Wasabi announces $30M Series B as cloud storage business continues to grow

We may be in the thick of a pandemic with all of the economic fallout that comes from that, but certain aspects of technology don’t change, no matter the external factors. Storage is one of them. In fact, we are generating more digital stuff than ever, and Wasabi, a Boston-based startup that has figured out a way to drive down the cost of cloud storage, is benefiting from that.

Today it announced a $ 30 million Series B led led by Forestay Capital, the technology innovation arm of Waypoint Capital, with help from previous investors. As with the previous round, Wasabi is going with home office investors, rather than traditional venture capital firms. Today’s round brings the total raised to $ 110 million, according to the company.

While founder and CEO David Friend wouldn’t discuss the specific valuation, he did say it was in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Friend says the company needs the funds to keep up with the rapid growth. “We’ve got about 15,000 customers today, hundreds of petabytes of storage, 2,500 channel partners, 250 technology partners — so we’ve been busy,” he said.

He says that revenue continues to grow in spite of the impact of COVID-19 on other parts of the economy. “Revenue grew 5x last year. It’ll probably grow 3.5x this year. We haven’t seen any real slowdown from the coronavirus. Quarter over quarter growth will be in excess of 40% — this quarter over Q1 — so it’s just continuing on a torrid pace,” he said.

The challenge for a company like Wasabi, which is looking to capture a large chunk of the growing cloud storage market, is the infrastructure piece. It needs to keep building more to meet increasing demand, while keeping costs down, which remains its primary value proposition with customers.

The money will be used mostly to continue to expand its growing infrastructure requirements. The more they store, the more data centers they need, and that takes money. It will also help the company expand into new markets where countries have data sovereignty laws that require data to be stored in-country.

The company launched in 2015. It previously raised $ 68 million in 2018.

Note: This article originally stated this was a debt financing round. The company has clarified that it is an equity round.

Startups – TechCrunch

Stackin’ raises $12.6M Series B to help millennials navigate the crowded fintech space

Fintech’s funding boom for the past decade has led to a flurry of new consumer startups tackling a wide range of money-related issues, from saving apps to investing platforms.

Should you download Robinhood, Stash, Public, Acorns, or Truebill? The fintech craze creates confusion for consumers when it comes to figuring out which startup is the best to handle your money.

That clutter has created room for Venice-based Stackin’, a curated marketplace for fintech apps that today raised $ 12.6 million in a Series B funding round led by Octopus Ventures. According to CEO Scott Grimes, Stackin’ “wants to be the simplest entry point into finance” for millennials. Today’s raise brings the company’s total known funding to $ 19.6 million. Other investors in the company include Experian Ventures, Cherry Tree Investments, Dig Ventures, Mucker Capital, Unlock Venture Partners, TechStars and Wavemaker Partners.

How it works

Stackin’ uses text messaging to give money tips to young consumers, which it meets by advertising on platforms like TikTok, Snapchat, and Instagram. Think of Stackin’ as a more friendly and less nerdy “robo-advisor” that sends you advice on how to save, and from time to time, recommends you an app that you might enjoy in the fintech space.

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“Sometimes you’ll get some education, sometimes we’ll send you something funny via text,” said Grimes. “So the text messages themselves are not always built for response. They’re built to keep you engaged. They’re built to teach you something.” Tips look like how to manage a stimulus check, or how to save $ 500 on your couch.

The texts for the first 30 to 60 days are tailored to how someone finds Stackin’. If users come in from a TikTok around investing, the first two months are around investing tips. After that time period, the knowledge becomes more general.

When Stackin’ has enough information on a user to see that they might be interested in opening an investment account, for example, they present three options to the user of platforms they can use.

Stackin’ added one million active users in a little over a year, up 500,000 active users from when it raised last July. It has sent over 100 million text messages to date.

The easiest way to understand how Stackin’ makes money is to think of it as an advertising agent for other fintech brands. It’s yet another channel that Robinhood or Chime can use to market itself, and Stackin’ drives leads to younger customers. Stackin’ makes money when users either click into one of their product recommendations or download an app, depending on the contract. The company’s base rate is determined on a contract-by-contract basis.

Grimes said that the text messaging service, built atop Twilio, incurs “a lot of costs” for the company, which is not yet profitable. But he hopes that as the company captures more users, their recommendations will get better and revenue will increase.

Many fintech startups have a financial literacy component similar to Stackin’, but their education is only effective after a consumer decides to download their app in the first place. Stackin’s competitive edge is that it brings in potential customers to fintech before they are in the “download a robo-adviser” stage of their financial journey. Grimes describes them as the “pipes that port people around fintech.”

Success (and a shutter)

With the new financing and COVID-19, Stackin’ is doubling down on its text-messaging business and stripping the company of its other plays in the product field. In the fall, Stackin’ launched a new investment feature similar to Acorns to encourage users to invest. In June, it launched a no-fee, checking and savings account feature in partnership with Radius Bank. The company recently ended its partnership with Radius Bank and will continue its small investing operations, an “unraveling” move that the CEO says was so “Stackin did not look like it competes with its customers.”

“As a referral product, we don’t even want the appearance that we’re trying to compete with the neo-banking space,” Grimes said. “Our core focus as we move forward is going to be 100 percent built around how we can be the most efficient company on the planet and use data to refer people into the products they need when they need them.”

Stackin’ has 18 employees, and will use the new funding to expand its messaging service, user growth, and marketplace to the United Kingdom later this year.

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), Snaps.io ($ 11.3 million), Automat.ai ($ 10.9 million), and Chatfuel ($ 120,000).

Startups – TechCrunch

German startup Spectrm that powers world’s leading chatbots scoops up €2.7M Series A funding from Runa Capital

Based out of Berlin, Spectrm is a conversational marketing platform that helps businesses effectively communicate with their customers, turning conversations into insights and revenue. The company has recently raised $ 3 million (approx €2.7 million) in Series A funding from international VC fund Runa Capital.  

Runa Capital is an international VC firm headquartered in Palo Alto, California that invests in early-stage deep tech (i.e., AI, machine learning, middleware, open-source), B2B SaaS, fintech, edutech and digital health startups.

“We will use it to develop our platform further and invest in our machine learning. This space is still just at the beginning of seeing the fundamental shift to messaging. We also want to increase further our footprint in the US,” Max Koziolek, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Spectrm told Silicon Canals. 

AI-powered Conversational Marketing Platform!

Established in 2016, the AI-powered platform helps marketers guide their customers from websites, ads, and messenger apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp to final purchases by streamlining a usually disconnected, multi-touchpoint marketing funnel into a fun and interactive conversation. 

Talking about the product, Max Koziolek says, “Our product is a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) platform to drive growth by designing conversations and connecting them to Messenger, Adlingo (conversational display ads) or other platforms. It’s different as the platform is designed for conversational marketing and growth, not customer service or anything in between. With our cutting edge natural language processing (recognised by Gartner as a cool vendor) we drive results other products won’t see.” 

In addition to Gartner, the social media giant Facebook named Spectrm a strategic development partner as well. Founded by Jendrik Höft, Manfred Stellenberg, and Max Koziolek, the German SaaS company focuses on mid-market and enterprise B2C firms in multiple verticals, powering companies like eBay, Purple, Ford, Groupon, Renault, KLM, and others.

Commenting on the event, Dmitry Galperin, Partner at Runa Capital, says, “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 .” 

6 million interactions per month!

In the past 12 months, the Spectrm platform enabled an average of 6 million interactions per month between brands and their customers. Combined with conversational AI and marketing automation tools to make all that declared data actionable, Spectrm is helping businesses turn messaging into an engine for growth. 

COVID-19 impact on Spectrm

The Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) businesses are expected to be more resilient in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, due to their business model. However, Max Koziolek says the COVID-19 lockdown has affected them in a couple of ways

“As we are in the marketing space and some budgets are on hold, so that is constraining, but we also see additional growth as companies want to use the hundred thousands of messages from users as an opportunity to use machine learning to automate the questions and drive growth. That happened especially in the travel industry. When people ask when they can fly again safely, that is a question you want to automate and make sure you follow up once you can offer your service again and make sure they book with you.”

Main image credits: Spectrm

Stay tuned to Silicon Canals for more European technology news

The post German startup Spectrm that powers world’s leading chatbots scoops up €2.7M Series A funding from Runa Capital appeared first on Silicon Canals .

Startups – Silicon Canals

Baton raises $10M Series A to organize post-sale implementation

Baton, an early-stage startup that wants to help customers organize the post-sales implementation process, emerged from stealth today with a $ 10 million Series A investment.

Activant Capital led the round with help from Global Founders Capital and Hybris founder Carsten Thoma.

Like so many startups, the idea for Baton stemmed from a pain point that founder and CEO Alex Krug experienced first hand. He was co-founder at Behance, which was later sold to Adobe and he saw that there were tools to organize your customers and get you through the sale, but there was something distinctly lacking when it came to implementation post-sale.

Krug said that most companies hacked together a solution consisting of general project management tools, spreadsheets and email, but what was missing was a dedicated platform to help with this part of the process. He put his team to work to build it.

“We reconfigured a lot of the team that I worked with at Behance and Adobe and really started to build a platform around optimizing the implementation, what happens in between your presale and post sale and how customers get on boarded through a platform,” Krug told TechCrunch.

He says where project management tends to be internally focussed, Baton is designed to bring all the parties from vendor to client to systems integrator together in one tool, so everyone knows their responsibilities and targets.

While Krug understands that this may not be an optimal time to launch a startup out of stealth in the middle of a pandemic and corresponding economic crisis, he still sees a real need for a tool like Baton.

“This era of top line growth is gone. Efficient growth is here to stay and Baton really optimizes processes and standardizes a toolset that allows you to grow efficiently from your fifth customer to your thousandth customer, whereas previous iterations of implementation have been these static spreadsheets and chasing people for manual updates.”

He believes his company is offering a reasonable alternative to that, as does his lead investor Peter McCoy at Activant Capital. “The best SaaS companies are built off of product-led growth, that can be network effects, novel go-to-market strategies or some other distribution advantage. The problem I kept seeing was even companies that had one or a couple of these attributes created operational debt, when they bloated up their services teams to keep up with top line growth. The need for a platform like Baton was super clear to me,” McCoy said in a statement.

Beginning today, the company will set forth on its startup journey as it attempts to carve out a market in difficult times, and help customers with this crucial part of the selling cycle.

Startups – TechCrunch

German startup Spectrm that powers world’s leading chatbots scoop up €2.7M Series A funding from Runa Capital

Based out of Berlin, Spectrm is a conversational marketing platform that helps businesses effectively communicate with their customers, turning conversations into insights and revenue. The company has recently raised $ 3 million (approx €2.7 million) in Series A funding from international VC fund Runa Capital.  

Runa Capital is an international VC firm headquartered in Palo Alto, California that invests in early-stage deep tech (i.e., AI, machine learning, middleware, open-source), B2B SaaS, fintech, edutech and digital health startups.

“We will use it to develop our platform further and invest in our machine learning. This space is still just at the beginning of seeing the fundamental shift to messaging. We also want to increase further our footprint in the US,” Max Koziolek, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Spectrm told Silicon Canals. 

AI-powered Conversational Marketing Platform!

Established in 2016, the AI-powered platform helps marketers guide their customers from websites, ads, and messenger apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp to final purchases by streamlining a usually disconnected, multi-touchpoint marketing funnel into a fun and interactive conversation. 

Talking about the product, Max Koziolek says, “Our product is a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) platform to drive growth by designing conversations and connecting them to Messenger, Adlingo (conversational display ads) or other platforms. It’s different as the platform is designed for conversational marketing and growth, not customer service or anything in between. With our cutting edge natural language processing (recognised by Gartner as a cool vendor) we drive results other products won’t see.” 

In addition to Gartner, the social media giant Facebook named Spectrm a strategic development partner as well. Founded by Jendrik Höft, Manfred Stellenberg, and Max Koziolek, the German SaaS company focuses on mid-market and enterprise B2C firms in multiple verticals, powering companies like eBay, Purple, Ford, Groupon, Renault, KLM, and others.

Commenting on the event, Dmitry Galperin, Partner at Runa Capital, says, “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 .” 

6 million interactions per month!

In the past 12 months, the Spectrm platform enabled an average of 6 million interactions per month between brands and their customers. Combined with conversational AI and marketing automation tools to make all that declared data actionable, Spectrm is helping businesses turn messaging into an engine for growth. 

COVID-19 impact on Spectrm

The Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) businesses are expected to be more resilient in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, due to their business model. However, Max Koziolek says the COVID-19 lockdown has affected them in a couple of ways

“As we are in the marketing space and some budgets are on hold, so that is constraining, but we also see additional growth as companies want to use the hundred thousands of messages from users as an opportunity to use machine learning to automate the questions and drive growth. That happened especially in the travel industry. When people ask when they can fly again safely, that is a question you want to automate and make sure you follow up once you can offer your service again and make sure they book with you.”

Main image credits: Spectrm

Stay tuned to Silicon Canals for more European technology news

The post German startup Spectrm that powers world’s leading chatbots scoop up €2.7M Series A funding from Runa Capital appeared first on Silicon Canals .

Startups – Silicon Canals

London-based Thriva raises €4.4 million Series A extension for its home blood tests

British startup Thriva, the ‘proactive health’ startup, has secured a €4.4 million extension to its Series A funding round from Target Global’s new Early Stage Fund II, which will top up the €6.7 million Series A raised in 2019. 

Thriva, founded in 2015, is rapidly becoming the go-to brand in the ‘proactive health’ category, an increasingly mainstream movement in which people are taking control of their own health. Thanks to Thriva, customers can understand, keep track of and improve what’s happening inside their bodies. Its at-home testing kits are processed by UKAS accredited laboratories and can analyse anything from indicators of heart disease and diabetes, to vitamins and minerals and hormone function. 

The startup has recently launched new personalised health plans and high quality supplements, which it delivers via partnerships with hospitals and other healthcare providers that wish to provide at-home testing to their patients and clients. So far the startup has processed over 115,000 test at-home blood tests in the last 4 years, with 76% of Thriva users achieving an improvement in at least one of their biomarkers between tests.

The company, which was founded by Hamish Grierson, Eliot Brooks and Tom Livesey, continues to grow 100% year-on-year and has expanded its team significantly to 50 team members in the company’s London Headquarters.

The investment, which takes Thriva’s total funding to around €12 million, will support the startup as it expands its at-home health service designed to help people stay on the front foot with their health and to continue putting better health in their hands.

Hamish Grierson, co-founder and CEO of Thriva said: “As the world faces unprecedented challenges posed by the coronavirus crisis, we have all been forced to view our health, and our mortality, in a new light. We believe that now and in the near future, people will be taking a more proactive approach to their own health and wellbeing. Whilst we cannot protect ourselves entirely from the tragic effects of a global pandemic like COVID-19, this period may inspire people to invest in their general health for the long-term.”

Dr Ricardo Schäfer, Partner at Target Global said: “When we first met the team behind Thriva, we were immediately hooked by their mission to allow people to take health into their own hands. Thriva has all the right ingredients to become one of those transforming category leaders we are seeking to back at Target Global. We are witnessing a shift in consumer behavior towards an increasingly proactive approach to health: people want to know what’s going on inside their bodies. Covid-19 is further accelerating this trend, which requires remote blood testing. Thriva is playing an essential role in providing a solution for increasing the test volume. We are excited to partner with Hamish, Eliot, and Tom at this pivotal point in time for the company.”

EU-Startups

Strategies for surviving the COVID-19 Series B squeeze

A generation of companies now needs to forget what it has learned. The world has changed for everyone, and nowhere is this more true than in fundraising.

I’ve been investing in technology companies for over twenty years, and I’ve seen how venture capitalists respond in bull and bear markets. I’ve supported companies through the downturns that followed the dot-com bubble and the global financial crisis, and witnessed how founders adapt to the new environment. This current pandemic is no different.

A growth company that only a few months ago was shopping for a $ 20 million, $ 30 million, or even $ 40 million Series B, with a choice of potential investors, must now acknowledge that the shelves may well have emptied.

VCs who were assessing potential new deals at the beginning of the year have had to abruptly adjust their focus: Q1 venture activity in Europe was under its 2019 average, and the figures for the coming months are likely to be much worse as the pipeline empties of deals that were already in progress.

The simple reason for this is that VCs are having to rapidly reallocate their two principal assets: time and capital. More time has to be spent stitching together deals for portfolio companies in need of fresh funding, with little support from outside money. As a result, funds will be putting more capital behind their existing companies, reducing the pool for new investments.

Added to those factors is uncertainty about pricing. VCs take their lead on valuation from the public markets, which have plummeted in tech, as elsewhere. The SEG index of listed SaaS stocks was down 26% year-to-date as of late March. With more pain likely ahead, few investors are going to commit to valuations that founders will accept until there is more certainty that the worst is behind us. A gap will open between newly cautious investors and founders unwilling to bear haircuts up to 50%, dramatic increases in dilution and even the prospect of down rounds. It will likely take quarters — not weeks — for that gulf to be bridged and for many deals to become possible again.

Startups – TechCrunch

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

FireHydrant lands $8M Series A for disaster management tool

When I spoke to Robert Ross, CEO and co-founder at FireHydrant, we had a technology adventure. First the audio wasn’t working correctly on Zoom, then Google Meet. Finally we used cell phones to complete the interview. It was like a case study in what FireHydrant is designed to do — help companies manage incidents and recover more quickly when things go wrong with their services.

Today the company announced an $ 8 million Series A from Menlo Ventures and Work-Bench. That brings the total raised to $ 9.5 million, including the $ 1.5 million seed round we reported on last April.

In the middle of a pandemic with certain services under unheard of pressure, understanding what to do when your systems crash has become increasingly important. FireHydrant has literally developed a playbook to help companies recover faster.

These run books are digital documents that are unique to each company and include what to do to help manage the recovery process. Some of that is administrative. For example, certain people have to be notified by email, a Jira ticket has to be generated and a Slack channel opened to provide a communications conduit for the team.

While Ross says you can’t define the exact recovery process itself because each incident tends to be unique, you can set up an organized response to an incident and that can help you get to work on the recovery much more quickly. That ability to manage an incident can be a difference maker when it comes to getting your system back to a steady state.

Ross is a former site reliability engineer (SRE) himself. He has experienced the kinds of problems his company is trying to solve, and that background was something that attracted investor Matt Murphy from Menlo Ventures.

“I love his authentic perspective, as a former SRE, on the problem and how to create something that would make the SRE function and processes better for all. That value prop really resonated with us in a time when the shift to online is accelerating and remote coordination between people tasked with identifying and fixing problems is at all time high in terms of its importance. Ultimately we’re headed toward more and more automation in problem resolution and FH helps pave the way,” Murphy told TechCrunch.

It’s not easy being an early-stage company in the current climate, but Ross believes his company has created something that will resonate, perhaps even more right now. As he says, every company has incidents, and how you react can define you as a company. Having tooling to help you manage that process helps give you structure at a time you need it most.

Startups – TechCrunch