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The $5 billion South Korean Start-up That’s an Amazon Killer

The $5 billion South Korean start-up that’s an Amazon killer

  • Coupang is the largest online retailer in South Korea, with more than $3 billion in annual sales.
  • The 8-year-old start-up is one of a handful of Korean unicorns and is viewed in the country as a strong candidate for an IPO in 2019 or 2020.
  • The company says half of South Korea’s 51 million people have downloaded its mobile app.
  • Amazon, already struggling to crack markets in Asia, has yet to set foot in the South Korean market.
Coupang founder and CEO Bom Kim
Source: Coupang
Coupang founder and CEO Bom Kim

Did those ballet slippers you ordered online turn out to be too small? No problem. Just make a few clicks on your app, place the shoes outside your door — no box, no invoice, no label to print. The slippers will be picked up within hours and you will immediately get a refund.

This scenario is not a glimpse at the future of online retailing but reality now in South Korea, where Coupang has become the largest online retailer in the country. Analysts estimated Coupang’s sales reached $3 billion in 2017. The 8-year-old start-up company is one of a handful of Korean unicorns (companies valued at $1 billion or more) and is viewed in Korea as a strong candidate for an IPO in 2019 or 2020, although the company won’t discuss plans to go public.

With a valuation of more than $5 billion and $1.4 billion in venture capital investment, Coupang is the fastest-growing and best financed e-commerce site of all time in South Korea. It dominates a highly competitive e-commerce market, where no one is making a profit. The company says half of South Korea’s 51 million people have downloaded its mobile app. That may be why Amazon, already struggling to crack markets in Asia, has yet to set foot in the South Korean market.
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Meet the Most Disruptive Fintech Startup in South Korea


Viva Republica is the most disruptive fintech startup in South Korea. Since the 2015 launch of its simple peer-to-peer payments app Toss, banks are finally revamping their user experiences and customers have easier access to financial products. South Korea’s mobile payments have more than quadrupled in that time to $4.6 billion, according to Bank of Korea data.

The startup, funded at $76 million, hasn’t stopped there. After PayPal joined a $48 million investment in Toss in March, Toss has grown from a simple money-transfer app to a diverse consumer-finance platform generating Viva Republica’s $20 million in expected revenue in 2017. Toss thus joins Asia’s ranks of fast-growing mobile P2P payment services, reaching a $12 billion transaction volume in 2017.

Paypal’s Venmo, which says it now processes over $3 billion in monthly transactions, took four years to reach the $1 billion mark in the US. Toss, with 12 million users, got there in about half the time. It has set its sights on breaking even in the near future—a global first in the P2P money-transfer space, says founder and CEO Lee Seung-Gun. 

Although Toss started as a transfer service similar to Venmo, Square Cash and Google Wallet, it has bigger aims, with a business model closer to that of huge and highly profitable Ant Financial and Tencent—that is, offering a broad financial platform rather than just a one-service app.
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Candex Raises $3.5 Million To Conquer The Pain Of Enterprise Payments

SAN FRANCISCO, March 23, 2018 — Candex, the simplest way businesses engage, track and pay for high volume services, has raised $3.5 million of series seed funding from Edenred Capital Partners, Partech Ventures, Advisors.Fund, Camp One Ventures, NFX, Tekton Ventures, Big Sur Ventures and fintech angel Mark Goines. The financing positions Candex to accelerate its business in Fortune 500 customers and beyond.

Companies are taking advantage of the gig economy and using more vendors than ever to compete and stay nimble. In the typical large enterprise organization, admin layers across departments inefficiently cope with the 90 percent of tail service vendors that account for only five percent of spend. Sometimes the administrative costs exceed what is actually paid.
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Everledger Closes US$10.4M in Series A Funding Round

Everledger, a London, UK-based developer of real-world applications based on emerging technologies, closed US$10.4m in Series A funding round.

Toronto-based investment banking firm GMP Securities co-ordinated the round with lead investor, the Canadian arm of Fidelity Investments. Participants in the round included Vickers Ventures Partners, Graphene Venture Capital, and existing investors Tekton Ventures, FPV, Fenbushi, Bloomberg Beta, and Rakuten. In conjunction with the funding, Dr. Finian Tan, currently the chairman of Vickers Venture Partners, joined Everledger’s Board.

The company will use the funds to continue to develop its platform and expand its business reach.

Led by Founder & CEO Leanne Kemp, Everledger is a technology enterprise that tracks the provenance of high-value assets on a global digital ledger. Using blockchain, the company provides stakeholders across supply chains with an immutable history of an asset’s authenticity, existence and ownership. Everledger started off with tracking diamonds and currently has the provenance of over 2 million diamonds cryptographically-certified on the blockchain. This tech solution has since expanded into the world of coloured gemstones, jewellery, fine wine and art, among other industries.
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Grabr Gets $8M to Connect Travelers with Luggage Space

grabr team

You might get to actually save money while you’re traveling if you just leave some free space in your bag — or not pay for that travel at all — if Daria Rebenok’s plan plays out.

As avid travelers, and ones longing for products from home they can’t get abroad, she and Artem Fedyaev decided to start Grabr to work on exactly this problem. While you might not be able to get those products you’d find everywhere on shelves in a foreign country on Amazon, or anywhere else online for whatever reason, there are people traveling to and from those countries all the time. Grabr  serves to connect those travelers that have a few square inches or feet in their bags, tasking them with bringing back those products abroad for a fee. Grabr today said it has raised a new $8 million financing round led by Foundation Capital, as well as some additional investors we’ll add at the bottom.
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Bug Bounty Startup Bugcrowd Raises $26 Million

Bug Bounty Startup Bugcrowd Raises $26 Million
By ROBERT HACKETT 

In 2011, Patrick Webster, a security researcher, notified an Australian pension fund manager of a glaring flaw in its website that allowed him to access people’s personal information. The firm, First State Superannuation, returned the favor by sending the police to his home and threatening to sue him.

The incident was a disaster—a masterclass in how not to treat vulnerability researchers. First State Super eventually backed down and thanked Webster, but not before catching considerable flak for its handling of the affair.

Now First State Super has signed on as an investor in Bugcrowd, a San Francisco-based startup that runs bug bounty programs for businesses. The new round of fundraising, led by venture capital firm Triangle Peak Partners, is worth $26 million.
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May Mobility Raises $11.5 Million to Deploy Self-Driving Shuttle Fleets

may_rearquarter

Michigan -based startup May Mobility, which is trying to swap out current transportation options for corporate and other clients with self-driving small shuttles, has raised $11.5 million in sed funding from investors including BMW i Ventures and Toyota AI Ventures, along with existing investors. The round comes just about a year into the company’s launch, and 2018 will also see May Mobility launch its first commercial operations in the later law of the year.

May Mobility has a team that includes DARPA Urban Challenge participants, as well as vets of Ford, GM, and Toyota as well as the University of Michigan’s automotive engineering programs. The company’s goal has been to provide self-driving solutions that are practical on real routes today, using technology currently available, with defined shuttle paths. It’s also aiming to offer commercial benefit to clients by managing the fleet service from end-to-end, including vehicle maintenance and operation the shuttles on a daily basis.
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Outdoorsy the ‘Airbnb of RV’s’ Raises $25M

Outdoorsy, the ‘Airbnb of RVs,’ rolls up $25 million in fresh funding
by Connie Loizos (@cookie)

According to serial entrepreneur Jeff Cavins, more than 35 million people each year look to rent an RV — 38 percent of them so-called millennials. Yet they often walk away from the experience empty-handed. The reason, he says: There are fewer than 100,000 commercially owned vehicles available from traditional rental services.

Cavins says that his San Francisco-based company, Outdoorsy, is beginning to address this issue by enabling owners of the 14 million privately owned RVs in the United States to rent them to users, à la Airbnb.

The vehicles are mostly sitting around collecting dust anyway, says Cavins, who co-founded the company in late 2014 after heading up seven previous companies — two of which were publicly traded.
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2017 FINTECH 100 Leading Global Fintech Innovators

Congrats to portfolio companies Toss(Viva Republica), Cuvva, and Flutterwave for making the list!

The financial services industry is facing a wave of digital disruption that is starting to reshape the sector. The Fintech 100 celebrates the top companies this bold new space: the 50 leading established players creating change within financial services, and 50 of the emerging fintech stars of tomorrow. The Fintech 100 offers an in-depth view of the most exciting startups and organisations taking advantage of technology to revolutionise the industry. The report is a collaborative effort between H2 Ventures and KPMG.
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Move Over Pork Bellies: CME Group To Begin Trading Bitcoin Futures

Love Bitcoin or hate it, Wall Street’s establishment increasingly wants to trade it.

On Tuesday, CME Group the exchange giant that peddles in futures contracts of everything from eurodollars and Treasury notes to oil, natural gas, corn, livestock and even precious metals such as gold announced it would add crypto-currencies to its arsenal.

Later this quarter, CME will begin trading Bitcoin futures by way of a cash-settled contract based on its CME CF Bitcoin Reference Rate. The once-a-day rate will set the price of bitcoin futures and will be based on pricing seen on crypto exchanges such as Bitstamp, DGAX, itBit and Kraken.
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CME Group Announces Bitcoin Futures on Crypto Facilities

CHICAGO, 31 OCTOBER 201 /CME GROUP/ — CME Group, the world’s leading and most diverse derivatives marketplace, today announced it intends to launch bitcoin futures in the fourth quarter of 2017, pending all relevant regulatory review periods.

The new contract will be cash-settled, based on the CME CF Bitcoin Reference Rate (BRR) which serves as a once-a-day reference rate of the U.S. dollar price of bitcoin. Bitcoin futures will be listed on and subject to the rules of CME.

“Given increasing client interest in the evolving cryptocurrency markets, we have decided to introduce a bitcoin futures contract,” said Terry Duffy, CME Group Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “As the world’s largest regulated FX marketplace, CME Group is the natural home for this new vehicle that will provide investors with transparency, price discovery and risk transfer capabilities.”
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May Mobility is a Self-Driving Startup With a Decade of Experience



May Mobility is a startup making its official debut at Y Combinator’s demo day on Monday, focused on offering autonomous driving technology that companies with commercial fleets will be able to use in the near-term, not a decade from now. But the startup, while young, actually has a decade of experience, thanks to a team that’s been working on autonomous tech since the third DARPA Grand Challenge in 2007.

May Mobility is led by CEO and co-founder Edwin Olson, who used to act as lead investigator on Ford’s autonomous driving program. Olson was also a co-director focused on autonomous driving at Toyota Research Institute, which houses some of the top minds in the world in robotics, and is taking a leave from his current role as an Associate Professor of Computer Science at the University of Michigan to build May.

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VCs Hunt for a Food Delivery Business That’s Sustainable

Over the last year, meal-delivery businesses have mostly served up pessimism. Several have closed their doors, the most recent being Maple, a venture-backed New York startup that shut down last week. Others, including Munchery Inc.Postmates Inc. and Zesty Inc., have cut workers. Sprig Inc., which is backed by Accel and other venture capitalists, is burning through $850,000 a month and is seeking a buyer, said people familiar with the matter.

 

But VCs aren’t giving up on the dream of getting food delivered cheaply through an app. They’re just trying to find ways to do so with fewer subsidies, or even profitably. One promising niche is targeting the hungry office worker. Investors recently put $30 million into Eat Club Inc., which delivers premade lunches in the San Francisco Bay area and Los Angeles. The company, which said it’s profitable, plans to use the money for an expansion to New York.

Eat Club offers similar options to Munchery or Sprig, with about 20 entrées per day, but only delivers to offices with 20 or more employees. Workers can order from an app or website. By delivering an office’s meals together, the company estimates it costs 90 percent less per dish compared with on-demand startups. Eat Club said its couriers drop off 20,000 meals a day, mainly to midsized technology companies such as Flipboard. Eat Club declined to say how many corporate customers have signed up but said it expects to generate $50 million in revenue this year.

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EAT Club Raises $30M Series C to Accelerate Expansion


EAT Club
, the fastest-growing provider of corporate lunch programs, announced today that it raised a $30 million Series C round, led by a strategic investor, Sodexo, the worldwide leader in Quality of Life Services, with participation from existing investors August Capital and Trinity Ventures. The $30 million investment will fund expansion to New York City and broaden the company’s existing footprint in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles.

EAT Club is a Silicon Valley startup that is revolutionizing the way people eat at the office at thousands of companies in California today. The company sets itself apart from the overcrowded food delivery segment with a unique logistics model driven by its own proprietary technology, providing offices with individually selected employee meals at scale. Today, EAT Club serves tens of thousands of individual meals per day with a 99.7% on-time delivery rate, and is generating a profit with healthy contribution margins, a measure of success others have not been able to achieve in this large and growing segment.
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Frontier Car Lands $22M to Disrupt Emerging Markets Car Sales


European founders, adept at launching startups which cross many international borders are fast ganging a reputation for launching in emerging markets. In countries where markets are often still very chaotic, there remains a host of opportunities.

That’s evidenced by the news today that the Frontier Car Group, which builds and runs marketplaces for used cars in emerging markets, has closed a $22 million investment, which was co-led by Balderton Capital, EchoVC+ and TPG/Satya. Also included was NEA, Tekton Ventures, Partech Ventures and “a few large global family offices” according to their statement.

Frontier now has operations in Chile, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Turkey but operates out of Berlin, with 200 employees. It’s going to use the cash to expand into Chile, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey.

In a statement Sujay Tyle, co-founder and CEO of Frontier said: “The automotive sales sector is fundamentally broken in top-tier emerging markets around the world. Despite massive consumer demand, there is no good way for people to sell their cars efficiently for a fair price. Our vision is to reinvent how the used automotive sales sector works in global emerging markets through technology and infrastructure creation.”
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Signifyd Raises $56 Million for E-commerce Fraud Protection

E-commerce fraud is a growing problem, but Signifyd thinks it has a solution to save businesses money.

Their company is growing fast and has closed a $56 million Series C investment led by Bain Capital Ventures. Menlo Ventures and American Express also participated in the round. 

Signifyd counts big clients like Jet.com, Peet’s Coffee and Lacoste, where it uses its pattern recognition technology to warn them upfront about potential fraudulent charges. Signifyd is so confident in its assessments that it offers the companies a guarantee, so they don’t have to pay for errors.

The product “protects the merchants so they don’t have to bear the liability,” said co-founder and CEO Rajesh Ramanand. The team has been developing a “machine learning platform that makes these decision in real-time.”
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FretLink Raises $6.4 Million to Make Trucks Run Like Clockwork

Don’t you love it when there’s a fragmented market with many different actors and outdated tech products? French startup FretLink is using all the tips in the startup handbook and applying them to a neglected industry — the trucking industry.

FretLink is a software-as-a-service marketplace connecting thousands of transportation companies with companies that need to send big piles of stuff. And the startup just raised $6.4 million (€6 million) from Daphni, Tekton Ventures, Elaia Partners and Breega Capital.

If you’re like me, you don’t know much about the transportation industry. Sure, you know the names of a few big logistics companies that bring you your Amazon packages. But it’s a bit more mysterious if you think about the pallets that move from one warehouse to another.
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Korea’s Top Financial Services Startup Lands $48M From PayPal and Others


Viva Republic, the company behind Korean financial services app Toss, has closed a $48 million Series C funding round which includes a strategic investment from payment giant PayPal.

The deal is PayPal’s second investment this year — coming just days after it backed health startup Virta — but the round was led by San Mateo-based VC firm Goodwater Capital, which led Viva Republica’s Series B round and counts Korean tech giants Kakao (messaging) and Coupang (e-commerce) among its portfolio. Bessemer Venture Partners, Altos Ventures, Tekton Ventures and Partech Ventures also participated in the round.
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