All posts in “France Newsletter”

Taster raises another $8 million for its native food delivery brands

If you’re an Instagram user, chances are you’ve encountered a ton of ads for companies trying to sell products directly to consumers, using social networks as storefronts paired with online stores. French startup Taster is doing the same thing with restaurants built specifically for food delivery startups.

The startup raised an $8 million funding round from Battery Ventures, with existing investors Heartcore Capital, LocalGlobe, GFC and Marc Ménasé investing again.

Taster is creating native brands for Deliveroo, UberEats or Glovo in Europe. The company has launched three different brands — Mission Saigon, O Ke Kai and Out-Fry. These restaurants don’t have any tables, they’re basically kitchens for food delivery. They even have multiple addresses in the same city.

So far, the startup has delivered 400,000 meals in Paris, London and Madrid. And Taster now tries to predict trends to order just the right amount of food for a specific day. There are 115 full-time employees working for the company, including 100 people in the kitchens.

With today’s funding round, the company plans to launch three new brands and open more kitchens. In order to scale more rapidly, the company doesn’t handle real estate itself. Taster now relies on third-party companies, such as Travis Kalanick’s CloudKitchens.

By focusing as much as possible on creating brands and cooking food, Taster can quickly scale and compete aggressively with more traditional restaurants.

The company doesn’t have to manage deliveries, which is an advantage over full-stack startups like Frichti. And unlike traditional restaurants, Taster doesn’t have to rent expensive locations and hire waiters.

Meero raises $230 million for its on-demand photo platform

Chances are you always look at photos before you order food in your favorite food delivery app, or before you book a hotel room. French startup Meero wants to make the web and mobile apps look beautiful by helping businesses get good photos. And the company just raised a $230 million funding round.

Eurazeo, Prime Ventures and Avenir Growth are leading today’s funding round. Existing investors include Global Founders Capital, Aglaé Ventures, Alven, White Star Capital and Idinvest. The company says it represents the largest Series C round in France.

At its core, Meero is a comprehensive marketplace of photographers all around the world. This way, companies can find a freelancer and get photos back in less than 24 hours. Essentially, getting professional shots becomes an on-demand process.

The company currently focuses on a few key industries, including real estate, food, experiences, retail and e-commerce. Maybe your favorite Instagram-native brand relies on Meero for their product shots.

But Meero knows that plenty of photographers don’t need leads. That’s why the startup is also providing many services to make their lives easier.

And it starts with getting the basics right. Meero takes care of the paperwork. You don’t have to send a contract, you don’t have to collect money from your clients. Of course, Meero takes a cut on transactions.

The company has also been working on automatic photo-editing algorithms. If a photographer wants to accept more photo shoots, they need to spend less time editing photos. So Meero is working on AI-powered technology to automatically improve raw shots.

There are currently 80 people on the tech team, and the company plans to grow the tech team to 300 people to go further on this topic.

In the future, Meero plans to launch masterclasses and documentaries for their photographers. There will be more meetups so that photographers can talk together. And the company also plans to unveil a magazine and a foundation to support photography.

But the bigger news is that Meero plans to open the marketplace to individual customers. And yes, it means that your next wedding could be powered by Meero — that’s a lucrative industry.

Meero has managed to attract 31,000 clients in 100 countries. There are currently 58,000 photographers on the platform. Six hundred people work directly for Meero across five different offices.

Fairjungle is a modern take on corporate travel management

French startup Fairjungle wants to make it easier to book a flight or a hotel room for corporate purposes. The company just raised a $2 million funding round (€1.8 million) from Thibaud Elzière, Eduardo Ronzano, Bertrand Mabille and Whitestones Ventures.

If you work for a big company, chances are you book corporate flights through GBT, CWT or BCD Travel. And let’s be honest, the web interface usually sucks. It’s often hard to compare flights, change dates or even get a fair price.

Fairjungle is betting on a modern user experience and a software-as-a-service business model to change this industry. The idea is to make it feel more like you’re using a flight comparison service instead of a travel agency with a website.

“The value proposition [of legacy competitors] was historically around finding the best travel options for the business traveler, which has become obsolete today when you have tools like Skyscanner and Google Flights,” co-founder and CEO Saad Berrada told me.

In order to modernize that industry, the startup is leveraging the inventory of Skyscanner, Booking.com, Amadeus, Travelfusion and Hotelbeds. This way, you can book flights on 400 airlines and reserve hotel rooms in one million hotels.

After searching for a flight or a hotel room, you can book directly from Fairjungle. This way, employees don’t have to download invoices and file expense reports on a separate platform every time they travel. Companies can set up different rules to keep costs down. For instance, a flight that is unusually expensive requires approval from a manager.

Instead of charging per transaction, Fairjungle has opted for a SaaS model with a subscription of €5 per monthly active user.

Fairjungle currently focuses on small and mid-sized companies. The company has attracted 20 clients so far, including OVH. And it expects to generate $3.4 million (€3 million) in gross bookings by the end of the year.

PayFit raises $79 million for its payroll service

French startup PayFit is raising a new $79 million funding round (€70 million) from Eurazeo and Bpifrance. The company first started with a payroll service for small and medium companies in France. It has evolved into a full-fledged HR solution for multiple European countries.

PayFit uses a software-as-a-service approach so that small companies can easily manage payroll and HR information from a web browser. Everything stays up-to-date and compliant with labor regulation.

After you enter information about your employees, PayFit automatically generates pay slips every month. Your employees receive an email when their pay slips are ready. If somebody is getting a raise, you can connect to your PayFit account and modify an amount for all pay slips going forward.

When it comes to payroll taxes, the service automatically reminds you when you have to pay them and how much you’re supposed to pay. You can also generate exports for your accountant, see reports about your staff, etc.

And PayFit doesn’t want to stop at payrolls. You can also manage absences and leaves, expense reports and shifts. It makes sense to build those tools in house as they have a direct effect on your payroll.

In order to approve expense reports and vacation days, you can also build an organizational chart in PayFit and decide who’s managing who.

While it’s easy to build an HR giant in the U.S., it’s a bit more complicated in Europe as labor laws vary so much from one country to another. But the startup has managed to launch its service in France, Spain, Germany and the U.K. — Italy is coming soon.

The company says that it has developed its own programming language called Jetlang in order to transform labor code into computer code.

There are 3,000 companies relying on PayFit and 300 people working for the company. With today’s funding round, PayFit plans to double its workforce by 2020.

Lifen raises $22.7 million for its healthcare messaging platform

French startup Lifen is raising a $22.7 million (€20 million) funding round. Partech is leading the round with Idinvest Partners and Majycc eSanté Invest also participating. Existing investors Serena and Daphni are also investing again.

Most of the healthcare industry in France still relies on good old physical letters with stamps and everything. Lifen wants to help practitioners and hospitals switch to digital letters instead to save time and money.

While it’s easy to send a digital receipt instead of printing one, it gets a bit more complicated with health information. Companies have to comply with regulation and make sure that everything remains confidential. Lifen says that everything is encrypted in transit and at rest, and the company can’t access your data.

Lifen acts as an interface with multiple electronic messaging protocols — MS Santé, Apicrypt, Zepra and Medimail. You can send a letter using those protocols in a few clicks. And because paper isn’t going to die overnight, you can also send letters through the French postal service using Lifen as well.

The startup manages a directory of healthcare professionals and also handles read receipts. When it comes to receiving messages, Lifen acts as a unified inbox that lets you receive messages, documents and reports from various channels — it essentially looks like an email interface with an inbox and an outbox. You can then export each document and sort them in a patient folder.

When it comes to user experience, the startup tries to automate as many things as possible. After setting up Lifen, you can select it as a printer in the printing popup — it’s compatible with any app that supports printing.

The service then tries to detect names and addresses to figure out who is supposed to receive the letter. Lifen searches its directory to find out how to contact this particular healthcare professional.

Individual healthcare professionals can access Lifen for €25 per month. And I’m sure hospitals pay a lot more to access the service.