Weengs, the UK logistics startup for online retailers, collects £6.5M Series A

Weengs, the U.K. logistics startup for e-commerce businesses that need a more convenient way of getting online orders to customers, has raised £6.5 million in Series A funding. Leading the round is venture capital firm Oxford Capital, with Weeng’s seed investors, including Local Globe, Cherry Ventures and VentureFriends, following on.

Founded by Alex Christodolou and Greg Zontanos, provides small and medium-sized online stores of various kinds, including eBay and Amazon power sellers and brick ‘n’ mortar stores with an e-commerce component, with a “ship-from-store” logistics solution that handles collection, packing and delivery.

The basic premise is that time costs money, which can make e-commerce quite prohibitive. By outsourcing time-consuming and labour intensive logistics, store owners can put their time into other more profitable and differentiating aspects of their business, such as sales and marketing, and customer experience.

To make this work, Weengs collects orders daily from retailers’ stores, and professionally packs them back at the Weengs warehouse before they are shipped to customers via the couriers the company partners with.

Weengs says it can pack and ship a broad range of products globally, including less obvious items such as plants to musical instruments, electronics and everyday items like cosmetics. It has developed algorithms to pick the most appropriate courier service based on the item and customer priorities.

“Our business is part of the rising omnichannel opportunity we are seeing in retail,” says Pier Ronzi, Weeng’s more recently added co-founder and CEO. “Increasingly, it makes sense for retailers to ship-from-store. Basically cities and stores are becoming distributed inventories that retailers can leverage to increase their business and Weengs helps them [by] offering a one-stop-shop solution for their fulfilment while they can focus on their core activity”.

Since Weengs’ seed round, the team has grown to 70 people and saw Ronzi, who previously worked at McKinsey&Co, join the company. The startup now has around 400 retailers as customers and says it has fulfilled more than 500,000 online orders to date.

“We have learnt that our service saves retailers a huge amount of time and that is the key to our value proposition versus, for example, price,” says Ronzi. Prior to Weengs, customers typically handled fulfilment themselves or used costly fulfilment centres.

To that end, Weengs says it will use the new funding to invest heavily in its new warehouse and accompanying automation and technology. The plan is to “supercharge” operations to be able to fulfil more than 15,000 e-commerce orders per day.

Explains the Weengs CEO: “The packing operations today is mainly manual. In the new automated warehouse we are implementing a process governed by our software and leveraging a packing machine that automatically performs the packing operations: the order item is fed to the machine and, at the end of a quick automated process, the order comes out packed in a very high standard and bespoke box, labelled and ready to be handed over to the carriers. The process becomes heavily automated but we still add the human touch for value added activities such as preparation of fragile items and supervision of the whole process”.

Spotinst, the startup enabling companies to purchase and manage excess cloud capacity, acquires StratCloud

Spotinst, the cloud automation and optimization startup founded in Tel Aviv but now with offices in San Francisco, New York, and London too, has acquired AWS partner StratCloud. Terms of the deal remain undisclosed, although I’m hearing it combines both cash and stock and was somewhere in the region of $5 million.

As part of the acquisition, StratCloud’s team of 15 people will be joining Spotinst, including founder Patrick Gartlan, who will become VP, Cloud Services at Spotinst. StratCloud hadn’t raised any venture capital but instead was bootstrapped by Gartlan, who was the former CTO of Cloud Optimization company CloudCheckr.

Founded in 2015, Spotinst enables enterprises to optimize their cloud infrastructure usage by automating the process of using excess — and therefore cheaper — capacity from leading cloud providers.

As TechCrunch’s Ron Miller previously explained, cloud platforms like AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform, all of which Spotinst supports, have to maintain more resources than they need at any given time. All three companies offer steep discounts to customers who want to access these resources, but they come with a strict condition that the platforms can take those resources back whenever they need them. Which is where Spotinst (and today’s acquisition of StratCloud) comes in.

Spotinst’s platform manages the process of acquiring spare capacity, powered by predictive AI, and seamlessly switches providers before it’s withdrawn. This ensures that cloud computing “workloads” keep functioning, while the customer still receives the best possible price.

Meanwhile, StratCloud tech is described as an “optimization platform” that buys, sells and converts reserved capacity, therefore maximizing savings for on-demand infrastructure. “This leads to lower compute payments, without engineers having to change anything in the applications and infrastructure they manage,” explains Spotinst.

Related to this, Spotinst will migrate StratCloud’s several dozen customers to the Spotinst Platform where they’ll continue to receive all of the current functionality.

Overall, the acquisition means Spotinst can now offer a complete solution for cloud users, including offering reserved instances and unused computer power so that enterprises can run any workload and support large-scale migrations on any cloud provider. In addition, Spotinst says the combined technologies give Managed Service Providers (MSPs) a comprehensive tool to optimize cloud workloads for all of their managed customers.

Spotinst claims over 1,500 enterprise customers in 52 countries, including Samsung, N26, Duolingo, Ticketmaster and Wix. The company currently employs approximately 150 staff across its four offices and has raised $52 million in VC funding to date.

Sweden’s Engaging Care raises €2.5M seed to scale patient communication and improve outcomes

Engaging Care, the Swedish heathtech startup founded by Annica Belfrage and Charlotta Tönsgård (who was previously CEO of online doctor app Min Doktor), has raised €2.5 million in seed funding. The round is co-led by two European venture capital firms: Connect Ventures and Crowberry Capital.

It follows the company’s €800,000 pre-seed funding in July from a number of well-known European investors. They include Neil Murray’s The Nordic Web Ventures, Hampus Jakobsson (venture partner at BlueYard Capital and co-founder of TAT, which sold to Blackberry for $150 million), and Sophia Bendz (Atomico Partner and former Global Marketing Director at Spotify).

Aiming to digitise healthcare beyond traditional electronic medical record systems, Engaging Care is developing a SaaS and mobile apps to enable healthcare providers to better connect and communicate with patients. Its first product, launched late last year, is a communications platform that allows healthcare providers to share information and interact with patients in a secure way.

The SaaS is already deployed with several paying customers who use the platform on a daily basis for both their healthcare professionals and patients.

“Interaction between healthcare professionals and patients is generally speaking still a very analog activity,” Egaging Care CEO Tönsgård tells me. “The work is centered around exchanging information at face-to-face meetings. Our healthcare professionals are a scarce and expensive resource, and sometimes their time is wasted in a careless way”.

Tönsgård argues that digital technology is the solution, and that new digital tools such as Engaging Care enable the knowledge built up by healthcare teams to be accessible to more patients “faster and easier”. This in turn frees up medical professionals to spend more time on the things that actually matter. “Our tool allows healthcare teams to have a reliable place to collect knowledge and communicate effectively with their patients,” she says.

As one example, the Organ Transplant Unit at Sweden’s Skåne University Hospital are using the Engaging Care application to complement face-to-face knowledge sharing with a digital library accessible to both patients and their team 24/7. This is enabling patients to have more autonomy over their healthcare and make better informed decisions.

“One of the challenges when it comes to the digitization of healthcare is the high workload that already exists. For that reason, we will continue to release new features that lower the threshold for adoption, making it easier for professionals to integrate our tools into their day-to-day work,” adds Tönsgård.

“We believe that safe, scalable communication is the key to increase the efficiency of healthcare long term, while also helping patients to become more aware and independent about their own health. One specific feature we’ll be focusing on the next months is to enable patients and healthcare professionals to prepare physical meetings beforehand. Our trials with clinics show that this is an important path to both more efficient meetings and meetings with higher quality”.

Enterprise events management platform Bizzabo scores $27M Series D

Bizzabo, the New York and Tel Aviv-based events management platform, has raised $27 million in Series D funding. Leading the round is Viola Growth, along with new investor Next47.

We’re also told that previous backers, including Pilot Growth, followed on. The new funding brings the total raised by the company to $56 million.

Originally launched in 2012 as a networking app for event attendees, Bizzabo now claims to be the leading end-to-end “Event Success Platform”. As it exists today, one way to describe the cloud-based software is akin to ‘Salesforce for events’: helping enterprises create, manage and execute every aspect of a live event.

As TechCrunch’s Catherine Shu previously wrote, the SaaS automates time-consuming event tasks related to email, social media and web marketing, and contact management.

There’s an increasing data play, too, with the ability to crunch and analyse event data to help event organisers garner more registrations, increase revenue, and improve the overall attendee experience.

“Our vision is to provide a data-driven and personalized journey for attendees,” Bizzabo CEO and co-founder Eran Ben-Shushan tells me. “An 800-person conference should feel like 800 unique in-person event experiences. By leveraging hundreds of data points throughout the attendee journey, our customers can deliver extremely personalised promotion campaigns, custom-tailor the event agenda and proactively cater to each attendee action”.

As an example, Ben-Shushan says an attendee at a user conference can receive recommended sessions, business introductions, and even sponsored offers based on interest and intent expressed before, during, and after the event.

To that end, Bizzabo says its Series D will be used to expand the platform’s capabilities and continue to help enterprise and mid-market organizations “build data-driven, personalized and engaging professional event experiences”. The will include growing its R&D and own marketing teams, adding to the more than 120 current employees in its New York and Tel-Aviv offices.

Ben-Shushan reckons that on average 25 percent of a B2B company’s marketing budget is spent on live events. This has resulted in the number of professional events increasingly exponentially each year, such as conferences and seminars, trade shows or other experiences.

However, it remains a challenge to create, manage, market and measure the success of events while maximizing ROI — which is where Ben-Shushan says Bizzabo comes in.

Bizzabo’s better known customers include Inbound, SaaStr, Forbes, Dow Jones, Gainsight, and Drift. Meanwhile, the event management space as a whole is said to be worth $500 billion.

Cytora secures £25M Series B for its AI-powered commercial insurance underwriting solution

Cytora, a U.K. startup that developed an AI-powered solution for commercial insurance underwriting, has raised £25 million in a Series B round. Leading the investment is EQT Ventures, with participation from existing investors Cambridge Innovation Capital, Parkwalk and a number of unnamed angel investors.

A spin-out of the University of Cambridge, Cytora was founded in 2014 by Richard Hartley, Aeneas Wiener, Joshua Wallace and Andrzej Czapiewski — although both Wallace and Czapiewski have since departed.

Its first product launched in late 2016 to a number of large insurance customers, with the aim of applying AI to commercial insurance supported by various public and proprietary data. This includes property construction features, company financials and local weather, combined with an insurance company’s own internal risk data.

“Commercial insurance underwriting is inaccurate and inefficient,” says Cytora co-founder and CEO Richard Hartley. “It’s inaccurate because underwriting decisions are made using sparse and outdated information. It’s inefficient because the underwriting process is so manual. Unlike buying car or travel insurance, which can be purchased in minutes, buying business insurance can take up to seven days. This means operating costs for insurers are extremely high and customer experience isn’t good leading to a lack of trust.”

To illustrate how inefficient commercial insurance can be, Hartley says that for every £1 of premium that businesses pay to insurers, only 60 pence is set aside to pay total claims. The other 40 pence evaporates as the “frictional cost of delivering insurance.”

Powered by AI, Hartley claims that Cytora is able to distill the seven-day underwriting process down to 30 seconds via its API. This enables insurers to underwrite programmatically and build workflows that provide faster and more accurate decisions.

“Our APIs are powered by a risk engine which learns the subtle patterns of good and bad risks over time,” he explains. “This gives insurers a better understanding of the underlying risk of each business and helps them set a more accurate price. Both customers and insurers benefit.”

Typical Cytora customers are commercial insurers that are digitally transforming their underwriting process. Users of the software are either underwriters within insurance companies who are underwriting large commercial risks (i.e. an average insurance premium ~£500k and above) or business customers of insurance companies who are buying insurance direct online with an average premium of £1,000-£5,000.

“For the latter, our customers have built quotation workflows on top of Cytora’s APIs, enabling business owners to buy policies online in less than a minute without having to fill in a form,” says Hartley. “We require only a business name and postcode to issue a quote, which revolutionises the customer experience.”

To that end, Cytora generates revenue by charging a yearly ARR license fee, which increases based on usage and per line of business. The company says today’s Series B funding will be used to accelerate the expansion of its product suite and for scaling into new geographies.

Medbelle raises $7M to build out its ‘digital hospital’

Medbelle, the London and Berlin-based startup offering what it calls an “end-to-end platform” for medical procedures, has raised $7 million in Series A funding. The round was led by Signals Venture Capital — the VC fund of major German health insurer Signal Iduna — with partipation from Talis Capital, Mutschler Ventures, IBB and Cavalry Ventures.

Founded in 2016 by Leander de Laporte and Daniel Kolb after the pair turned down jobs at Rocket Internet, Medbelle has set out to digitise the patient journey and provide medical treatments in a more modern, convenient and consumer-centric way. Likened to a “digital hospital,” the company lets patients book a number of medical procedures through its web and app-based platform.

These currently span cosmetics, bariatrics and ophthalmology, with plans underway to expand into orthopaedics and fertility treatment. At the moment Medbelle only services private patients but says it wants to work with the U.K.’s National Health Service and private and public health insurance providers to broaden its reach.

“Our vision is to create a world in which all patients can navigate their treatment journey digitally and receive personal care at the click of a button,” Medbelle co-founder Leander de Laporte tells me. “There is a massive lack of digitisation and patient care for medical procedures and little sight of someone changing this entirely. This results in a lack of quality and price transparency, bad communication and patients feeling left alone and neglected in their treatment journey”

At the same time, de Laporte says that healthcare providers and specialists lack the tools to operate efficiently resulting in lots of “frustration, operational hiccups and unnecessary healthcare costs.”

To try to solve this, Medbelle’s digital offering — which consists of the Medbelle Platform, Medbelle Care, and Medbelle Operating System — attempts to give patients more control over their provision while giving healthcare professionals access to tools covering the entire treatment journey: from the first consultation to billing, post-operative care and follow-up.

“Patients book their procedure with us, which provides them with prices and a selection of leading, pre-vetted specialists and state-of-the-art operating facilities – with all organisation taken care of by the platform,” explains de Laporte. “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”.

Citing competitors as offline clinic groups with brick ‘n’ mortar clinics across the U.K, the Medbelle co-founder says that the market is ready for a digital-first and more integrated offering.

“We see that the future is obviously moving towards a more digital, consumer-centric experience in each and every industry, [and] healthcare is no different in this respect,” he says. “This is also where we see our main benefit as a digital hospital. As an integrated treatment provider, patients and doctors get everything they need from a single source. We build technology and services for every step of the treatment journey – and quickly focus on where it is needed most to deliver the best possible experience without causing complexity for healthcare providers”.

In comparison to the traditional clinic groups, de Laporte argues that Medbelle patients receive abetter value and more transparent service. “[Patients] can choose between transparently displayed options of very rigorously vetted specialists and operating facilities, compare options and prices and save money right away as we offer consultations with the specialists for free — even from the comfort from their own home via video consultations,” he says. “Apart from that, our technology standardises processes and cuts operational costs which make our economics more competitive”.

Adds Clemens Koós, investment manager at Signals Venture Capital: “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.”

LumApps raises $24M Series B for its ‘social intranet’

LumApps, the “social intranet” for the enterprise, has closed $24 million in Series B funding. The round is led by previous backer IdInvest, and will be used to scale LumApps’ global sales and marketing and accelerate product development.

Founded in Paris in 2012 — and now also with offices in London, Tokyo, San Francisco and New York — LumApps has developed a social web-styled intranet for enterprises to let company employees better connect and collaborate.

The solution integrates with both G Suite, Microsoft Office 365 and Microsoft Sharepoint, and is accessible via mobile. Overall, it is designed to serve as a central hub for personalized content, social communications, work tools and enterprise applications.

“We launched LumApps Social Intranet solution in 2015, after our historical customer Veolia asked us to create a platform based on their needs,” “LumApps founder and CEO Sébastien Ricard tells me. “We quickly realized there was a massive demand for modern intranets from all companies, to transform internal communications and the employee experience”.

That’s because, he says, communication within an enterprise is challenging, spread across disparate tools such as email, live chat, and social networks – solutions that are typically disconnected and siloed. This is especially true in large enterprises, where finding information and reaching the right people can be very difficult.

“Our dream was to enable access to useful information in one click, from one place and for everyone. Just that simple. We wanted to build… a solution that bridged [an] intranet and social network, with the latest new technologies. A place that users will love”.

At its core, Ricard says LumApps goes further than just solving common business challenges, including fostering a collaborative workplace where employees are more engaged and more productive. “Every large company is building their digital workplace, and it’s critical that they have a central intranet that houses all employee communications, news, memos, applications, etc. from the corporate team but also from peers”.

That mission appears to be working, evidenced by today’s Series B funding and a customer base that spans enterprises small and large. Companies using LumApps include Veolia, Valeo, Air Liquide, Colgate-Palmolive, The Economist, Schibsted, EA, and Logitech. The intranet software has on-boarded more than 4 million users globally.

Adds Ricard: “As a French entrepreneur, it has always been a dream to build such a global success,” says Ricard. “We encountered highs and lows, especially in 2016 when we started in the U.S. and lived our first year of setbacks. Why? All we had was our product and we didn’t yet understand the culture and market specifics. It took time to hire American talent to structure everything and build a solid base… Now we have a team of 150-plus people worldwide with a special focus on the U.S.”

LumApps raises $24M Series B for its ‘social intranet’

LumApps, the “social intranet” for the enterprise, has closed $24 million in Series B funding. The round is led by previous backer IdInvest, and will be used to scale LumApps’ global sales and marketing and accelerate product development.

Founded in Paris in 2012 — and now also with offices in London, Tokyo, San Francisco and New York — LumApps has developed a social web-styled intranet for enterprises to let company employees better connect and collaborate.

The solution integrates with both G Suite, Microsoft Office 365 and Microsoft Sharepoint, and is accessible via mobile. Overall, it is designed to serve as a central hub for personalized content, social communications, work tools and enterprise applications.

“We launched LumApps Social Intranet solution in 2015, after our historical customer Veolia asked us to create a platform based on their needs,” “LumApps founder and CEO Sébastien Ricard tells me. “We quickly realized there was a massive demand for modern intranets from all companies, to transform internal communications and the employee experience”.

That’s because, he says, communication within an enterprise is challenging, spread across disparate tools such as email, live chat, and social networks – solutions that are typically disconnected and siloed. This is especially true in large enterprises, where finding information and reaching the right people can be very difficult.

“Our dream was to enable access to useful information in one click, from one place and for everyone. Just that simple. We wanted to build… a solution that bridged [an] intranet and social network, with the latest new technologies. A place that users will love”.

At its core, Ricard says LumApps goes further than just solving common business challenges, including fostering a collaborative workplace where employees are more engaged and more productive. “Every large company is building their digital workplace, and it’s critical that they have a central intranet that houses all employee communications, news, memos, applications, etc. from the corporate team but also from peers”.

That mission appears to be working, evidenced by today’s Series B funding and a customer base that spans enterprises small and large. Companies using LumApps include Veolia, Valeo, Air Liquide, Colgate-Palmolive, The Economist, Schibsted, EA, and Logitech. The intranet software has on-boarded more than 4 million users globally.

Adds Ricard: “As a French entrepreneur, it has always been a dream to build such a global success,” says Ricard. “We encountered highs and lows, especially in 2016 when we started in the U.S. and lived our first year of setbacks. Why? All we had was our product and we didn’t yet understand the culture and market specifics. It took time to hire American talent to structure everything and build a solid base… Now we have a team of 150-plus people worldwide with a special focus on the U.S.”

Trint, the AI-powered translation service, closes $4.5M Series A

Trint, the London-based translation startup co-founded by Emmy-winning journalist Jeff Kofman, has raised $4.5 million in Series A funding.

The round includes follow-on investment from Horizons Lab, the Hong Kong-based seed fund operated by the managers of Horizons Ventures, with participation from TechNexus, and The Associated Press.

It brings total funding for Trint to $7.8 million since the company’s founding in December 2014. Original backers include Google Digital News Innovation Fund and the Knight Enterprise Fund.

Counting some of the world’s largest media organizations as customers — including The Associated Press, Vice News, The Washington Post, and Der Spiegel — Trint uses machine learning and speech-to-text technology to automate transcribing, which is a significant pain-point for journalists and other content producers, such as video makers.

The web-based software also combines an audio/video player and text editor, with the outputted transcription synced to the audio player’s playhead. This then makes it easy to manually correct any mistranslations, which, in turn, helps Trint get smarter. There’s an iPhone app too, for mobile translation of phone calls and recordings.

I’ve used the software a number of times in my own work and found the automation to be fairly accurate. However, as with similar systems, it is quite dependent on the audio quality you feed into it.

On that note, Trint says it will use the additional funding to enhance the AI translation software and enable customers to extract more value from recorded audio and video and unlock what it describes as “the emerging voice economy”.

Over the next few months, the company will launch collaboration features to suit the workflow of large teams working with audio and video. The idea is to enable teams to work together on editing transcripts and publishing content.

Trint will also release a new video player with interactive transcript features, so that recorded content can be “searchable, discoverable, and shareable” online.

“We’ve created Trint to go far beyond automated transcription, building the world’s first enterprise product for managing the workflow of the spoken word,” says Trint founder Kofman. “Trint is focused on serving the needs of video production, brands, news organizations and researchers, allowing them to unlock the value of the spoken word like never before”.

Meanwhile, since launch Trint has grown from 4 to 45 employees. This includes opening a North American headquarters in Toronto where 7 employees are posted.

Shedul, the booking platform for salons and spas, raises $20M Series B at a $105M valuation

Shedul, the online booking platform for salons and spas, has raised $20 million in Series B investment of, valuing the company at $105 million.

The round was led by Paris headquartered VC Partech, with participation from Berlin-based Target Global, Dubai-based BECO Capital, and New York’s FJ Labs. In addition, a personal investment was made by entrepreneur Niklas Östberg, founder and CEO of Delivery Hero.

I also understand the fundraise was oversubscribed, and on top of the $20 million included $3 million on secondary funding. The Series B brings the total amount raised by Shedul to $32 million to date.

Launched in 2015, Shedul describes itself as a “SaaS-enabled marketplace” for salons and spas globally. It’s core — and free product — is a SaaS designed to help salons and spas manage their day-to-day sales and operations. Features include managing bookings, point-of-sale, customer records, inventory, and financial reporting.

Running in tandem is the more recently launched Fresha.com, a B2C marketplace for salons and spas. The idea is to enable merchants using the free Saas to run their businesses to also be able to connect to consumers online. The consumer-facing mobile app and website supports online bookings and automated marketing, including via integrations with Instagram, Facebook and Google.

In other words, come for the free SaaS and stay for the revenue generating marketplace — which is how Shedul also generates revenue through taking a commission on each booking.

Explains Nick Miller, Shedul co-founder and Chief of Product: “The market is highly competitive, crowded with legacy software providers who charge excessive fees to simply access their products. We’ve re-invented the business model by offering our business software totally free of charge, and instead monetise online bookings made through our marketplace. This strategy helps us consolidate the industry, building up a vast global network of merchants for our marketplace”.

To that end, Shedul is disclosing that 8 million appointments are booked on its platform each month, at a value of over $270 million. Growth in active merchants is expanding at an average rate of 20 percent quarter-on-quarter. The current customer base of merchants spans more than 120 countries, mainly in the U.S., U.K., Australia and Canada.

The company says it is on track to process $6 billion worth of appointment bookings by the end of 2019. “We solved the chicken and egg problem of reaching marketplace liquidity, letting us rapidly scale and monetise the network,” adds Miller.