AI Startup Boom Raises Questions of Exaggerated Tech Savvy

SoftBank-backed startup offers ‘human-assisted’ artificial-intelligence; current, former employees say company inflates its tech expertise

By Newley Purnell and Parmy Olson - WSJ

Aug. 14, 2019 5:30 am ET

Startup Engineer.ai says it uses artificial-intelligence technology to largely automate the development of mobile apps, but several current and former employees say the company exaggerates its AI capabilities to attract customers and investors.

The competing claims reflect a growing challenge in the tech world of assessing a company’s proficiency in artificial intelligence, which refers to technologies that can allow computers to learn or perform tasks typically requiring human decision makers—in many cases helping companies save money or better target consumers.

Because AI technology is complex and loosely defined, nonexperts can find it hard to discern when it is being deployed. Still, money is flowing into the sector, and many startups can say they use AI as a way to lure investments or corporate clients even when such claims are difficult to vet.

Note: figure for 2019 as of July 16

Note: figure for 2019 as of July 16

Source: PitchBook

Venture firms nearly doubled their funding of AI startups to $31 billion last year from 2017, according to an analysis by data firm PitchBook, which also found the number of funded startups that have “.ai” in their domain names has grown more than twofold in recent years. The domain name extension, which is available for a fee, is associated with Anguilla but popular among tech startups world-wide.

Last month, Japanese tech conglomerate SoftBank Group Corp. unveiled an AI-focused investment fund with $108 billion in expected capital.

London and Los Angeles-based Engineer.ai raised $29.5 million last year from investors including Deepcore Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of SoftBank. Other backers include Zurich-based venture-capital firm Lakestar—an early investor in Facebook Inc. and Airbnb Inc.—and Singapore-based Jungle Ventures.

Engineer.ai was spun out of an earlier company in 2016, the company has said. When announcing its funding last year, it said it had notched $24 million in revenue while self-funding its operations.

Engineer.ai says its “human-assisted AI” allows anyone to create a mobile app by clicking through a menu on its website. Users can then choose existing apps similar to their idea, such as Uber’s or Facebook’s. Then Engineer.ai creates the app largely automatically, it says, making the process cheaper and quicker than conventional app development.

“We’ve built software and an AI called Natasha that allows anyone to build custom software like ordering pizza,” Engineer.ai founder Sachin Dev Duggal said in an onstage interview in India last year. Since much of the code underpinning popular apps is similar, the company’s “human-assisted AI” can help assemble new ones automatically, he said.

Roughly 82% of an app the company had recently developed “was built autonomously, in the first hour” by Engineer.ai’s technology, Mr. Duggal said at the time.

Documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal and several people familiar with the company’s operations, including current and former staff, suggest Engineer.ai doesn’t use AI to assemble code for apps as it claims. They indicated that the company relies on human engineers in India and elsewhere to do most of that work, and that its AI claims are inflated even in light of the fake-it-’til-you-make-it mentality common among tech startups.

Engineer.ai only started to build the technology needed to automate app-building in the last two months, a person familiar with the company’s operations said, adding that the company was more than a year away from being able to use any AI for its core service.

A spokesman for Engingeer.ai and Mr. Duggal, who describes himself as the company’s “Chief Wizard,” said he is “pretty clear in anything he does” to stress that the company employs technology accurately characterized as human-assisted AI.

A SoftBank spokeswoman declined to comment.

In a previously unreported lawsuit, Engineer.ai’s former chief business officer, Robert Holdheim, cast doubt on the company’s technical prowess. According to his wrongful-termination complaint, filed in February in Los Angeles Superior Court, Mr. Duggal told Mr. Holdheim: “Every tech startup exaggerates to get funding—it’s the money that allows us to develop the technology.”

Mr. Holdheim added in the complaint that Mr. Duggal “was telling investors that Engineer.ai was 80% done with developing a product that, in truth, he had barely even begun to develop.”

Mr. Holdheim declined to comment on the suit, which claims he was dismissed after confronting Mr. Duggal about potential misuse of investor funds, among other alleged issues.

Engineer.ai disputed the allegations in a subsequent filing, and a spokesman said the company is defending the matter vigorously but couldn’t comment on pending litigation.

Asked for an example of how the company uses AI, the spokesman said Engineer.ai calculates prices and timelines for customers entirely “autonomously,” with part of that process using natural language processing, an AI technology designed to recognize and understand text or speech. The company also uses a decision tree—a graph or model based on choices—to allocate tasks to developers, the spokesman said.

Several current and former employees said that some pricing and timeline calculations are generated by conventional software—not AI—and most of the work overall is performed manually by staff. These people said the company lacks natural language processing technology, and that decision trees used within the company shouldn’t be considered AI.

Calling a decision tree AI generally “is a stretch,” said Luka Crnkovic-Friis, chief executive of Peltarion, a Swedish company that sells software for building deep-learning AI systems. “If you are telling customers that you are using AI, they will likely not expect 1950s technology. Decision trees are really old and simple technology.”

Engineer.ai pointed to a statement posted on its website after the Journal inquired about its technology, which said “about 60% on average” of its reusable software is machine-produced and the rest is generated by humans for building apps. The statement didn’t explain how that share of its products was machine-produced. A spokesman said those details were proprietary and declined a request to elaborate.

Engineer.ai lacks a bench of senior staff with significant machine-learning or AI expertise, according to the people and documents reviewed by the Journal. When first asked to identify a senior employee with AI expertise, the company pointed to one.

In the subsequent statement on its website, Engineer.ai said that AI experts were difficult to find and hire, and that some recent hires had studied machine learning and AI. In a separate statement, the company detailed three team members’ experience in data science and other disciplines but didn’t identify them by name.

A spokeswoman for Deepcore said it has complete confidence in Mr. Duggal’s vision and team. A spokesman for Jungle Ventures said it is a proud investor in Engineer.ai and its technology, adding that “the AI landscape is a varied spectrum.”

A Lakestar spokeswoman said it also has confidence in Engineer.ai and its team, adding that “growth in the AI space does not happen overnight.” It said Engineer.ai had been very careful in presenting its technology to Lakestar and other investors.

In Europe, startups with AI in their descriptions have raised 15% to 50% more funding than other software startups, according to an analysis of 2,830 technology startups by London-based investment fund MMC Ventures. It said that about 40% of the companies classified as AI startups showed no evidence of using AI in their products, based on an examination of the companies’ product descriptions.

“I think the percentage is even bigger,” said Vasile Foca, a managing partner at London-based venture firm Talis Capital, which has backed AI startups. “You get three to four times [more] interest from venture capitalists and investors if you claim that you have AI, or your solution is AI-driven,” he said.

Mr. Crnkovic-Friis, who isn’t affiliated with Engineer.ai, said many startups typically discover that building AI is harder than expected. Among other issues, it can take years to gather data on which to train the machine-learning algorithms underpinning such technology.

To train new algorithms, an app maker like Engineer.ai would need to collect thousands of requests from customers and combine them with code that human engineers build in response, Mr. Crnkovic-Friis said. Several people familiar with Engineer.ai’s operations say it hasn’t collected the necessary data.

The Engineer.ai spokesman said the company had collected over 600 million records to help build its AI from interactions with clients, among other data.

Some companies use cheap human labor as a temporary stopgap to rolling out real machine-learning algorithms, according to Mr. Crnkovic-Friis. He said that one startup he consulted—which he declined to name—told customers it was using AI software to read receipts when humans were actually doing that work.

Write to Newley Purnell at newley.purnell@wsj.com

Building the team at Talis Capital - two new team members and two key promotions.

July 2019, UK (London)

Talis Capital are thrilled to announce the addition of two new strategic hires! We welcome, to the growing team, Mike Tucker as Financial Controller, and Emily Wood as Project Manager and EA to the Partners.

team_july2019.JPG

Mike joins from Pacific Investments - a multi-asset diversified investment group where he was FC, prior to this he was a chartered accountant at KPMG and is a CFA Charterholder. Emily joins Talis from OVO Energy where she was Assistant Chief of Staff, she also project managed the build out OVO’s new business unit, VCharge – prior to that Emily was a self-employed business consultant supporting a number of high growth startups. Their roles offer both internal structure and direction as well as key support to our portfolio companies.

We have bolstered the team significantly over the last 12-18 months, to bring the team to 14 in total which is reflective of the continued growth of Talis. This year is an important milestone as we celebrate “Talis at Ten”, our 10th anniversary. Founded in 2009, we’ve completed more than $600m of transactions, have more than 45 companies in the portfolio: now deploying up to $100m each year, we invest in technology companies of the future, across our funds and company-specific special purpose vehicles (SPVs).

“Our new team members, Mike and Emily, have already proven to be a perfect addition to our small, highly-driven and fun collective. Adding these strategic functions across finance and project management means that we can be even more efficient and pro-active both internally as well as supporting our portfolio companies.” Matus Maar, Co Founder & Managing Partner, Talis Capital.

As well as new hires we are very proud to announce two well-deserved promotions for team members that have made a significant contribution to the firm– Beatrice Aliprandi is promoted to Senior Associate and Kirill Tasilov to Associate. Beatrice originally joined Talis in 2018 from Jefferies TMT Investment Banking team and has since been involved in investments including; Import.io, The Plum Guide, Medbelle & Ynsect which she continues to assist. Kirill also joined in 2018, after founding an adtech startup and working at UBS in Hong Kong. He is an Observer or is actively involved with Oh My Green, Zyper, Artemis & Edge Intelligence. It’s important to us to ensure the development of the team - growing in experience and building expertise – congratulations to both Beatrice and Kirill on their achievements so far! 

“These two incredibly well deserved promotions are a testament to the hard work, dedication and leadership shown on recent deals led by Beatrice and Kirill. Over the last 18 months or so we’ve seen both of them flourish and are delighted to be able to recognise that – we look forward to seeing them go from strength to strength.” Vasile Foca, Co Founder & Managing Partner, Talis Capital.

As we welcome new hires and congratulate our colleagues on their promotions- we are also excited to offer a new opportunity to the right candidate as an analyst position opens-up in the team!

We’re looking for a like-minded bright spark to join us and have recently spent some time to crystallise how we communicate our vision, mission and values to our entrepreneurial community.

Vision: To find, fund and support the world’s most ambitious entrepreneurs. 

Mission: We seek entrepreneurs and ideas that we can be passionate about. Once we’re aligned, we will work relentlessly for our companies with high energy, speed, flexibility and conviction to help entrepreneurs succeed in their mission. We actively leverage our unique entrepreneurial community to make this happen.  

Values: We are a small, highly driven and fun collective of inquisitive individuals and entrepreneurs. We are passionate and disciplined risk takers. We have an experienced and straight-talking approach to building the companies of tomorrow.

We feel genuinely privileged to work alongside our entrepreneurs and our investors – who inspire us every day with their global ambitions. We have found and funded companies in cyber security, insurance, data & IoT, Proptech, Digital Health, Consumer, Food & Agtech as well as Fintech. We look for established companies at the Series A and B stage and are committed to finding the next generation of entrepreneurs to support over the next ten years too.

Take a look at our last 10 years - watch the video here!

 

Talis Capital Is Hiring

After a record number of investments in 2018 and a huge growth year for Talis’ portfolio, the team is looking to bring on board a new Analyst to join the London-based team. As Talis continues to increase AUA and the number of investments in its portfolio, the team now needs an additional resource to help execute new investments and manage the portfolio.

Talis Capital is an early-stage VC (Series A & B focus) that takes smart money from successful entrepreneurs and business people to back industry-changing technology companies with global potential. Talis’ portfolio includes some of the most exciting and fastest growing companies in the market such as Darktrace (led Series A), Onfido (Series B & C), iwoca (sole Seed) and Pirate Studios (incubated, sole Seed & Series A) - as well as sought-after companies with global potential including Luminance, Ynsect, The Plum Guide, import.io and Zyper.

Since 2009, Talis have completed over $600m worth of transactions and mostly leads 8-10 new investments per year, on top of a number of follow-ons from their existing 40+ growing portfolio. The Talis team identifies and invests in both tech-led and tech-enabled real businesses and has a unique approach to finding, funding and supporting companies of the future.

Talis only supports sustainable business models with high calibre founding teams. The investment team immerse themselves in sub verticals which are emerging from macro technology trends - this allows for a highly focused and opportunistic approach to securing investment in unique opportunities. Over the last decade the team has invested in a range of verticals including AI leveraged Cyber Security, Financial Services, Insur-tech, Data and IoT. Future themes for the latest fund include Prop-tech, Food & Agri tech, Digital Health and Content-to-Consumer.

Talis also incubates and builds companies from the ground up: examples include Pirate Studios, Skwire & Learning People and all members of the team will have hands on entrepreneurial experience building these or new companies.

Our Vision:

To find, fund and support the world’s most ambitious entrepreneurs.

Our Mission:

We seek entrepreneurs and ideas that we can be passionate about. Once we’re aligned, we will work relentlessly for our companies with high energy, speed, flexibility and conviction to help entrepreneurs succeed in their mission. We actively leverage our unique entrepreneurial community to make this happen. 

Our Values:

 We are a small, highly driven and fun collective of inquisitive individuals and entrepreneurs. 

We are passionate and disciplined risk takers.

We have an experienced and straight talking approach to building the companies of tomorrow.

Analyst Position

We are looking for a talented and high-calibre individual to join Talis where you will; gain great exposure to the global tech ecosystem, meet exciting new start-ups, track some of the fastest growing tech companies and work side-by-side with the Partners and Investment Team to find new opportunities and execute on them from origination to close.

You will

  • Take a leading role in investing and managing venture investments (typical investments range from £1-10m from Series A-B)

  • Responsible for identifying investment opportunities, preparing investment recommendations, taking meetings, undertaking extensive due diligence and financial modelling

  • Contribute to all aspects of deal flow, from own initiative sourcing to initial evaluation of potential investments to assisting with deal execution and closing

  • Provide detailed company and sector research and analysis building a name for yourself in the marketplace and sharing your insights with the network

  • Monitor post-investment activities such as keeping up-to-date on portfolio performance

  • Board representations experience

  • Conduct research for marketing, deal sourcing and fundraising

Qualifications

  • Graduated from a top tier university

  • Minimum 1-2 years’ experience in a relevant industry (Investment Banking, Consulting, Corporate Finance, Private Equity, Venture Capital)

  • Highly quantitative, proficient in financial analysis and business modelling

  • Great communication skills (both written and oral) including the ability to prepare and deliver presentations and speak publicly

  • Strong analytical abilities

  • A driven self-starter, with ability to work independently & in a start-up environment

  • Demonstrable interest and curiosity in the global tech ecosystem

Benefits

  • You will be joining a dynamic and entrepreneurial team, friendly and non-hierarchical

  • You will get a chance to interact with the most exciting technology entrepreneurs, companies and investors, and be at the forefront of tech innovation

  • You will get a chance to attend technology conferences and start-up networking events

  • Market competitive salary and bonus

  • Free personal trainer team sessions 3x a week at midday

  • Team offsites 2x a year

Apply for the job by sending a cover letter and your CV to hiring@taliscapital.com

TALIS CAPITAL, THE VC FIRM FOR ULTRA SUCCESSFUL ENTREPRENEURS, NOW DEPLOYING $100M PER YEAR

  • Record year for Talis Capital as it is now investing $100m of funds a year 

  • Talis helps successful entrepreneurs from all sectors invest in the next generation of tech startups and unicorns 

  • Total assets under advisory have increased by 220% in five years

  • Talis is a generalist technology VC and focus areas for 2019 include data, food/agritech, digital health and consumer

London, 27 June 2019 — Talis Capital, the venture capital investment firm that was an early investor in Darktrace, Pirate Studios, Luminance and iwoca, has raised a record $100m for 2019 as it celebrates a decade of successful investing in technology companies on behalf of its entrepreneurial investor base.

The latest raise catapults Talis Capital’s total transactions over 10 years to more than $600m, as it seeks to invest in the fast-growing tech companies that are disrupting established sectors, including food and farming, consumer and healthcare. 

Increasingly entrepreneurs from outside the tech sector want to invest in the companies of the future but need help to access the sector-defining deals that are creating some of the world’s fastest-growing tech companies. Talis, which blends the speed and flexibility of having a private investor base with the experience and networks of a venture capital fund, has seen its total assets under advisory increase by 220% in five years. 

It favours companies that are at an early stage in their growth but have long-term global potential and its track record includes fast-growing tech companies such as Darktrace, Onfido, iwoca, Pirate Studios, Luminance, and Clausematch. In the past 12 months alone, Talis has invested in Pricefx, Beyond, Edge Intelligence, Insurdata,The Learning People, Import.io, Omni:us, Oh My Green, The Plum Guide, Ynsect, Medbelle, Artemis, Zyper and others.

Matus Maar, Managing Partner & Co-Founder of Talis Capital: “The strength of our approach is based on two things: first we can move quickly to make decisions because our structure allows us to be agile, flexible and competitive in the fundraising process. Secondly, the investors who back us have had significant business success in their own right and they are prepared to leverage their networks to help our portfolio grow. We’ve consciously backed companies with the global potential to transform traditional industries significantly, using a technology-led or technology-enabled approach.”  

A DIFFERENT INVESTMENT MODEL

Founded in 2009, Talis was born out of Bob and Rohini Finch’s family office but quickly extended to include some of London and the world’s most successful entrepreneurs and ultra high net worth individuals, drawn from financial services, telecoms, commodities, industrials, leisure, retail, and real estate. The fund, run alongside the Finches by partners Vasile Foca and Matus Maar, raises money every year from its investor base and is achieving a run rate of 42% annual IRR and average 5x money multiple, by investing in technology-led and technology-enabled companies that are transforming established sectors. 

Talis’s team has skills and experience in building companies from concept stage right through to larger businesses. By investing across stages, from late seed to Series C, Talis has forged connections right across the tech sector and invests alongside some of the world’s biggest venture capital funds.

Investors participate in an annual vintage fund, but are also invited to double down on companies they particularly like by taking part in special purpose vehicles (SPVs), where Talis has secured a larger than normal allocation.

Vasile Foca, Managing Partner and Co-Founder of Talis Capital, said: “The investors we work closely with want to back the next generation of innovators and disruptors. We can show them how to do that, and at an early enough stage when they can really make a difference. One of the reasons why we are successful is because we seek entrepreneurs and ideas that we can be passionate about and can leverage this passion and conviction with our LPs. Talis Capital has its roots in a family office, but has grown to incorporate over 30 individuals and families to offer a gateway to the best of the European venture capital scene.”

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TALIS INTO 2020

Talis’s investments in the past year range from Luminance, an AI platform for the legal profession, to Oh My Green, a healthy food caterer to businesses. Other investments include cutting-edge cultivation management for farmers, Artemis, and the world’s first digital hospital, Medbelle.

In the year ahead, the company is looking to continue to invest along key themes, where it has conducted in-depth research and established expertise. These themes include data, insurtech and proptech. New areas of focus include:

  • ‘content to commerce’ - a category that encompasses bringing data-driven content to the consumer through innovative forms of publishing and media;

  • Digital healthcare - using innovation and technology to evolve the patient journey from diet and wellbeing through diagnosis to treatment and aftercare

  • Sustainable food and farming - tackling the global sustainability crisis - a category where it has recently participated in a $125m series C investment in insect protein farming company, Ynsect.

AI, deep learning, and automation technologies are increasingly important applications, and many of Talis’s portfolio companies incorporate aspects of this technology (e.g. Pirate Studios and iwoca). However, Talis is also keen on hybrid investments that straddle the analogue and the tech world. In the case of Pirate Studios, the business has physical studios which are booked and managed online. Musicians and artists can use Pirate Studios for rehearsals or recording and as a content platform, from which they can stream their live content and disseminate music, podcasts and performances.

Inspired and encouraged by some of the younger investors in the fund, Talis is also focusing hard on the preoccupations and changing habits of Gen Z, which it recognises as shaping emerging startups in both the consumer sector and other enterprise sectors.

ENDS

Contact:

antonella@burlington.cc / 07530 815 018

About Talis Capital

Talis Capital is a venture capital investment firm that takes smart money from some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs and business people and invests it strategically in early-stage technology companies with global potential. Talis has invested over $600 million worth of transactions since 2009 and the portfolio includes Darktrace, Onfido, iwoca, Pirate Studios, Luminance, Threads, Ynsect and Oh My Green. Focused on building long-term partnerships, Talis leverages its network to give some of the world’s most innovative startups opportunity to thrive.

Talis Capital Limited (“Talis”) is an appointed representative of Privium Fund Management (UK) Limited (“Privium”). Privium is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority of the United Kingdom (the “FCA”). The investment services of Talis are only available to professional clients and eligible counterparties for the purposes of the FCA’s rules. They are not available to retail clients. Past performance is not a guide to future performance and any capital invested is at risk.

Additional coverage:
Forbes - A point of difference

TechCrunch - Q&A with Talis

CityAM - Tech investor raises record $100m

Sifted, Tech.EU, EU startups, UKTN

ZYPER RAISES $6.5 MILLION IN SERIES A FUNDING

ZYPER RAISES $6.5 MILLION IN SERIES A FUNDING

Investment Led by Talis Capital, with Participation by Forerunner Ventures and Y Combinator

New Marketing Platform Connects Retailers and Brands with Their Superfans

San Francisco – June 6, 2019 – At a time when many consumers are losing trust in influencers and blocking traditional online ads, Zyper – a new marketing platform that connects brands with their superfans to drive engagement, insights and sales – announced today that it has raised $6.5 million in Series A funding. This financing round, which brings Zyper’s total funding to date to $8.5 million, was led by Talis Capital, with participation from Forerunner Ventures and Y Combinator.

Zyper’s software uses computer vision and natural language processing to source the top 1% of a brand’s biggest fans and leverage them as brand advocates rather than as paid influencers. These superfans provide a constant stream of trusted, user-generated content (UGC) that sparks conversation and boosts sales while unearthing new product and purchase insights. Banana Republic, Coty, Nestlé and Topshop are among the companies already using Zyper to build communities of loyal brand fans.

Zyper was founded by Amber Atherton, a successful entrepreneur who has been named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list and the Vogue 100 Power List, who said, “Storytelling and transparency have become paramount for brands as consumers look to engage with them in a more authentic and unfiltered way. Zyper is creating an entirely new category of community-based brand advocacy that will drive sales and surface significant consumer insights. We’re thrilled to partner with this prestigious group of investors, who will be instrumental in helping us bring our platform to even more companies seeking true brand advocates.”

“We are excited to partner with Amber and her team as Zyper gives a voice to real brand fans instead of traditional paid influencers,” said Kirill Tasilov at Talis Capital. “Zyper is on a path to become a transformational company that enables brands to identify and collaborate with their superfans across a number of social media channels. The platform improves the quality, scalability and efficiency of community marketing by allowing brands to track and manage their fans automatically using advanced machine-learning models. Advertising as we know it is over and we’re proud to back this next-level technology.”

Zyper will use the new funds to open its headquarters in San Francisco, to continue to develop its predictive analytics engine and recommendation system algorithms, and to scale up its engineering and sales teams. Concurrently, Zyper announced that it has appointed Lauren Pye as Executive Director of Sales. Pye previously served as president of Festicket and as VP of Sales, North America, at Live Nation Entertainment.

Nicole Johnson, Investor at Forerunner Ventures, whose portfolio companies include Alchemy 43, Glossier and Warby Parker, said, “Brands are looking to engage online with consumers in an authentic, grassroots sort of way. Zyper’s community-building platform is at the forefront of peer-to-peer marketing. It allows brands to connect with people who were already their fans, who then share the brand’s story with friends in a genuine way.”

About Zyper

Zyper is a peer-to-peer-marketing software platform that enables brands to leverage their most loyal customers as a new marketing force. The platform uses technologies such as computer vision, natural language processing and predictive analytics to identify the top 1% of a brand’s most loyal fans, who create authentic brand-related content to share with their own communities, ultimately driving brand engagement, insights and revenues. Founded by entrepreneur Amber Atherton in 2017, Zyper is enabling beauty, apparel, footwear, and food and beverage companies around the world to connect with their superfans and build communities around them.

About Talis Capital

Talis Capital is a venture capital investment firm that takes smart money from some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs and business people and invests it strategically in early-stage technology companies with global potential. Talis has invested over $500 million worth of transactions since 2009 and the portfolio includes Darktrace, Onfido, iwoca, Pirate Studios, Luminance, Ynsect and Oh My Green. Focused on building long-term partnerships, Talis leverages its network to give some of the world’s most innovative startups opportunity to thrive. For more, see www.taliscapital.com.

About Forerunner Ventures

Forerunner Ventures is an early-stage venture capital firm dedicated to partnering with ambitious entrepreneurs who are meeting the challenges and opportunities of today’s rapidly evolving consumer and business landscape. The Forerunner team uniquely pairs deep domain expertise and an understanding of consumer behaviors, brand building, and product to successfully identify leaders and participate in their efforts to build meaningful companies. Representative investments include Dollar Shave Club, Glossier, Chime, Warby Parker, Away, Curology, Ritual, Faire, Attabotics, and Hims. For more information visit www.forerunnerventures.com.

About Y Combinator

Y Combinator (YC) is a startup fund and program. Since 2005, YC has invested in 2,000 companies, which have a combined valuation of $100B. YC supports founders throughout the life of their company. Startup School teaches the basics of starting a company. The YC batch program helps founders build their product, talk to their customers, and raise angel funding. Work at a Startup makes it easy for founders to find their first employees. YC Series A helps founders launch their fundraising round. YC Growth Program provides founders with resources to scale their companies and hire an executive team. YC Continuity invests in their later stage rounds. Y Combinator was founded in 2005 and is headquartered in San Francisco, with batches taking place in Mountain View.

Contact:

Berns Communications Group

Danielle Poggi/Michael McMullan

dpoggi@bcg-pr.com/mmcmullan@bcg-pr.com

(212) 994-4660

Agrilyst Raises $8 Million Series A Co-Led by Astanor Ventures and Talis Capital; Rebrands to Artemis

Agrilyst Raises $8 Million Series A Co-Led by Astanor Ventures and Talis Capital; Rebrands to Artemis

PRESS RELEASE

Company will accelerate vision for a more efficient, traceable, and compliant agricultural economy with investment and new board members

NEW YORK, NY – May 22 , 2019 – Artemis (formerly Agrilyst) , the leading enterprise Cultivation Management Platform (CMP), today announced it has closed a $8 million Series A funding round co-led by Astanor Ventures and Talis Capital with participation from existing investors New York State’s Empire State Development Fund and iSelect Fund . The company has raised $11.75m to date and will use the new funding to rapidly scale sales and expand its team across product, engineering, sales and marketing.
In addition to the new funding, the company announced it has changed its name to Artemis as part of its current rebranding initiative, which will include a new website and corporate branding in June. The company also appointed Dr. Kathleen Merrigan and Charlie O’Donnell to its Board of Directors. Merrigan is the former Deputy Secretary of Agriculture under President Obama and is the first Executive Director of the Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems at Arizona State University. O’Donnell is the sole Partner and Founder at Brooklyn Bridge Ventures and led the company’s seed round of financing.
“We started Artemis with a mission to help indoor farmers and greenhouse operators better manage their operations,” said Allison Kopf, founder and CEO. “This investment coupled with the guidance and deep expertise of Kathleen and Charlie will take our vision, product, and service to the next level — accelerating our ability to enable enterprise-level horticulture businesses to profit and grow.”
Artemis’ proprietary CMP enables owners and managers of large-scale horticulture facilities to reduce risk, scale operations, ensure compliance, manage workers, and achieve greater efficiency and profitability across the entire supply chain — from cultivation to sales. Artemis’ integrated solution provides a single pane view of operations, allowing users to track workflows, detect and trace food safety issues, and manage facility production and labor costs.
“Technology innovation is rapidly transforming the agriculture sector. Artemis’ approach to using data as a catalyst for growth and risk management provides the company a significant advantage with enterprise-level horticulture operations,” said Kathleen Merrigan, venture partner at Astanor Ventures and new Artemis board member.
“The Artemis team has built an incredible solution that’s already captured the attention of some of the largest farming companies in the world. There is a clear opportunity in the agtech space with these types of innovators. We look forward to being part of Artemis’ next phase of growth as they extend their leadership position in the space,” said Matus Maar, Co-founder and Managing Partner at Talis Capital.
Artemis is a trusted partner to some of the world’s largest farming companies. Since launching in 2015, it has seen strong customer growth with companies worth a collective $5 billion using the platform daily. Artemis has attracted a wide range of users that are foremost interested in the security, compliance, profitability, and potential to expand their operations. The company has also partnered with others in the agtech ecosystem, enabling users to further reduce risk across all areas of their business.
“As someone who first met Allison and learned about Artemis when it was just a concept, it’s been exciting to watch it grow from founding to an award-winning company and product that’s well positioned to play a significant role in the future of food production and safety at a massive scale,” said Charlie O'Donnell, Founder and General Partner at Brooklyn Bridge Ventures and new Artemis board member.

About Artemis
Founded in 2015, Artemis provides a world-class Cultivation Management Platform that enables owners and managers of enterprise horticulture facilities to drive efficiency, profits, and growth while ensuring security and regulatory compliance. With Artemis, users can manage workflow and daily tasks, register crop batches, trace food safety issues, manage workers, and leverage data insights to increase workforce efficiency and crop productivity. The platform integrates easily with other software for climate control, shipping/logistics, accounting, ERP/MRP, CRM, and Point of Sale Commerce. The company is headquartered in Brooklyn, NY. For more information visit www.artemisag.com

About Astanor Ventures
Impact investor Astanor Ventures brings together capital, deep sector expertise and a long track record of leveraging disruptive technologies to bring about a future of food that is nourishing, regenerative, trusted and ultra-fresh. Founded by individuals who have backed some of Europe’s most successful startups, Astanor Ventures helps ambitious, purpose-aligned founders build global companies in the sustainable agri-food sector. For more information visit www.astanor.com

About Talis Capital
Talis Capital is a venture capital investment firm that takes smart money from some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs and business people and invests it strategically in early stage technology companies with global potential. Talis has invested over $500m worth of transactions since 2009 and the portfolio includes Darktrace, Onfido, iwoca, Pirate Studios, Luminance, Ynsect and Oh My Green. Focused on building long-term partnerships, Talis leverages its network to give some of the world’s most innovative startups opportunity to thrive.
www.taliscapital.com

Medbelle raises $7m (€6m) in Series A to Build World’s First Digital Hospital

Medbelle raises $7m (€6m) in Series A to Build World’s First Digital Hospital

  • Funding round led by signals Venture Capital, with other investors including Talis Capital, Mutschler Ventures, IBB Beteiligungsgesellschaft and prior backer Cavalry Ventures

  • Announcement signals rapid expansion of ground-breaking, end-to-end digital patient care platform  

  • 30,000 Britons have already used new service to navigate their treatment journey, as founders on target to attract a further 144,000 users by 2020

  • Medbelle bringing greater efficiency and transparency to the previously fragmented and bureaucratic healthcare sector

London and Berlin,  April 2019 — Medbelle, the UK’s leading end-to-end platform for medical procedures, today announced $7m (€6m) in funding to accelerate the digitisation of the patient journey. The Series A funding round was led by signals Venture Capital and joined by Talis Capital, Mutschler Ventures, IBB Beteiligungsgesellschaft and Cavalry Ventures.

Already covering the majority of the UK, and with its eye on international expansion, Medbelle’s three-layered ‘digital hospital’ model (Medbelle Platform, Medbelle Care, and Medbelle Operating System) places unprecedented control in the hands of patients, while giving healthcare professionals access to an integrated suite of management tools covering the entire treatment journey – from first consultation to billing, post-operative care and follow-up.

Patients book their procedure with Medbelle, which provides them with leading specialists and state-of-the-art operating facilities – with all organisation taken care of by the platform. The Medbelle service is designed to save them time, stress and money, ensuring that they benefit from the very best treatments and facilities available. Once a patient is registered, every aspect of their treatment is accessible via a single, simple web portal and app, or through their own personal Medbelle Care Adviser.

At the same time, the Medbelle Operating System ensures healthcare providers can make the most of their valuable time and resources. It allows specialists, hospitals and staff to work more productively, and liberates them from inefficient, unnecessary administrative tasks.    

Already enthusiastically backed by patients, with an outstanding Net Promoter Score (NPS) of 93 – making it the highest-rated medical provider in the UK – the cash injection will enable Medbelle to undertake the next phase of its roll-out. And with the UK private healthcare sector forecast to hit $13.8bn by 2023, it’s a market opportunity that has proven highly attractive to investors.

In its launch phase, Medbelle was focused on privately-paid (self-funded) procedures in areas such as cosmetics, bariatrics and ophthalmology and is currently expanding into orthopaedics and fertility. In the future, Medbelle will work with private medical and public insurance providers / the NHS to leverage its technology and services to help patients with all types of medical procedure.

“The new capital will accelerate the development of our platform while growing Medbelle’s operating footprint,” said Daniel Kolb, co-founder and MD of Medbelle. “It will allow us to streamline high-quality care at scale and take even more work off the hospitals’ and specialists’ shoulders. Our technology helps them to operate more efficiently, be better-utilised and fully focused on what matters most: the best care for patients.”

Clemens Koós, investment manager at signals Venture Capital, said: “Major digital platforms improve customer experience in almost all industries, however, in healthcare, the digitisation of patient journeys has been heavily lagging behind until now. Medbelle’s technology and personalised care enable much simpler and more affordable medical treatments - while allowing healthcare providers to efficiently focus on treating patients. We look forward to working with the Medbelle team and co-investors in expanding the platform to include more treatment specialities and increasing its reach."

Vasile Foca, Managing Partner at Talis Capital, said: “The digital health market is expected to reach $536bn by 2025 – so the time is right to be focusing on technologies that can transform healthcare and the patient journey as we know it today. We’re proud to be backing Leander, Daniel and their high-quality team in this latest round as they roll out their truly digital treatment solution. Medbelle is the world’s first digital hospital that creates real value for both patients and providers and offers unrivalled care from some of the country’s best specialists.”

Leander de Laporte, co-founder and MD at Medbelle, said: “The ‘digital hospital’ creates real value for patients and healthcare providers alike and, therefore, can offer care from the best specialists in the country with a truly digital and personal experience. It’s great to have new partners on board who bring such vast experience to the table. We all agree that an integrated model enables much faster deployment of technology to improve patient experience and reduce costs.”

-Ends -

Contact: antonella@burlington.cc

About Medbelle: Medbelle is the first digital hospital - an end-to-end platform for medical procedures. We strive to create a world in which patients navigate their treatment journey digitally and receive personal care at the click of a button.
We have integrated the entire patient journey to deliver a frictionless treatment experience for patients: We hire surgeons, rent operating facilities and provide a platform to streamline patient data, communication, provider selection, treatment pricing, scheduling and more. At the same time, our platform reduces workload and optimises utilisation of specialist doctors and hospitals. Our technology, patient care team and high-quality hospitals & specialists have garnered an industry-leading Net Promoter Score of 93 and have allowed us to help more than 30,000 patients all over the UK. Visit medbelle.com for details.

About Talis Capital: Talis Capital is a venture capital investment firm that takes smart money from some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs and business people and invests it strategically in early stage technology companies with global potential. Talis has invested over $500m worth of transactions since 2009 and the portfolio includes Darktrace, Onfido, iwoca, Pirate Studios, Luminance, Ynsect and Oh My Green. Focused on building long-term partnerships, Talis leverages its network to give some of the world’s most innovative startups opportunity to thrive. For more see www.taliscapital.com.

About signals Venture Capital: signals Venture Capital is an early stage investor backed by

a €100m venture capital fund with a focus on forward-looking, scalable technology solutions that can transform or disrupt entire industries. signals Venture Capital invests in companies active in disruptive industries such as health, mobility and financial services as well as b2b business models all over Europe and Israel, especially in the field of Data & Analytics, Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things. The portfolio companies profit not only from the classic venture capital support but also from the extensive ecosystem with renowned German and European partners, industry experts and diverse distribution channels.

About IBB Beteiligungsgesellschaft: IBB Beteiligungsgesellschaft (www.ibb-bet.de) provides venture capital to innovative Berlin-based companies and has established itself as a market leader in the field of early-stage financing in Germany. The funds are used primarily for the development and market launch of innovative products or services, as well as for business concepts of creative industries. Currently, two of the funds managed by the IBB Beteiligungsgesellschaft are in the investment phase, the VC Fonds Technologie Berlin II with a fund size of 60 million euros and the VC Fonds Kreativwirtschaft Berlin II with a fund size of 40 million euros. Both VC funds are financed by means of the Investitionsbank Berlin (IBB) and the European Fund for Regional Development (EFRE) administered by the State Berlin. Since 1997 the IBB Beteiligungsgesellschaft, in consortia with partners, has made 1.43 billion euros available to creative and technology-orientated companies; thereof, the portion invested by IBB Beteiligungsgesellschaft itself, as lead, co-lead or co-investor, was approximately 200 million euros.

About Mutschler Ventures: Mutschler Ventures is the venture arm of a Zurich based family office, actively investing in start-up companies in the digital as well as blockchain world. Over the past years, Mutschler Ventures has been invested in e.g. Betreut.de, later care.com, Adyen, McMakler, Auto1, Sygnum, Loanboox and other companies in the German-speaking region.

About Cavalry Ventures: Cavalry Ventures is an entrepreneurially driven VC fund based in Berlin with a focus on angel and seed-stage investments in Europe. The six founding Partners have repeatedly financed, founded, built and sold market-leading companies such as Delivery Hero, Tradeshift or plista. Being both, experienced investors and still active entrepreneurs, the cavalry offers hands-on support and a strong value-add to ambitious founders of fast-growing technology companies.


Insurdata raises $3m in seed funding

Insurdata raises $3m in seed funding

PRESS RELEASE

·       Funding led by Anthemis and Menlo Ventures

·       Five new VC firms participate

·       Capital will support next stage in Insurdata development

London, April 2019 – Insurdata, the award-winning insurtech firm which specialises in the augmentation of peril-specific exposure and risk data via its Exposure Engine Platform, has today announced that it has secured $3 million from a group of investors, led by Anthemis and Menlo Ventures.

Insurdata_banner.png

The group of investors is composed of both Venture Capitalists and Angels and includes: Alma Mundi Fund, Talis Capital, InsurTech Gateway, Ascend, Prototype Capital and Baloise Group. Insurdata secured an initial tranche of funding of $1 million in October 2017.

Insurdata was launched in 2017 to address the lack of property-specific data available to the re/insurance market. The firm’s platform enables re/insurers to generate high-resolution, accurate, risk-specific data globally in real-time at all points in the underwriting workflow. This includes accurate geocode information, building attributes and first-floor elevation data.

By providing access to precise data, Insurdata aims to give underwriters greater confidence in modelled loss estimates and accumulation analyses, resulting in better risk selection and improved portfolio management. This in turn supports better, more accurately priced products, more resilient balance sheets and ultimately helps reduce volatility.

Commenting on the funding, Jason Futers, CEO, Insurdata, said: “We are delighted to have secured the backing of a fantastic range of investors who fully understand the criticality of the service that Insurdata provides to the re/insurance market. Our work to date has exposed material deficiencies in the quality and scope of information which underwriters are reliant upon, which in turn have a detrimental effect on their ability to accurately price risk and manage portfolios effectively.”

“Moving forward, we aim to capitalise on the fact that our Exposure Engine can be applied to any peril by working with re/insurers to introduce more refined data sets for a broad range of exposures, including flood, windstorm, earthquake, terrorism and cyber. We are also evolving the Insurdata Customer Portal to make access to high-resolution data as straightforward and speedy as possible.”

Ruth Foxe-Blader, Managing Director, Anthemis, said: “We are delighted to continue our support of Insurdata. As the re/insurance industry undergoes a period of readjustment in the aftermath of two major loss years, the quality and granularity of data that supports their underwriting decisions will be vital to their ability to manage volatility. The data consistency that Insurdata provides I believe will become an industry standard.”

Javier Santiso, Founder & CEO, Mundi, said: “Insurdata provides an excellent opportunity to invest in a company which has the potential to refine and enhance the lifeblood of the re/insurance industry – data. Few other markets are as reliant upon such incredibly complex and comprehensive data sets. Ensuring that such information is of the highest possible resolution required to enable underwriter to make risk decisions with confidence should be a top priority for every organisation.”

Richard Chattock, CEO, InsurTech Gateway, said: “InsurTech is making major inroads into virtually every phase of the insurance process. Insurdata targets the core component of that process – exposure data. In our view, the firm brings together the right expertise, the right technology and the right capabilities at exactly the right time to make a tangible difference to the insurance market.”

Tom Williams, Principal, Talis Capital, said: “We are very excited to be partnering with Jason and his impressive team as they continue to provide a pioneering approach to risk data capture for insurers worldwide. With over 90% of modelled loss estimates for flood exposures currently underestimated by traditional methods due to a lack of accurate first-floor elevation data[1],this solution has the potential to vastly improve insurer analysis accuracy and significantly reduce their costs. We look forward to working with Insurdata as they boost their sales power and refine the technology to meet the ever-growing demand in the market”

All media enquiries, please contact

Nigel Allen                                                                    Suzanne Hirst

Director, Allen & Clapham                                              Director, Allen & Clapham

M +44 (0)7988 478824                                                  M +44 (0)7988 140357

 

About Insurdata

Insurdata is an insurtech firm which intelligently creates, enhances, scores and transfers high-resolution, peril-specific exposure and risk data globally via its proprietary Exposure Engine platform. The company provides insurers and reinsurers with building-level property data delivered at the point-of-underwriting to enable more accurate pricing, and to support underwriting and risk assessment decisions. The data is generated using Insurdata’s Exposure Engine and accessed via API or the Insurdata Customer Portal.

For more information, visit www.insurdata.io or follow @insurdata

[1] Source: Insurdata

The Plum Guide raises £14m to expand its collection of the world’s best vacation rentals and immediately announces six new cities to launch this April

  • Talis Capital leads investors in Series B round, with participation from Latitude, Hearst Ventures and existing investors Octopus Ventures.

  • Funding will enable roll out to 6 new cities this April – Barcelona, Berlin, Copenhagen, Lisbon, Madrid, and Tel Aviv

  • Six additional US cities are scheduled to launch in summer 2019.

  • Exclusive booking platform has achieved three times year-on-year growth for three years running.

  • New cities will be added to London, Los Angeles, Milan, New York, Paris and Rome.

London, 21 March 2019 - The Plum Guide has raised £14m from some of Europe’s leading early-stage investors to support its ambitious rollout to 12 new cities this year. Known as the “Michelin Guide for Homes”, The Plum Guide differs from mass market booking platforms by selecting only the top 1% of properties in any city to feature on its site. By the end of 2019 it expects to offer almost 12,000 verified homes in the most sought-after cities for holiday rentals, with 100 new hires being made to support its growth ambitions.

The latest funding round is led by Talis Capital, with participation from Latitude and Hearst Ventures, as well as Octopus Ventures – who led the Series A funding round.

The Plum Guide uses hospitality industry experts to vet every property in person and applies a scientific Plum Guide test - which covers 150 points from proximity to cafes and transport, to speed of WiFi - when selecting which homes to feature. Since launching in London in 2015, The Plum Guide has achieved year-on-year growth of three times revenues, for three years’ running. In 2018, it added homes in five new cities to the platform and saw repeat bookings jump 27% after it opened in Paris, its second location after London. The key to its success has been customer referrals, which drive a quarter of all bookings.

“We are on a mission to build a marketplace of the world’s most beautiful holiday homes. This isn’t some vague qualitative ambition. We mean it. We are taking a systematic and obsessive approach to vetting every single home on the planet and accepting only the top 1%,” Doron Meyassed, Founder and CEO of The Plum Guide, said.

The Plum Guide was founded to solve the problem of inconsistent quality, encountered by anyone booking a vacation rental online. Most open marketplaces rely on peer-to-peer review systems to judge quality, but standards vary hugely in reality. The Plum Guide instead uses a rigorous testing approach that aims to guarantee consistent quality every time.

It uses a proprietary algorithm to find the highest rated and best located homes in a city. Expert hospitality critics from The Plum Guide then visit each home to interview the host and meticulously test the property. Ultimately, only 1 out of every 100 properties in each city is invited to join the collection.

The approach has resonated with a lucrative customer segment of mature affluent individuals, who make up the majority of Plum’s 1.3 million global user base. “Most rental platforms are trying to get as many people as possible to use their site. We are clearly targeting a highly discerning group of affluent professionals that live in global megacities, love to travel and value great design, quality and locations,” says Meyassed. “Previously they have stayed away from the open marketplace booking platforms, which they consider too risky compared with the reassurance that a hotel provides.”

The Plum Guide has innovated relentlessly on meeting the needs of this customer, through a unique mix of expert property curation, impartial and trustworthy vetting processes and outstanding customer service through its team of MatchMakers. It has achieved customer satisfaction scores that outperform industry peers in a sector notorious for over-promising but under-delivering.

Matus Maar, Managing Partner and Co Founder at Talis Capital, said: "The consumer market has entered into an age of curation where data, ratings and reviews need to be carved into useful information to support buying decisions. We see huge value in businesses and teams that create a competitive advantage by being strategically data driven. The Plum Guide has something very special and customers are already showing amazing loyalty for its hand-picked and meticulously-vetted holiday rentals. In Doron, we have also found a determined, highly ambitious and creative entrepreneur with a track record of building a successful business that competes at the very highest levels.”

Megumi Ikeda, managing director Hearst Ventures, said: “The Plum Guide appeals strongly to the affluent, discriminating traveller as we have seen in its impressive growth in the last three years. Endorsement from professional critics and experts has always been worth having and holiday accommodation is no exception to this rule. As The Plum Guide adds more cities, it will become even more useful to the customer base who are already convinced by its rigorous approach to vetting properties.”

George Henry, partner at LocalGlobe, said: ““Travel and accommodation continues to be a fast-growing market but the supply has become incredibly fragmented, especially in the p2p market. As consumer travel has always suffered from a very low NPS, we believe that a differentiated brand offering a more hands-on service powered by expert curation and data is going to continue to deliver a very unique experience. We are excited to be able to follow on our seed investment in The Plum Guide, which has a keen understanding and eye for detail of what is possible as it rolls out its highly-selective, highly targeted product across new cities and countries.”

Zihao Xu, Early Stage Investor at Octopus Ventures, commented: "The more cities The Plum Guide is in the better it will be for all its customers. We're excited to continue supporting Doron and the team in taking the company truly global, and building out their vision of what an iconic hospitality brand in the 21st century should be."

- ENDS -

Contact: sayula@burlington.cc

About The Plum Guide: The Plum Guide is a curated collection of the best holiday rentals available in leading international cities. Listing in London, Los Angeles, Paris, Milan, Rome and New York. The Plum Guide rigorously tests and handpicks only the cream of the crop of rental properties so that customers need never worry about their travel accommodation. For beautiful holiday homes, see: www.plumguide.com

About Talis Capital: Talis Capital is a venture capital investment firm that takes smart money from some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs and business people and invests it strategically in early stage technology companies with global potential. Talis has invested over $500m worth of transactions since 2009 and the portfolio includes Darktrace, Onfido, iwoca, Pirate Studios, Luminance, Ynsect and Oh My Green. Focused on building long-term partnerships, Talis leverages its network to give some of the world’s most innovative startups opportunity to thrive. For more see www.taliscapital.com.

About Hearst Ventures: Hearst Ventures is a global investment group that makes strategic investments in fast-growing companies in the media and technology sectors. Since its initial investment in Netscape in 1995, the group has grown to become one of the most active and successful corporate venture funds, with more than $1 billion in strategic investments in companies including BuzzFeed, E Ink, Hootsuite, Pandora, Roku, Via and XM Satellite Radio. Visit http://www.hearst.com/ventures.

About LocalGlobe: LocalGlobe is a UK-based venture capital firm that focuses on seed investments. Seeding ambitious UK founders since 1999 including Transferwise, Zoopla, Improbable, Citymapper, Algolia and Robinhood. Visit https://localglobe.vc/.

About Octopus Ventures: Octopus Ventures, part of Octopus Group, is a leading European venture capital firm that helps pioneering entrepreneurs change the world by taking ideas from inception to international scale-up. Where there is change there is huge entrepreneurial opportunity, particularly in three key areas; industry, money and health. We’ve refined our focus towards these specialisms to discover the next generation of innovators. Octopus Ventures is headquartered in London and New York, with Venture Partners in San Francisco, Shanghai and Singapore who offer exclusive insight and advice to our portfolio companies looking to expand into new markets. Octopus Ventures has supported over 70 outstanding entrepreneurs that are leading the way in disrupting their industries. Companies backed in recent years include allplants, Elvie, Depop, Big Health, graze.com, Eve, Magic Pony, Secret Escapes, Sofar Sounds, Swiftkey, Swoon Editions, tails.com and Zoopla Property Group. Octopus is a group of companies that are experts in start-ups, renewable energy and healthcare infrastructure. Octopus Group currently manage more than £8.5 billion on behalf of our customers. Octopus Energy, Octopus Healthcare, Octopus Investments, Octopus Labs, Octopus Property and Octopus Ventures are all part of Octopus Group. Visit octopusgroup.com.

Ÿnsect raises $125m to become world leader in alternative protein

  • Series C round brings total raised to $175m

  • Largest-ever ag-tech investment outside the US

  • Animal feed market worth estimated $500bn globally – and growing

  • Insect protein vital to building a sustainable food system, as demand rises


Paris and London, 21st February 2019
– Ÿnsect, the ag-tech innovator that specializes in breeding insects and transforming them into premium ingredients for fish feed, pet food and organic plant fertilizers, announces today that it has raised a $125 million (€110m) Series C round to scale up production by building the world’s biggest insect farm in Amiens Metropole, Northern France and develop the company internationally, particularly in the North American market. Led by Astanor Ventures -- and backed by established international funds including Bpifrance, Talis Capital, Idinvest Partners, Finasucre and Compagnie du Bois Sauvage -- this investment is the largest-ever ag-tech funding deal outside of the United States.

With a mission to tap into the natural goodness of insects at mass-market scale to help create a sustainable food system and meet the rising demands of global protein consumption – which is predicted to surge by 52% between 2007 and 2030 – Ÿnsect was co-founded in 2011 by CEO Antoine Hubert, a 36-year-old agronomist, Jean-Gabriel Levon, Alexis Angot and Fabrice Berro, with the aim of becoming the global leader in the market for alternative protein sources.

At capacity, Ÿnsect’s largest farm to date will produce around 20,000 tons of protein annually. Alongside this new facility at Amiens, the investment will also enable Ÿnsect to step up their international expansion programme by opening a new factory in North America.

The majority of Ÿnsect’s existing investors (Bpifrance Ecotechnologies, managed on behalf of the French Strategic Investment Plan, Demeter, Quadia, and Vis Vires New Protein Ventures) are participating in this latest round, which is being led by Astanor Ventures (Belgium), alongside Bpifrance Large Venture, Talis Capital (UK), Idinvest Partners, Crédit Agricole Brie Picardie, Caisse d'Epargne Hauts-de-France and Picardie Investissement (France), Finasucre and Compagnie du Bois Sauvage (Belgium), Happiness Capital (Hong Kong) and a Singaporean family office.

Premium nutrition.

With global demand for premium proteins booming, Ÿnsect farms insects to make high-quality natural ingredients for aquaculture, pet food and plants, while developing an industrial-scale solution attuned to natural ecosystems.

Aquaculture plays a critical role in human nutrition, growing faster than any other protein source for human consumption. Around half of the fish we eat today comes from farmed sources. Yet fishmeal, the primary food source for farmed fish, is in crisis because it’s derived from fast-depleting ocean fish stocks.

As part of their natural diet, wild fish and crustaceans eat insects, which deliver an important source of high-quality protein and polyunsaturated fats. While competitors chose to farm other commodity-driven insects and microorganism species, Ÿnsect doubled-down on the Molitor; small common beetles known as mealworms.

The Molitor is indeed the only insect that can be raised at large scale and the sole species to ensure the delivery of premium unique products: ŸnMeal, extracted from Molitor larvae, which delivers sustainable, premium nutrition for animals and is the only product worldwide with superior and proven nutritional performance and health benefits for – among others -- shrimp, salmon, trout, and sea-bass; and ŸnFrass, made from Molitor larvae castings, which is a premium fertilizer that also has proven positive effects on many different plants.

“Ÿnsect is becoming the world’s largest insect producer, whatever the species, thanks to our unique highly scalable and pioneering technology,” says Antoine Hubert, Ÿnsect CEO & Chairman. “Enabled by deep tech, the entire production process – from feeding to controlling the health and welfare of our insects, and from the sensors used for quality control to harvesting mature insects – is automated. We have 25 patents covering our technology, the products themselves and their different applications, giving Ÿnsect the world's largest insect patent portfolio. But ultimately, we need scale to have a significant impact globally, which this investment will allow us to achieve.”

Against a backdrop of a rapidly expanding animal feed market worth $500bn globally (and expected to reach $600bn in 2027) and a $200bn fertilizer market, Ÿnsect now has international commercial traction with customers across Europe and, increasingly, in Asia too, allowing the company to book $70m in orders spanning the next four years.

“By offering an insect protein alternative to traditional animal and fish-based feed sources, Ÿnsect can help offset the growing competition for ocean fish stock required to feed two billion more people by 2050, while alleviating fish, water and soil depletion, as well as agriculture’s staggering 25% share of global greenhouse gas emissions,” says Antoine Hubert. “Our goal is simply to give insects back their natural place in the food chain.”

Astanor Ventures co-founder Eric Archambeau, who is joining Ÿnsect’s board, says: “We are delighted to be leading this investment and continuing our association with Ÿnsect because of the remarkable level of ambition of its founders and the inherent scalability of the company’s production process. These are key ingredients in a progressive agrifood tech company, which are propelling the team to deliver the impact and systemic change we look for in our investments. We strongly believe that Ÿnsect has what it takes to become a global leader in the alternative protein market.”

Maïlys Ferrere, head of Large Venture Investment and Gilles Schang, deputy director of Echotechnologies fund, explain: “This latest financing round will allow Ÿnsect to be the first player to reach full commercial scale in the insect-based protein industry for animal feed. We are excited to continue Bpifrance’s support, that started in 2014 with Bpifrance’s cleantech-focused fund Ecotechnologies, with Large Venture.”

Matus Maar, co-founder and managing partner at Talis Capital adds: “With the global population expected to grow to nine billion by 2050, current acquaculture and animal feeding practices are unsustainable. Ÿnsect taps into a huge, yet highly inefficient global market by offering a premium and – above all - sustainable insect-derived product through a fully automated, AI-enabled production process. Of the many things that excite us about Antoine and the Ÿnsect team, their 50+ years combined experience in insect farming, physiological entomology and biochemistry, we believe, is unmatched.”

-ENDS-

NOTES TO EDITORS

Advisors:
Bank: Jefferies (Philippe Le Sann & Joseph Benito Sanz)
Company lawyers: Baker & Mc Kenzie (Mathieu Grollemund & Helene Parent)
Investors lawyers: Orrick (Olivier Edwards), Gide (Pierre Karpik, Louis Oudot de Dainville), Luchtenberg (Jeremie Swiecznik), Bignon Lebray (Neil Robertson), Lamartine Avocats (Fabien Mauvais).

About Ÿnsect

Ÿnsect is a young French company that leads the global field in farming insects and turning them into premium, high-value ingredients. Founded in 2011, it aims to make insects a major, first-class ingredients in feed for pets, fish and plants, such as ŸnMeal proteins, that offer significant health benefits through state-of-the-art industrial facilities attuned to natural ecosystems, offering a natural, long-term solution to growing global demand for protein. The company draws on pioneering proprietary technology protected by 25 patents to develop "farm-hills" (Fermilières®), which are low-footprint vertical farms used for Molitor breeding. Since its inception, Ÿnsect has attracted investment of more than $175 million. It now employs 105 people in France, runs a demo unit in France that has been operating since 2016 where technology has been developed and is laying the foundations for international expansion. In 2019, Ÿnsect will be constructing a large commercial-scale unit in the vicinity of Amiens (northern France), with a production capacity that outstrips all existing operations.

Press Contact : antonella@burlington.cc / 07530 815 018

About Astanor Ventures

Impact investor Astanor Ventures brings together capital, deep sector expertise and a long track record of leveraging disruptive technologies to bring about a future of food that is nourishing, regenerative, trusted and ultra-fresh. Co-founded by entrepreneur-turned-investor Eric Archambeau -- who has backed some of Europe’s most successful startups including Betfair, Xing and Spotify -- Astanor Ventures helps ambitious, purpose-aligned founders build global companies in the sustainable agri-food sector. For more information visit www.astanor.com

About Bpifrance and its Ecotechnologies and Large Venture funds

Bpifrance is the French national investment bank: it finances businesses – at every stage of their development – through loans, guarantees, equity investments and export insurances. Bpifrance also provides extrafinancial services (training, consultancy..). to help entrepreneurs meet their challenges (innovation, export…). For more information, please visit: www.bpifrance.fr and presse.bpifrance.fr - Follow us on Twitter: @Bpifrance - @BpifrancePresse

The Ecotechnologies funds (225M Euros) is managed by Bpifrance on behalf of the “French Strategic Investment Program”. The fund’s main areas are carbon free renewable energies and green chemistry, smart grids, circular economy and smart mobility. Bpifrance Large Venture fund (1bnE) has invested in 37 companies since 2013, mainly in healthcare, the digital and environmental areas. Large Venture is able to invest large sums (over 10 mE) to help capital intensive companies grow faster.

Press contacts :
Annelot Huijgen, annelot.huijgen@bpifrance.fr, 00 33 1 41 79 94 48
Vincent Deshayes – 01 42 75 645 8 - vincent.deshayes@pm.gouv.fr (French Strategic Investment Program)

About Talis Capital

Talis Capital is a unique Venture Capital investment firm funded by a group of successful and strategic ultra high net worth entrepreneurs. Focused on backing emerging software technologies, Talis has invested over $500m worth of transactions since 2009 and the portfolio includes Darktrace, Onfido, iwoca, Pirate Studios, Luminance, Threads, Oh My Green to name just a few. Talis concentrates on building long term partnerships and leverages their exclusive investor network to create opportunity. The team looks for innovative high growth companies with sector defining ventures and attractive business models.

www.taliscapital.com

About Bois Sauvage

Compagnie du Bois Sauvage is an investment company, quoted on NYSE Euronext Brussels, with a stable ‘family’ principal shareholder. The Company aims to focus on a limited number of investments, whether listed on the stock exchange or not, mainly in the industrial sector. Its goal is to reserve the necessary means for the development of the companies of the Group. It aims to maintain close relations with the companies in which it invests and to be involved in their strategic development. https://www.bois-sauvage.be/

About Finasucre

Finasucre produces different types of sugar from cane and beet and markets these to industrial clients and to retail outlets. Finasucre has factories in Belgium, the Netherlands, Democratic Republic of Congo, Australia, China and the United States. Finasucre is also diversifying into different sectors and making direct or indirect investments in companies that represent significant potential for growth. https://www.finasucre.com/fr/finasucre/

About Idinvest Partners

Idinvest Partners is a leading European mid-market private equity firm. With €8bn under management, the firm has developed several areas of expertise including innovative startup venture capital transactions; mid-market corporate debt, i.e. single-tranche, senior and subordinated debt; primary and secondary investment and private equity advisory services. Founded in 1997, Idinvest Partners used to be an Allianz subsidiary until 2010, when it branched out as an independent firm. In January 2018, Idinvest Partners joined forces with Eurazeo, a leading global investment company, with a diversified portfolio of €17 billion in assets under management, including approximately €11 billion from investment partners, invested in over 300 companies. https://www.idinvest.com/fr

About Happiness capital

Happiness Capital’s mission is to empower entrepreneurs to co-create a happier world. We are a global venture capital firm based in Hong Kong with investments in Europe, US, Israel and China. Happiness Capital is stage agnostic but leans towards early stage investments. The verticals that we invest are quite open as far as the innovative products enable consumers to achieve sustainable and true happiness. Our current verticals cover food/agriculture, health/medical, education, happy aging, entertainment, and East+West. Since Happiness Capital is an evergreen fund, we encourage entrepreneurs to continue creating values without time pressure for exit. In addition to direct investments, Happiness Capital also invests in VC funds to form a global VC network to provide more “happiness” impact and support to the startup communities around the world.

www.happinesscapital.com

About Picardie Investissement Gestion

PICARDIE INVESTISSEMENT GESTION is a management company approved by the Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF) and manages nearly €80 million spread over 3 venture capital companies (SCR). Its vocation is to support local entrepreneurs by providing them with equity capital (from €0.1 million to €5 million) in order to make their business projects possible, whether in creation, development or transfer. In total, our team of investors is supporting 50 investments. The legal form of the SCRs managed, "perpetual" SA, and the patience of their shareholders make it possible to support companies over a long period of time. While the average duration of the intervention is 5 to 7 years, SCRs regularly support companies for much longer, as they present us with constantly renewed growth projects. http://www.picardie-investissement.fr/

About Crédit Agricole Brie Picardie Expansion

A subsidiary of Crédit Agricole Brie Picardie, Brie Picardie Expansion is the entity dedicated to private equity and support for companies in the Somme, Oise and Seine-et-Marne regions.

Brie Picardie Expansion's main objective is to support SME and ETI managers in their development or transfer phases by taking a minority stake in the capital, alone or alongside co-investors. Brie Picardie Expansion invests between €2 million and €5 million per transaction and currently supports some 20 companies in all sectors of activity.

https://www.ca-briepicardie.fr/

About Caisse d’Epargne Hauts-de-France Capital

CE HDF CAPITAL is a regional investment company created at the initiative of the Caisse d'Epargne Hauts de France. It is intended to invest in transactions involving companies with real growth, profitability and valuation potential. CE HDF CAPITAL can invest alone or in co investment with unit tickets of up to €2 million in one or more rounds. With the objective of enhancing the value of the common heritage but concerned to preserve the independence of management, CE HDF Capital is a local minority partner, a source of proposals without interfering in the daily management of the business. As a minority and local shareholder, its investments are based on support for company managers or buyers, with a view to creating partnerships to promote business development. By contributing equity and quasi-equity capital, it contributes to the financing of regional companies in their growth and transmission.

About Quadia

Founded in 2010 in Geneva, Quadia specializes in direct impact investments, though equity, debt and funds. In line with its mission « we finance the solutions for a regenerative economy », Quadia targets companies which have positioned their strategic development on products and service which directly contribute to a regenerative economy, more particular in the areas of smart energy, sustainable food sustainable consumption & production. Since its creation, Quadia has financed 40 companies, projects and investment funds across Europe for the equivalent of USD 180 million. Quadia is based in Geneva, Switzerland.

For more information, visit www.quadia.ch.

About Demeter

Demeter Partners is an independent private equity firm with €650m under management. All the funds invest equity and quasi-equity in the most relevant players of the environmental and energy transition sectors, mainly in France, Spain and Germany. It covers all stages from seed to growth and LBOs, including infrastructure with a team of 21 and offices in Paris and Madrid. FPCI Demeter 3 Amorçage, shareholder of Ynsect, has been raised with the help of the European Investment fund (EIF) through the framework Program of the European Union for the Competitiveness and the Innovation (CIP) and of the Fonds National d’Amorçage (managed by BPI France Investissement in the framework of the Programme d’Investissement d’Avenir). www.demeter-partners.com

About VVNP Ventures

Based in Singapore, VVNP Ventures (VVNP) is the first Venture Fund in Asia that focuses exclusively on finding disruptive solutions for our global food and feed system. VVNP employs a disciplined investment approach built on identifying existing global problems within the value-chain through active engagements with a strong network of academia and industry experts. Unrestricted by geographical boundaries, VVNP strives to uncover game-changing solutions and technologies that can be applied globally, especially to Asia. Since its inception, VVNP has made several investments including, among others, Ynsect in France, Ireland-based Nuritas, Mitte in Germany, In Ovo in the Netherlands, and Israeli-based ViAqua.

http://visviresnewprotein.com/

About ID Capital

ID Capital is an investment company headquartered in Singapore specialized in the domain of AgriTech and FoodTech. ID Capital is a pioneer in the agrifood sector in Asia-Pacific and has contributed effort and capital in also catalyzing the ecosystem in the region through its Future Food Asia platform launched in 2016. Its thesis is built on the fact that in this growing vertical, Asia-Pacific is the nexus between high growth and high stakes. For further enquiries please write to contact@idcapital.com.sg

Price f(x) adds new marketing chief after accomplishing the most successful year in its history

  • Patrick Moorhead joins as Chief Marketing Officer from big data startup Label Insight to help the company continue its strong growth, following its doubling in size for three consecutive years

  • The appointment follows a hugely successful 2018 for Price f(x) which included the completion of its second financing round with strategic investment from Digital+ Partners and Bain & Company

  • In 2018, Price f(x) was awarded “Cool Vendor of Digital Commerce” by Gartner®, selected as pricing technology provider to Bain & Company’s “Pricing Navigator” offering and certified as an SAP® AppCenter partner

MUNICH / CHICAGOFebruary 12th, 2019 – Price f(x), the global leader in cloud pricing software, has appointed a new Chief Marketing Officer to build on the most successful year in the company's history. Patrick Moorhead, who has more than 20 years’ experience in marketing and has worked at technology companies like Twitter and Razorfish, joins from big data startup, Label Insight.

The appointment follows the successful completion of Price f(x)'s second financing round, at the end of 2018, led by Digital Plus Partners, a leading European B2B growth technology investor, and Bain & Company, one of the world's leading management consultancies.

By the end of 2018, Price f(x) was serving 90 global customers, including industry leaders such as Robert Bosch, MediaMarktSaturn, SchneiderElectric, Iron Mountain and Owens-Illinois. Jose Redondo, Global Pricing Excellence Leader at Owens-Illinois said, “We’ve decided to switch from a first-generation price optimization provider to Price f(x) in 2018 because of its flexibility, responsiveness and implementation speed”. The company was awarded “Cool Vendor of Digital Commerce” by Gartner, selected as pricing technology provider to Bain & Company’s “Pricing Navigator” offering and certified as an SAP® AppCenter partner.

“We’re excited to welcome Patrick to the Price f(x) leadership team. With his diverse background in social and digital media, advertising, brand strategy, and marketing for SaaS solutions, Patrick will help to solidify Price f(x) as a globally recognized leader in the pricing SaaS industry, and ensure our growth continues under the banner of a brand that reflects our customers’ voices, our company’s values, and our product innovations.” said Marcin Cichon, Price f(x) CEO.

Patrick Moorhead said: "I'm excited to join a company that is growing rapidly, attracting new customers and winning awards. Price f(x) was founded on a vision of providing a cloud-powered middle-office management platform that serves the entire life-cycle of customers' pricing needs and the team's success in 2018 is testament to how well they are realizing that vision. I'm looking forward to helping them to achieve even more success."

Tom Fencl, Price f(x)’s CFO said: “Patrick will be a key part of our team. We expanded massively in 2018, adding close to 30 new customers and growing our global team to more than 200. Patrick joins us at an exciting time when we currently have over 100 open positions in the company worldwide and plan to expand across all functions. We are looking forward to another exciting year of growth."

Axel Krieger, Founding Partner at Digital+ Partners and Price f(x) supervisory board member, said: “To double in size each year for three consecutive years, in such a highly complex enterprise software segment, as Price f(x) has done, is a tremendous achievement. We are very impressed with Price f(x) because of its past growth, and because of the huge growth opportunity ahead."

Matus Maar, Co-founder and Managing Partner at Talis Capital and Price f(x) supervisory board member said: "When we invested in 2016 alongside with Credo Ventures, we saw the potential for Price f(x) to become a global solution for industry leaders solving a suite of price management challenges. We’re proud to note a record-breaking year for Price f(x) and the addition of Patrick Moorhead to their excellent team, as the company continues to attract and retain a super high-quality customer base. The team’s excellent customer service, operational expertise and impressive dedication has been a recipe for success. We’re excited by their plans for future expansion and are optimistic for another year of astronomical growth!"

- ENDS -

About Price f(x)
Established in 2011 in Germany, Price f(x) AG is the provider of a full suite of price management and CPQ SaaS solution based on the latest native cloud architecture, offering broad and flexible support to the entire price management closed loop cycle of Price Strategy, Controlling, Setting and Realization. The solution is suitable for B2B and B2C as well as for any industry, any size of business and geographical location. Price f(x)’s vision is to remain the leading SaaS pricing and CPQ platform provider offering easy to use, fast to implement, flexible to adapt, risk free and inexpensive, comprehensive solutions. Price f(x)’s business model is entirely based on the satisfaction and loyalty of its customers. For more information please visit: www.pricefx.com.

About Digital+ Partners
Digital+ Partners is a leading technology growth equity investor focused on European and US technology companies with €350 million assets under management. Digital+ supports ambitious entrepreneurs to build global technology leaders by providing them with strategic advice and long-term financial support to help them define and execute their growth plans. The fund focuses exclusively on B2B technology companies and leverages a deep corporate network to help portfolio companies access new markets and build new partnerships. For more information please visit: www.dplus.partners.

About Talis Capital
Talis Capital is a unique Venture Capital investment firm funded by a group of successful and strategic ultra-high net worth entrepreneurs. Focused on backing emerging software technologies, Talis has invested over $500m worth of transactions since 2009 and the portfolio includes Darktrace, Onfido, iwoca, Pirate Studios, Luminance, Threads, Oh My Green to name just a few. Talis concentrates on building long term partnerships and leverages its exclusive investor network to create opportunity. The team looks for innovative high growth companies with sector defining ventures and attractive business models.

www.taliscapital.com

Luminance completes funding round at $100m valuation

  • British AI company successfully completes Series B funding round at $100m valuation. Backers including Invoke Capital, Talis Capital and Slaughter and May invested $10m.

  • Luminance’s machine learning technology is now deployed in over 130 organisations on six continents since September 2016 launch.

  • The announcement follows the business’ recent opening of a fifth office in New York to support global growth, adding to bases in London, Cambridge, Chicago and Singapore.


7 February 2019 – Luminance, the leading artificial intelligence platform for the legal profession, has raised $10m from existing investors Invoke Capital, Talis Capital and Slaughter and May, valuing the company at $100m. The funds will be used to support Luminance’s recent product expansion and global growth, with the company now having four offerings, five global offices and over 70 employees since launching in 2016.
Whether used for legal due diligence, compliance reviews or eDiscovery, Luminance’s technology operates on advanced pattern recognition and machine learning algorithms that behave much like the human brain, sorting through high-volume documentation and flagging anomalies at speed, offering lawyers greater control and insight into their documents. In just two years, the company’s technology has been deployed in over 40 countries and is used by thousands of lawyers on a daily basis. In 2018 alone, Luminance’s customer base increased by over 150%, with global employee headcount more than doubling in order to meet this demand.

“2018 was a year of significant achievement for Luminance,” commented Emily Foges, CEO of Luminance. “We have expanded from one product to four, owing to the flexibility and innovative nature of our core technology. This has enabled a remarkable rate of global customer acquisition over the last 12 months and these funds will valuably support this continued expansion.”
“Luminance remains the only true application of machine learning for legal language present in the market today,” said Vanessa Colomar, Partner at Invoke Capital. “The company’s success over the past two years is indicative of the fundamentally different solution it is providing to law firms and in-house legal teams and we are pleased to back the business through its next stage of growth.”

Vasile Foca, Managing Partner and Co-founder of Talis Capital, added: “Luminance has undoubtedly become the market leader in its field and has set the industry benchmark for truly AI-driven legal solutions both technologically and commercially. The legal profession’s adoption of technology, particularly with Luminance, is becoming ever-more present and essential in delivering greater efficiencies whilst providing best in class customer service. We are pleased to be a part of the company’s continued international growth and product expansion, and are very excited to see them further their success.”

Luminance recently announced the opening of a New York office as its US customer base continues to expand, now including Global Top 100 firms McDermott Will & Emery and Holland & Knight, among others. The company was founded by a group of mathematicians and software engineers from the University of Cambridge following years of research into pattern recognition and machine intelligence.

ENDS

For more information about Luminance, please contact:
Dani Marks, Brands2Life: luminance@brands2life.com | 0207 592 1200

About Luminance
Launched in September 2016 and already in use on six continents, Luminance’s document review platform offers lawyers greater insight at unmatched speeds. Luminance builds on groundbreaking machine learning and pattern recognition techniques developed at the University of Cambridge to read and understand legal language. The technology is used by law firms and inhouse teams in over 40 countries around the world to improve processes such as due diligence,
compliance reviews, property lease abstraction and eDiscovery. Luminance has offices in London, Cambridge, New York, Chicago and Singapore, with over 130 customers including 14 ‘the Global Top 100’ law firms and three of the ‘Big Four’ accountancy firms.

About Talis Capital
Talis Capital is a unique Venture Capital investment firm funded by a group of successful and strategic ultra high net worth entrepreneurs. Focused on backing emerging software technologies, Talis has invested over $500m worth of transactions since 2009 and the portfolio includes Darktrace, Onfido, iwoca, Pirate Studios, Luminance, Threads, Oh My Green to name just a few. Talis concentrates on building long term partnerships and leverages their exclusive investor network to create opportunity. The team looks for innovative high growth companies with sector defining ventures and attractive business models.

Price f(x) Raises €25 Million in Series-B Funding Round Co-Led by Digital+ Partners and Bain & Company

Price f(x) Raises €25 Million in Series-B Funding Round Co-Led by Digital+ Partners and Bain & Company

MUNICH / NEW YORK – December 19th, 2018 Price f(x), the global leader in cloud pricing software, has raised €25 million in Series B funding. Leading the round are Digital+ Partners, a leading European B2B technology growth investor, and Bain & Company, one of the world's top management consulting firms. The Series A investors, Prague-based Credo Ventures and London-based Talis Capital, also participated in the round.

Established in 2011 in Munich, Price f(x) provides a modular SaaS solution for Price Optimization, Management (PO&M) and Configure-Price-Quote (CPQ) for enterprises of any size, based on the latest in native cloud architecture. The company currently serves over 80 global, blue-chip B2B and B2C customers across a variety of industries, including Robert Bosch, SchneiderElectric, Owens-Illinois, Iron Mountain and Sonoco. Price f(x) has also developed a strong partner ecosystem with leading global technology, consulting and integration providers—including Bain & Company and SAP—enabling a best-in-class service offering, which helps customers realize a fast time-to-value on their pricing projects.

“Price f(x) has become the leading SaaS pricing solution provider on the market through its customer centric approach and by offering a feature-rich, highly flexible pricing tool that is also risk free and fast to implement,” said Marcin Cichon, CEO and co-Founder of Price f(x). “Our success is based on the continued satisfaction and loyalty of our customers. This new funding will allow us to help even more businesses to thrive by further expanding our existing platform capabilities and also introducing a new product offering for the SME market segment.”

“We have been very impressed by what Marcin and his team have achieved to date and see a huge growth opportunity ahead for Price f(x). They have built a world-class product, driven by a relentless customer focus, and we believe they are set to become the global market leader in pricing software. We are proud and excited to co-lead this round with Bain & Company and support Price f(x) in this next stage of growth”, said Axel Krieger, Founding Partner at Digital+ Partners.

Earlier this year, Bain & Company and Price f(x) announced a partnership to develop the Bain Pricing Navigator, offering Bain & Company clients a powerful, industry-leading software tool. The solution enables customers to continuously assess and adjust pricing based on their company’s performance by leveraging real-time dashboards, proprietary insights and templates, as well as integration with CRM and ERP systems.

“For most companies, pricing is the single most effective lever to boost earnings,” said Ron Kermisch, Bain & Company’s global pricing leader. “Yet many companies leave money on the table because they do not set the best price or ensure customers actually pay the price they have determined. Bain & Company sees investing in Price f(x) as a great opportunity to help Price f(x) to become the de-facto standard in pricing and with that to be also the best-of-breed competitive weapon for Bain’s clients, to stay at the cutting edge of pricing.”

Over the last decade, Bain & Company has developed a deep understanding of pricing strategy and a proven track record of results, working with B2B and B2C companies globally across industries. A Bain & Company survey of more than 1,700 pricing decision-makers found that 70 percent of companies believe pricing is a top management priority. However, more than half of respondents conclude that management has insufficient visibility into pricing decisions. Furthermore, fewer than 20 percent of the companies surveyed have appropriate tools and dashboards to improve pricing decisions.

Ondrej Bartos, Co-Founder & Managing Partner at Credo Ventures said, “Since investing in Price f(x) alongside Talis Capital in 2016, it’s been exciting to see the company close in on their vision to become the leader in price optimization software solutions. The energy and resilience demonstrated by Marcin and his team is what makes truly successful companies and we are grateful to be part of their journey.”

Price f(x) is a member of the Bain Alliance Ecosystem – a network of best-of-breed partnerships with complementary tool, technology, and service providers that accelerates delivery of breakthrough client results.  Through the Bain Alliance Ecosystem, Bain & Company clients have access to relevant new capabilities, enabling faster assimilation of new ideas, skills, and ways of working.

Editor's note: To arrange an interview with Mr Kermisch, contact Katie Ware at  katie.ware@bain.com or +1 646 562 8107.

###

About Price f(x)

Established in 2011 in Germany, Price f(x) AG is the provider of a full suite of price management and CPQ SaaS solution based on latest native cloud architecture, offering broad and flexible support to the entire price management closed loop cycle of Price Strategy, Controlling, Setting and Realization. The solution is suitable for B2B and B2C as well as for any industry, any size of business and geographical location. Price f(x)’s vision is to remain the leading SaaS pricing and CPQ platform provider through offering easy to use, fast to implement, flexible to adapt, risk free and inexpensive, comprehensive solutions. Price f(x)’s business model is entirely based on the satisfaction and loyalty of its customers. For more information please visit:  www.pricefx.com.

 

About Digital+ Partners

Digital+ Partners is a leading technology growth equity investor focused on European and US technology companies with €350 million assets under management. Digital+ aims to support ambitious entrepreneurs build global technology companies, providing them with strategic advice and long-term financial support to help them define and execute their growth plans. The fund focuses exclusively on B2B technology companies and leverages a deep corporate network to help portfolio companies access new markets and build new partnerships. For more information please visit: http://www.dplus.partners

 

About Bain & Company, Inc.

Bain & Company is the management consulting firm that the world's business leaders come to when they want results. Bain advises clients on strategy, operations, information technology, organization, private equity, digital transformation and strategy, and mergers and acquisition, developing practical insights that clients act on and transferring skills that make change stick. The firm aligns its incentives with clients by linking its fees to their results. Bain clients have outperformed the stock market 4 to 1. Founded in 1973, Bain has 57 offices in 36 countries, and its deep expertise and client roster cross every industry and economic sector. For more information visit: www.bain.com.

Talis Capital expands and strengthens investment team

PRESS RELEASE

  • Promotion of Matthew De Jesus to Principal

  • Emma Titmus hired from London Stock Exchange Group

  • Beatrice Aliprandi joins as Senior Analyst from Jefferies

  • Appointment of Kirill Tasilov as Analyst

London, UK, 19 December 2018 - Talis Capital is proud to announce the senior promotion of Matthew De Jesus to Principal as well as five new hires to the team recognising the strong performance of the firm and growth of the portfolio.The London based Venture Capital investment firm, backed by a group of ultra successful and strategic high net worth entrepreneurs, has invested more than $500m worth of transactions over the last 10 years. The firm counts some of the most exciting technology companies in it’s portfolio including Darktrace, iwoca, Onfido, Luminance, Pirate Studios, Oh My Green, Threads, Price f(x) & Omni:us to name just a few.

The appointments help to strengthen the firm as it continues to see growth across it’s portfolio and further pipeline opportunities. Keenly focused on diversity the new hires bring a range of experience from different backgrounds and have already brought a huge amount of energy, passion and enthusiasm into the HQ in Wimbledon. 

Matthew De Jesus has been promoted to Principal following five years with Talis Capital, he sits on the boards of Pirate Studios and Luminance and has a BSc (Hons) Economics from LSE. Emma Titmus joins Talis as Head of IR & Marketing from London Stock Exchange Group where she spent six years supporting private and public companies with their capital raising strategies. Beatrice Aliprandi & Kirill Tasilov appointed as Senior Analyst & Analyst respectively; Beatrice joins after three years with Jefferies in TMT investment banking and Kirill previously worked as an Analyst at UBS in Hong Kong.

The team has also added two Investment Executives, Scott Fransen and Davide Richardson to support the investment team. Now a 12-strong firm, Talis has more than 40 companies in it’s portfolio from the UK, Europe and USA and continues to focus on Late Seed, Series A and Series B investments.

Matus Maar, Managing Partner, Talis Capital

“We congratulate Matthew on his well-earned promotion to Principal and welcome our new strategic team members into the team. As we grow the firm, it is critical to bring with it new perspectives and a range of backgrounds to enable us to execute on the ever increasing and exciting deal flow we’re seeing - and to give the right support to our existing companies. Just this year we’ve already participated in more than 10 deals raising over $110m and are excited to see where we can go next.”

Vasile Foca, Managing Partner, Talis Capital

Originally founded in 2009 from a small family office, Talis Capital has evolved significantly over the last 10 years to become one of the leading venture capital investment firms in London today. As we approach our tenth anniversary next year, which is an important milestone, it’s only natural for us to think about the decade ahead and to onboard the right talent to take Talis to the next level.”

The team have been busy and this news follows recent deal announcements just in H2 2018 including Omni:us, Edge Intelligence, The Learning People, Oh My Green and most recently their $20m investment into Pirate Studios.

Thought leaders in an ever changing world brings an evolutionary approach to prospective investment sectors of interest which most recently include; Cyber Security, Fintech, Data, IoT, Healthcare Tech, frontier Consumer, and Food/Agritech. The firm’s connected network offers it’s portfolio and the wider ecosystem an opportunity to come together to share thoughts, idea and future trends – as an example Talis recently hosted a PropTech conference for 250 guests to share how technology is transforming the real estate sector.

Ends

 

Notes to the editors

Media Contacts

Emma Titmus

Head of IR & Marketing
emma@taliscapital.com
+44(0)20 5426259

About Talis Capital

Talis Capital is a unique Venture Capital investment firm funded by a group of ultra successful and strategic high net worth entrepreneurs. Focused on backing emerging software technologies, Talis has completed over $500m worth of transactions since 2009 and the portfolio includes Darktrace, Onfido, iwoca, Pirate Studios, Luminance, Threads, Oh My Green to name just a few. Talis concentrates on building long term partnerships and leverages their exclusive investor network to create opportunity. The team looks for innovative high growth companies with sector defining ventures and sustainable business models.
www.taliscapital.com

 

 
This communication has been prepared by Talis Capital Limited which is an Appointed Representative of Privium Fund Management (UK) Limited (“Privium”). Privium is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority ("FCA") in the United Kingdom. It is not intended for distribution to or use by any person or entity in any jurisdiction or country where such distribution or use would be contrary to local law or regulation. This communication is not intended for distribution to retail clients. Past performance does not necessarily predict future results and the capital value of the investments and the income generated can fluctuate. The registered office of Privium is The Shard, 24th Floor, 32 London Bridge Street, London, SE1 9SG
Copyright©2018, Talis Capital Limited. All rights reserved.

Import.io Raises Series B Funding to Expand Industry-Leading Web Data Integration Platform

Import.io Raises Series B Funding to Expand Industry-Leading Web Data Integration Platform

Next Generation Solution Fuels Growth of $5B Web Data Integration Spending

Los Gatos, Calif. – Dec. 18, 2018 – Import.io, the leading web data integration solution provider, today announced it has closed a $15.5 million Series B funding round to accelerate global growth and expand its product offerings to meet the growing needs of enterprises.

Talis Capital, a London-based venture capital firm, led the investment with participation from existing investors IP Group, OpenOcean, Oxford Capital and Wellington Partners. This capital infusion comes at a time when companies are urgently trying to become “data-driven,” as a key part of digital transformation. Alternative data sources such as the web are crucial to gaining a competitive advantage. The web is the single largest data source on the planet, but traditional solutions for gathering that data are complex, unreliable, time intensive and poor quality.

With 90 percent of the world’s data having been created in the last two years, demand for data-driven insights leveraging web data continues to escalate. Total spend on web data integration is estimated to hit $5 billion in 2019 according to Opimas Research.

“Businesses around the world are losing trillions of dollars due to lack of timely access to high-quality data. In fact, IBM estimates that poor-quality data costs businesses in the U.S. more than $3 trillion annually,” said Gary Read, CEO of Import.io. “Import.io is committed to providing timely, high-quality data with little-to-no customer resource requirements. We empower our customer base of more than 800 companies to make business-critical decisions based on the data we provide every day; and we back that up with an aggressive service-level guarantee.”

“When we saw what Import.io was doing, we immediately understood the importance and recognized the game-changing capabilities of the solution,” said Matus Maar, co-founder and managing partner, Talis Capital. “We spoke to multiple Import.io customers who explained how important Import.io had become to their business and raved about the solution, support and quality of the data provided.”

In the 2018 IDC Business Analytic Solutions survey, IDC estimated that data professionals spend approximately 75 percent of their time gathering and cleaning data and only about 25 percent finding insights from the data. Import.io’s solution empowers data professionals to prioritize securing the insights and analytics that drive business innovation and competitive advantage.

This funding announcement highlights a momentous few years for Import.io. In 2016, Import.io appointed Read as CEO to scale the business, given his accomplished career of profitably growing companies in emerging industries – highlighted by Nimsoft's $350 million acquisition by CA Technologies in 2010. Since Read has taken the helm, Import.io has experienced three years of growth. In 2018 Import.io launched hundreds of new product capabilities and attracted more than 300 new customers across the financial services, retail and consulting industries, among others.

For more information on Import.io, please visit: www.import.io.

About Import.io

Import.io delivers the world’s data directly to enterprises, fueling business insight and competitive advantage. The Import.io highly scalable Web Data Integration solution extracts, prepares and integrates high-quality comprehensive web data into customers’ analytics platforms and business applications. The company delivers data to more than 800 enterprise customers from millions of web sources. Headquartered in Los Gatos, Calif., with offices in Denver and London UK, Import.io was founded in 2012. For more information, visit www.import.io

About Talis Capital
Talis Capital is a unique Venture Capital investment firm funded by a group of ultra successful and strategic high net worth entrepreneurs. Focused on backing emerging software technologies, Talis has completed over $500m worth of transactions since 2009 and the portfolio includes Darktrace, Onfido, iwoca, Pirate Studios, Luminance, Threads, Oh My Green to name just a few. Talis concentrates on building long term partnerships and leverages their exclusive investor network to create opportunity. The team looks for innovative high growth companies with sector defining ventures and sustainable business models.

www.taliscapital.com


Threads, Darktrace, Censornet & iwoca make the top 100 list

top100fastestgrowing.JPG

We're delighted to reveal that 4 companies from the Talis Capital portfolio feature in this year's league table. The report, entitled Top 100: Britain's Fastest-Growing Businesses identified Threads, Darktrace, CensorNet, and iwoca amongst the companies that have increased in value the most since 2015. Congratulations to them all!

Download a free copy of the
full report here.