ViSenze is a Singapore based start-up looking to change the way we use computer vision. That doesn’t mean Terminator style augmented reality, but rather using your smartphone to change the way you shop.
Their series A funding round raised them a healthy 3.5 Million USD to play with, and the results have been remarkable. Now they’ve bagged an additional $10.5 million, led by Rakuten Ventures, venture capital firm Enspire Capital, and perhaps most excitingly WI Harper Group, which focuses on US-China cross-border investment.
Visual Search Becomes A Reality
Their core product is a visual search and image recognition software that combines computer vision, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to finally create a usable image based search function – something Google tired years ago and failed pretty miserably at.
People can use their smartphone to take a picture and find products that match it online.
The app has immediately offered a new and novel approach to retailers, allowing people to take a picture of an item in a magazine, or even just worn by someone in the street, to enable matching and recommendations of products that are available for sale.
Consumer Facing, Business Focused
They have gone on record as saying their focus is business-to-business. They’re not developing an independent, consumer focused app as yet, instead seeing their product as added value for existing retailers and advertisers. But never say never. They are already using huge volumes of user data to optimize their product – who knows what new opportunities they’re identifying in the process.
The company’s RnD department has 30 people already, but the funding will enable them to boost this number to 50. The business end also sounds positive, with a 300% year on year growth reported so far, with CEO Oliver Tan reporting a 20% increase month on month right now.
Motion Picture Search
The company’s most exciting project is integrating their tools into motion picture search. With 25 images a second or more in the typical streaming video, there are some sampling and processing challenges to be overcome, but the potential upside is gargantuan.
The internet is leaning more heavily into video every day, and augmented, unobstrusive, opt-in advertising could be a huge winner for premium streaming services and free sites like YouTube and Vimeo.
The company currently has their sights set on China. This might seem crazy to some, but certainly not to one of their lead investors, who specialize in getting companies into the Chinese and US markets.
Customers and Competition
There are some big names, some small names, and some local names in the game so far. Heavyweights Rakuten are the lead investors as well as the first customers, while Lazada, Asos in the UK and Myntra in India are all on board already. Indian e-commerce store Flipkart is also in the game.
They have heavyweights like Cortexica and Superfish to contend with, both of which appear to have more funding. But the connections and strategy for the Singapore company mean they’re more globally focused than anyone else right now.
Carbon, formerly known as Carbon 3D, of Redwood City California have just successfully added a cool $81 million in venture funding to its Series C round. With the money coming from heavy hitters like BMW, GE and Nikon, adding to money from venture capitalists like GV and Sequoia Capital, the company are starting to raise some serious eyebrows.
Growing Parts and Prototypes
When you look at their product offer, it’s not surprising. Unlike traditional 3D printing, which just prints things in 2D over and over again, Carbon uses a combination of light and oxygen to effectively ‘grow’ objects out of a liquid pool of resins and elastomers.
The approach is revolutionary enough that Carbon managed to get it printed up in the research journal Science. Beyond just being new and different, however, the new method offers real advantages. Principally: speed.
The continuous liquid interface production, or CLIP, housed in their M1 machines (which use cloud-based design software), can produce prototypes or parts faster than any other current method. CEO and Co-Founder Joe DeSimone claims 25 to 100 times faster. They can even be used for creating small parts at volume.
Because of the unique way the parts are grown, they come out smooth, with no need to be machined, milled or polished like typical layer-printed parts have to be. This means they’re printed ready to go, with no need for further processing.
Growing the parts also allows for complex shapes and lattices, which can provide a much greater degree of structural integrity accompanied by a huge weight saving, ideal for drones, automobiles and other technologically advanced items that need to carry a load.
Ten Times The Growth
Right now the company is in its acorn stage, but this new funding is designed to speed up its mighty oak-tree potential.
The company has 50 machines leased out right now. By the end of this year they want to make that 100. By the end of next year, they’re aiming for 500.
The Final Countdown
Carbon has said this will likely be the last round of venture funding they seek. Having raised 222 million, they are already valued at one billion dollars, making them a pretty safe investment for companies that will also be part of the company’s future customer base.
Clients And Competition
Legacy Effects in Hollywood, BMW and Ford Motor Co., as well as Sculpteo and The Technology House have all made use of Carbon’s services so far. They are already partnering in a diverse range of industries, from aerospace to apparel, consumer electronics to medical devices.
The company is not without competition. Statasys, who tried and failed to get a consumer marketing going for desktop 3D printing, has just confirmed they are doubling down on industrial applications for the future. That said, Carbon’s unique approach is still a golden goose, unless someone else can reinvent 3D printing all over again.
While raising capital can be a challenge for some, Canva, the Australian based graphic design startup seems to have elevated fund raising to an art form with its latest round of funding at $15 Million (U.S.). Canva’s latest influx originates from Blackbird Ventures and Felicis Ventures and brings the company’s value to an unprecedented $345 Million (U.S.), doubling its valuation.
Canva’s previous round of funding at $15 Million remains untouched. The company is pleased with its investors as well as the networks to which they have connected and with the latest influx of capital is poised for growth and success in the workplace.
The Canva media tools suite allow users of all levels to produce professional graphic designs and features a FREE consumer version as well as a PAID service. A collaboration designed for an seamless workplace which requires a strong visual design presence. The design tools allow template creation which can be edited as needed by all departments within an organization – the perfect complement at visual literacy expands into virtually every profession globally.
Canva is currently offered for desktop applications, iPad, and IPhone in 11 languages. An Android version is coming as are nine new language versions.
Canva’s growth has been rapid since its founding in 2012. The company currently has a staff of more than 120 people from Sydney, San Francisco, and Manila and customers across the globe including the United States, Australia, India, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
PayU, Naspers’ payment service provider, whose headquarters is in the Netherlands, announces the acquisition of Citrus Pay, the Indian payment gateway. Closing at $130 million (U.S.), it is one of the largest Merger and Acquisitions in the Indian internet arena and certainly in Indian financial tech history. To date, the largest M&A in India’s financial tech market was Snapdeal’s acquisition of Freecharge at $400 million in 2015.
PayU, in India, allows sites to present various payment opportunities – credit, debit, and internet banking – to its customers. In addition, the Reserve Bank of India had granted PayU a semi-closed wallet license, allowing users to link their wallets to their accounts and pay accepted sites. PayU also permits the use of multiple currencies.
Up until the acquisition, Citrus Pay was the competition, threatening PayU plan’s for the Indian market. With the merger, Citrus Pay’s CEO Amrish Rau, will become the head of PayU India, while Jitendra Gupta, co-founder will manage LazyPay, and Shailaz Nag, co-founder, will cultivate new bank alliances. Leaving the company is PayU co-founder, Nitin Gupta.
Sequoia Capital, Ascent Capital and Beenos Asia were investors in Citrus Pay’s raising of $32.5 million in three round of funding.
The awesomely named (and likely Pratchett-inspired) start-up Sourcery Technologies Inc. is looking to change the way restaurants handle their relationship with vendors, and vice versa, by creating a portal interface solution for both sides.
They have just secured $5 million in venture funding from their original backers Marker LLC, together with Steadfast Venture Capital, Palantir and more. So what’s the big deal?
Software As A Service
Software as a service is becoming more ubiquitous all the time, and that’s because it helps businesses do what produces results while cutting time from administration. Sourcery will do just that for restaurants.
The opportunity was identified when it became clear that restaurants are way behind the times on Accounts Payable. Most still order by phone, pay by check, and most vendors send paper invoices. This mess of un-trackable communication and losable paper becomes very complicated very quickly.
Sourcery takes everything paperless, using a digital interface designed for both restaurants and their vendors. This allows people to use scanners to digitize existing invoices and receipts, with software that extracts and organises the relevant information into the appropriate places. They can then generate future paperwork digitally, saving a lot headaches, and the environment.
This information will then be used to give restaurant owners an accurate, up to the minute take on not only their AP, but how that is affecting the rest of their business. In a restaurant, food costs have to be around a third of total costs – Sourcery will track this and alert restaurant owners to the real proportions in real time. There are a host of obvious applications to accounting and taxation, too.
Most of the innovation in the restaurant industry has been focused on customer experience, but this is one of the few to look at optimizing processes behind the scenes to make the business owner’s life easier.
The company wants to use this five million to create the same service for vendors as they have for restaurants. This will enable vendors to issue invoices, track them and bill customers all through the app. The idea is to be fully scalable, so quant little farm shops find it as easy to use as large scale manufacturers.
The company isn’t going to stop there. In the short term, they’re going to introduce data insights and enterprise features for restaurants. Medium term, they’re looking at widening out the application of the software to include appliances and even utility spend, to create a whole-restaurant performance tracking solution.
There’s also word of expansion beyond restaurants into other retail applications, which means the software has the potential to blow up big time in the next few years.