BeeHero smartens up hives to provide ‘pollination as a service’ with $4M seed round

Vast monoculture farms outstripped the ability of bee populations to pollinate them naturally long ago, but the techniques that have arisen to fill that gap are neither precise nor modern. Israeli startup BeeHero aims to change that by treating hives both as living things and IoT devices, tracking health and pollination progress practically in real time. It just raised a $ 4 million seed round that should help expand its operations into U.S. agriculture.

Honeybees are used around the world to pollinate crops, and there has been growing demand for beekeepers who can provide lots of hives on short notice and move them wherever they need to be. But the process has been hamstrung by the threat of colony collapse, an increasingly common end to hives, often as the result of mite infestation.

Hives must be deployed and checked manually and regularly, entailing a great deal of labor by the beekeepers — it’s not something just anyone can do. They can only cover so much land over a given period, meaning a hive may go weeks between inspections — during which time it could have succumbed to colony collapse, perhaps dooming the acres it was intended to pollinate to a poor yield. It’s costly, time-consuming, and decidedly last-century.

So what’s the solution? As in so many other industries, it’s the so-called Internet of Things. But the way CEO and founder Omer Davidi explains it, it makes a lot of sense.

“This is a math game, a probabilistic game,” he said. “We’ve modeled the problem, and the main factors that affect it are, one, how do you get more efficient bees into the field, and two, what is the most efficient way to deploy them? ”

Normally this would be determined ahead of time and monitored with the aforementioned manual checks. But off-the-shelf sensors can provide a window into the behavior and condition of a hive, monitoring both health and efficiency. You might say it puts the API in apiculture.

“We collect temperature, humidity, sound, there’s an accelerometer. For pollination, we use pollen traps and computer vision to check the amount of pollen brought to the colony,” he said. “We combine this with microclimate stuff and other info, and the behaviors and patterns we see inside the hives correlate with other things. The stress level of the queen, for instance. We’ve tested this on thousands of hives; it’s almost like the bees are telling us, ‘we have a queen problem.’ ”

All this information goes straight to an online dashboard where trends can be assessed, dangerous conditions identified early, and plans made for things like replacing or shifting less or more efficient hives.

The company claims that its readings are within a few percentage points of ground truth measurements made by beekeepers, but of course it can be done instantly and from home, saving everyone a lot of time, hassle, and cost.

The results of better hive deployment and monitoring can be quite remarkable, though Davidi was quick to add that his company is building on a growing foundation of work in this increasingly important domain.

“We didn’t invent this process, it’s been researched for years by people much smarter than us. But we’ve seen increases in yield of 30-35 percent in soybeans, 70-100 percent in apples and cashews in South America,” he said. It may boggle the mind that such immense improvements can come from just better bee management, but the case studies they’ve run have borne it out. Even “self-pollinating” (i.e. by the wind or other measures) crops that don’t need pollinators show serious improvements.

The platform is more than a growth aid and labor saver. Colony collapse is killing honeybees at enormous rates, but if it can be detected early, it can be mitigated and the hive potentially saved. That’s hard to do when time from infection to collapse is a matter of days and you’re inspecting biweekly. BeeHero’s metrics can give early warning of mite infestations, giving beekeepers a head start on keeping their hives alive.

“We’ve seen cases where you can lower mortality by 20-25 percent,” said Davidi. “It’s good for the farmer to improve pollination, and it’s good for the beekeeper to lose less hives.”

That’s part of the company’s aim to provide value up and down the chain, not just a tool for beekeepers to check the temperatures of their hives. “Helping the bees is good, but it doesn’t solve the whole problem. You want to help whole operations,” Davidi said. The aim is “to provide insights rather than raw data: whether the queen is in danger, if the quality of the pollination is different.”

Other startups have similar ideas, but Davidi noted that they’re generally working on a smaller scale, some focused on hobbyists who want to monitor honey production, or small businesses looking to monitor a few dozen hives versus his company’s nearly twenty thousand. BeeHero aims for scale both with robust but off-the-shelf hardware to keep costs low, and by focusing on an increasingly tech-savvy agriculture sector here in the States.

“The reason we’re focused on the U.S. is the adoption of precision agriculture is very high in this market, and I must say it’s a huge market,” Davidi said. “80 percent of the world’s almonds are grown in California, so you have a small area where you can have a big impact.”

The $ 4M seed round’s investors include Rabo Food and Agri Innovation Fund, UpWest, iAngels, Plug and Play, and J-Ventures.

BeeHero is still very much also working on R&D, exploring other crops, improved metrics, and partnerships with universities to use the hive data in academic studies. Expect to hear more as the market grows and the need for smart bee management starts sounding a little less weird and a lot more like a necessity for modern agriculture.

Startups – TechCrunch

RudderStack raises $5M seed round for its open-source Segment competitor

RudderStack, a startup that offers an open-source alternative to customer data management platforms like Segment, today announced that it has raised a $ 5 million seed round led by S28 Capital. Salil Deshpande of Uncorrelated Ventures and Mesosphere/D2iQ co-founder Florian Leibert (through 468 Capital) also participated in this round.

In addition, the company also today announced that it has acquired Blendo, an integration platform that helps businesses transform and move data from their data sources to databases.

Like its larger competitors, RudderStack helps businesses consolidate all of their customer data, which is now typically generated and managed in multiple places — and then extract value from this more holistic view. The company was founded by Soumyadeb Mitra, who has a Ph.D. in database systems and worked on similar problems previously when he was at 8×8 after his previous startup, MairinaIQ, was acquired by that company.

Mitra argues that RudderStack is different from its competitors thanks to its focus on developers, its privacy and security options and its focus on being a data warehouse first, without creating yet another data silo.

“Our competitors provide tools for analytics, audience segmentation, etc. on top of the data they keep,” he said. “That works well if you are a small startup, but larger enterprises have a ton of other data sources — at 8×8 we had our own internal billing system, for example — and you want to combine this internal data with the event stream data — that you collect via RudderStack or competitors — to create a 360-degree view of the customer and act on that. This becomes very difficult with the SaaS-hosted data model of our competitors — you won’t be sending all your internal data to these cloud vendors.”

Part of its appeal, of course, is the open-source nature of RudderStack, whose GitHub repository now has more than 1,700 stars for the main RudderStack server. Mitra credits getting on the front page of HackerNews for its first sale. On that day, it received over 500 GitHub stars, a few thousand clones and a lot of signups for its hosted app. “One of those signups turned out to be our first paid customer. They were already a competitor’s customer, but it wasn’t scaling up so were looking to build something in-house. That’s when they found us and started working with us,” he said.

Because it is open source, companies can run RudderStack anyway they want, but like most similar open-source companies, RudderStack offers multiple hosting options itself, too, that include cloud hosting, starting at $ 2,000 per month, with unlimited sources and destination.

Current users include IFTTT, Mattermost, MarineTraffic, Torpedo and Wynn Las Vegas.

As for the Blendo acquisition, it’s worth noting that the company only raised a small amount of money in its seed round. The two companies did not disclose the price of the acquisition.

“With Blendo, I had the opportunity to be part of a great team that executed on the vision of turning any company into a data-driven organization,” said Blendo founder Kostas Pardalis, who has joined RudderStack as head of Growth. “We’ve combined the talented Blendo and RudderStack teams together with the technology that both companies have created, at a time when the customer data market is ripe for the next wave of innovation. I’m excited to help drive RudderStack forward.”

Mitra tells me that RudderStack acquired Blendo instead of building its own version of this technology because “it is not a trivial technology to build — cloud sources are really complicated and have weird schemas and API challenges and it would have taken us a lot of time to figure it out. There are independent large companies doing the ETL piece.”

Startups – TechCrunch

Getting a equity raise before a round vs after a round

Hey /startups community,

I had a question around equity (from an employee perspective) what are the pros and cons to getting equity before and fundraising round vs getting equity after a fundraising round.

I can see arguments to both sides but I’m curious what you all think and am excited to read your insights.

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

AI is more data-hungry than ever, and DefinedCrowd raises $50M B round to feed it

As AI has grown from niche to mission-critical technology, the companies that enable it have multiplied and in many cases prospered. A good example of that success is DefinedCrowd, which has gone from the Disrupt stage to globe-spanning AI toolkit to the Fortune 500 in just a couple years. The company just raised a new $ 50.5M B round to further fuel its expansion.

DefinedCrowd doesn’t make AI, but rather supplies data used to create it, specializing in natural language processing. After all, someone has to vet the 500 different ways you could ask for the weather — otherwise it would be much more difficult for machine learning systems to tell what users mean. The same goes for computer vision, sentiment recognition, and other domains for which the company creates and sorts data. DefinedCrowd has a paid community hundreds of thousands strong doing this highly necessary but voluminous work.

As AI has worked its way into everything from creating and editing media to enterprise software, there’s been no shortage of companies in search of training data.

“The demand for data has consistently been growing over the last couple years — companies are more and more aware of the impact that data has on their systems, and have been looking for more languages and domains that weren’t considered 5 years ago,” co-founder and CEO Daniela Braga told TechCrunch.

She emphasized inclusivity, the potential for bias, and more multilingual deployments as drivers of that demand. New markets and applications are opening up constantly and entrants need high quality data to develop consumer-ready products.

“This puts us in a very good position, as our data is agnostic and we can work pretty much across all verticals,” Braga said.

As evidence this is not simply wishful thinking, the company reported a tremendous 656 percent increase in revenue year-over-year. They’ve also nearly tripled the size of their workforce in that time to more than 250 people.

It’s towards hiring that Braga expects a great deal of the $ 50M round to go: Got to have the developers to make the products to follow the roadmap. That means doubling the employee count — again.

I asked whether the present pandemic has had a major effect on DefinedCrowd’s operations or business. Braga noted that she hasn’t “noticed a significant downturn in the industry,” presumably because product development has continued in anticipation of consumer and enterprise needs returning to normal.

We decided to make our business fully remote before lockdown measures were implemented,” she explained. “Transferring every employee to remote working in a short space of time was challenging, however, considering we were already a global company with four offices in three different countries, the adaptation phase was fairly smooth, and we were able to maintain full speed during the process.”

Semapa Next and Hermes GPE were added this round to the increasingly long list of investors, which now includes Evolution Equity Partners, Kibo Ventures, Portugal Ventures, Bynd Venture Capital, EDP Ventures, IronFire Ventures, Amazon Alexa Fund, Sony Innovation Fund, and Mastercard.

Startups – TechCrunch

What does the fundraising landscape look like in the COVID-19 era? Harder or easier to raise an early stage round from your perspectives?

Looking to do some investor outreach in Q3 for raising some seed funding and would like to understand what the fundraising landscape looks like ahead of time while we’re in this pandemic.

I assume in periods of economic uncertainty that fundraising is a lot harder and investors are probably being much more conservative with their available investment funds…

Thanks in advance for your inputs, upward and onwards!

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

Slow customer growth post-Seed, what are the chances of raising another round?

TL;DR: Startup struggling to grow post-Seed, any advice for future funding rounds?

Hi everyone

I'm the founder of a B2B marketplace startup. I was a solopreneur during most of 2019 and bootstrapped the entire business. I launched the product in Q3 2019 and began acquiring business customers quite soon after launch.

We raised a pretty sizeable seed round from a VC right before Xmas 2019 and I spent the first 3 months hiring two experienced senior team members (Ops & Tech), and developing our branding & website.

At the end of January this year, we were seeing average growth, probably getting a new business customer every 2-3 weeks. We weren't too worried as we were still developing our product, funnel, sales strategy and so on.

Once COVID hit, like many of us, all sales and interest took a nosedive. Our pipeline turned to shit, and they claimed to no longer have budget for our product, despite it sitting in a relatively integral function of a business (HR/Culture).

Our strategy to cope with this so far:

  1. Circle back on our product. We recently retained a great UX/UI designer for a lot less than his market value (due to being furloughed) to properly design what I had bootstrapped and sold to clients. Prior to covid, the strategy was to sell what we had (a crappy looking but very functional platform) for as long as possible until our revenue reached a milestone that triggered a redesign.
  2. Focus on getting the most out of our current clients. Our platform is accessed by all employees of a business, so our focus was to boost engagement so we can potentially grow their account size. Moreover, we could use that to build case studies to attract new customers
  3. Slightly shift our marketing strategy. We ceased all direct sales advertising, and have now ceased cold-mailing and outbound campaigns. Instead, we are investing our budget on building brand recognition and awareness in our sector so that we are top of mind when things go back to normal.
  4. Market research. The nagging question mark is that of Product Market Fit. I fear that early signs of PMF we had before covid-19 are now out of the window as those businesses have been dealt a hammer blow. So our challenge now is to build a method in which we experiment and test different iterations and marketing messages to see which market segment gains the most traction.

My worry is: without growth, are we a lame duck?

Why I've decided to post. I'm anxious that we're not going to be attractive to any investor if we haven't shown aggressive growth, despite the recession.

My question to you:

What are the kinds of achievements to strive for, if growth is not possible, to investors in Q4 2020 in order to raise another round?

Currently we have a run rate of about 15 months which is OK but that's if we strap ourselves in and essentially only pay salaries.

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

Couchbase raises $105M Series G funding round

Couchbase, the Santa Clara-based company behind the eponymous NoSQL cloud database service, today announced that it has raised a $ 105 million all-equity Series G round “to expand product development and global go-to-market capabilities.”

The oversubscribed round was led by GPI Capital, with participation from existing investors Accel, Sorenson Capital, North Bridge Venture Partners, Glynn Capital, Adams Street Partners and Mayfield. With this, the company has now raised a total of $ 251 million, according to Crunchbase.

Back in 2016, Couchbase raised a $ 30 million down round, which at the time was meant to be the company’s last round before an IPO. That IPO hasn’t materialized, but the company continues to grow, with 30% of the Fortune 100 now using its database. Couchbase also today announced that, over the course of the last fiscal year, it saw 70% total contract value growth, more than 50% new business growth and over 35% growth in average subscription deal size. In total, Couchbase said today, it is now seeing almost $ 100 million in committed annual recurring revenue.

“To be competitive today, enterprises must transform digitally, and use technology to get closer to their customers and improve the productivity of their workforces,” Couchbase President and CEO Matt Cain said in today’s announcement. “To do so, they require a cloud-native database built specifically to support modern web, mobile and IoT applications. Application developers and enterprise architects rely on Couchbase to enable agile application development on a platform that performs at scale, from the public cloud to the edge, and provides operational simplicity and reliability. More and more, the largest companies in the world truly run their businesses on Couchbase, architecting their most business-critical applications on our platform.”

The company is playing in a large but competitive market, with the likes of MongoDB, DataStax and all the major cloud vendors vying for similar customers in the NoSQL space. One feature that has always made Couchbase stand out is Couchbase Mobile, which extends the service to the cloud. Like some of its competitors, the company has also recently placed its bets on the Kubernetes container orchestration tools with, for example the launch of its Autonomous Operator for Kubernetes 2.0. More importantly, though, the company also introduced its fully managed Couchbase Cloud Database-as-a-Service in February, which allows businesses to run the database within their own virtual private cloud on public clouds like AWS and Microsoft Azure.

“We are excited to partner with Couchbase and view Couchbase Server’s highly performant, distributed architecture as purpose-built to support mission-critical use cases at scale,” said Alex Migon, a partner at GPI Capital and a new member of the company’s board of directors. “Couchbase has developed a truly enterprise-grade product, with leading support for cutting-edge application development and deployment needs. We are thrilled to contribute to the next stage of the company’s growth.”

The company tells me that it plans to use the new funding to continue its “accelerated trajectory with investment in each of their three core pillars: sustained differentiation, profitable growth, and world class teams.” Of course, Couchbase will also continue to build new features for its NoSQL server, mobile platform and Couchbase Cloud — in addition, the company will continue to expand geographically to serve its global customer operations.

Startups – TechCrunch

French experience analytics company Contentsquare secures €174M in Series D funding round

French startup Contentsquare, a global leader in experience analytics works with the mission to empower brands to create better experiences and analyses customer behaviour via billions of anonymous app, mobile, and web interactions. Now, Contentsquare has secured $ 190 million (nearly €174 million) Series D funding led by BlackRock’s Private Equity Partners team.

This takes the overall funding raised by the company to $ 310 million (nearly €280 million) and the investor joins the existing investors such as Bpifrance, Canaan, Eurazeo Growth, Highland Europe, GPE Hermes, KKR, and H14 that also participated in the recent investment round.

Plans to expand internationally

Contentsquare will use the fresh capital to continue to invest heavily in innovation. This includes predictive and AI-based analytics. Also, the company will use the investment to expand its business across Europe, Asia, US, and the Middle East. Contentsquare already has eight offices in Paris, Munich, London, New York, San Francisco, Tel Aviv, Tokyo and Singapore.

“This investment during these uncertain times is a proof of the fantastic job our teams have done,” said Jonathan Cherki, Founder and CEO, Contentsquare. “It validates the strength of our vision for the next 5 years and extends our global leadership in experience analytics at a time when these capabilities are critical to all businesses. We have the ambition to accelerate the world’s digital transformation, by unlocking a full understanding of online behaviours.”

“Already a fast-growing market, experience analytics is now a must-have for businesses,” said Nathalie von Niederhaeusern from BlackRock, who is joining Contentsquare’s Board of Directors. “Contentsquare has unique assets: strong behavioural data and AI algorithms, deep understanding of digital consumers, a large database of benchmarks, a great leadership team and R&D depth. With their client roster, they are defining the experience analytics market globally.”

What does Contentsquare do?

Founded in 2012 by Jonathan Cherki, Contentsquare adheres to data privacy laws including California CCPA and EU GDPR. It transforms knowledge into intelligent recommendations that will help increase engagements, revenue, and growth. It integrates a broad set of data including UX, content, product, acquisition channel, pricing, and technical performance. And, this French company provides more accurate insights as well as AI-powered recommendations for improved digital results.

This platform is trusted by over 700 enterprise customers including Global Fortune 100 and industry powerhouses such as American Express, Best Buy, Dell, Ikea, LVMH, T-Mobile, Salesforce, Sephora and Toyota. It has built a strong ecosystem that is integrated with numerous tech vendors and has established strategic partnerships with digital marketing solutions providers and consultants across the world.

The platform analyses over 10 trillion consumer interactions including $ 1.4B of e-commerce sales per day. Furthermore, Contentsquare created the COVID-19 eCommerce Impact Data Hub providing tracking and analysis of the pandemic on digital consumer behaviour across industries and geographies.

“Our clients and partners will benefit from the acceleration of our innovation, both organically with important R&D recruitments and through acquisitions,” added Jonathan Cherki. “We will also invest in sales and marketing in key geographies to fuel our rapid market expansion.”

Main image picture credits: Contentsquare

Stay tuned to Silicon Canals for more European technology news.

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Startups – Silicon Canals

Round 2 for Tema.com buyer did not pay $128,938

May 13 I wrote about Tema.com closing at $ 128,938 on DropCatch. The name is back on DropCatch so no one paid the first time. There just have to be better systems when you let people bid that high. Want to bid $ 50,000 send us a deposit, something these just get ridiculous, make the industry look […]

The post Round 2 for Tema.com buyer did not pay $ 128,938 appeared first on TheDomains.com.

TheDomains.com

[Hub Security in NoCamels] AXA Ventures Leads $5M Funding Round in Israeli Cybersecurity Startup Hub Security

Israeli startup Hub Security, which offers military-grade cybersecurity solutions for fintech, cloud, blockchain and data storage, has raised a $ 5 million Series A funding round led by Paris-based firm AXA Ventures, with participation from Jerusalem-based crowdfunding platform OurCrowd, a statement from OurCrowd announced last week.

Read more here.

The post [Hub Security in NoCamels] AXA Ventures Leads $ 5M Funding Round in Israeli Cybersecurity Startup Hub Security appeared first on OurCrowd.

OurCrowd