition to Finland, where Icebreaker claims to be the most active institutional investor by number of deals, the firm is also active in Sweden and Estonia.

In an email exchange, Icebreaker co-founder and Partner Riku Seppälä told me that despite the coronavirus crisis, most of the firm’s LPs from Fund I have invested in this second fund, along with several new LP. “It’s great to see them take the same view as we are; things must go on and this is a great time to start building and investing in pre-seed-stage technology companies in Europe,” he says.

Seppälä also shared some of Icebreaker’s progress to date. He says that via “Fund I” the VC has invested in 38 companies over the last 3 years, which he believes means it has done the most pre-seed investments of any fund in Finland, Sweden and Estonia over that time period.

It typically invests between €150k and €800k in teams that have “deep domain expertise” and are building globally competitive tech companies.

“Within these 3 years and 3 months, we’ve invested €5.8 million in initial investments [with the remainder being deployed in later rounds] and the companies have managed to raise €28 million in total in private follow-on equity funding from investors in 21 rounds”.

Breaking this down further, Seppälä says that so far Icebreaker has a 65% success rate for companies being able to raise seed rounds. “90% of those within 18 months from our initial investment,” he tells me.

Examples of Icebreaker startups that have raised further funding include Hoxhunt (€2.5 million led by Dawn Capital), Kodit.io (backed by Speedinvest, Adevinta, FJ Labs and All Iron), Klaus (€1.7 million led by Creandum), Flowhaven (€4.75 million led by GFC), and Aibidia (€4.2 million led by GFC).

Startups – TechCrunch

Neustar will continue running the .CO domain registry

 OnlineDomain.com: The Ministry of Information and Communication Technologies (MinTIC) of Colombia announced as the winner of the tender for the operation and administration of the .co country code top level domain (.co ccTLD) to .CO Internet SAS. .CO Internet SAS is owned by Neustar while .co is the ccTLD of the country of Colombia. And yes … Th…
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