The newsletter is back with a streamlined version. This format featuring exclusive updates from early-stage venture capital investors and startup founders is one you can count on moving forward.
PD Reporter is a curated weekly selection of exclusive updates from early-stage founders and VC firms. Read by start-up founders, VCs, early-stage employees, and tech PR professionals. Sign up today to not miss the next edition.
Updates below from:
Coolhaus (Natasha Case, CEO and co-founder)
Deck Commerce (Christopher Deck, CEO and founder)
Catapult Venutres, GM&C Life Sciences Fund (Nick Wright, CEO)
Recent Startup Funding Announcements 💰
Zadara, an Irvine, California-based provider of zero-risk enterprise cloud storage, raised a USD 25m round last week.
The round took about 6 months from the beginning to the end.
Talked to 40 different potential investors.
Valuation for the company after the round is between USD 100m-USD 200m.
Capital will be used to expand operations, sales and marketing, and support for our customers worldwide. Thanks to a stable platform and streamlined operations, the company is very close to profitability right now.
Total amount raised to date is USD 60m.
Competitive landscape: A few of the larger storage vendors, including NetApp, HPE, and Pure, have introduced ‘as a service’ offerings recently. Besides being the first company to introduce enterprise-class storage-as-a-service, our ability to deliver physical assets (servers, storage, etc.) on premises and manage those assets for customers, while charging them only for what they actually use, truly sets us apart.
🍦Coolhaus (Natasha Case, CEO and co-founder)
Coolhaus, an LA-based ice cream company, raised an undisclosed amount last week.
In total from beginning of discussions with potential partners to close, the round took about 6 months.
Had some informal discussions with maybe 5-6, serious discussions with two, and picked one to go all the way with.
Capital will be used for brand building, marketing, key hires, innovation and optimizing bottom line while maintaining and elevating quality.
Competitive landscape: There are always competitors in certain regards, but in a funny way there are no true competitors for Coolhaus. Firstly, we're the leading women-owned ice cream brand on grocery shelf. That is a huge and standalone differentiator. We do compete in the super premium pint category with fantastic brands like McConnell's, Jeni's and Graeter's, but none have super premium novelties like we do (in both dairy and soon-to-be plant-based), and a lot of super premium brands are more regional than national, like we are. The novelty element of Coolhaus gives us a whole other play in food service: we are sold on JetBlue, The Forum, Madison Square Garden, AMC Theaters, Bareburger, Umami Burger, Cloud Kitchens, Landmark Theaters, Hollywood Bowl, The Greek Theater and so many more. Our story is very special too (from architecture to ice cream during the recession with ice cream trucks) - and the more we communicate our background and give transparency, the more we succeed. I also think Coolhaus is the most fun - the most unique, out there. We like to say we take what we do seriously, but not ourselves.
Macro trends that will impact the space: definitely plant-based and more female run brands (I hope)!
Madam Therapeutics, a Leiden, The Netherlands-based biotech company developing antibiotics to combat resistant bacterial infections, closed a EUR 1.1m round of financing last week.
Development of antimicrobials is scientifically complex, while antibiotics are generally considered less profitable than drugs used to treat chronic diseases; for example, the value of drugs used in oncology is much higher than that of antibiotics. The fact that antibiotics are cheap (just a few dollar) is actually strange as antibiotics are lifesaving therapies of which the result manifests within a week, where in oncology $100,000’s are paid to sometimes only achieve several months of lifetime prolongation. Hence raising fund for antimicrobial development is a long process. It took us over 2 years to close this funding round.
The company spoke with over 100 prospective investors, ranging from business angels, private investors, venture investors, and regional development funds.
Valuation after this first round of financing is between USD 10m and USD 20m.
Capital from the round will be used to complete the first clinical trial in men (as well as some preparations leading up this study).
Competitive landscape: Most of the development of new antimicrobials is currently in the hands of SMEs. In Europe only, there are now over 50 SMEs working on over 100 different development projects. Less than 5 large pharmaceutical companies actively develop new antibiotics. There are several reasons why we believe SAAP-148 ranks amongst the promising amongst the different candidates that are currently in development. SAAP-148 is a very effective, broad-spectrum anti-microbial peptide which possesses very rapid bactericidal activity. SAAP-148 has shown to be very effective against bacteria residing in biofilms whereas traditional antibiotics are not. SAAP-148 is also very effective in the killing of (multi-) resistant bacteria and is very robust against resistance formation itself.
Phrasee, a London-based marketing technology company that uses artificial intelligence to generate optimized marketing copy, raised a USD 4m Series A round last week.
Raised the round in about two and a half months.
Had serious conversations with 6 parties.
We will be spending the funds on product development, and our US expansion. We founded our San Francisco office on June 1st, and will be using the funds to galvanise our brand position stateside.
Total investment to date is USD 5.3m.
The main competition we face, other than a couple other older tech companies, is the status quo. See, humans sometimes have a hard time letting go of what they perceive to be quintessential human tasks… such as copywriting. However, as AI’s hype reduces and real use cases reveal themselves, forward-thinking marketers are becoming more apt to buck the norms. And that, for Phrasee, spells opportunity.
The main macro trend is regulatory controls on data. This will tighten the noose on “personalisation” programmes brands want to run. For Phrasee, this is a good thing. Phrasee focuses on optimising mass-marketing campaigns, not uber-personalisation. So, we are well situated to stand tall, while other companies who use individualised data may face an existential and regulatory risk.
Open positions at the company: we are growing the business in San Francisco, with a couple more sales roles to fill out the team we've recently built there. In London we have opportunities across the whole organisation team; sales, data science, development, finance & leadership roles.
Travelstop, a Singapore-based business travel startup, raised USD 1.2m in seed funding last week.
Before founding Travelstop, I was founder and CTO of Travelmob.com. Travelmob was a vacation rental marketplace focused on Asia. Travelmob was acquired by HomeAway/Expedia in Oct 2015. Also the same team that help build Travelmob has been working on to build Travelstop. Given our backgrounds, we did not had to devote significant time on raising the round. We hardly devoted couple of weeks for the same. We had a problem of plenty.
Spoke with less than 10 potential investors.
This round of funding will be used to drive product development, build a world-class development team in Singapore, and to ramp up growth through sales and marketing. In 2018, we will focus our energies on a few priority markets like Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Hong Kong, and Taiwan and will look to expand beyond these markets in 2019.
This was our first round. Total money raised to date is USD 1.2m.
Macro trends: Corporate travel in Asia Pacific region has been growing at 10+ % and would account for 50% of all global corporate travel by 2025. Within Asia Pacific region - the growth in corporate travel is happening largely in emerging markets. We intent to take advantage of this trend by building a very simple, intuitive, and flexible tool for corporates in Asia. We are very focused on solving needs for modern Asian business travelers.
TomboyX, a Seattle-based gender-neutral underwear brand, raised $4.3m in Series A funding in August.
The company devoted 8 months to raising the round.
Spoke with hundreds of prospective investors.
Capital from the round will be used for team, marketing and technology to scale.
Total amount raised to date is USD 6.3m.
💻Deck Commerce (Christopher Deck, CEO and founder)
Deck Commerce, a St. Louis-based provider of an order management solution for omni-channel commerce, raised USD 2.7m financing round back in July.
The company devoted 6 monhts to raising the round.
Spoke with approximately 10 prospective investors.
Capital will be used for sales, marketing, and distribution.
Total amount raised to date is USD 4.5m.
Other details: We’re more than doubling year-over-year, and this capital will keep us on that growth trajectory.
Venture Capital firms
Catapult Ventures, GM&C Life Sciences Fund (Nick Wright, CEO)
Areas the firm is looking to make investments: our focus, through our GM&C Life Sciences Fund, is on exciting life science investments that have (or plan to have) a material presence in the Greater Manchester and Cheshire region. We’re very interested in the concept of digital convergence with healthcare – use of digital and related technologies to improve outcomes. We are wary of ‘me-too’ companies, like online doctors or online pharmacies, and prefer to seek out companies that can become market leaders.
Geographical focus: Greater Manchester and Cheshire. Companies do not need to be headquartered in the region but they need to have, or establish, a material presence.
Capital left from fund for future investments: That’s confidential but the GM&C fund has been running for almost three years and we have two years left when we can make new investments.
Number of new investments this year: The fund has invested in 25 companies to date and is about to complete its 26th, so on average we invest in about 8 new companies each year.
Number of investments before year end: We anticipate continuing our current run-rate of 8 per year, so expect to have around 40 companies in total by year 5, although this depends on the size of the investments and complexity of deal. We certainly expect to close another 3-4 new investments before the end of 2018.
Possible new fund: Catapult is assessing the appetite for a new life science fund, based on our experience of running the GM&C fund, and also our previous funds. Since 2015, Catapult has recorded 11 profitable exits, averaging a 3.9x return, including a number of life science businesses.
If you’re a startup and you’re raising capital and would like to be featured in next week’s newsletter, reach out by emailing: email@example.com.
Feedback and opinions on this newsletter are appreciated.
Sharing this newsletter is a small act that’s greatly appreciated.