Impact investment fund Shift4Good is a Singapore and Paris-based sustainable mobility venture capital (VC) firm. The firm has attracted $98 million in the first close of its latest impact fund.
The VC firm confirmed the development in a LinkedIn post, which said that investors in the first close include European Investment Fund (EIF), Renault Group, French sovereign fund Bpifrance, MOTUL, some mobility players from MOBILIANS, family offices, and entrepreneur-investors.
The firm has a fundraising target of US$293 million, which it will invest in approximately thirty start-ups over the next five years in Series A and B, two-thirds in the European Union and one-third in the rest of the world, with a focus on Southeast Asia.
According to the company, these investments aim to accelerate their development, enable them to become international champions, and thus contribute, through their innovations, to reduce the carbon footprint of the mobility sector.
The firm said on its website that “we are sector-focused to be more impactful. We only invest in sustainable mobility opportunities or circular economy business when they intersect with mobility.”
Shift4Good‘s focus materialized given that the transport of people and goods has a carbon impact of eight billion tonnes each year.
The firm is co-founded by Matthieu de Chanville, Sébastien Guillaud, Yann Marteil, and Thierry de Panafieu, four French investors with a background in venture capital and mobility. The firm is an independent French management company with offices in Paris and Singapore and is certified by the AMF.
Shift4Good brings to entrepreneurs, with the most promising projects in the sustainable mobility sector, a bespoke and global solution to enable them to become world champions.
Their expertise covers in-depth sector knowledge and financing coupled with tailor-made support and a collaborative ecosystem fully mobilized to respond to the climate emergency.
According to Yann Marteil, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Shift4Good, “This closing allows us to launch our support programs for entrepreneurs committed to developing sustainable mobility solutions, making it possible to contribute to reversing the climate trend.”
He also said that “the abundance and quality of the deal flow illustrate that there are bold and profitable solutions to offer sustainable mobility.”
Global impact investing is on an upward trend in more and more regions, and this is no different in Southeast Asia. For instance, ADB Ventures, the impact investment manager of the Asian Development Bank, is planning the first close of its $100 million second fund this year.
Interior design unicorn Livspace has announced that it will set aside $100m for its expansion plans in India, Singapore, Malaysia, and the Middle East.
According to the company’s announcement, the funds will go towards incubating and investing in brands and content destinations across markets in the home decor, interior, renovation, and ancillary segments.
Anuj Srivatsava, CEO of the company said that the company will be looking to invest in businesses working across home improvement segments, such as partial renovation and supply of business-to-business (B2B) modular materials, to boost the company’s topline. It will also be looking to invest in direct-to-consumer brands across furniture and other home improvement categories.
Anuj Srivatsava said that “this is our strategy to expand the market size and the profitability profile of the company.” He also added that “we are looking at ideas, technologies, and people that bring additional functional expertise to drive better outcomes for all our stakeholders. In line with this, we plan to invest across all stages in brands’ lifecycle to help them disrupt the industry further.”
Singapore-based Livspace is in active discussions with eight to nine companies as it hunts for assets that would help the company generate growth and accelerate its path to profitability.
The expansion will be headed by Livspace’s chief strategy officer, Ankit Shah. According to Ankit, “Today’s disruptive market combined with the macro-economic environment is driving innovation at every level. This has resulted in exploring new pathways by adding technology and capabilities that will drive profitability. This will help our business across all our markets scale faster, grow our margin stack further, and create strong defensible moats.”
Founded in 2014 by Ramakant Sharma and Srivatsava, Livspace is a home improvement platform that provides renovation solutions for homeowners right from designing to last-mile fulfillment. The platform brings together designers, brands, manufacturers, and contractors to enable an e-commerce-like experience for home renovations.
The latest announcement comes after the company’s Series F fundraising in March this year, which brought funding of $180m and propelled the company to its unicorn status. The round was led by KKR and saw the participation of existing investors such as Ingka Group Investments, Jungle Ventures, Venturi Partners, and Peugeot Investments.
The company acquired a majority stake in Qanvast, a Singapore-based home design platform, last December.
Josys, Japan headquartered B2B platform, has raised $32 Million in a Series A investing round. The round was led by Global Brain Corporation, ANRI, Yamauchi-No.10 Family Office, Office Holdings, World Innovation Lab, and other venture capital firms.
The company, which spun off from its parent company Raksul last year, launched its automated management IT devices and SaaS application in September 2021 to reduce IT operations costs and enhance security systems.
Josys claims that it sets itself apart from other management platforms like BetterCloud and Okta by empowering its users by providing multiple professional services, including device procurement, business outsourcing (kitting services), and storage, along with SaaS management.
The latest funding round will see Josys speed up its overseas expansion to Singapore, India, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Germany, Netherlands, United States, and Canada. The company predicts that it will have its first launch in Singapore in early 2023. Additionally, the firm would use the fresh funding to strengthen its R&D base in India and sales team in Japan and accelerate corporations’ digital transformation.
General partner at Global Brain Keisuke Tatsuoka said, “Over the past five years, the environment surrounding Corporate IT has changed dramatically, with the ever-increasing number of SaaS to manage in addition to the management of devices and remote work.”
He continues to add that “Josys simplifies the maintenance and management of IT infrastructure and allow us to focus on business operations, and will become an indispensable service for our businesses.”
General partner and co-founder of WiL Ventures Masataka Matsumoto stated, “Corporate IT is undergoing a major transition due to the digital transformation and changing ways of working post-coronavirus.” He continued by saying that “the importance of security management and the limitations of in-house production of corporate IT are some of the issues the company is trying to address globally to solve these challenges.”
Josys claims its monthly recurring revenue (MRR) has increased 29x in nine months from Q1 to Q4 in 2022. Its clients span large enterprises to small companies, including Japanese cosmetic company iStyle.
Softbank Group has recently reported a quarterly loss of more than $23 billion. The company said this net loss in the June quarter “was recorded mainly due to the monetization of investments in public portfolio companies.” As a result, this may cause a longer funding winter for startups.
Masayoshi Son, the founder and chief executive of SoftBank Group, is due to the unicorn founder’s unwillingness to accept lower valuation in fresh funding deliberation. This assertion has led the 64-year-old executive, whose Vision Funds have backed over 470 startups globally in the past six years, to believe that the “funding winter” may last longer for unlisted companies.
Masayoshi said unicorn leaders “still believe in their valuations, and they wouldn’t accept that they may have to see their valuations go lower than they think.” The 64-year-old executive also stated that the winter for publicly-listed companies is continuing, but a similar downturn for startups may last longer.”
Startups worldwide are facing a sharp crunch in funding as investors grow cautious about the market conditions – despite increasing, startups are raising record amounts of funds in recent months. Klarna, a SoftBank-backed firm, raised $800 million in new financing round that valued the firm at $6.7 billion, down from $45.6 billion a year ago. In another case, Stripe, one of the world’s most valuable startups, cut its valuation by 28% in an internal assessment.
The founder of SoftBank Group, about the market conditions, said that “Now seems like the perfect time to invest when the stock market is down so much, and I have the urge to do so, but if I act on it, we could suffer a blow that would be irreversible, and that is unacceptable.”
Comparing the company’s last year’s investment profile to the current year, SoftBank invested $600 million in the quarter that ended in June, down from $20.6 billion during the same period a year ago. The company has also reduced the size of its check, taking only 5% to 10% ownership in firms it backs.
Other high-profile investors, including, Sequoia, Lightspeed, and Y Combinator, have advised their portfolio founders to “plan for the worst” and accelerate any fundraising deliberation if the runway isn’t long enough.
The quarterly loss is the company’s biggest. Masayoshi Son expressed his remorse, stating, “When we were turning out big profits, I became somewhat delirious, and looking back at myself now. I am quite embarrassed and remorseful.”
MegaRobo Technologies is a China-based company that uses robotics and artificial intelligence for life science research.
The company has recently led a Series C funding round which was led by Goldman Sachs’ private investment arm, venture capital company GGV capital, and Asia Investment Capital.
The funding round also saw participation from the likes of Sinovation Ventures, Pavilion Capital, and Starr Capital. The Series C funding round also saw the participation from China-focused investment companies Yumeng Capital, Redview Capital, and Harvest Capital, as well as investment bank Taihecap, which were involved in the deal.
The company announced that through the Series C funding round, it has raised a total of US$300-million. The company plans to use the fresh funds to fund research and development, increase capacity and expand its presence in new international markets.
MegoRobo was founded in 2016 to develop a suite of robotic automation solutions that integrate AI software, analytical instruments, laboratory hardware, and consumables to help clients in the life science sector achieve more stable and efficient experimental results. It targets industry issues such as a growing lack of biotech talents in areas ranging from new drug R&D to genetic engineering and clinical diagnosis.
The company claims to employ close to 1,000 people, of which about 600 of them are research professionals, across offices and labs in Beijing, Suzhou, Shanghai, and Shenzhen in China, as well as in the U.K. and U.S.
The company whose product includes a COVID-19 testing solution is also the latest start-up from the pharmaceutical industry to capitalize on a jump in investor interest in the sector after the COVID-19 pandemic.
On its official website, MegaRovi stated that it has raised more than US$150-million in seven previous venture rounds. Prior to the current funding rounds, the company started raising capital for its Series B round in November 2020 which raised about US$125-million of funding from investors. It is speculated that the company has reached a unicorn valuation of over USD 1 billion.