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Month: August 2018

Rappi raises $200M as Latin American tech investment reaches new highs

Rappi, the Colombian on-demand delivery startup, has brought in a new round of funding at a valuation north of $1 billion, as first reported by Axios and confirmed to TechCrunch by a source close to the company. DST Global has led the more than $200 million financing, with participation from Andreessen Horowitz and Sequoia — all of which were existing investors in the company. Rappi kicked off its business delivering beverages and has since expanded into meals, groceries and even tech and medicine. You can, for example, have a pair of AirPods delivered to you using Rappi’s app. The company also has a popular cash withdrawal feature that allows users to pay with credit cards and then receive cash from one of Rappi’s delivery agents. Rappi charges $1 per delivery. To help keep co...

Mynewsdesk acquires web monitoring service Mention

Communications workflow company Mynewsdesk is acquiring French startup Mention for an undisclosed sum. Norwegian business media group NHST currently owns Mynewsdesk. Mention lets you monitor keywords around the web. It’s a good way to hear what customers are saying about your brand on their blog, on Twitter, on Facebook or anywhere that is public. You can also use Mention to generate reports, study competitors to see if people are talking about them and find influencers who use your products. It can be a useful tool for PR and marketing companies for instance. Mynewsdesk wants to be an all-in-one tool for PR agencies. It can also help you track media coverage, but it goes a bit further than that. You can organize your media contacts in the service and segment your distribution list, write ...

7 Growth Choices That Can Make or Break Your Business

Most of you new venture founders I meet as an angel investor seem convinced that starting the business is the hardest part. You look forward to the day when your business becomes self-sustaining, and settles into a long-term growth curve, ensuring financial success. Unfortunately, sustainability is proving to be a more and more complex challenge in this era of rapid change. I’m sure you can all think of several examples of businesses that popped up quickly, with great business models, but then faded just as quickly. Examples would include Pets.com, Webvan, and Blockbuster. Most executives will tell you that sustaining top-line growth with bottom-line profitability is perhaps the most persistent and vexing challenge they face on a daily basis. The problem, according to Tiffani Bova in her n...

Enveritas’ technology lets small growers tap into the market for sustainable coffee

Demand for sustainable coffee is growing, a boon for socially conscious coffee lovers — but many small growers are missing out because they lack the ability to verify that their coffee beans are grown using fair labor and eco-friendly practices. In fact, verification is often accessible only to large coffee estates or cooperatives. Enveritas wants to change that. The nonprofit, which recently completed Y Combinator’s accelerator program, uses geospatial analysis to make the process more efficient, enabling it to offer free verification to small farms. Enveritas’ goal is to end poverty in the coffee sector by 2030. Before founding Enveritas in 2016, CEO David Browning and head of operations Carl Cervone worked at TechnoServe, a nonprofit that serves businesses in developing economies....

Clinc is building a voice AI system to replace humans in drive-through restaurants

Clinc is expanding its focus on fintech into new verticals that could take advantage of its conversational artificial intelligence. The Ann Arbor-based company recently took the wraps off its new system that aims to provide quick service restaurants like McDonald’s and Taco Bell with a voice assistant in the drive-through window. I got a demo of the new system. For the most part, even in its early state, it works as advertised. Want a double cheeseburger without pickles and mayo with a side of fries and a Coke? With Clinc’s system, a person can order food as if they were talking to a human. Have questions or want to make changes to the order? Again, the person ordering the food does not have to modify their speech pattern or use a voice menu tree — just talk to the system normally. T...

InVision deepens integrations with Atlassian

InVision today announced a newly expanded integration and strategic partnership with Atlassian that will let users of Confluence, Trello and Jira see and share InVision prototypes from within those programs. Atlassian’s product suite is built around making product teams faster and more efficient. These tools streamline and organize communication so developers and designers can focus on getting the job done. Meanwhile, InVision’s collaboration platform has caught on to the idea that design is now a team sport, letting designers, engineers, executives and other shareholders be involved in the design process right from the get-go. Specifically, the expanded integration allows designers to share InVision Studio designs and prototypes right within Jira, Trello and Confluence . InVis...

Porter Road wants to herd the meat industry in a new direction

Down a two-lane road on the outskirts of Princeton, Ky., next to a cemetery and past the Light of Truth Church, is the Porter Road Butcher Meat Co. facility — a staging ground for what the Nashville-based startup Porter Road hopes will be a revolution in the American meatpacking industry. For the company’s co-founders, James Peisker and Chris Carter, the refashioning of the meat business in America is the next step in a nearly decade-long journey since the former chefs first met working in the restaurant of Nashville’s historic Hermitage Hotel.  The two men started their butcher business selling locally sourced meat from the East Nashville Farmer’s Market in 2010, and eventually moved to a storefront in the same neighborhood a year later. “We ended up going ar...

Instacart now serves 70 percent of U.S. households

Toward the end of 2017, Instacart penned a partnership with one of the country’s biggest grocery retailers, Kroger. At the time, it was a smaller deal with one of Kroger’s chains called Ralphs. But today Instacart is expanding its partnership with Kroger, bringing Instacart delivery to 75 additional Kroger markets, growing Instacart’s Kroger footprint by 50 percent nationwide. The expansion will be completed by late October, bringing Instacart delivery to more than 1,600 Kroger stores. This builds on Instacart’s momentum, following partnership deals with chains like Albertsons, Aldi, Sam’s Club, and Loblaw. In all, Instacart is now available to 70 percent of all households across the country. Last year, the company announced its goal to reach 80 percent of U.S...

Space investors are coming to Disrupt SF 2018

In the past couple decades, Elon Musk’s efforts with SpaceX have partially kicked off a space race in the VC-funded rocket startup scene. At Disrupt SF 2018, we’re thrilled to host a panel of some of Silicon Valley’s top investors whose firms are eying the stars. Rob Coneybeer from Shasta Ventures, Tess Hatch from Bessemer Venture Partners and Matt Ocko from DCVC will all be joining us to discuss their points of view on the commercial space industry and where the major opportunities lie for startups looking to penetrate the market. We’ll hopefully get a closer look at some of the dominating trends in the industry from the trio whose careers have taken them through legacy space companies and led them to make several investments in young space startups. Rob Coneybeer is a managing dire...

AirTM raises $7 million to fight hyperinflation

If you want to convert Netflix gift cards into dollars on a PayPal account, you usually have to find someone willing to do the same transaction in the other direction. It can quickly go wrong if you never receive your money. Meet AirTM, a service that makes it easier to convert any form of money into any other form of money. You can deposit money using banks, gift cards, cash through Western Union and other equivalent services, cryptocurrencies and more. You can withdraw money through any of those protocols as well. AirTM is raising a $7 million Series A with BlueYard leading the round. While many of you probably don’t see why you’d use a service like this, AirTM’s users in Venezuela are willing to pay high fees to convert their bolívars into anything else. Multiple years of hyperinflation...

Sinemia takes aim at MoviePass again, with new $9.99 plan

Sinemia continues its campaign to take advantage of MoviePass’ high-profile struggles and win over the better-known movie ticket subscription service’s customers. Today, it announced a new plan priced at $9.99 per month. MoviePass, after all, recently announced that it would be keeping its monthly subscription price at $9.95, but limiting subscribers to three movies per month (with discounts on additional tickets). The new Sinemia tier also includes three tickets each month, but it has the additional benefit of allowing subscribers to buy tickets for any 2D, non-IMAX screen, and to buy those tickets in advance. MoviePass, in contrast, is rotating the available movies each day, and it requires subscribers to buy their tickets at the theater, on the same day as the screening. Jus...

Deliveroo offers free OpenClassrooms courses to riders

If you’re a rider on Deliveroo, you can now follow courses on OpenClassrooms and get certificates of achievement for free. You get a free Premium Solo account, which is worth €20 per month ($23.44). You’ll find courses in French, English and Spanish on many technical and non-technical topics. For instance, you can learn a programming language, UI or project management skills. But you can also follow courses on marketing, leadership and more. OpenClassrooms is a freemium platform, which means that anyone can access courses for free. But a premium account lets you access additional materials and more features to study at your own pace. You also get certificates of achievement when you go through an entire course. This isn’t groundbreaking news for Deliveroo riders, but it’s good to see that ...

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