Nigeria’s Gokada raises $5.3M round for its motorcycle ride-hail biz


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In many large cities across Africa, motorcycle taxies are as common as yellow-cabs in New York.

That includes Lagos, Nigeria, where ride-hail startup Gokada has raised a $5.3 million Series A round to grow its two-wheel transit business.

Gokada has trained and on-boarded over 1000 motorcycles and their pilots on its app that connects commuters to moto-taxis and the company’s signature green, DOT approved helmets.

The startup has completed nearly 1 million rides since it was co-founded in 2018 by Fahim Saleh—a Bangladeshi entrepreneur who previously founded and exited Pathao, a motorcycle, bicycle, and car transportation company.

For Gokada’s Series A, Rise Capital led the investment joined by Adventure Capital, IC Global Partners, and Illinois based First MidWest Group. Coinciding with the round, Nigerian investor and Jobberman founder Ayodeji Adewunmi will join Gokada as co-CEO.

Gokada will use the financing to increase its fleet and ride

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Bringing tech efficiencies to the agribusiness market, Silo harvests $3 million


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Roughly $165 billion worth of wholesale produce is bought and sold every year in the U.S. And while that number is expected to go up to $1 trillion by 2025, the business of agribusiness remains unaffected by technology advancements that have reshaped almost every other industry. ‘

Now Silo, a company which has recently raised $3 million from investors led by Garry Tan and Alexis Ohanian’s Initialized Capital and including Semil Shah from Haystack Ventures; angel investors Kevin Mahaffey and Matt Brezina; and The Penny Newman Grain Company, an international grain and feed marketplace, is looking to change that. 

Silo’s chief executive, Ashton Braun, spent years working in commodities marketplaces as a coffee trader in Singapore and moved to California after business school. As part of the founding team at Kite with Adam Smith, Braun worked on getting Kite’s software to automate computer programming off

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Meet ‘The Prepared,’ the media company pitching disaster preparedness for everyone


This post is by Jonathan Shieber from TechCrunch


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A little over two years ago, The New Yorker ran a story about the survivalism craze sweeping Silicon Valley. The moneyed elite behind the tools of convenience that make modern life were, it turned out, making detailed contingency plans for the collapse of the civilization they’d help architect.

Now, there’s a media company for that.

The Prepared, a new site launched a little over a year ago by three men — two who have their own ties to the tech world — is aiming to make the world of survivalism more approachable to a wide audience.

Taking away the stigma or stereotype of lone wolves hoarding caches of weapons and food and waiting for the zombie apocalypse, The Prepared bills itself as a sort of scouting class for adults — if the Scouts BSA and Girl Scouts posed the question, “Should You Worry About EMPs?

As John

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Dear Hollywood: Here are five female founders to showcase instead of Elizabeth Holmes


This post is by Jonathan Shieber from TechCrunch


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There’s a seemingly insatiable demand for Theranos content. John Carrerou’s best-selling book, Bad Blood has already inspired an HBO documentary, The Inventor, an ABC podcast called The Dropout, a prestige limited series starring SNL’s Kate McKinnon was just announced, and Jennifer Lawrence is reportedly going to star in the feature film version of this tawdry “true crime meets tech” tale. That’s before getting started on the various and sundry cover stories and think pieces about her fraud.

I think it’s fair to say the Theranos story has been sufficiently well-documented and I’m worried that this negative perception may be reinforced now that UBiome

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Africa Roundup: Jumia’s IPO, DHL launches Africa e-Shop, Cathay’s $168M VC fund, ConnectMed acquired


This post is by Jake Bright from TechCrunch


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The biggest news in a month of weighty African headlines was Jumia listing on the New York Stock Exchange.

After filing SEC IPO docs in March, the Pan-African e-commerce company’s shares began trading on the NYSE April 12, opening at $14.50 under ticker symbol JMIA. Jumia stock rose north of 70 percent on its first day of trading and started this week at $46.

With the public listing, Jumia became the first startup from Africa to list on a major global exchange. The IPO raised nearly $200 million for the internet venture.

The listing created another milestone for Jumia.  In 2016 the company became the first African startup unicorn, achieving a $1 billion valuation after a funding round that included Goldman Sachs and MTN.

Founded in Lagos in 2012 with Rocket Internet backing, Jumia now operates multiple online verticals in 14 African countries—from consumer retail to travel

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Startups Weekly: All these startups are raising big rounds


This post is by Kate Clark from TechCrunch


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TechCrunch’s Connie Loizos published some interesting stats on seed and Series A financings this week, courtesy of data collected by Wing Venture Capital. In short, seed is the new Series A and Series A is the new Series B. Sure, we’ve been saying that for a while, but Wing has some clean data to back up those claims.

Years ago, a Series A round was roughly $5 million and a startup at that stage wasn’t expected to be generating revenue just yet, something typically expected upon raising a Series B. Now, those rounds have swelled to $15 million, according to deal data from the top 21 VC firms. And VCs are expecting the startups to be making money off their customers.

“Again, for the old gangsters of the industry, that’s a big shift from 2010, when just 15 percent of seed-stage companies that raised Series A rounds were already making

Slack iOS logo (2019)

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Lattice raises another $15M to improve performance reviews


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Sam Altman’s little brother Jack is an entrepreneur, too.

Jack Altman, whose resume includes a stint as vice president of business development at Teespring, has raised $15 million in Series B funding for his startup, Lattice, a modern approach to corporate goal setting. Shasta Ventures led the round, with participation from Thrive Capital, Khosla Ventures and Y Combinator, the latter being the organization his brother led as president until very recently.

Lattice, used by high-growth companies like Reddit, Slack, Coinbase and Glossier, helps human resources professionals develop insights about their teams. Founded in 2015, Altman and Eric Koslow, like most entrepreneurs, developed the idea for Lattice out of their own pain points.

“We realized that with quarterly goal settings, OKRs, we would write them up and get the leadership together and then they would sit on a shelf and nothing would happen,” Altman told TechCrunch.

Lattice, a SaaS business,

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Kindbody raises $15M, will open a ‘Fertility Bus’ with mobile testing & assessments


This post is by Kate Clark from TechCrunch


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Kindbody, a startup that lures millennial women into its pop-up fertility clinics with feminist messaging and attractive branding, has raised a $15 million Series A in a round co-led by RRE Ventures and Perceptive Advisors.

The New York-based company was founded last year by Gina Bartasi, a fertility industry vet who previously launched Progyny, a fertility benefit solution for employers, and FertilityAuthority.com, an information platform and social network for people struggling with fertility.

“We want to increase accessibility,” Bartasi told TechCrunch. “For too long, IVF and fertility treatments were for the 1 percent. We want to make fertility treatment affordable and accessible and available to all regardless of ethnicity and social economic status.”

Kindbody operates a fleet of vans — mobile clinics, rather — where women receive a free blood test for the anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH), which helps assess their ovarian egg reserve but cannot conclusively determine

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The importance of seating at the investor meeting


This post is by Jonathan Shieber from TechCrunch


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We just finished YCombinator. Surrounding Demo Day, we went to a lot of investor meetings. Such conversations are usually well-choreographed and methodical but their physical conditions can be variable and random. The following will massively (though subtly) impact the flow of a meeting

1. Furniture
2. Room layout
3. Where people sit

Despite the outsized impact the above can have on the outcome, their configuration is often haphazard. I have been documenting my findings for you.

Before I continue, I should mention that I think a lot about seating. I spoke to NPR once about where to sit at dinner. Maybe I think about it too much.

My previous article outlines basic tactics for unassigned seat selection at the dinner table. Pitch meetings aren’t usually

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Brand is more than meets the eye


This post is by Yvonne Leow from TechCrunch


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Editor’s note: This guest post is a part of our latest initiative to demystify design and find the best brand designers and agencies in the world who work with early-stage companies — nominate a talented brand designer you’ve worked with.

We’re in the midst of a startup explosion. The barriers to starting a new business have never been lower; the aura of the entrepreneur has never been hotter. As category after category gets disrupted, competition among this new crop of businesses has gotten much fiercer. It’s no longer just about taking share from established players

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The team behind Baidu’s first smart speaker is now using AI to make films


This post is by Rita Liao from TechCrunch


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The HBO sci-fi blockbuster Westworld has been an inspiring look into what humanlike robots can do for us in the meatspace. While current technologies are not quite advanced enough to make Westworld a reality, startups are attempting to replicate the sort of human-robot interaction it presents in virtual space.

Rct studio, which just graduated from Y Combinator and ranked among TechCrunch’s nine favorite picks from the batch, is one of them. The “Westworld” in the TV series, a far-future theme park staffed by highly convincing androids, lets visitors live out their heroic and sadistic fantasies free of consequences.

There are a few reasons why rct studio, which is keeping mum about the meaning of its deliberately lower-cased name for later revelation, is going for the computer-generated world. Besides the technical challenge, playing a fictional universe out virtually does away the geographic constraint. The Westworld experience, in contrast, happens within

rct studio
rct studio

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Five really, really good reasons to attend TC Sessions: Robotics & AI @ UC Berkeley on April 18


This post is by Robert Frawley from TechCrunch


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There are actually a lot more than five great reasons, but these five should be enough to make just about anyone eager to join TechCrunch’s robotics and AI show April 18 at UC Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall.

1. Fireside & Panel Discussions
TechCrunch’s editors will have a busy day with more than 20 riveting sessions — including Marc Raibert and the latest SpotMini; AI and synthetic media experts Hany Farid and Alexei Efros; autonomous-vehicle expert Anthony Levandowski; Kiyonori Inaba, chief at Japan’s robotics giant FANUC; and Affectiva’s Rana el Kaliouby and UC Berkeley’s Anca Dragan on human-robotics interaction. Check out the complete agenda here.

2. Q&A Sessions with Founders & Investors
Who doesn’t have an AI or robotics startup in mind? The Main Stage programming includes panels with prominent VCs and founders in the robotics and AI domains, and for the first time the audience will

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Omidyar Network spins out its fintech investment arm as Flourish, with up to $300 million


This post is by Jonathan Shieber from TechCrunch


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After 12 years spent investing in impact-oriented financial services startups around the globe, the Omidyar Network, which serves as the family investment office for eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, is spinning off its financial inclusion investment arm as Flourish Ventures.

Equipped with up to $300 million in capital for operations and investments, the new Flourish will continue to invest around the Network’s core mission of backing companies with a dual focus of making a social impact and achieving quality financial returns.

Already, the new firm is one of the most active financial services investors globally, according to a report from FT Partners.

This double-bottom line approach has already yielded results for the company.

“After 10 or 12 years with people becoming more broadly interested in the impact investment space, we had an opportunity to reinvent ourselves,” says Tilman Ehrbeck, a managing partner at the newly independent Flourish.

Flourish is actually

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Flipkart co-founder Sachin Bansal invests $92M in Ola


This post is by Jon Russell from TechCrunch


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The money is starting to flow from India’s largest startup exit. Ola has added a major name to its ongoing financing round after it confirmed that Flipkart co-founder Sachin Bansal has invested 650 crore INR (around $92 million) into the Indian ride-hailing business.

The deal rumored in January when Paper.vc, an intelligence service that sifts through company filings in India, noticed that Bansal had committed to investing 150 crore. Today, eight-year-old Ola not only confirmed the pairing, but it revealed that the actual size of Bansal’s investment is significantly higher. It represents his most prominent and largest investment to date, and his first major deal since he left Flipkart following its sale to Walmart for $16 billion last year.

TechCrunch understands that Bansal will not take an advisory role nor will he be involved in operations.

The investment is part of an ongoing Series J round of financing

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Healthcare wearables level up with new moves from Apple and Alphabet


This post is by Jonathan Shieber from TechCrunch


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Announcements that Apple has partnered with Aetna health insurance on a new app leveraging data from its Apple Watch and reports that Verily — one of the health-focused subsidiaries of Google‘s parent company — Alphabet, is developing a shoe that can detect weight and movement, indicate increasing momentum around using data from wearables for clinical health applications and treatments.

For venture capital investors, the movea from Apple and Alphabet to show new applications for wearable devices is a step in the right direction — and something that’s been long overdue.

“As a healthcare provider, we talk a lot about the important of preventative medicine, but the US healthcare system doesn’t have the right incentives in place to pay for it,” writes Cameron Sepah, an entrepreneur in residence at Trinity Ventures. “Since large employers largely pay for health care (outside of Medicaid and Medicare), they usually aren’t incentivized to

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How business-to-business startups reduce inequality


This post is by Jonathan Shieber from TechCrunch


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When considering the structural impact of technology companies on our economy and society, we tend to focus on questions of scale and monopoly.

It’s true that the FAANG companies and more recent winners (Airbnb, Uber) have surfed a combination of network effects, preferential access to capital and classic efficiencies of scale to generate tremendous value for their shareholders—to the detriment of new entrants who attempt to unseat them.

At their high water mark in mid-2018, FAANG alone made up 11% of the total market cap of the S&P 500 and 38% of the

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Starting with data centers, Carbon Relay is slashing energy costs and emissions using AI


This post is by Jonathan Shieber from TechCrunch


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Taiwanese technology giant Foxconn International is backing Carbon Relay, a Boston-based startup emerging from stealth today, that’s harnessing the algorithms used by companies like Facebook and Google for artificial intelligence to curb greenhouse gas emissions in the technology industry’s own backyard — the datacenter.

Already, the computing demands of the technology industry are responsible for 3% of total energy consumption — and the addition of new technologies like Bitcoin to the mix could add another half a percent to that figure within the next few years, according to Carbon Relay’s chief executive, Matt Provo.

That’s $25 billion in spending on energy per year across the industry, Provo says.

A former Apple employee, Provo went to Harvard Business School because he knew he wanted to be an entrepreneur and start his own business — and he wanted that business to solve a meaningful problem, he said.

Variability and dynamic nature of

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Entrepreneur First eyes further Asia growth to build its global network of founders


This post is by Jon Russell from TechCrunch


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British startup venture builder Entrepreneur First is eying additional expansion in Asia, where its operation is now as large as it is in Europe, as it expands its reach in 2019. But, despite serving a varied mixture of markets, the company said its founders are a fairly unified breed.

The Entrepreneur First program is billed as a “talent investor.” It matches prospective founders and, through an accelerator program, it encourages them to start and build companies which it backs with financing. The organization started out in London in 2011, and today it is also present in Paris and Berlin in Europe and, in Asia, Singapore, Hong Kong and (soon) Bangalore. To date, it says it has graduated over 1,200 founders who have created more than 200 companies, estimated at a cumulative $1.5 billion on paper.

Those six cities cover a spread of unique cultures — both in general life and

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Backing Culture Genesis, T.I. launches Tech Cypha, an investment syndicate for tech deals


This post is by Jonathan Shieber from TechCrunch


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With an inaugural investment into the Los Angeles-based entertainment startup Culture Genesis, Clifford Harris Jr., who’s better known as “T.I.”, has launched a new syndicated investment vehicle called Tech Cypha.

Launched by the music and cultural impresario with more hustle than hustle and his business partner Jason Geter, the new collaborative investment strategy focused on tech startups will allow high-net-worth individuals to participate in deals.

The strategy has evolved since Geter and Harris made their first investment 12 years ago into a company called Streetcred.com, a site that allowed fans to go online and share opinions about street culture. While that first deal didn’t work out, Geter and Harris both remained interested in the technology and startup scene and saw a new opportunity to leverage their networks and promote new businesses.

“We learned a

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Contabilizei raises $20 million to ease Brazilians’ tax pain


This post is by Jonathan Shieber from TechCrunch


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Online tax filing and accounting service, Contabilizei, has raised $20 million in a new round of financing led by Point72 Ventures, the early stage investment arm associated with hedge fund guru Steven Cohen’s Point72 Asset Management.

Smart money in both the venture and private equity space has been long Brazil for a bit, and the new investment provides even more firepower to the thesis that Brazil’s startup ecosystem is on the move.

“For the Brazilian ecosystem, the investment represents the trust and the opportunity that we have here in the Brazilian market. For quite some time it was difficult to attract this kind of investment from abroad,” says Contabilizei chief executive Vitor Torres. Even though we had a recession there are technology companies that are growing,” Torres says, saying that the company has already staved off acquisition offers and will eventually eye a potential public offering in U.S. or

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