Startups

Online learning platform Unacademy gets $21M Series C from Sequoia India, SAIF and Nexus

Unacademy founders Roman Saini, Gaurav Munjal and Hemesh Singh Bangalore-based Unacademy will add more educators to its online learning platform, which claims to be India’s largest, after closing a $21 million Series C. The funding comes from Sequoia India, SAIF Partners and Nexus Venture Partners, with participation from Blume Ventures (all four firms are returning from Unacademy’s Series B last year). Originally a YouTube channel created in 2010 by Gaurav Munjal, Unacademy was officially launched as a startup in 2015 by founders Munjal, Roman Saini and Hemesh Singh. It has now raised $38.6 million in total. While Unacademy offers a wide range of courses, its most popular offerings include preparation for important exams in India. Its platform includes two apps: one that lets educators cr...

0x lets any app be the Craigslist of cryptocurrency

Centralized crypto exchanges like Coinbase are easy but expensive because they introduce a middleman. Not-for-profit project 0x allows any developer to quickly build their own decentralized cryptocurrency exchange and decide their own fees. It acts like Craigslist, connecting traders without ever holding the tokens itself. And instead of having to bootstrap their way to enough users trading tokens on their app alone so that there’s liquidity, 0x offers cross-platform liquidity between users on the different projects it powers. The problem is the user experience of decentralized apps is often crappy compared to the consumer apps we’re used to across the rest of tech. From sign-in to recovering accounts to conducting transactions, it’s a lot more complicated than Facebook Login, PayPal, or S...

Proportunity offers ‘help to buy’ loans based on predicting future house prices

Proportunity, a London-based startup and Entrepreneur First alumni, wants to help first time buyers get on the property ladder earlier or purchase a home more to their liking. The company, which recently became an FCA authorised mortgage lender, claims to use machine learning to accurately forecast future house prices and the areas of London that will see the highest growth in the next few years. Based on confidence in this modelling, it will soon begin offering equity loans to boost your deposit when buying a first home. Specifically, once Proportunity has used its technology to help identify a property for sale that both fits your needs and offers good house price growth prospects, the startup will offer an equity loan of up to 15 percent of the property’s price. You then combine this lo...

Chowly is raising $5.8 million to help restaurants manage on-demand delivery orders

Chowly, a point-of-sale system for restaurants, has raised nearly $4.7 million, according to an SEC filing. The company is targeting a total raise of $5.8 million. The round is led by MATH Venture Partners with participation from Valor Equity, Chicago Ventures, Hyde Park Venture Partners and others. Chowly had previously raised just $700,000 from MATH Venture Partners, Domenick Montanile and others. Chowly aims to help restaurants better manage the influx of delivery orders they receive from a variety of services, such as Grubhub, Delivery.com and Chownow. In May, Square launched a point-of-sale system for restaurants that integrates on-demand delivery platform Caviar. Down the road, Square said it envisions third-party applications from companies like Postmates, UberEats and DoorDash.

Furniture startups skip the showroom and go straight to your door

Holden Page Contributor Startups making delivery and transport easier than ever are a hit with venture capitalists, so it’s not a surprise that young tech companies delivering home staples — living room sets, dining room tables, couches and more — are raising big dollars. From 2010 through 2017, venture investors have outfitted U.S.-based furniture startups with a little over $1.1 billion in funding across 96 known rounds. But that funding has not been spread equally over time, as the following chart shows: Total dollars funneled into U.S.-based furniture startups, according to Crunchbase, hit an all-time high of $432.7 million across 12 rounds in 2011. Wayfair, an e-commerce site dedicated to selling furniture, raised a significant $165 million Series A that year, accounting for more than...

Guru announces new AI and Sync features for knowledge sharing platform

It’s one thing to have a great business idea, but connecting all of the disparate pieces of information and people needed to build it can be a frustrating growing pain — and one that the internal knowledge sharing company Guru is trying to fix. Guru launched in 2015 as a Chrome extension to help revenue and customer service teams have easy access to all of their company’s information the moment they needed it by congregating relevant “cards” of information written by different internal teams. Since its launch, Guru has extended its company to include a web app, and Slack bot. Today, Guru unveiled a new AI, and syncing and impact analytics features aimed to improve the overall experience of the platform. “[Customer facing teams] want to be responsive to their customers and feel confident in...

Robinhood CEO Baiju Bhatt to talk fintech at Disrupt SF

Robinhood has gone from being a little consumer-facing fintech app to an absolutely giant consumer-facing fintech app. The company, which launched in 2013, has ballooned to a $5.6 billion valuation on the heels of a $363 million Series D financing round led by DST Global. The app has also grown to 5 million users, as of today, with more than $150 billion in transaction volume. But the app, which lets people trade stocks and options for free, is also dabbling in the wondrous world of cryptocurrencies, setting the stage for a potential transition from “fun app” to legitimate financial institution. That’s why we’re absolutely thrilled to have Robinhood co-founder and CEO Baiju Bhatt join us on the Disrupt SF 2018 stage. The key to everything here is that Robinhood offered a simple consumer de...

Octi raises $7.5M to create augmented reality that understands human movement

The team at Octi says it’s building a crucial piece of the augmented reality puzzle — the ability to understand the human body and its movement. Co-founder and CEO Justin Fuisz told me that most existing AR technologies (including Apple’s ARKit) tend to be “plane-based” — in other words, while they can make something cool appear against a real-world background, it’s usually on a flat surface, like a table or the floor. Octi, on the other hand, recognizes where people are in-camera, and it can use that understanding to apply a variety of different effects. For example, Fuisz and his team showed me how they could dance around their office while bright, squiggly lines overlaid their bodies — and then they erased their bodies entirely. They also showed me how effects could be tied to different...

Pointy raises $12M Series B to help bricks and mortar retailers fight Amazon

Pointy​,​ the​ ​startup​ ​that​ offers tech to help ​bricks and mortar​ ​retailers put their stock online so that it can be discovered via search engines, has picked up $12 million in new funding. The Series B round is led Polaris Partners and Vulcan Capital, and brings total funding for the Irish company to $19 million. Founded on the premise that people often resort to e-commerce behemoths like Amazon because they can’t find the same item locally, Pointy has developed a hardware and cloud software solution that makes it easy to create a bespoke website as means of making local stock discoverable online. Specifically, the ​”Pointy​ ​box”​ hardware ​gadget connects to a store’s barcode scanner and automatically puts scanned items on a Pointy-powered website for the store. Store pages are t...

Come see Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi at TC Disrupt

In the days of Uber 1.0, the ethos seemed to be about doing all the wrong things. Now, with former Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi at the helm, Uber is clearly on its way to becoming a sort of Expedia for transportation. Though, Khosrowshahi has previously likened Uber’s business to aligning more with the idea of an Amazon for transportation. At TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco in September, Khosrowshahi will join me to discuss Uber’s big plan to own the entire transportation experience for people, the highs and lows of his first year on the job, Uber’s upcoming initial public offering and much more. Under Khosrowshahi’s leadership, Uber officially became a multi-modal transportation platform with its acquisition of JUMP Bikes for about $200 million, the launch of UberRENT and a public trans...

Alan introduces Alan Blue, a high-end health insurance product

French startup Alan has been mostly focused on its main health insurance product — a standard package for companies of all sizes and shapes. The company is launching a second offering on this market with Alan Blue. Companies can now choose between two levels of insurance — Alan Green and Alan Blue. Alan Green is the existing health insurance product with a new name. It still costs the same and offers the same level of coverage. Alan Blue is a higher-end product with better coverage for companies who want to retain talent using better benefits. French employees automatically get basic coverage from the national healthcare system. But companies also need to provide a health insurance from a private company to pay for part of the health expenses. It’s a hybrid system with a strong legal frame...

The Nudge is a planner app packaged as an SMS subscription service

How do you fix digital information overload and the resulting life-attention deficit that’s apparently afflicting smartphone owners everywhere — and even leading some very large tech giants to unbox “digital wellness” tools lately? San Francisco-based startup The Nudge reckons the answer to getting millennials to spend less time sucked into screens, and more time out and about actually doing things, is — you guessed it — another technology service! Albeit one that delivers inspirational plan ideas for stuff to do in your free time, delivered via the traditional text message conduit of SMS. The sibling duo behind the startup, John and Sarah Peterson, have bagged $540,000 in pre-seed funding for their text planner idea, after running a year-long public beta of the service in San Francisco. T...