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 market for second-hand clothes — the “circular economy” as it’s sometimes called — has been on the rise in the last several years, fuelled by economic crunches, a desire to make more responsible and less wasteful fashion choices, and a wave of digital platforms that are bringing the selling and buying of used clothes outside the charity shop. Today, one of the bigger companies in Europe working in the third of these areas is announcing a huge round of funding to double down on the trend.

Vinted, a site where consumers can sell and buy second-hand fashion, has raised €128 million (around $ 140.9 million) in a round that is being led by Lightspeed Venture Partners, with previous backers Sprints Capital, Insight Venture Partners, Accel and Burda Principal Investments also participating.

With this investment, the startup — founded and headquartered out of Vilnius, Lithuania — has passed a valuation of $ 1 billion (it is not specifying an exact amount), making it one of the biggest startups to come out of the country (but not the Baltics’ first unicorn… Estonian Uber competitor Bolt, formerly known as Taxify, is also valued at over $ 1 billion.)

The company is going to use the money to continue expanding in Europe, and building out more features on its platform to improve the buying and selling process, while sticking to its goal of providing a platform for consumers to list and buy used fashion.

“We want to make sure we don’t have new products,” CEO Thomas Plantenga said in an interview earlier. “All our sellers are regular people.” Some 75% of Vinted’s customers have never bought or sold second hand clothes in their lives before coming to the platform, he added. “The stigma is no longer there.”

Vinted’s growth comes on the heels of a remarkable turnaround for the startup. Founded in 2008 by Milda Mitkute and Justas Janauskas as a way to help Mitkute clear out here wardrobe before a house move, the company expanded fast, but at a price: by 2016, it was close to running out of money and business had slowed down to a crawl. Investors brought in Plantenga to turn it around.

“We changed the business model in 2016 to make the costs as low as possible for users to list clothes,” Pantenga said today. “That produced a dramatic change in our growth trajectory.”

The company, more specifically, went through some drastic changes. First, it clawed back a lot of its pricey international expansion strategy (and along with that a lot of the costs associated with it); and second, it removed all listing fees to encourage more people to list. Now, Vinted charges a 5% commission only if you conduct transactions on Vinted itself, bundling in buyer protection and shipping to sweeten the deal. (You can still post, sell and buy for free if you pay offline but you don’t get those perks.)

The turnaround worked, and the company bounced back, and two years later, in 2018, it went on to raise €50 million. Today, Vinted has some 180 million products live on its platform, 25 million registered users in 12 markets in Europe (but not the US) and 300 employees. It expects to sell €1.3 billion in clothes in 2019, has seen sales grow 4x in the last 17 months.

From fast fashion to fashion that lasts

Vinted’s rise has matched a wider trend in the region.

Europe is the home to some of the world’s biggest “fast fashion” businesses: companies like H&M, Zara and Primark have built huge brands around making quick copies of the hottest styles off the fashion presses, and selling them for prices that will not break the bank (or at least, no more than you might have previously paid to buy a pair of average jeans on the discount rack of a Gap).

But it turns out that it’s also home to a very thriving market in second-hand clothes. One estimate has it that two out of every three Europeans has bought a second-hand good, and 6 out of 10 have sold their belongings using platforms dedicated to second-hand trade.

Even as the company continues to hold back on expanding into the US — perhaps burned a little too much by its previous efforts there; or simply aware of the wide competition from the likes of Ebay, OfferUp, Letgo, Poshmark, and many more — Vinted’s growth in Europe has caught the eye of investors in the that market.

“At Lightspeed, we look for outlier management teams building generational companies. We’ve been impressed by the team’s ability to build an incredible product and value proposition for their community, and adapt and expand their business along the way,” said Brad Twohig, a partner at Lightspeed. “Vinted is defining its market and has built a global brand in C2C commerce and communities. We’re proud to partner with Vinted and leverage our global platform and resources to help them continue to build on their success and achieve their goals.”

While charity shops have traditionally dominated this market, sites like eBay, followed by a secondary wave of platforms like Vinted and another competitor in this space, Depop, have made selling and buying items into an established, low-barrier business.

All the same, given that extending the life of one’s goods feeds into a do-good ethos, it’s noticeable to me that Vinted hasn’t quite replaced the Salvation Army: there is virtually no way to sell on Vinted and give the proceeds to charity, if you so choose.

It appears that this might be something Vinted will try to address in the future.

“We are looking at making fashion circular for our users so that clothing that they bought doesn’t go to waste,” Plantenga said. “[Giving proceeds to charity] is super interesting and we should explore it as part of our growth story. To be honest, those things have been in the background and not developed because we’ve just been trying to keep up with everything, but the idea fits into our culture.”

E-commerce — in particular startups nipping at the heels of bigger players like Amazon and eBay by focusing on specific areas of the market that aren’t as well served by them — has had a bumper day in Europe, after brick-and-mortar marketplace Trouva earlier today also raised a sizeable round.


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

There’s a new fintech startup in the U.S. that is inching closer to the unicorn status. New York City-headquartered MoneyLion, which provides customers both financial advice and access to loans and other services, said today it has raised $ 100 million in a new round to accelerate its growth in the U.S. market.

The Series C round million for the six-year-old startup was led by Edison Partners and Greenspring Associates, MoneyLion said. MetaBank and FinTech Collective also participated in the round, while Capital One made a strategic investment.

MoneyLion also raised $ 60 million in venture capital and debt in Q2 2018, a spokesperson told TechCrunch. This was not previously disclosed. This means MoneyLion has raised over $ 200 million to date, with its current round valuing the startup at nearly $ 1 billion, a person familiar with the matter said.

MoneyLion, which describes itself as a mobile bank, operates a part lending, part savings and part wealth management app. The all-in-one platform allows users to connect all their bank accounts and credit cards and receive personalized advice on how to better spend their money and also secure loans from within the app.

The startup makes most of its money from subscription services — that cost $ 19.99 per month — it sells to consumers, Dee Choubey, founder and CEO of MoneyLion, told TechCrunch in an interview. The subscription offering bundles banking, core investment management, and access to financing.

Choubey didn’t say how many subscribers MoneyLion has, but noted that more than 5 million customers use the app. This includes free users, who are able to access some core banking features at no cost.

MoneyLion will use the new capital to refine its subscription offerings, finance model, and add new features to keep its existing users enticed to the platform, Choubey said. Last year, the app bandied out over $ 12 million in cashback rewards to its members and 70% of its users saw their credit score climb up by 30 points.

“You will see us investing heavily in broker dealer capabilities, training capabilities, and stock investing capabilities. We think of ourselves approaching financial services just like Netflix approaches content. We want to keep users hooked to the platform,” he said.

In an interview with TechCrunch, Chris Sugden, Managing Partner at Edison Partners, said MoneyLion has focused on bringing the entire bank offerings to its platform in last one year. And this “comprehensive, bundling, first class opportunities around banking and financial literacy” for customers is what attracted him to the startup, he said.

As traditional banks make slow moves to help the growing financial needs of their customers, a growing number of fintech startups have emerged over the years across the globe to fill the gap. In many parts of the world, including the U.S., “neo banks” are helping small and medium sized businesses automate their finances and access many additional features.

On some fronts, MoneyLion competes with a handful of players such as Chime, another mobile bank that raised $ 200 million earlier this year, investment service Acorn, which has more than 3.5 million users, and online money lender SoFi, which quietly raised $ 500 million two months ago.


TechCrunch

The pace of malicious hacks and security breaches is showing no signs of slowing down, and spend among enterprises to guard against that is set to reach $ 124 billion this year. That’s also having a knock-on effect on the most innovative cybersecurity startups, which continue to raise big money to grow and meet that demand.

In the latest development, a New York startup called BlueVoyant — which provides managed security, professional services and most recently threat intelligence — has picked up $ 82.5 million in a Series B round of funding at a valuation in excess of $ 430 million.

The funding is coming from a range of new and existing investors that includes Fiserv, the fintech giant that’s acquiring First Data for $ 22 billion. (The startup is not disclosing any other names at this time, it said.) It has raised $ 207.5 million to date.

BlueVoyant has a notable pedigree that goes some way also to explaining how the idea for the startup first germinated.

Co-founder and CEO Jim Rosenthal met his co-founder Tom Glocer (the former CEO of Thomson Reuters) when Rosenthal was COO of Morgan Stanley and Glocer was a director at the financial services giant (Glocer is still on the board). Glocer said that in 2012 and 2013, a fair amount of Rosenthal’s work involved cyber defense, and he came into close contact there with Glocer, who was chairing the operations and technology committee at the time.

“Here was an incredibly strategic, smart fellow in charge of operations,” he said of Rosenthal. “When it came time for him to retire, he told me he wanted to do one more big thing, but in a more entrepreneurial fashion. I suggested to him that the next step could be to work on [cybersecurity], which we were focusing on at Morgan Stanley.”

Glocer noted that the bank was spending some $ 300 million annually on cybersecurity at the time. It effectively had all the resources of the world at its disposal to invest in tackling the risks, but the two were all too aware of how even that could prove not to be enough — and of course for any company with fewer resources, or that wasn’t build as a tech company or with technology as part of its DNA.

BlueVoyant was built with those kinds of challenges in mind.

The startup has amassed talent from the world of private enterprise, but also a number of government organizations such as the NSA, FBI, GCHQ and Unit 8200 — which are alternately renowned and somewhat notorious for their work in cybersecurity and hacking. Its offices span a multitude of geographies that speaks to the customers that it has picked up in its quiet growth to date (which also gives some color to its valuation, too). In addition to the US, it has operatoins in Israel, the United Kingdom, Spain and the Philippines.

Tapping that talent pool, the company focuses on three areas of service for its customers: threat intelligence, managed security and professional services (with the latter focused specifically on those related to security implementations and operations).

Within these, Rosenthal said in an interview that it both builds its own IP, and also brings in software from a range of trusted partners (which include many of the biggest security software companies around today). Key to the proposition, though, is also the implementation of that technology. The theory is that technology will only get a company so far: you need a multi-level strategy when it comes to cybersecurity, and part of that will involve people able to identify vulnerabilities and figuring out how to fix or defend around them.

BlueVoyant believes the opportunity for it is twofold: targeting small and medium enterprises — the pitch being that it can provide the same kind of software and level of services that large enterprises enjoy; and targeting larger enterprises that may already have large IT budgets and teams tasked with cybersecurity, but could still use supplementary work from a world-class team of experts that would be a challenge to amass directly.

“My view is that for firms with very good cyber defenses, external cyber intelligence is important because you can’t defend everything equally,” Rosenthal said. “Having good actionable defense makes it better.

“Then for firms that are unable to afford an excellent cyber defense instructed by themselves and may not be able to attract the talent necessary, a managed security service is the right and important answer,” he continued. “That kind of managed security now needs to be available to companies of all sizes, not just the big ones but small and medium organizations, too. We have created a tech stack and level of talent capable of providing those.”

The formula appears to be working. Since launching the first tranche of its offering, managed services, in 2018, BlueVoyant has picked up some 150 customers in verticals like financial services, manufacturing, municipal government and education.

Working with partners is one way that BlueVoyant plans to expand that customer base over time. Fiserv is backing the startup as a strategic investment and the two will collaborate on providing respective services to each other’s clients. Specifically, Glocer noted that many of the banks that Fiserv currently works with are typical targets: businesses that have a lot to lose in a breach, but may lack the size to ever adequately secure its infrastructure and other assets.

“The strategic alliance between Fiserv and BlueVoyant brings advanced cyber defense capabilities to banks and credit unions of all sizes,” said Byron Vielehr, Chief Administrative Officer of Fiserv. “Our continued investment in BlueVoyant underscores the value these capabilities can bring to our clients.”

BlueVoyant is not the only big security startup to raise at a high valuation in recent times. Auth0 raised $ 103 million at a $ 1 billion valuation last week. In April, Bitglass closed a $ 70 million round. 2018 had seen a high water mark for security funding, with startups raking in a record $ 5.3 billion in the year: it will be worth watching to see whether the ongoing march of breaches will see those figures rise again this year.


TechCrunch

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