All posts in “TC”

Sprint is the latest telecom to offer a tracking device that uses LTE

Following in the footsteps of AT&T and Verizon*, Sprint is now offering an LTE tracker. The matchbook-sized device, simply called Tracker, provides real-time location tracking on Safe + Found app.

Sprint Tracker

Sprint’s new Tracker

The Tracker competes with Tile, but instead of Bluetooth, Sprint’s device uses 4G LTE, GPS and Wi-Fi location services, so it can be used to track things, people or pets that might travel a significant distance away, compared to a range of 100 ft to 300 ft for Tile (depending on the version). The Tracker is manufactured by Coolpad and users need to pay $2.50 per month for 24 months to cover the cost of the device, plus an additional $5 per month to connect it.

AT&T and Verizon both launched LTE trackers over the past year and Apple is also rumored to be working on a tracking device that connects to iPhones, based on an asset package for pairing devices by proximity spotted in the first beta of iOS 13 by 9to5Mac.

*Disclosure: TechCrunch is part of Verizon Media, a subsidiary of Verizon Communications.

Annie Kadavy, Russ Heddleston and Charles Hudson will tell us how to raise seed money at Disrupt SF

Just about anyone can come up with a good idea. Fewer people can execute on that idea and turn it into a prototype or MVP. But there is still one final challenge for most entrepreneurs that can prove challenging.

How do you secure that initial seed capital and take your idea to the next level?

At Disrupt SF in October, Redpoint’s Annie Kadavy, Docsend’s Russ Heddleston, and Precursor’s Charles Hudson will sit down together and chat it out on the Extra Crunch stage.

Kadavy, Heddleston and Hudson can offer a unique perspective on the process of early-stage fundraising.

Kadavy joined Redpoint in 2018 after a four-year stint at Charles River Ventures, where she sourced or led deals with ClassPass, Cratejoy, DoorDash, Lauren & Wolf and Patreon. She’s also spent time within firms like Bain & Company, Warby Parker and Uber Freight. She understands the importance of operational experience, and knows better than most how to take a company from point A to point B.

Heddleston, cofounder and CEO of DocSend, has a completely different perspective. DocSend is used to securely send and track documents, and one of the most prevalent documents on the platform happens to be pitch decks. Heddleston can tell us about what characteristics get (and keep) the attention of investors, as well as what turns them off.

Hudson, managing partner at Precursor Ventures, has been on both sides of the conference room table. He founded Bionic Panda Games, which was acquired by Zynga in 2010. He moved on to SoftTech VC (now Uncork Capital), where he spent eight years working on seed stage investments in the consumer internet space. At Precursor Ventures, he’s continuing to invest in early-stage companies that are tackling problems in new markets.

These three each have their own perspective on how to get the attention of investors and how to turn a conversation into a cap table.

“How To Raise Your First Dollars” is but one of many panels that will take place on the Extra Crunch stage at Disrupt SF. The Extra Crunch stage, much like Extra Crunch on the web, is meant to serve as a resource for aspiring entrepreneurs and VCs, offering practical, step-by-step advice on how to get to where you’re going.

We’re thrilled to have Kadavy, Heddleston and Hudson join us at the show.

Disrupt SF runs October 2 – October 4 at the Moscone Center in SF. Tickets to Disrupt SF are available here.

Cleo, the London-based finech, has quietly taken debt financing from US-based Triplepoint Capital

Cleo, the London-based “digital assistant” that wants to replace your banking apps, has quietly taken venture debt from U.S.-based Triplepoint Capital, according to a regulatory filing.

The amount remains undisclosed, though I understand from sources that the figure is somewhere in the region of mid-“single digit” millions and will bridge the gap before a larger Series B round later this year. Cleo declined to comment on the fundraising.

However, sources tell me that the need to raise debt financing is partly related to Cleo Plus, the startup’s stealthy premium offering that is currently being tested and set to launch more widely soon. The new product offers Cleo users a range of perks, including rewards and an optional £100 cash advance as an alternative to using your bank’s overdraft facility. The credit facility is, for the time bring at least, being financed from the startup’s own balance sheet, hence the need for additional capital.

The new funding also relates to Cleo’s U.S. launch, which began tentatively around a year ago. This has been more successful than was expected, seeing Cleo add 650,000 active U.S. users to date. The U.S. currently makes up over 90% of new users now, too. Overall, the fintech claims 1.3 million users have signed up to the Cleo chatbot and app, with 350,000 active in the U.K.

Accessible via Facebook Messenger and the company’s iOS app, Cleo is an AI-powered chatbot that gives you insights into your spending across multiple accounts and credit cards, broken down by transaction, category or merchant. In addition, Cleo lets you take a number of actions based on the financial data it has gleaned. This includes choosing to put money aside for a rainy day or specific goal, sending money to your Facebook Messenger contacts, donating to charity, and setting spending alerts and more.

Meanwhile, alongside Triplepoint, Cleo is backed by some of the biggest VC names in the London tech scene — including Balderton Capital, Entrepreneur First, Moonfruit co-founders Wendy Tan White and Joe White, Skype founder Niklas Zennström, Wonga founder Errol Damelin, TransferWise founder Taavet Hinrikus and LocalGlobe.

Enterprise healthcare platform Collective Health raises $205M led by SoftBank

SoftBank’s Vision Fund may be facing some challenges when it comes to restocking its massive reserves, but the firm famous for cutting big checks is leading a sizeable round for Collective Health. This startup focused on enterprise employee healthcare management announced a $205 million Series E raise today, brining its total funding to $434 million since its founding in 2013. Its last raise was a $110 million round in February, 2018.

Collective Healths’ client list includes Red Bull, Pinterest, Zendesk and more, and it counts GV, NEA, DFJ Growth and Sun Life among its financial backers. Its platform is an integrator for the various insurance and benefit providers that large employers offer to the their employees, and provides access to info, as well as claims filing, eligibility checks and data sharing across vendors. The funding will also help with additional engineering hires to continue to build out the platform.

The funding will help the company add more partner providers, a process that’s key to continued growth as it seeks to expand its footprint and ensure that it can serve customers and their employees across the U.S. In addition to the Vision Fund, this round included new investors PSP Investments, DFJ Growth, G Squared, as well as new participation from existing investors.

India’s Bounce raises $72 million to grow its electric scooters business

Bounce, a Bangalore-based startup that offers more than 5,000 electric scooters for rent in India, has raised $72 million to accelerate its bid to impact how people navigate India’s traffic-clogged urban areas.

The Series C funding round for the five-year-old startup was led by B Capital — the VC firm founded by Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin — and Falcon Edge Capital. Chiratae Ventures, Maverick Ventures, Omidyar Network India, Qualcomm Ventures, and existing investors Sequoia Capital India and Accel Partners India also participated in the round.

This new money means that the startup has raised $92 million to date. The current round valued it at more than $200 million, a person familiar with the matter said.

Bounce, formerly known as Metro Bikes, operates in Bangalore. Its app allows users to pick up a scooter and, when their ride is finished, drop it off at any parking spot. It charges customers based on the time and model of electric scooter they choose. An hour-long ride could cost as little as Rs 15 (21 cents). The startup claims it has already clocked two million rides. 

Vivekananda Hallekere, co-founder and CEO of Bounce, told TechCrunch in an interview that the startup plans to use the fresh capital to add over 50,000 electric scooters to its fleets by the end of the year. Additionally, Bounce, which employs about 200 people, plans to enter more cities in India and invest in growing its tech infrastructure and head count.

“We have about ten metro and non-metro cities in mind. Starting next quarter, we will start to expand in those cities,” he said. The startup also aims to service one million rides in the next one year.

Hallekere said Bounce, which currently offers IoT hardware and design for the scooters, is also working on building its own form factor for scooters.

The rise of Bounce comes as it bets that shared two-wheeler vehicles — already a common mode of transportation in the nation — will play an important role in the future of ride-sharing, with electric vehicles replacing petrol ones.

This bet has gained more momentum in recent years. Startups such as Yulu, which partnered with Uber earlier this year to conduct a trial in Bangalore, Vogo, which raised money from Uber rival Ola, and Ather Energy have expanded their businesses and gained the backing of major investors.

Their adoption, though still in their nascent stages, is increasingly proving that for millions of people rides from Uber and Ola are just too expensive for their wallets. Besides, in jam-packed traffic in Bangalore and Delhi and other cities in India, two wheels are more efficient than four.