Connect with us

Tech

Placer.ai, a location analytics startup, finds $100M at a $1B valuation

Published

on

Placer.ai, a location analytics startup, finds $100M at a $1B valuation

Many of us are moving around these days a lot less than we used to — because of Covid, we’re working from home instead of an office; and we are traveling and going out less. Now, as we shift back into more “normal” behavior, a startup that’s helping to better understand where and how we are getting around has picked up a significant round of funding. Placer.ai, which has built a platform to track and understand footfall in a variety of venues, has raised $100 million, funding that it will be using to continue expanding its platform. Placer has confirmed that the round values it at $1 billion.

The round is coming from an interesting mix of strategic and financial investors. It’s being led by Josh Buckley, the CEO of Product Hunt; with participation from WndrCo (Disney/Dreamworks’ supremo Jeffrey Katzenberg’s investment firm), Lachy Groom, MMC Technology Ventures LLC, Fifth Wall Ventures, and Array Ventures; and a swathe of real estate names including J.M. Schapiro (CEO of Continental Realty Corp), Eliot Bencuya and Jeff Karsh of Tryperion Partners, Daniel Klein of Klein Enterprises/Sundeck Capital, and Majestic Realty.

Today, Placer has around 1,000 customers across real estate and property, retail, consumer packaged goods, and municipalities — some of the names include JLL, Regency Centers, Taubman, Planet Fitness, BJ’s Wholesale Club, and Grocery Outlet — which are using it to determine anonymized crowd movement, size and sentiment to help with their decision making and strategic planning.

The plan is to invest both in building out that user base further, and in the platform itself, by bringing in more physical and digital datasets — for example vehicle traffic, planned construction data, web traffic and purchase data to augment the 50+ data sets that it aggregates today — which in turn will lead to more use cases for Placer’s technology.

Given how much our movements have been curtailed in the last couple of years, it’s somewhat ironic that a company whose currency is physical presence in open places would be growing, much less raising money on the back of its potential. In actual fact, Noam Ben-Zvi, Placer’s CEO and co-founder, tells me that business has been stronger in recent years than ever before.

Growth has largely coming in two areas. First, people were still shopping, and going to other places, so existing customers were using it to figure out how, where and why people were moving around when they were (indeed Placer.ai created a recovery dashboard to track specifically around this idea and how it related to Covid-19). Over time, that core business has gotten smarter.

“We’ve been around for five years working with early adopters giving us feedback,” Ben-Zvi said. “They pass us known information about their properties and we can use that to retrain and calibrate our models so they get more accurate.” A lot of this to date has been about historical data but now the company is shifting into providing more predictive insights as well, he added.

Second, the pandemic gave rise to a new set of reasons to need this kind of data, whether it was to determine crowds at testing or vaccination sites, or because the changing economy was precipitating real estate dealmaking, or something else. This meant new customers were, for example, using Placer’s tools for M&A due diligence, or to help determine interesting opportunities for investment.

Interestingly, he notes that one salient point that Placer has determined is that even with the rise of virtual experiences, physical is not quite dead yet. “Everywhere the rebound is impressively fast,” he noted. This is in marked contrast to when the pandemic first descended on the world in early 2020. “When Covid hit we were concerned. We froze our hiring, and waited since some of our customers weren’t even opening anymore.”

A lot of the data that Placer is able to pass on to customers — who essentially construct their own parameters for searching using a self-service tool — has traditionally been out of their reach despite their best efforts. Katzenberg’s previous work in the entertainment industry gave him first-hand experience of those black holes in consumer behavior and sentiment, which is one reason why he has gravitated to a company building technology to solve that now.

“Placer provides instant, simple and actionable insights to questions we’ve been asking as operators for over 30 years. The pace of innovation, the unique trust that the company has developed, and the massive market demand all point to the magnitude and scale of what this team can achieve,” said Katzenberg in a statement.

“We have long felt like the disruption Placer can bring is massive, but the market demand has far exceeded our initial expectations,” added Josh Buckley. “We see a powerful opportunity to continue partnering with Placer to improve the way decisions are made in the physical world, fundamentally improving the way these businesses and organizations operate.”

Source: Tech

Tech

Paack pulls in a $225M Series D led by SoftBank to scale its E-commerce delivery platform

Published

on

By now, many of us are familiar with the warehouse robots which populate those vast spaces occupied by the likes of Amazon and others. In particular, Amazon was very much a pioneer of the technology. But it’s 2021 now, and allying warehouse robots with a software logistics platform is no longer the monopoly of one company.

One late-stage startup which has been ‘making hay’ with the whole idea is Paack, an e-commerce delivery platform which a sophisticated software platform that integrates with the robotics which are essential to modern-day logistics operations.

It’s now raised €200m ($225m) in a Series D funding round led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2. The capital will be used for product development and European expansion.

New participants for this round also include Infravia Capital Partners, First Bridge Ventures, and Endeavor Catalyst. Returning investors include Unbound, Kibo Ventures, Big Sur Ventures, RPS Ventures, Fuse Partners, Rider Global, Castel Capital, and Iñaki Berenguer.

This funding round comes after the creation of a profitable position in its home market of Spain, but Paack claims it’s on track to achieve similar across its European operations, Such as in the UK, France, and Portugal.

Founded by Fernando Benito, Xavier Rosales and Suraj Shirvankar, Paack now says it’s delivering several million orders per month from 150 international clients, processing 10,000 parcels per hour, per site. Some 17 of them are amongst the largest e-commerce retailers in Spain.

The startup’s systems integrate with e-commerce sites. This means consumers are able to customize their delivery schedule at checkout, says the company.

Benito, CEO and Co-founder, said: “Demand for convenient, timely, and more sustainable methods of delivery is going to explode over the next few years and Paack is providing the solution. We use technology to provide consumers with control and choice over their deliveries, and reduce the carbon footprint of our distribution.” 

Max Ohrstrand, Investment Director at SoftBank Investment Advisers said: “As the e-commerce sector continues to flourish and same-day delivery is increasingly the norm for consumers, we believe Paack is well-positioned to become the category leader both in terms of its technology and commitment to sustainability.”

According to research from the World Economic Forum (WEF), the last-mile delivery business is expected to grow 78% by 2030, causing a rise in CO2 emissions of nearly one-third.

As a result, Paack claim it aims to deliver all parcels at carbon net-zero by measuring its environmental impact, using electric last-mile delivery vehicles. It is now seeking certification with The Carbon Trust and United Nations.

In an interview Benito told me: “We have a very clear short term vision which is to lead sustainable e-commerce delivers in Europe… through technology via what we think is perhaps the most advanced tech delivery platform for last-mile delivery. Our CTO was the CTO and co-founder of Google Cloud, for instance.”

“We are developing everything from warehouse automation, time windows, routing integrations etc. in order to achieve the best delivery experience.”

Paack says it is able to work with more than one robotics partner, but presently it is using robots from Chinese firm GEEK.

The company hopes it can compete with the likes of DHL, Instabox, and La Poste in Europe, which are large incumbents.

Source: Tech

Continue Reading

Tech

Infermedica raises $30M to expand its AI-based medical guidance platform

Published

on

Infermedica, a Poland-founded digital health company that offers AI-powered solutions for symptom analysis and patient triage, has raised $30 million in Series B funding. The round was led by One Peak and included participation from previous investors Karma Ventures, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Heal Capital and Inovo Venture Partners. The new capital means the startup has raised $45 million in total to date.

Founded in 2012, Infermedica aims to make it easier for doctors to pre-diagnose, triage and direct their patients to appropriate medical services. The company’s mission is to make primary care more accessible and affordable by introducing automation into healthcare. Infermedica has created a B2B platform for health systems, payers and providers that automates patient triage, the intake process and follow-up after a visit. Since its launch, Infermedica is being used in more than 30 countries in 19 languages and has completed more than 10 million health checks.

The company offers a preliminary diagnosis symptom checker, an AI-driven software that supports call operators making timely triage recommendations and an application programming interface that allows users to build customized diagnostic solutions from scratch. Like a plethora of competitors, such as Ada Health and Babylon, Infermedica combines the expertise of physicians with its own algorithms to offer symptom triage and patient advice.

In terms of the new funding, Infermedica CEO Piotr Orzechowski told TechCrunch in an email that the investment will be used to further develop the company’s Medical Guidance Platform and add new modules to cover the full primary care journey. Last year, Infermedica’s team grew by 80% to 180 specialists, including physicians, data scientists and engineers. Orzechowski says Infermedica has an ambitious plan to nearly double its team in the next 12 months.

Image Credits: Infermedica

“We will invest heavily into our people and our products, rolling out new modules of our platform as well as expanding our underlying AI capabilities in terms of disease coverage and accuracy,” Orzechowski said. “From the commercial perspective, our goal is to strengthen our position in the US and DACH and we will focus the majority of our sales and marketing efforts there.”

Regarding the future, Orzechowski said he’s a firm believer that there will be fully automated self-care bots in 5-10 years that will be available 24/7 to help providers find solutions to low acuity health concerns, such as a cold or UTI.

“According to WHO, by 2030 we might see a shortage of almost 10 million doctors, nurses and midwives globally,” Orzechowski said. “Having certain constraints on how fast we can train healthcare professionals, our long-term plan assumes that AI will become a core element of every modern healthcare system by navigating patients and automating mundane tasks, saving the precious time of clinical staff and supporting them with clinically accurate technology.”

Infermedica’s Series B round follows its $10 million Series A investment announced in August 2020. The round was led by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and digital health fund Heal Capital. Existing investors Karma Ventures, Inovo Venture Partners and Dreamit Ventures also participated in the round.

Source: Tech

Continue Reading

Tech

KKR invests $45M into GrowSari, a B2B platform for Filipino MSMEs

Published

on

A sari-sari store owner who uses GrowSari

GrowSari, the Manila-based startup that helps small shops grow and digitize, announced today that KKR will lead its Series C round with a $45 million investment. The funds will be used to enter new regions in the Philippines and expand its financial products. The Series C round is still ongoing and the startup says it is already oversubscribed, with the final composition currently being finalized. 

Before its Series C, GrowSari’s total raised was $30 million. TechCrunch last wrote about GrowSari in June 2021, when it announced its Series B. Since then, it has expanded the number of municipalities it serves from 100 to 220, and now has a customer base of 100,000 micro, small and mid-sized enterprise (MSME) store owners. 

Founded in 2016, GrowSari is a B2B platform that offers almost every kind of service that small- to medium-sized retailers, including neighborhood stores that carry daily necessities (called sari-saris), roadside and market shops and pharmacies, need.

For example, it has a wholesale marketplace with products from major fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) brands like Unilever, P&G and Nestle. It partners with over 200 providers, like telecoms, fintechs and subscription plans, so sari-saris can offer services like top-ups and bill payments to their customers. 

Sari-sari operators can also use GrowSari to launch e-commerce stores and access short-term working capital loans to buy inventory. The startup’s other financial products include digital wallets and cash-in services, and it is looking at adding remittance, insurance and loans in partnership with other providers. 

The new funding will be used to expand into the Visayas and Mindanao, the two other main geographical regions in the Philippines, with the goal of covering all 1.1 million “mom and pop” stores in the Philippines. 

Source: Tech

Continue Reading

Trending