Startup Monday #22: Latest tech trends and news happening in the global startup ecosystem

Startups / Venture Capitals/ Robotics/ Europe / Blockchain

Early-Stage Startups

While investment funds in Silicon Valley have turned the owners of many unprofitable startups into billionaires overnight, the founders of JetBrains s.r.o. have managed the feat without the help of venture capital. The Prague-based startup, whose programming language last year became Google’s preferred development tool for Android, is worth about $7 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. That valuation would make Sergey Dmitriev and Valentin Kipiatkov, two of the three Russian founders who incorporated JetBrains in 2000, billionaires. The lack of investors means JetBrains is under no pressure to sell shares amid the current listing boom. Read more

CitySide Ventures announce Birmingham Angels, formed in 2019, invested $1.39 million in 18 early-stage companies. Among the companies, the group is invested in Commando Lock, REZA, Cask & Kettle, FanLabel, Adlore, Inc., BioSense, FanLabel, Life Magnetics, Pathware, SampleServe, JunctionAI, DanceFight, BrandXR, Alerje, Clicktivated, FixMyCar, PassiveBolt and SpeedSize. Read more

Angel investors understand that startups have a high risk of failure. So ultimately an angel investor needs to feel confident that the potential upside/rewards from investing are worth the downside risks. Read the full article on what Angel Investors want to know before investing in your startup. Full article

Rec Room, the eponymous Seattle-based development studio behind the virtual hangout/game creator Rec Room, has raised $20 million. Madrona Venture Group led the Series C round, which included participation from DAG, First Round, Index, and Sequoia. Total funding for the 4-year-old startup is nearly $50 million. Read more

As the global pandemic has hit the Los Angeles economy hard, one bright spot has been its startup scene. Yes, Covid essentially shut down show production in the entertainment capital of the world for both legacy media and streaming companies, taking the huge numbers of companies supporting the industry with it. The good news for L.A. is that its startup ecosystem has always been more diverse than it gets credit for–and that bodes well for its future post-Covid. In the article, the L.A. Startup Ecosystem Will Thrive Post-Covid L.A. founders and investors weigh in on the future of entrepreneurship here. Read more

Venture Capitals

Alexis Ohanian just made a 23-year-old tech CEO one of the youngest Black entrepreneurs Vernon Coleman, cofounder and CEO of Realtime to raise VC funding. Realtime, an invite-only social networking app cofounded by two Gen Zers, just announced a $4 million seed round led by Alexis Ohanian’s Seven Seven Six venture fund.

Users on the app create video chat rooms where they can talk and connect with each other, and also host conferences and group meetings.Other investors in the app include Kickstarter co-founder Yancey Strickler, former Tinder CPO Ravi Metha, and Twitch co-founder Kevin Lin. Coleman is now one of the 1% of Black founders that have raised VC funding. Read more

With U.S. energy storage growing a lot this year, and poised to accelerate next, conditions are fertile for VC investors to look for startup innovation. VC and equity firms put more than $500 million in these 25 battery startups. See the list of where venture firms are putting their energy storage capital.

The venture firm SOSV has hired former TechCrunch COO Ned Desmond to help grow its startups. SOSV — which is currently managing a $277 million flagship fund alongside some smaller vehicles — has become known for its popular accelerator programs, including Hax, a program focused around nascent hardware startups, and IndieBio, SOSV’s life sciences-focused accelerator. Read more

Health-Tech Startup H1 Grabs $58 Million in Second Venture Financing This Year. H1 Inc. has secured $58 million for its second venture financing this year to help drug and medical-technology companies spot the top doctors in their sectors. Read more

When the Covid-19 pandemic began to take hold in the U.S. in March and expand across the country, the financial markets had their greatest period of volatility in more than a decade. Despite the turmoil, the U.S. venture capital ecosystem proved its resilience and performed surprisingly well in 2020. Read the opinion piece in MarketWatch how Venture capital investors are preparing to pour money into biotech and software in 2021. Read more

Westlake Village venture capital firm announces $500M to invest in biotech companies. Read more

Paceline, a San Francisco, CA-based retail health and wellness platform, raised $5m in seed funding. Read more

Blockchain

Microsoft and Ernst & Young LLP (EY) have announced plans to use a blockchain platform to allow Microsoft’s Xbox gaming partners, artists and content creators to track and manage payments and royalty contracts. Read more

Bitcoin reached new highs at the end of November 2020, and with many analysts expecting the price to continue soaring, digital currency and blockchain are back in the news. As a cryptographic, peer-to-peer ledger system for the reliable recording of information without centralized authority, blockchain holds promise for sectors like energy that are trending toward decentralization. Guidehouse Insights examines how industry players across energy and technology spaces use the technology in its report, Energy Blockchain Vendor and Deployment Tracker 3Q20.

The German government cabinet passed new legislation on Wednesday allowing all-electronic securities to be recorded using blockchain technology. Read more

11 Bitcoin And Blockchain Leaders Made Forbes 30 Under 30 List. See the full list

Robotics

Mars exploration is going to the dogs. The robot dogs, that is. Scientists are equipping four-legged, animal-mimicking robots with artificial intelligence (AI) and an array of sensing equipment to help the bots autonomously navigate treacherous terrain and subsurface caves on the Red Planet. Read more

In October of 2024, NASA will send astronauts to the Moon for the first time since the Apollo Era. After establishing orbit with their Orion spacecraft, a team of two astronauts (“the first woman and the next man”) will land in the Moon’s southern polar region. Over the course of a week, these astronauts will explore and investigate one of the region’s many permanently-shadowed craters. Read more

Autonomous robots are being used to deliver food. Equipment with computer vision is being used to sort foods on assembly lines. And stores are testing out tech (such as robots) to monitor shelves, seeing what’s in stock and confirming it’s labeled and priced properly. Read more

Startups in Europe

Paris-based Lydia, one of the fastest-growing mobile financial services platforms in Europe lands €70 million Series B extension to expand its mobile financial app across Europe. Read more

Hamburg-based Taxdoo, the automated platform for financial compliance in e-commerce raises €17 million to bring automated compliance to European e-commerce. It has raised over €17 million Series A financing, led by global venture capital firm Accel, with participation from Visionaries Club, 20VC and existing investor HTGF. The funding will support Taxdoo’s rapid growth through international expansion, increased hiring, R&D, sales and customer support. Read more

German digital coaching platform CoachHub lands €25 million to democratize coaching further across Europe, Asia and the US. It led by new investor Draper Esprit, alongside existing investors HV Capital, Partech, Speedinvest, signals Venture Capital and RTP Global. This latest round brings the total funds raised to over €40 million following the company’s +€16 million funding round in late 2019. Read more

Flashpoint European VC wants to invest £75M in software startups from Central & Eastern Europe, Israel, Baltics, Finland and CIS. Read more

Startups in India

Cisco launches Agri Challenge to enable the agritech startup ecosystem in India. This program is looking for agritech startups to innovate and find solutions for 10 million small farmers. Read more

Another unicorn — Indian SaaS startup Zenoti, a Software-as-a-Service startup catering to the beauty and wellness industry, has raised $160 million in a series D round of funding with a valuation of over a billion dollars. The round was led by Advent International, while it also saw participation from existing investors Tiger Global and Steadview Partners. Read more

The number of startup unicorns in India may surpass 50 by 2022, a senior official said on Friday.

The country is home to 21 unicorns at present, collectively valued at USD 73.2 billion. The US and China have 233 and 217 unicorns, respectively. Read more

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Narine Emdjian

Founder at iFundLab/Podcast Host. I helping startups to raise capital through SBIR and other federal funding programs. without equity dilution