Europe

Study says the US is quickly losing its entrepreneurial edge

Photographer: Daro Sulakauri/Bloomberg According to a new study conducted by the Center for American Entrepreneurship and NYU’s Shack Institute of Real Estate, the US may be losing its competitive advantage as the dominant nucleus of the startup and venture capital universe.  The analysis, led by senior Brookings Institution fellow Ian Hathaway and “Rise of the Creative Class” author Richard Florida, examines the flow of venture capital over 100,000 deals from 2005 to 2017 and details how the historically US-centric practice of venture capital has become a global phenomenon. While the US still appears to produce the largest amount of venture activity in the world, America’s share of the global pie is falling dramatically and doing so quickly. In the mid-90s, the US accounted for more than ...

Forward Health, the healthcare messaging app, scores $3.9M led by Stride.VC

Forward Health, the U.K. startup that has built an app to help healthcare professionals communicate in a secure and compliant way, has picked up $3.9 million in seed funding. Leading the round is Stride.VC, the new VC fund from Fred Destin, formerly a Partner at Accel, and Harry Stebbings, producer of the “The Twenty Minute VC” and most recently Entrepreneur-in-Residence at VC firm Atomico. Additional backing comes from Albion Capital, while Forward already boasts a decent array of angel investors. They include health tech founders Jay Desai from U.S. company Patient Ping, and Melissa Morris from U.K.-based Lantum. Founded in 2016 by U.K. doctors Barney Gilbert and Lydia Yarlott, with serial entrepreneur Philip Mundy (who previously founded Goodlord), Forward Health is a messaging app and ...

Africa Roundup: Paga goes global and 4 startups raise $99M in VC

Jake Bright Contributor Jake Bright is a writer and author in New York City. He is co-author of The Next Africa. More posts by this contributor Polestar unveils first production EV with aim to overtake Tesla Liquid Telecom goes long on Africa’s startups as future clients Nigerian digital payments startup Paga is gearing up for international expansion with a $10 million round led by the Global Innovation Fund. The company is exploring the release of its payments product in Ethiopia, Mexico, and the Philippines—CEO Tayo Oviosu told TechCrunch. Paga looks to go head to head with regional and global payment players, such as PayPal, Alipay, and Safaricom according to Oviosu. “We are not only in a position to compete with them, we’re going beyond them,” he said of Kenya’s MPesa mobile money prod...

Balderton’s $145M ‘secondary’ fund will give shareholders in European scale-ups the chance to exit early

In what looks like a European first, the London-based early-stage venture capital firm Balderton Capital is announcing it has closed a new $145 million “secondary” fund dedicated to buying equity stakes from early shareholders in European-founded “high growth, scale-up” technology companies. Dubbed “Balderton Liquidity I,” the new fund will invest in European growth-stage companies through the mechanism of purchasing shares from existing, early shareholders who want to liquidate some or all of their shares “pre-exit.” “Balderton will take minority stakes, between regular fund-raising rounds, making it possible for early shareholders — including angels, seed funds, current and former founders and employees — to realise early ...

How a Ugandan Prince and a Crypto startup are planning an African revolution

Crypto and blockchain enthusiasts have been railing for years against the centralized world of banks, but many have been doing so from the privileged vantage point of developed countries. But what if blockchain technology turned out to be most revolutionary in emerging economies? Take Africa for instance. Consumers in those countries became so frustrated with the banking fees imposed on their transactions every time the wanted to merely top up their mobile airtime, that airtime minutes alone actually became a form of money. Banking in the way it’s been developed for the developed world simply does not work when a transaction to top up a phone can cost more than the airtime itself. South African-based startup Wala realised this early on. It had developed a smartphone app which acted like a ...

Picfair gives every photographer on its marketplace their own store

Picfair, the photo marketplace that competes with Getty and Shutterstock by giving photographers a fairer deal, is adding a major update to its offering today. The London-based startup is launching Picfair Stores, giving the 35,000 photographers on its marketplace the ability to create their own free independent online store. Customers who buy from a Picfair Store can choose a licensed digital copy or a physical print. “We’re moving beyond being just a new generation stock image marketplace,” Picfair founder Benji Lanyado, who used to be a journalist at The Guardian, tells me. “With stores, and prints, and more… we’re becoming a fully featured commercial ecosystem for photographers. At the heart of it all: the principle that anyone should be able to make money from ...

Cleo, the ‘digital assistant’ that replaces your banking apps, picks up $10M Series A led by Balderton

When Cleo, the London-based “digital assistant” that wants to replace your banking apps, quietly entered the U.S., the company couldn’t have expected to be an instant hit. Many better-funded British startups have failed to “break America.” However, just four months later, the fintech upstart counts 350,000 users across the pond — claiming more than 600,000 active users in the U.K., U.S. and Canada in total — and says it is adding 30,000 new signups each week. All of which hasn’t gone unnoticed by investors. Already backed by some of the biggest VC names in the London tech scene — including Entrepreneur First, Moonfruit founder Wendy Tan White, Skype founder Niklas Zennström, Wonga founder Errol Damelin, TransferWise founder Taavet Hinri...

Announcing the agenda for TechCrunch Startup Battlefield MENA 2018 in Beirut

We’re excited to head to Beirut, Lebanon, on October 3rd for TechCrunch Startup Battlefield MENA 2018. Yes, we’re bringing our premier startup pitch competition to the Middle East / North Africa, and as well as launching 15 of the hottest startups in MENA on stage for the first time, we’ll also be joined by some leading lights of the scene. Tickets to this event — our first in this part of the world — cost $29 (including VAT), and you can buy your tickets right here. Startup Battlefield consists of three preliminary rounds with 15 teams — five startups per round — who have six minutes to pitch and present a live demo to a panel of expert technologists and VC investors. After each pitch, the judges have six minutes to grill the team with tough questions. This is all after the free pitch-coa...

Vegan meal delivery startup Allplants is served £7.5M Series A funding

Allplants, a London-based startup that delivers ready-made “plant-based” meals (that’s vegan, to you and me), has raised £7.5 million in Series A funding. The round is led by VC firm Octopus Ventures, which was an early backer in healthy snack delivery company Graze. Additional investors in the round include existing backer Felix Capital (which I’m told has doubled its seed investment), Swedish VC firm Otiva, unnamed partners at VerlInvest (who are participating in a personal capacity), David Milner (ex-CEO Tyrells), Simon Nixon (founder of MoneySupermarket), and video blogger Jack Harries. Allplants reckons it is the U.K.’s largest Series A round for a vegan company. Based on the premise that switching to a plant-based diet is the most impactful way to reduce...

Google Street View cars will be roaming around the planet to check our air quality with these sensors

Aclima, a San Francisco-based startup building Internet-connected air quality sensors has announced plans to integrate its mobile sensing platform into Google’s global fleet of Street View vehicles. Google uses the Street View cars to map the land for Google Maps. Starting with 50 cars in Houston, Mexico City and Sydney, Aclima will capture air quality data by generating snapshots of carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide (CO), nitric oxide (NO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ozone (O3), and particulate matter (PM2.5)while the Google cars roam the streets. The idea is to ascertain where there may be too much pollution and other breathing issues on a hyper local level in each metropolitan area. The data will then be made available as a public dataset on Google BigQuery. Aclima has had a close rela...

Confrere, the video calling service for professionals and clients, raises $1.5M seed

Confrere, a video calling service designed specifically for professionals who need to hold online consultations or meeting with clients, has raised $1.5 million in seed funding. Leading the round is Berlin’s Point Nine Capital, with participation from Nordic Makers, The Nordic Web Ventures, and Fathom Capital. A number of angel investors also took part in the round, including Albert Armengo (the founder of Doctoralia, sold to Docplanner), as well as a number of physicians who are users of the product. Notably, Confrere was co-founded by CEO Svein Yngvar Willassen, who previously founded and headed up appear.in, another video calling service but one designed for team collaboration. The startup’s other co-founders are CTO Dag-Inge Aas and CPO Ida Aalen. “I knew from my time...

The Family raises $17.4 million to support European startups

The Family has always been an ambitious startup accelerator. But it has always felt like the company never had enough money to grow as quickly as it wanted. The Family is raising a new $17.4 million funding round (€15 million). Private banking and asset management group LGT Capital Partners is leading the round, with HummingBird Venture, Project A, eVentures and others also participating. “It’s the first time an investor understands The Family’s business model. It’s the first time an investor isn’t trying to turn us into a VC fund,” The Family co-founder Oussama Ammar told me. According to him, The Family is basically going to do more of the same. Except that this funding round “makes [The Family] virtually immortal.” The Family had to double-check its bank account many, many times to make...