Author: Steve OHear

Sweden’s Engaging Care raises $800,000 for its digital healthcare SaaS

TECHCRUNCH Engaging Care, a Swedish heathtech startup co-founded by Charlotta Tönsgård, who was previously CEO of online doctor app Min Doktor before being asked to step down, has raised $800,000 in “pre-seed” funding to continue building out its digital healthcare SaaS. Backing the burgeoning company are a host of well-established angel investors in the region. They include Hampus Jakobsson (venture partner at BlueYard Capital and co-founder of TAT, which sold to Blackberry for $150 million), Sophia Bendz (EIR at Atomico and the former Global Marketing Director at Spotify), Erik Byrenius (founder of OnlinePizza, an online food ordering company sold to Delivery Hero) and Neil Murray’s The Nordic Web Ventures. With the aim of dragging healthcare into the digital age, but in a more patient-friendly and patient-centred way than tradition electronic medical record systems, Engaging Care is developing a SaaS and accompanying apps to bring together patients, healthcare providers and partners to be “smarter and better connected”. Unlike software and digital services that work outside existing healthcare systems, the startup’s wares are billed as being designed to work within them. It is initially targeting people with long-term health conditions. “There has been tremendous progress made in the healthcare sector over the last decade. New advanced drugs, new methods for surgery and other treatments, but how healthcare workers share important information with the patient and the interaction between caregiver and patient...

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With eyes on Europe, Open Banking API provider TrueLayer raises $7.5M

TECHCRUNCH TrueLayer, the London startup that’s built a developer platform to make it easy for fintech and other adjacent companies, such as retailers, to access bank APIs — and ride the Open Banking and PSD2 gravy train — has picked up further $7.5 million in funding. Leading the round is venture capital fund Northzone. It follows a $3 million Series A in June last year, and will be used for European expansion, starting with Germany and France. The new capital will also be invested in growing the TrueLayer team and to develop new products to help companies and consumers make the most of Open Banking and PSD2, where co-founder Francesco Simoneschi tells me the opportunities are huge, even if they remain largely untapped, thus far. “I think the first quarters of 2018 have been about working and educating companies on Open Banking and how to build propositions on top of it,” he says. “This has seen a silent yet massive stream of inbound demand for us. To put things in context, we grew 500 percent in terms of the developer community averaging hundreds of companies a month asking how to start using TrueLayer and the services that we enable — from two people in a garage to the largest enterprise”. Since Open Banking was tentatively launched in the U.K. January, TrueLayer has secured partnerships and integrations with a number...

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Mention Me, the referral marketing platform, raises $7M led by Eight Roads Ventures

TECHCRUNCH Mention Me, the London-headquartered referral marketing platform, has raised $7 million in further funding. The round is led by Eight Roads Ventures and is the first time the five and a half year old company has raised venture capital, having only ever done a small angel round in 2015. That’s noteworthy given the company’s two founders: Andy Cockburn and Tim Boughton, who met at Homeaway where they were U.K. MD and European CTO respectively before its $3 million IPO on the Nasdaq. Counting over 300 customers — including FarFetch, Ovo Energy, Ted Baker and ZipCar — Mention Me offers...

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Proportunity offers ‘help to buy’ loans based on predicting future house prices

TECHCRUNCH Proportunity, a London-based startup and Entrepreneur First alumni, wants to help first time buyers get on the property ladder earlier or purchase a home more to their liking. The company, which recently became an FCA authorised mortgage lender, claims to use machine learning to accurately forecast future house prices and the areas of London that will see the highest growth in the next few years. Based on confidence in this modelling, it will soon begin offering equity loans to boost your deposit when buying a first home. Specifically, once Proportunity has used its technology to help identify a property for sale that both fits your needs and offers good house price growth prospects, the startup will offer an equity loan of up to 15 percent of the property’s price. You then combine this loan with the money you have already saved for a deposit so that you can apply for a mortgage with a lower loan-to-value ratio, which in turn will command a lower interest rate. The way it works is quite similar to the U.K. government’s “Help To Buy” scheme, except it isn’t restricted to a new build and you have to pay monthly interest on the loan from the get-go. Like Help To Buy, when you sell the house or remortgage it in five years time, you have to repay the Proportunity equity loan at 15...

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Pointy raises $12M Series B to help bricks and mortar retailers fight Amazon

TECHCRUNCH Pointy​,​ the​ ​startup​ ​that​ offers tech to help ​bricks and mortar​ ​retailers put their stock online so that it can be discovered via search engines, has picked up $12 million in new funding. The Series B round is led Polaris Partners and Vulcan Capital, and brings total funding for the Irish company to $19 million. Founded on the premise that people often resort to e-commerce behemoths like Amazon because they can’t find the same item locally, Pointy has developed a hardware and cloud software solution that makes it easy to create a bespoke website as means of making local stock discoverable online. Specifically, the ​”Pointy​ ​box”​ hardware ​gadget connects to a store’s barcode scanner and automatically puts scanned items on a Pointy-powered website for the store. Store pages are then optimised for search engines, so that when you search for products locally — say your favourite artisan beer — a Pointy-powered result shows up and encourages you to visit the store and make a purchase. In other words, this is about helping local retailers drive more footfall, but with very little additional overhead. Pointy CEO and co-founder Mark Cummins says the Series B round will be used by the startup to accelerate growth and build on an increased uptake by U.S. retailers. It currently counts 5,500 retailers using Pointy in total, with 70 percent from the U.S, and...

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Next Insurance, an insurtech targeting small businesses, scores $83M Series B led by Redpoint

TECHCRUNCH Next Insurance, the Israeli digital insurance startup that helps small businesses get cover, has raised a significant new funding round, adding another $83 million to its balance sheet. The Series B round is led by Silicon Valley’s Redpoint Ventures, and will be used by the company to continue expanding across the U.S., where it now operates as a full service insurance carrier. It will also increase headcount in both its Israel and U.S. offices. Founded in 2016 with the aim of becoming a one-stop insurance shop for micro and small business insurance needs, Next Insurance designs insurance plans for business sectors that are often overlooked by more general insurers. Small business owners often rely on price comparison websites to figure out what kind of coverage they need and where to buy it, though that means the plans they get don’t always cover all their needs. The other option is to use a broker but that also adds another middle person. “The complexity of the small business insurance market is very significant and this leads to a situation where even the largest insurance providers own less than 10 percent of the small business market,” founder and CEO Guy Goldstein told TechCrunch when the company raised its Series A. “This offers us huge growth potential as we aim to specialize in and become a market leader in each small business...

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Xara Cloud is an easy to use design tool to help businesses create better looking content

TECHCRUNCH Xara is on a mission to help businesses create better looking content, and in turn save us all from having to consume visually unappealing marketing and comms material. The German startup has developed Xara Cloud, a design tool that resides in the cloud and attempts to bridge the gap between professional design and business content created by non-design professionals. Specifically, Xara Cloud consists of a drag and drop browser-based editor that lets you create designs using text, shapes, icons, charts and imported images, but with a few extra tricks up its sleeve. These include the ability to use off-the-shelf professionally created colour schemes or have the software create a new colour scheme based on an image, such as your company logo, that you’ve uploaded. As you’d expect, you can also choose from a library of pre-made templates ranging from social media graphics to flyer and brochures to presentations. These can be designed on top of or tweaked ad nauseam, and in addition you can create your own templates to function as reusable assets. The editor adheres to a smart grid system, too, which helps non-designers create more disciplined and visually appealing layouts. There are also collaboration features so you can easily create content as part of a team. “The problem being solved is that there is a massive software gap between basic document editors like Word, PowerPoint, etc....

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Olio, the app that lets you share unwanted food items with your neighbours, picks up £6M Series A

TECHCRUNCH Olio, the hyperlocal food sharing app that wants to help tackle the world’s food waste epidemic, has picked up $6 million in Series A funding. The U.K. startup offers a location-based app and website that lets you list and post a photo of unwanted food items to be shared with other people in the same neighbourhood. That is, food that you might otherwise throw away. The company, Olio co-founder and CEO Tessa Clarke told me in a call earlier this week, was born out of the idea that a bottom-up, community approach — driven by individual behaviour — is the most scalable way to cut down on the amount of food households typically waste. She says about a third of food production is thrown away and/or allowed to perish, which mostly ends up in landfill, and that food in the home represents about half of this. The startup helps businesses tackle the problem, too. Dubbed the “Food Waste Heroes Programme,” Olio is enabling companies, such as retailers or those operating events and corporate canteens, to utilise the Olio platform and community to become “zero food waste” organisations. This sees companies charged a fee and in return Olio will dispatch its thousands of volunteers, who have been vetted and are trained in food hygiene, to come to their stores or outlets and collect unwanted food items. The volunteers then...

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