Wij willen met u aan tafel zitten en in een openhartig gesprek uitvinden welke uitdagingen en vragen er bij u spelen om zo, gezamelijk, tot een beste oplossing te komen. Oftewel, hoe kan de techniek u ondersteunen in plaats van dat u de techniek moet ondersteunen.

The Guild, a nearly four-year-old, Austin, Texas-based startup that turns apartments into comfortable short-term accommodations for business and other travelers, has landed $ 25 million in Series B funding from some of its earlier investors, including Maveron and Convivialite, along with real estate companies like the Nicol Investment Company, which owns some of the buildings in which The Guild has units.

The 171-person company — started by two University of Texas grads who met in 2015 through their overlapping interests (one worked in boutique hotel development and the other is a cofounder of the apartment marketplace Apartment List) —  has plenty of competition. Lyric, Domio, and Sonic are but three of the many other companies now in the business of gussying up apartments and renting them out like hotel rooms is Lyric, Domio, and Sonic

The competition is so stiff, in fact, that all are fast adding other services to their offerings. All promise around-the-clock support, for example, so if the WiFi goes down, there’s someone to scream at, no matter the hour. Lyric also offers its customers “curated in-suite art, music and coffee programs.” The Guild touts its personal approach, like adding a Christmas tree to a room for a family that is temporarily displaced during the holidays. Meanwhile, among its offerings, Sonder offers “pre-stay cleaning.”

The last seems less like a perk than a necessity, but in the race to capture mindshare, no detail is too small to promote, apparently.

As for its part, The Guild is now operating 565 units with another 235 units in the “final stages of development,” the company tells us. It’s also operating in six cities currently — Austin, Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, Miami and Nashville — but it plans to land in six more in the next 12 to 24 months. (If you’re curious about how long it takes for a unit to become profitable, the company says the investment payback is traditionally within 12 months.)

As for how its breaking through the noise of its competitors, the company has a corporate sales team that works with companies like McKinsey, Google and Whole Foods, as well as partners with travel companies, including Concur, Airbnb, and Expedia.

Certainly, investors see promise in its strategy — and its momentum.

The Guild, which says it generated $ 10 million in revenue in 2018, tells us it generated more than $ 20 million in 2019 and that it expects to maintain 100% growth in 2020, thanks in part to its new round of funding.


TechCrunch

Kleiner Perkins has joined a $ 24.5 million Series A funding round for Bison Trails, a provider of blockchain protocols, which was led by Blockchain Capital to develop the firm’s infrastructure services.

Other participants included Coinbase Ventures, ConsenSys, A Capital, Collaborative Fund and Sound Ventures as new investors. Galaxy Digital and Initialized, as early backers, joined this latest round after participating in a $ 5.25 million seed round in March.

Bison Trails became one of the 21 founding members for Facebook’s Libra Association in October, boosting its somewhat flagging reputation as a global infrastructure service provider after high profile players like PayPal pulled out.

That makes Bison Trails the only blockchain infrastructure firm in the Libra project.

The New York-based startup helps customers deploy the participation nodes on any blockchain, without having to develop their own supporting technologies such as security, and serves more than 20 protocol projects.

In a statement Kleiner Perkins investing partner Monica Desai said: “Bison Trails realized early that node infrastructure would become a bottleneck to blockchain adoption, which is why they created a decentralized, user-friendly solution.”

“When we started building Bison Trails, we wanted to bring transparency and ease to entrepreneurs bold enough to build in a decentralized ecosystem, investors wise enough to back a nascent market, and enterprises courageous enough to commit to a technological inevitability like blockchain technology and cryptocurrency,” said Joe Lallouz, CEO of Bison Trails. “We have become the easiest way to run infrastructure on multiple blockchains. And have helped the world’s leading protocols, companies and builders launch and manage secure, highly-available, and geographically distributed nodes on blockchain networks.”


TechCrunch

Manila-based financial tech startup PayMongo has raised $ 2.7 million in seed funding to give merchants in the Philippines and other Southeast Asian markets simple ways to set up online payments. Investors included Founders Fund, Peter Thiel and Stripe, with participation from Y Combinator (PayMongo is the first Philippine fintech company it has funded), Global Founders Capital, Soma Capital, Tinder co-founder Justin Mateen and other angel investors.

PayMongo was launched in June by a founding team that includes CEO Francis Plaza, COO Edwin Lacierda, CTO Jamie Hing and chief growth officer Luis Sia. Since then, more than 1,000 businesses have started using its platform and the startup says its total transaction value processed is growing at an average of 117% week over week. PayMongo’s seed round will be used for hiring, product development, business acquisitions and strategic partnerships.

paymongo founders

PayMongo founders

The startup will focus on the Philippines first, where the country’s central bank has set a target of increasing the rate of cashless payments to 20%. Plaza says PayMongo’s goal is to become the largest payment service provider in the country before expanding to other markets in Southeast Asia.

Prior to launching PayMongo, its team spent several years working on other projects. During that time, they realized payments were the hardest feature to integrate into products and services. Even though the Philippines’ Internet economy is growing quickly (a report from Google expects it to increase from $ 5 billion in 2018 to $ 21 billion by 2025) and more people are using e-commerce, online payments have lagged behind the rest of the world, Plaza says.

“When you want to launch something online for a payment gateway, you have to deal with banks and many different financial institutions. It takes months, we tried it ourselves, from negotiating rates to submitting paperwork. It takes a long time, and then in the end you are charged high fees,” he tells TechCrunch.

Even after businesses finish dealing with banks, they need to figure out payment gateways that are often difficult for people with little tech experience to start using.

PayMongo has already partnered with several financial institutions and its technology, including a payments API that Plaza says can be set up in minutes, is designed to be user friendly. Since many online merchants in the Philippines sell through social media platforms and messaging apps, like Facebook, Instagram, Viber and WhatsApp, PayMongo also provides customizable payment links that they can send to customers.

The credit card penetration rate in the Philippines is only about 6%, Plaza says, so PayMongo also supports e-wallets like GCash and PayMaya and services that allow people to pay for online purchases in cash at convenience stores. PayMongo’s products for micro-entrepreneurs, like freelancers and people who sell items through social media, help it differentiate from competitors like Paynamics, Dragonpay and PesoPay that typically focus on serving larger businesses (though Plaza says PayMongo has also been adopted by large retail chains).

In a statement, Y Combinator partner Kevin Hale said “At YC, we love companies who build services that empower startups. We believe PayMongo will provide the infrastructure that is needed for more Filipinos to become founders who are in charge of their own destiny.”


TechCrunch

Automating agriculture is a complex proposition given the number and variety of tasks involved, but a number of robotics and autonomy companies are giving it their best shot. FarmWise seems to have impressed someone — it just raised $ 14.5 million to continue development of its autonomous weeding vehicle.

Currently in the prototype stage, these vehicles look like giant lumbering personnel carriers or the like, but are in fact precision instruments which scan the ground for invasive weeds among the crop and carefully pluck them out.

“Each day, one FarmWise robot can weed crops to feed a medium-sized city of approximately 400,000 inhabitants,” said FarmWise CEO Sebastien Boyer in a press release announcing the latest funding round. “We are now enhancing the scale and depth of our proprietary plant-detection technology to help growers with more of their processes and on more of their crops.”

Presumably the robot was developed and demonstrated with something of a specialty in one crop or another, more as a proof of concept than anything.

Well, it seems to have proved the concept. The new $ 14.5 million round, led by Calibrate Ventures, is likely due to the success of these early trials. This is far from an easy problem, so going from idea to nearly market-ready in under three years is pretty impressive. Farmers love tech — if it works. And tiny issues or error rates can lead to enormous problems with the vast monoculture fields that make up the majority of U.S. farms.

The company previously took in about $ 5.7 million in a seed round, following its debut on Alchemist Accelerator’s demo day back in 2017. Robots are expensive!

Hopefully the cash infusion will help propel FarmWise from prototype to commercialization, though it’s hard to imagine they could build more than a handful of the machines with that kind of money. Perhaps they’ll line up a couple big orders and build on that future revenue.

Meanwhile they’ll continue to develop the AI that powers the chunky, endearing vehicles.

“Looking ahead, our robots will increasingly act as specialized doctors for crops, monitoring individual health and adjusting targeted interventions according to a crop’s individual needs,” said Boyer. So not only will these lumbering platforms delicately remove weeds, but they’ll inspect for aphids and fungus and apply the necessary remedies.

With that kind of inspection they can make a data play later — what farmer wouldn’t want to be able to digitally inspect every plant in their fields?


TechCrunch

Call the rollers of big rounds,
The well-capitalized ones, and have them back
makers of rooms themed like concupiscent curds.

Let the influencers gather in the styles
they love to wear, and let other startups
throw away their term sheets like last month’s newspapers.
Let be be finale of seem.
The only museum is the Museum of Ice Cream.

Take from the dresser of deal
a term sheet for $ 40 million,
to give a $ 200 million valuation to Figure8
“an experience-first development company”
created to commercialize backdrop boudoirs.

Museums displayed art once
But now that achievement is
a backdrop for a human face.
All aesthetics ignored, they come
To show how bold they are, and stunned.

Let investors like
Elizabeth Street Ventures, Maywic Select Investment, and OCV Partners beam.
The only museum will be the Museum of Ice Cream.


TechCrunch

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