Italy’s Commerce Layer raises $6M led by Benchmark for its headless e-commerce platform

In the world of commerce, the last few months have underscored the fact that every retailer, brand and entity that sells or distributes something needs to have a digital strategy. Today, one of the startups that’s built a platform aimed at giving them more control in that process is announcing a Series A to continue expanding its business.

Commerce Layer, which has built a “headless” e-commerce platform — used to develop online sales strategies that use APIs to plug your inventory to take orders and payments from a variety of endpoints like other marketplaces, your own site and app (and the various payment systems you might use depending on the country you’re selling into), messaging services, social channels, and more — has raised a Series A of $ 6 million, which CEO and founder Filippo Conforti said the startup will be using to continue expanding in more geographies and adding in more endpoints to fit the needs of its current (and future) customers.

The funding is being led by Benchmark Capital, with participation also from Mango Capital, DAXN, PrimeSet, SV Angel, and NVInvestments. The startup is based out of Italy — specifically, just outside of Florence in Tuscany. And so the funding is notable for a few reasons: first, for the investors; second, what it says about this particular category in the tech ecosystem right now; and third, that even in what was at one point the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in Western countries, we are seeing signs of recovery and activity in the tech ecosystem.

In fact, Commerce Layer was talking to Benchmark and others in the Valley well before the outbreak of the pandemic, and the term sheets with those investors were signed in January, also before things really kicked off in Italy. What took significantly longer was the process after, in which many individual investors in the startup, based in Italy, had to sign off paperwork related to the new investors and the fact that Commerce Layer was also incorporating in the US as part of that deal. All of that was handled remotely.

The world of e-commerce has changed a huge amount in the last couple of decades. The early days saw people ‘shopping’ online but ordering through email, eventually giving way to having your own site or selling perhaps on a marketplace like eBay or Amazon. Modern times have made that process both easier and more complex.

Complex, because brands and retailers now have a large array of options and permutations for how to sell something, both on their own sites as well as on a number of other platforms (some, as we have described before, have foregone sites altogether).

Easier, because the rise of APIs to enable developers to plug into a number of other systems without building everything themselves from scratch (including, even, platforms like RapidAPI, which has also recently raised $ 25 million, to help organise and manage how those APIs are used).

This is where Commerce Layer fits into the picture, with an API-based system that is able to manage multiple SKUs, prices, and inventory data to help its customers sell in any currency, with distributed inventory models, and global shipping that makes it easy to add or adjust where and when you are selling, be it across your site or app, or a different platform altogether.

There are a number of tools on the market today to enable the very smallest, and the very biggest, merchants to develop and power online sales for brick-and-mortar or pure-play e-commerce companies and brands; and there are even a number of “headless” options out there.

The wider list is pretty extensive, but some of the bigger names include Shopify, BigCommerce, Commercetools, and Ecwid and Strapi (both of which also announced funding just last week, see here and here).

Conforti — who got his start in e-commerce a decade ago when building online commerce solutions for Gucci — acknowledges that the competitive landscape is indeed very big, but also believes that the key lies services like his being significantly younger, and thus more modern and easy to use, than even the legacy headless systems or services developed by older e-commerce enablers.

“Being headless is mandatory in order to provide a truly omnichannel experience to customers,” Conforti said. If you’re not API-first that is a flag, he added. “Everyone knows it’s the future, and the present.” He said that he considered Commercetools, another European company, “the only real competitor” although “they were born 15 years ago so you get some older technology. Commerce Layer is more fresh with more modern APIs.”

Customers of Commerce Layer include Chilly’s (the fashionable water bottle company), Au Depart, Richard Ginori and more, who Conforti says help shape what his startup builds next: for example one of its customers wants an integration with Farfetch, the high-end fashion marketplace, and so they are building that to subsequently offer it as an option to others.

Eric Vishria, a general partner at Benchmark who is joining the board of the startup with this round, said that the distinction is great enough between what Commerce Layer has built and what already exists on the market to take a bet on the company.

“Right now there is a huge gap between the mom-and-pop, give-me-a-generic-template-based-storefront-quickly, and the invest-a-hundred-engineers-and-millions-of-dollars-to-build-everything-from-scratch,” he said. “The most likely approach to fill that need is the JAM stack and API approach – like Commerce Layer, which will give companies radically more flexibility to create unique experiences than a template. But allows them to build quickly and inexpensively by assembling building blocks rather than everything from scratch.

“We committed to investing in Commerce Layer before the pandemic took hold, but I couldn’t be more delighted to invest in a company founded in Italy right now. The fact that the team continued to build and grow in Italy through this all is a testament to the entrepreneurial spirit.

Benchmark once had a full European arm, which separated and now goes by the name Balderton. Meanwhile, it has also continued to invest in a number of startups in the region from its own funds, including Zendesk (Denmark), Elastic (Netherlands), Contentful and ResearchGate.

Startups – TechCrunch

[Stellar Cyber on Cybercrime Magazine] Meet Stellar Cyber and the Open-XDR Security Platform

Meet Stellar Cyber and the Open-XDR Security Platform

Listen here.

The post [Stellar Cyber on Cybercrime Magazine] Meet Stellar Cyber and the Open-XDR Security Platform appeared first on OurCrowd.


Kentik raises $23.5M for its network intelligence platform

Kentik, the company once known as CloudHelix, today announced that it has raised a $ 23.5 million growth funding round led by Vistara Capital Partners, with existing investors August Capital, Third Point Ventures, DCVC and Tahoma Ventures also participating. With this round, Kentik has now raised a total of $ 61.7 million.

The company’s platform allows enterprises to monitor their networks, no matter whether that’s over the internet, inside their own data centers or in public clouds.

“The world has become even more internet-centric, and we are seeing growth in traffic levels, product engagement and revenue across both our enterprise and service provider customers,” said Avi Freedman, the co-founder and CEO of Kentik when I asked him why he was raising a round now. “We’ve seen an increased pace of adoption of the kind of hybrid and internet-centric architectures that Kentik is built for and thought it was a great time to increase investment, especially in product, as well as go-to-market and partner expansion to support market demand.”

Freedman says the company has been growing 100% compounded year-over-year since it launched in 2015 and now has customers in 25 countries. These include leading enterprises, SaaS companies, content providers, gaming companies, content providers and cloud and communication service providers, he tells me. Current customers include the likes of IBM, Zoom, Dropbox, eBay, Cisco and GoDaddy.

The company says it will use the new funding to invest in its product and for go-to-market investments.

One notable fact about this new round is that it is a combination of equity and growth debt. Why growth debt? “Growth debt is an attractive option for startups with the right scale and strong unit economics, especially with the changes to capital markets in response to current economic conditions,” said Freedman. “Another element that makes long-term debt attractive is that unlike equity financing, long-term debt limits dilution for everyone, but especially benefits our employees who hold common stock.” That, it’s worth noting, is also something that lead investor Vistara Capital has made one of the core tenets of its investment philosophy. “Since Kentik is now at a scale where we have enough data on the business fundamentals to be able to make growth investments using debt while still being able to repay it over time, it made sense to us and our investors,” noted Freedman.

Startups – TechCrunch

Spectrm raises $3M Series A from Runa Capital for its conversational marketing platform

In the “Age of Corona” — as some like to call it, the roboticization of industry and business has been super-charged by the pandemic. So while companies using messaging platforms to drive customers toward purchases was always on a long-term trend, the sheer volume of people staying online 24/7 during global lockdowns has led to this tactic also being boosted.

So it’s therefore understandable that Spectrm, an AI-powered conversational marketing platform that does just this, has raised $ 3 million in Series A funding from international VC fund Runa Capital.

Spectrm automates conversations to engage and convert customers online via an AI-driven algorithm. Then marketers use that data to segment the customer base and build stronger customer relationships. The platform is used by companies like eBay, Ford, Groupon, Renault, KLM and more.

According to Global WebIndex research, social media users are now spending an average of 2 hours and 24 minutes per day across eight social networks and messaging apps. And during COVID-19-driven lockdowns, that would have been much more.

Conversational marketing is a hot area. Facebook Messenger marketing has 10-80 times better engagement than email, for instance.

Max Koziolek, co-founder and CEO of Spectrm, said in a statement: “Our vision is to combine the power of conversations with the reach of the largest platforms in the world… we believe conversation is a deeply human experience that is more effective and more insightful than any other format in marketing.”

Dmitry Galperin, partner at Runa Capital said: “Instead of trying to cover all marketing communication channels, it is much more effective to direct efforts to those that generate the most customer insights and highest ROI. Conversational marketing is one of those channels.”

Spectrm’s competitors include LivePerson (Nasdaq-listed), ManyChat (raised $ 19.1 million), ($ 11.3 million), ($ 10.9 million), and Chatfuel ($ 120,000).

Startups – TechCrunch

Berlin-based Spectrm, an AI-driven conversational marketing platform, raises €2.7 million

Today German startup Spectrm, a marketing platform that helps businesses turn customer conversations on messaging apps into insights and revenue, raised €2.7 million in Series A funding from international venture capital fund Runa Capital.  

Spectrm, founded in 2016, automates personalised one-to-one conversations to engage and convert customers. The AI-powered platform helps marketers guide the customers from websites, ads, and messenger apps like Facebook Messenger to final purchases. It streamlines a usually disconnected, multi-touchpoint marketing funnel into a fun and interactive conversation. The result is a personalised, instant and effortless buying journey that generates declared data on customer preferences. Spectrm also helps marketers leverage the data collection to build meaningful segments, optimise their funnel and build stronger customer relationships. 

The startup has already got some global attention, with Facebook naming Spectrm a strategic developer partner and Gartner also labelling the company a Cool Vendor in the Natural Language Processing space, recognising the background technology behind the platform. 

According to Global WebIndex research, social media users are now spending an average of 2 hours and 24 minutes per day across eight social networks and messaging apps. Сonversational marketing remains one of the best and the most effective communication channels – Facebook Messenger marketing has 10-80 times better engagement than email. Despite such impressive results, conversational marketing remains underestimated as only 1 out of every 100 businesses engages customers automatically or with chatbots— an approach with massive reach and greater interactivity. 

Max Koziolek, co-founder and CEO of Spectrm said: “At Spectrm, we believe conversation is a deeply human experience that is more effective and more insightful than any other format in marketing. Our vision is to combine the power of conversations with the reach of the largest platforms in the world”. 

Dmitry Galperin, Partner at Runa Capital adds: “Today businesses all over the world are facing the greatest challenge of how to attract and retain customers. Instead of trying to cover all marketing communication channels, it is much more effective to direct efforts to those that generate the most customer insights and highest ROI. Conversational marketing is one of those channels. Thus, the solution offered by the Spectrm team is widely relevant across industries. We are excited to support the project.”   

Spectrm focuses on mid-market and enterprise B2C firms in multiple verticals, powering companies like Ebay, Purple, Ford, Groupon, Renault, KLM, and others. In the past 12 months, the Spectrm platform enabled an average of 6 million interactions per month between brands and their customers.


[ThetaRay in Crowdfund Insider] ThetaRay, Provider of Big Data and AI-enhanced Analytics Tools, Introduces FastStart Platform to Combat Financial Crime During COVID-19

Israel-based ThetaRay, a provider of Big Data and artificial intelligence (AI)-enhanced analytics tools, has launched FastStart, a product that aims to address the requirements of financial institutions during the COVID-19 crisis.

Read more here.

The post [ThetaRay in Crowdfund Insider] ThetaRay, Provider of Big Data and AI-enhanced Analytics Tools, Introduces FastStart Platform to Combat Financial Crime During COVID-19 appeared first on OurCrowd.


Milan-based AppQuality nabs €3.5 million for its crowd testing platform

Italian startup AppQuality, a crowd testing platform, has announced raising 3.5 million in a round led by P101 SGR and ITA500 (the venture capital fund established by Azimut Libera and managed by P101), alongside Italian Angels for Growth (IAG), and Club Italia Investimenti 2.

Founded in 2015, AppQuality uses the power of the crowd to test apps, websites, chatbots, facebook pages, landing pages, newsletters, digital products and ADV campaigns online. Its crowd-based platform brings together a community of 14,000+ remote testers, in order to help companies build high-quality apps and websites with a stunning user experience. Impressively, the team already has major clients like Pirelli, BMW, Bending Spoons, Unicredit, Moncler, Allianz, Enel, Vodafone, Dyson, among its customers.

Created by Luca Manara (CEO), Edoardo Vannutelli and Filippo Renga, the range of testing they offer goes from Functional Testing, to Usability Testing, to Benchmark Testing to Prototype Testing. For example, a company with a strong customer interaction component could select to test chatbot or voice training testing, or a company looking to analyse their position in the market could complete a benchmark testing to find out what customers value about their product.

The funds raised will be used to speed up services, reduce cost and make them more effective than traditional testing methods. Their focus will remain on creating tools and services that detect defects and improve customer experience, expanding their community of expert testers and increase the potential of collective intelligence via effective collaboration tools. The startup also aims to expand further into European markets.


Who is responsible for the images uploaded onto a platform?

I'm currently working on a page that allows users to create blog posts and upload images.

If I build such a platform, how do I avoid infringing on copyright claims and Cease & Desist letters for images uploaded by the users?

Will I be responsible for unsavory images that are posted by the user?

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

Statespace, the platform that trains gamers, raises $15 million

Statespace has today raised a $ 15 million Series A financing round led by Khosla, with partner Samir Kaul joining the board. Existing investors, such as FirstMark Capital, Lux and Expa, also participated in the round, as well as newcomer June Fund.

Statespace launched out of stealth in 2017 with a product called Aim Lab, which recreates the physics of popular FPS games to help players practice their aim and work on their weaknesses. Statespace was founded by neuroscientists from New York University, and goes beyond the mechanics of aim itself to understand and measure several parts of a player’s game, from visual acuity across the quadrants of the screen to reaction time.

Anyone from an average gamer to a professional can use Aim Lab to improve. But the company has other offerings, too. The company is working on the Academy, which will launch in Q3 of this year, and was built in partnership with Masterclass and a number of top streamers. Users can get advanced tutorials from these streamers, which include KingGeorge (Rainbox Six Siege), SypherPK (Fortnite), Valkia (Overwatch), Drift0r (CoD) and Launders (CS:GO).

Statespace has also partnered with the Pro Football Hall of Fame to develop the ‘Cognitive Combine.’ Just like the NFL Combine measures general skills and abilities, such as speed, strength, agility, etc., the Cognitive Combine is meant to give a general assessment of a player’s skill in a game-agnostic manner.

The company also works directly with esports teams such as 100 Thieves and the Philly Fusion, building custom data dashboards and products so those teams can get a deeper look at their metrics and build practice regimes around their weaknesses.

Statespace is also sprinting to make its products more available to a broader userbase, including launching a mobile version of Aim Lab and introducing Aim Lab on Xbox, with plans to launch PlayStation support soon. The company also plans on launching support for 400 games next month.

Interestingly, the technology behind Statespace, which lets the company measure well beyond the kill:death ratio and look at cognitive ability, can be used for many other applications. The company has applied for a grant alongside several universities to work on a commercial application for stroke rehabilitation.

Statespace will use the funding to continue growing the team, which has doubled since raising $ 2.5 million in August of 2019. The company has also brought on a few notable hires from bigger companies, including a new VP of Engineering Scott Raymond (formerly Gowalla, Facebook and Airbnb), Jenna Hannon as VP of Marketing (formerly Uber, Uber Eats) and Phil Charm as VP of Growth (formerly Checkr, Gainsight).

According to founder and CEO Wayne Mackey, Statespace has 2 million registered users and 500K monthly active users, up 400 percent from January.

Startups – TechCrunch

Swiss startup Batmaid gets more than €1 million for its home cleaner booking platform

Today Swiss startup Batmaid, the country’s largest cleaner booking platform, has secured additional funding from Baloise and ACE & Company (Swiss-founded global private equity boutique), to fuel its ambitious expansion goals and additional projects. The funding amount has not been disclosed further than being more than €1 million.

Batmaid, created in 2015, is the first platform that allows users to hire preselected home cleaners online and is also the largest cleaning platform in Switzerland, with headquarters in Lausanne and offices in Zurich, Lugano and Luxembourg. Batmaid currently has over 70 employees, serving more than 45,000 clients. For peace of mind, the startup applies a rigorous pre-selection process of professional cleaners on the platform along with offering extensive customer and administrative support.

“We are happy to welcome on board our new investors who will allow us to further strengthen our market position in Switzerland and to improve our service offering for our clients with our partnership with Baloise, while counting on ACE’s entrepreneurial experience internationally as well as locally”, states Andreas Schollin-Borg, co-founder and CEO of Batmaid

The first part of this investment round was closed last December, with additional funding committed last week. This constitutes an important milestone for Batmaid and demonstrates the trust the investors place in the team to pilot the startup during these challenging times.

The investment in Batmaid is the fourth addition to the it’s ‘home’ ecosystem, following the acquisition of stakes in, Bubble Box and MOVU. 

“Cleaning is a core pillar of the ‘Home’ ecosystem that Baloise is seeking to develop, and the equity investment in Batmaid allows us to strengthen our offering in this area. The Batmaid concept gives customers a service that is easy to use and taps into the growing trend towards digitalisation – which is what our Simply Safe strategy is all about,” explains Yannick Hasler, Head of Private Customers at Baloise.