Thursday, March 14, 2019

software startup

software startup


Madrona makes another healthcare bet, leads $5M round in clinical software startup Ovation.io - GeekWire

Posted: 14 Mar 2019 03:00 AM PDT

From left to right: Madrona's S. "Soma" Somasegar, Ted Kummert and Chris Picardo; Ovation's Barry Wark (seated) and Winston Brasor (standing). (Madrona Photo)

Ovation.io, which makes cloud-based software for medical testing labs, has raised a $5 million round led by Seattle-based Madrona Venture Group. Fellow Seattle firm Stagedot0 also participated, along with Borealis Ventures, Nat Turner, Zach Weinberg, and David Shaw.

Ovation, based in Boston, is focused on helping labs — in particular, those that do genomics and molecular testing — manage their data and run their business. The startup's platform helps with things like tracking samples, integrating with health records systems and managing client relationships and revenue cycles.

Ovation was founded by Barry Wark and Winston Brasor with the idea that existing laboratory software needed a cloud-era makeover. Wark launched the company shortly after receiving his doctorate in neurobiology and behavior from the University of Washington.

"Genomics and molecular testing labs have complex workflows that require new functionality that can only come from a modern SaaS and cloud-based solution," S. "Soma" Somasegar, managing director at Madrona Venture Group, said in a statement. "At the same time, these labs have clinical and genomic data that is being under-utilized to provide improved patient outcomes."

"Barry, Winston, and the team have built an easy to use and rapidly deployable system for one of the most vibrant areas of precision medicine diagnostics and we are excited to help them grow their team and presence in the market," he added.

Madrona has shown a growing appetite for health tech with three recent investments in the arena, including:

  • SayKara, which makes AI assistant for physicians;
  • Accolade, a personalized population health company led by Concur co-founder Rajeev Singh;
  • Envisagenics, a startup that's developing RNA therapeutics.

While Madrona doesn't plan to greatly expand investments in this area, the VC firm said it sees room for innovation when combining the cloud, data analytics, and the large amount of data being produced by life sciences companies.

Delft-based solar energy software startup Solar Monkey raises €1 million for international expansion - EU-Startups

Posted: 13 Mar 2019 03:09 AM PDT

solar_monkey-team

Delft-based Solar Monkey provides software for the design and remote monitoring of solar energy systems, allowing installers to design and offer solar systems without a home visit. The startup has raised over €1 million in funding, which it will use to accelerate the deployment of solar energy internationally. The new financing comes from 4impact and existing investors.

Solar Monkey has developed software in partnership with TU Delft that is easy to use and offers precise calculations. Solar Monkey customers experience a much more efficient process and greater sales conversion. At the same time, performance monitoring gives owners of a solar power system the assurance that their system is working well.

The company already serves hundreds of installers within the Netherlands, and is now focusing on international markets in line with its mission to accelerate the deployment of solar energy. At the request of its customers, Solar Monkey has already taken the first steps in Belgium. More countries will follow, especially where installers still have to use manual methods to prepare designs and budgets.

"This round of capital allows us to gain a critical competitive advantage while serving new markets," said CEO Jan Pieter Versluijs. "We want to offer maximum value to our new partners and customers, so we invest every penny in improving our product and telling our story."

"Solar Monkey is showing tremendous traction in the rapidly growing solar energy market," said Pauline Wink, Managing Partner of 4impact. "We see the efficiency they offer through advanced software with great ease of use. That efficiency helps accelerate the energy transition. The opportunities for the company are enormous and we look forward to working with the dedicated team and existing investors so that the company grows both locally and internationally."

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BookingPal Raises $12 Million for Rental Software: Travel Startup Funding This Week - Skift

Posted: 07 Mar 2019 11:11 PM PST

Each week we round up travel startups that have recently received or announced funding. Please email Travel Tech Editor Sean O'Neill at so@skift.com if you have funding news.

This week travel startups announced more than $30 million in funding.

>>BookingPal, a seller of vacation rental software, has raised $12 million in funding. It was probably a Series C round, but the company didn't say.

Valor Capital Group led the round. Altabix, the corporate venture capital fund of Hoteles City Express, also participated.

BookingPal has said it has raised $22 million since its founding in 2013 from investors that have included Amadeus Ventures, PAR Capital Management, Plug and Play Ventures, and Thayer Ventures.

The startup offers tools to helps property management companies manage and distribute vacation rental inventory online. The Irvine, California-based company connects popular property management software systems with consumer travel websites such as Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia, Google, HomeAway/VRBO, and TripAdvisor.
It will use the fresh capital to move into more markets, said Alex Aydin, founder and CEO.

>>Withlocals, a tours-and-activities booking service, has raised $9 million (€8 million) in Series B funding.

Keen Venture Partners led the round. The startup had previously raised $7.3 million (€6.5 million).

Withlocals matches travelers with private tours and activity organizers in more than 30 cities across Europe and Asia.

"With great momentum, the company pulls off the paradox of delivering uniquely personal experiences at scale," claimed Robert Verwaayen, general partner at Keen.

Withlocals, based in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, has 56 employers. Besides having a consumer website, it also offers content to travel suppliers such as TripAdvisor, Booking, GetyourGuide, Expedia, and TUI. It claims to serve "tens of thousands of travelers each month." One of the company's goals is to make more of its services online available in more languages.

>>Instawork, officially called Garuda Labs, is a jobs marketplace that has raised an $8.2 million Series A.

Benchmark led the round. Benchmark's general partner Bill Gurley is renowned for making an early investment in Uber Technologies and he led this investment in Instawork.

The startup has raised $10 million in total since its founding in San Francisco in 2015 and its graduation from the Y Combinator accelerator.

Instawork matches restaurants and hotels in San Francisco and Los Angeles with job-seekers, such as waiters and caterers.

Business owners can track when a worker arrives at a job site because the mobile app tracks the worker's location, said Sumir Meghani, co-founder and CEO at Instawork.

Many workers lack LinkedIn or similar professional profiles online, but they can use Instawork to help promote themselves.

>>Ayenda Rooms, which calls itself Colombia's largest hotel chain, has raised a $1.25 million seed round.

SoftBank joined 500 Startups and Kairos as investors in the round.

The Medellin-based company only began signing up properties last year, but it already has 45 budget hotels under its brand. It uses a variation on the franchise model of Oyo in India. It takes all of the rooms at each property exclusively for Ayenda's sales channels. It takes a percentage of all of the hotel's sales and, in return, provides Ayenda's marketing, technology, and customer acquisition channels.

The company only has 20 workers but may need more if it will meet its goal of franchising 120 hotels in 2019. The company pivoted from its original effort at building a property management system.

>>Questo, the maker of a real-world exploration game, has raised an undisclosed seed round of investment. If you remember the Pokemon Go craze, you'll have an idea of this mobile app-based game, which encourages people to travel across 40 European cities to solve clues.

Questo was one of ten finalists accepted into the Booking.com Booster Lab, a startup incubator, in 2018. Two unnamed angel investors made the undisclosed investment in the startup, based in Bucharest, Romania.

Skift Cheat Sheet:
We define a startup as a company formed to test and build a repeatable and scalable business model. Few companies meet that definition. The rare ones that do often attract venture capital. Their funding rounds come in waves.
Seed capital is money used to start a business, often led by angel investors and friends or family.
Series A financing is typically drawn from venture capitalists. The round aims to help a startup's founders make sure that their product is something that customers truly want to buy.
Series B financing is mainly about venture capitalist firms helping a company grow faster, or scale up. These fundraising rounds can assist with recruiting skilled workers and developing cost-effective marketing.
Series C financing is ordinarily about helping a company expand, such as through acquisitions. In addition to VCs, hedge funds, investment banks, and private equity firms often participate.
Series D, E and beyond These mainly mature businesses and the funding round may help a company prepare to go public or be acquired. A variety of types of private investors might participate.
Check out our previous startup funding roundups, here.

Photo Credit: Shown here is an example of a luxury vacation rental of the type that uses BookingPal's channel management services. This week travel startups including BookingPal, Instawork, Withlocals, Ayenda Rooms, and Ayenda Rooms together announced more than $30 million in funding. BookingPal

How This Marijuana Tech Startup Is Solving The Industry's Regulatory Challenges - Forbes

Posted: 14 Mar 2019 06:28 AM PDT

The marijuana space has been booming in recent years, and there's a lot of attention paid to the billion dollar plant-touching brands that are seemingly going public on stock exchanges overnight -- cannabis growers, producers, and dispensaries. The so-called Green Rush. But what about the ecosystem developing around the industry, the proverbial pick and shovel to the modern day Gold Rush? The opportunities for ancillary businesses are ripe, from tech platforms to delivery services and companies offering financial solutions. And some well known investors agree. The legendary investor Danny Moses of The Big Short  believes the pot industry being the next "big long" for the market.

I got to sit with James Yi, founder of a tech startup called Leaf Trade, to learn about how they're blazing trails by building compliant B2B SaaS enterprise software used by many of the leading cannabis companies in North America.

Dan Reich: My understanding is that the marijuana industry is extremely complex and there are significant barriers to entry. How did you get your foot in the door?

James Yi: I was running my previous software company, NextME, when in 2015 Illinois launched the first highly-regulated medical cannabis program in the country. All of a sudden I was getting phone calls from people that had won licenses to operate, seeking help finding tech solutions to solve the massive business inefficiencies they were encountering.

My story began by providing consultative services, and during those early days I quickly realized that the solutions my clients were looking for -- just didn't exist. It was a huge opportunity to step up and help fill the tech gaps in the space, marrying my background building a technology company with the deep regulatory insights I gained into an industry unlike any other.

Leaf Trade's Chicago office founding teamEddie Camacho

Reich: What are some of the inefficiencies that Leaf Trade solves?

Yi: The most glaring problem was the way in which wholesale product was bought and sold. If you were a retail dispensary, and you needed to stock up on products to make available to patients that needed their medical cannabis, basic functions like ordering from the licensed cultivators in your state occurred via text messages -- I even witnessed some cases where dispensaries were texting photos of their order written on napkins!

Just managing these orders occupied half of our clients' time, on both sides of the transaction. So step one for Leaf Trade was digitizing this process by centralizing and streamlining their order management.

Reich: Can you walk me through the experience on Leaf Trade, how does it work?

Yi: Leaf Trade helps licensed sellers of wholesale cannabis create an online storefront. Verified dispensaries login to our site and have access to all of the brands they are allowed to purchase in their respective markets. Dispensaries enjoy easily placing orders right from their mobile phones, and the sellers have all the built-in supply chain management tools that help their sales, fulfillment, and accounting teams work together to successfully process and deliver orders smoothly, all while dramatically reducing the amount of time it takes to do so. We don't touch warehousing or transporting of product -- Leaf Trade is purely a software platform that helps cannabis businesses do what they do, better.

Reich: How does Leaf Trade differ from others in the space?

Yi: When it comes to cannatech opportunities, I think the retail POS side is already very saturated. But solving the fundamental inefficiencies inherent to young industries on the wholesale side is a bigger challenge that takes domain expertise, which is why there are only a handful of companies attempting to address it.

Leaf Trade is differentiated in three ways. 1) by offering a platform that's built to comply with state-by-state regulatory nuances, 2) providing back office software necessary for a complete supply chain management solution, and 3) implementing system of record processes that's critical to clean and consistent data management that our clients require to make sure all of their software solutions can work together, and generate accurate reporting that's necessary to grow their business.

Reich: What's been the market response so far for Leaf Trade?

Yi: Having had industry experience, I knew we were going to solve a big problem. We achieved 30% market adoption within the first month of launching in Illinois, and today practically every licensed cannabis business in Illinois uses Leaf Trade exclusively for wholesale order management.

We've since expanded into several states primarily east of Colorado where we are the industry leader, including but not limited to Maryland and Pennsylvania. We expect to be in 14 states by end of 2019.

Reich: What's in store for the future of Leaf Trade? Do you have any regulatory concerns?

Yi: We've found a lot of success in the highly-regulated market segment in the U.S. which has been our primary focus, but there's definitely huge opportunity for us in the established recreational markets out West, not to mention the international markets as well.

We're really excited about bringing a fully compliant payment processing solution to our clients this year, along with other inventory and logistics management tools.

As far as regulations go, I think that federal restrictions created a moat around this industry that allowed a company like Leaf Trade to leap ahead of behemoths like Amazon or Oracle. We've also crossed a political and cultural tipping point -- 33 of 50 states plus D.C. with some form of cannabis legalization, a nearly 80% public approval rating, and the kind of economic impact that commands bipartisan support in Congress. Full legalization at the federal level will be slow but I think the country's on track towards steady progress, putting Leaf Trade in a great position to thrive (Illinois for example is poised to go recreational soon and is alone projected to be a $1B market, while the U.S. in its entirety is expected to be a $25B market by 2022).

Finally, we can't forget about the social impact -- not only are patients finally getting the access to the medicine they need, but the decriminalization of cannabis will reduce the number of people wrongfully thrown in jail. The U.S. has a long history of racial injustice around marijuana, and the industry has a lot of work ahead to help right those wrongs and make sure that opportunity in this space is equitable. Leaf Trade has committed to actively being a part of that change.

James Yi, founder of Leaf Trade, visiting a client's grow facility.Leaf Trade

Reich: What advice would you give to aspiring tech founders or anyone wanting to break into the marijuana industry?

Yi: I just listened to a SaaStr podcast episode with Tom Tunguz of Redpoint Ventures that was such a validation -- focus on product and your clients' needs, everything else is noise. Paul Graham of Y-Combinator is also a big proponent of this. There are founders that raise a round before they even have a product and burn through all their cash on marketing. By focusing on product and our clients, we've built a company that delivers high value and low churn.

Whether they're a wholesale seller or retail dispensary group, some of the largest publicly traded cannabis enterprises utilize Leaf Trade -- MedMen, Curaleaf, Green Thumb Industries, Cresco Labs, and Harvest Health amongst others. But so do smaller mom and pop organizations, and I think it's advantageous to have a pricing model that accommodates both.

As for breaking into the industry -- Leaf Trade is hiring! We're rapidly scaling up our sales, client success, and development teams with passionate and talented individuals looking to be a part of this exciting movement.

Disclosure: I am an investor and advisor to LeafTrade

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