Friday, May 31, 2019

Interprefy Raises $2.8 Million for Event Tech: Travel Startup Funding This Week - Skift

Interprefy Raises $2.8 Million for Event Tech: Travel Startup Funding This Week - Skift


Interprefy Raises $2.8 Million for Event Tech: Travel Startup Funding This Week - Skift

Posted: 30 May 2019 10:37 PM PDT

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 $16 million in funding.

Earlier this week, Mindsay raised a $10 million Series A round with participation by Accor and Groupe ADP (Paris Airports).

DataArt, a technology consultancy for multiple sectors whose clients include Travelport and Apple Leisure Group, announced an undisclosed equity funding round led by the German development finance institution DEG.

Here are the other travel startup fundings revealed this week:

>>Interprefy, a remote simultaneous interpreting service, has raised about $2.8 million (2.875 Swiss franc), bringing its total early-stage financing raised to around $6.3 million (6.35m Swiss franc).

Technologiefonds, a Swiss government-backed fund, contributed to the round.

Until now, event producers seeking real-time translations at their events have needed interpreters and their equipment to be onsite and often have to fly in specialist interpreters when none are available locally. Interprefy instead deploys its app-based technology to let the interpretation happen remotely and thus more cost-effectively.

Kim Ludvigsen, founder and CEO of Interprefy, said the Zurich-based startup has 500 interpreters worldwide that have trained on its platform, but events producers don't need to use the interpreters in its database to use its technology.

>>Airfree, an inflight duty-free product marketplace, has raised a seed round of about $2.5 million (€2.3 million).

Shiseido Group, which has a travel retail business, participated in the funding. Airfree took part in the startup accelerator Starburst and is currently in the Singapore Airlines' Accelerator Program Krislab.

The 10-employee company, founded in 2016 in Montreuil-sous-Bois, France, aims to help airport duty-free retailers sell their goods to passengers during flights. Shoppers collect the goods on arrival at their destination.

Etienne de Verdelhan, co-founder and CEO, claimed the Airfree platform uses 50 times less satellite internet bandwidth, on average, than a traditional e-commerce website would.

>>Airblack, a social-travel commerce startup, received $1.5 million in seed funding.

SAIF Partners, an Asia-focused venture capital firm, led the round in the New Delhi-based startup.

Launched in February, the Gurgaon-based startup points travelers to travel experts it identifies via WhatsApp and Instagram. Remarkably, co-founders Pulkit Pujara and Videt Jaiswal were formerly investors at SAIF Partners.

Some people say you should never try to launch a social travel planning startup. However, the rise of last-minute bookable destination activities and the cresting wave of social sharing via apps like Instagram, Line, and WeChat suggest maybe there's room for a new wave of social travel companies.

In the past year, Travello, an Australia-based social travel app, raised $3.6 million ($5 million Australian) in funding from a consortium of investors. TripAdvisor debuted a new homepage with a semi-personalized feed of recommendations and advice.

On a historical note, the largest explicitly social travel startup, Where Are You Now (WAYN) was acquired for $1.2 million by Lastminute Group in 2016, despite having raised $11 million from investors. Another, Triposo, was acquired last year by Musement for an undisclosed sum.

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: An image of the United Nations Security Council meeting in New York. Interprefy is a startup that aims to provide remote interpreters for events. United Nations

Polish startup Symmetrical.ai picks up funding - PE Hub

Posted: 31 May 2019 07:22 AM PDT

Polish startup Symmetrical.ai has secured 1.35 million euros in funding. The investors included Finch Capital, Market One Capital and Plug & Play.

PRESS RELEASE

Symmetrical.ai raises 1.35 mln EUR to democratise credit in the cloud. It announces global expansion plans Symmetrical.ai is a Polish company building the credit of fintech-as-a- service stack. The startup offers Credit Cloud API which enables any business to plug credit infrastructure into their mobile and web apps in just a few clicks. As part of the pre-seed round Symmetrical has raised EUR 1.35 million from three renowned VC funds and a group of business angels. It plans international expansion including Latin and North America.

The global fintech scene has gained another strong player who has the ambition and resources to deliver global infrastructure for credit origination and secondary trading. The company Symmetrical.ai, which is working on reducing information asymmetry and improvement of the financial services market efficiency, has just closed its first round of financing, from which it raised EUR 1.35 million.

– Symmetrical is the answer to the development of the financial services industry in the last 20 years. A development that has gone often too far in the wrong direction. Today, finding a customer tailored and well-priced financial product is difficult and takes a lot of time. As a result, many people remain outside the banking market, and the rest usually overpay for most financial services. – commented Piotr Smoleń, CEO and Co-Founder of the company, serial entrepreneur who recently sold his fintech firm Turbine Analytics (buy-side analytics SaaS) to the industry investor – ProService Finteco from PE fund Oaktree Capital Management portfolio.

– We want to revolutionize the market and create a fair, transparent and effective infrastructure for the banking sector allowing clients all over the world to access cheap and ethical financing, while at the same time allowing investors to effectively allocate capital, with virtually no transaction costs – stated Daniel Wartołowski, COO and the other Co-Founder. We are glad that such renowned investors have noticed the value of our company at such an early stage of development and want to support it in its further dynamic growth – he adds.

New Symmetrical.ai investors are three renowned VC funds: Finch Capital (lead investor), Market One Capital and Plug & Play. The company was also backed by a group of business angels.

Symmetrical will allocate the acquired funds for further dynamic product development and expansion on the British and Polish market. But it is just the beginning. In the coming years it plans further international expansion: to start with Europe and Spain as the first target market, and after that aiming at Latin American countries that will be a bridgehead for further expansion in the USA.

– Symmetrical can fundamentally change how credit is delivered to consumers by businesses. For far too long, credit has been local, but with Symmertical's API and technology stack, a business trying to offer its customer credit can do so now on a global scale. This will change the global banking order – thinks Aman Ghei from Finch Capital, a technology investor in fintech companies with such companies as Grab, Zopa, or Twisto in its portfolio.

– We invest in companies whose business model allows for quick scaling and international expansion. Symmetrical has operated now for just a couple of months, but this period, as well as the track record of its founders allows you to forecast future success – stated Marcin Kurek from Market One Capital, considered the best Polish VC fund investing in marketplaces.

The transaction involving Symmetrical.ai is one of the largest pre-seed funding round in the history of Poland. It is also one of the largest financing rounds involving VC funds on the Polish market since the beginning of this year.

– We noticed from Silicon Valley that the Polish fintech scene is developing very dynamically. Symmetrical will be one of the best companies to transform not only the Polish but also the global banking sector. – Alireza Masrour, General Partner, from Plug and Play, Corporate Innovation Platform and a VC fund from Silicon Valley, which has a track record of investments in companies like Paypal, LendingClub and N26.

How does it work?
Symmetrical.ai operates in the fintech-as-a-service model, as demonstrated in in advanced economies with companies such as Solaris Bank, Tink and Plaid.com. The company creates a platform within the credit cloud, to which anyone, regardless of the context, can join in a dozen or so minutes and start granting loans just like a real financial institution. For individual clients, the Symmetrical.ai platform means that various financial institutions will compete for granting the loan, offering the best terms for them: both when the process of customer service is initiated by the financial institutions, as well as when the client is actively seeking financing of the current consumption needs. In this way, the company creates an effective and transparent financial market that at the same time promotes ethical finances. For Symmetrical's mission is to give back to society control over data and increase accessibility (inclusiveness) of capital around the world.

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