#17: CHEQ, Balderton & moreπŸ“

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. 

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PD Reporter is a weekly selection of exclusive interviews with 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. 

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Recent Startup Funding Announcements πŸ’°

Blickfeld (Florian Petit, co-founder)

Blickfeld, a Munich-based LiDAR startup, raised USD 5.7m late last month.

  • How long did the round take to close: this (capital raise) comes only six months after closing our last round, so the process was very fast, it took only a few weeks.

  • Our technology covers many market sectors, which makes it relevant for various investors. We are in constant contact with investors from all over the world. In the end our current investors made us an excellent offer because they strongly believe in us and our technology.

  • What capital will be used for: the expansion in seed financing will enable us to bring our first series product to market even faster. Additionally, we plan on hiring additional engineers, automotive experts and computer scientists in the upcoming months, as well as expanding our business-development, marketing and sales teams.

  • Total amount raised to date: USD 10m.

  • Competitive landscape: every autonomous car in the future will need multiple LiDARs and we see Blickfeld as uniquely positioned in this mass market for automotive, as well as for the industry of things. Key differentiators are performance, mechanical robustness and production scalability.

  • Macro trends: half of the world’s population now lives in cities. By 2050, this figure is predicted to rise up to 75%. With this growing urbanisation, we see more and more creative short-distance solutions to increase individual mobility in urban areas, many of them will make use of autonomous transport, even in air travel. We see ourselves as well-poised to take advantage of this development because our LiDAR is made to be scalable. Producing even millions of LiDARs that will be needed for these developments is exactly why we founded the company.

CHEQ (Guy Tytunovich, Founder and CEO)

CHEQ, an NYC-based cybersecurity company, raised USD 5M in Series A round back in June. The company protects brands from unsafe ad placements, fraud and viewability issues.

  •  How long did the round take to close: the Series A took approximately 6 months to close and was led by top tier Silicon Valley VC and global technology-focused investment firm Battery Ventures.  

  • How many firms did you speak with: CHEQ was approached by several top-tier VCs. Finally, we narrowed it down to 2leading firms and eventually, decided to partner with Battery Ventures due to their team's vast knowledge, reputation and passion. With companies such as Groupon, Glassdoor and BlueJeans in its portfolio, Battery's global expertise, invaluable experience and incredible team made us feel that they are a perfect fit for us. 

  • What capital will be used for: CHEQ is a product-first company, which means that we invest the majority of our energy and resources in our product. Our key differentiator is our technology, primarily our unique ability to prevent damage autonomously, in real time. To this end, the company plans to use most of the capital to grow our R&D and innovation teams even further: hiring additional world-class engineers, continuing to evolve our AI and NLP capabilities, and introducing new technologies to ad-verification.

  • Total amount raised to date: USD 5.75m.

  • Competitive landscape: today’s verification industry relies on first-generation solutions (such as Moat, IAS and DoubleVerify) which are primarily capable of measuring and reporting brand-safety violations, ad fraud and viewability issues. The challenge which CHEQ is solving in ad-verification, is the need to evolve to more preemptive, autonomous solutions which can prevent the damage before it occurs, by looking at heaps of additional data points which allow for much smarter decision-making.

  • Macro trends: one of the most prevalent cross-industry trends today is automation. We see this in E-commerce, Smart Mobility, Cybersecurity and other verticals. We believe that the ad-verification process (across brand-safety, fraud and viewability) should be completely autonomous, and should relieve the advertisers and agencies from manual analysis and optimization. CHEQ has introduced Autonomous Brand Safety to the industry and will continue to empower fully-automated solutions which will improve results and reduce workload.

Climeworks (Louise Charles, Communications Manager)

Climeworks, a Zurich-based carbon dioxide removal technology company, raised CHF 30.5m (USD 31.26m) in a equity round.

  • What capital will be used for: funds will be used to further industrialize Climeworks’ unique, modular and scalable direct air capture (DAC) technology, reduce costs significantly and prepare for mass production.

  • Total amount raised to date: with this financing round, investment in Climeworks AG and its pioneering DAC technology totals more than CHF 50M worth of private equity and public grants.

  • Competitive landscape: competitors are Antecy, Global Thermostat, Infinitree and Skytree.

  • Macro trend: one trend is the shift towards renewable energy, electric mobility and other clean technologies that help us all to be more resource efficient and fight climate change. This shift towards renewables is advantageous to Climeworks since the company will only consider using waste or renewable energy to power its CO2 Collectors.

VC firm update

Balderton Capital

  • Sector focus: we invest primarily in software in both the consumer and enterprise space. We are sector-agnostic, and have covered investments from B2B SaaS software to agri-tech. Balderton Capital is Europe’s leading venture firm focused exclusively on technology companies founded in Europe, at Series A. We have been investing in Europe for eighteen years, from our headquarters in London. 

  • Geographical focus: Yes. Though we are headquartered in London, we invest all over Europe. We do not make new investments in companies founded outside Europe.

  • Capital: We have to date raised over $2.6bn; our most recent fund closed in 2017, and in that fund we raised $375m. 

  • Number of new investments so far this year: In 2017, we announced new investments in in 12 companies: Dalia Research, Dinghy, Funnel, Furhat Robotics, HIYA, Labster, Luno, Mojiworks, Soundtrack Your Brand, Sophia Genetics, Virtuo, and Zego. In 2018 to date we  have announced new investments in 8 companies: Andjaro, Healx, Infarm, Peakon, Pusher, Simple Feast, Tempow, and Tessian.

  • Number of investments before year end: We won't be able to say precisely, but the pace will be the same, or more, than it was in 2017.

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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: chris@pdreporter.com

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