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Here are all the startups pitching today at Venture Day Minsk

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Venture Day Minsk (organised by tech startup hub Imaguru) is run annually, but because of the pandemic and the political situation in Belarus it has gone virtual. Even Imaguru itself has had to switch to online-only operations after Lukashenko’s thugs shut down its physical space. If you want to support them, check out their startups, and maybe grab a T-shirt.

There are are always interesting startups to watch out of Belarus, a country which has produced startups like Splitmetrics, MSQRD, PingFin, DEIP and TrackDuck well as PandaDoc.

A run-down of who is pitching in below.

You can tune in to the live stream here. Investors can network with the startups here. And you can join the startup pitches on Clubhouse here. On twitter the hashtag is here.

Startups pitching:

1 – TeenUP: learning video platform teens-2-teens to unlock the teenagers’ potential and personality @TeenUP12

2 – Dignity: app for Business & Personal needs to talk, organize, sell, pay & manage without middlemen, make your Digital life private and secure your Assets #dignity

3 – Voxmate: an intuitive, gesture-based, Android app for people who are blind or visually impaired. It makes news, books, games and instant messaging accessible in a completely new way @voxmateapp

4 – LabMap App: app to explain laboratory tests in 24 hours in a clear language and monitor the state of health and the dynamics of biological indicators.

5 – Pigpughttps://pigpug.co/: AI neurofeedback brain training system for kids with ADHD and ASD @PigPugHealth

6 – SOVA App: mobile app for overwhelmed, exhausted or anxious people to get stress relief fast and sleep well by night rituals  #sovaapp

7 – Itgen: an online edu platform for 1-1 live tutoring for kids from 8 to 16 years old @itgenik

8 – Filmustage: app which highlights breakdown elements in movie/game screenplays in seconds, changing the process from breakdown creation to breakdown discussion @filmustage

9 – DjinnSensor: IoT & cloud solution to manage indoor environment #djinnsensor

10 – Skinive: a Skincare AI-Assistant, based on the DL & CV technologies & medical experience which enables you to check your skin spots within 30 seconds. @skinive1

11 – FARBA: a professional apps design and prototyping tool  #farbaapp

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/04/29/here-are-all-the-startups-pitching-today-at-venture-day-minsk/

Ecommerce

Flipkart in early talks to raise $1 billion ahead of IPO

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Indian e-commerce giant Flipkart has hit the market to raise about $1 billion at up to $30 billion valuation in a pre-IPO financing round, two people familiar with the matter told TechCrunch.

The Bangalore-based startup, which sold majority stake to Walmart in 2018, began exploring funding opportunities with some investors earlier this year. In recent months, the company has also internally discussed pushing its public listing to early next year, the people said, requesting anonymity as details are private. (Media reports last year said Flipkart might file for an IPO in 2021.)

Several major investors of Flipkart declined to comment on fundraise talks early this month. One investor said it made sense that the e-commerce group was planning to raise some capital as the market currently has no shortage of it.

11 Indian startups have turned unicorn this year, more than half of them last month, as some high-profile investors including Tiger Global and Falcon Edge double down on the world’s second largest internet market.

Flipkart, which was last valued at about $24.9 billion last year when it raised $1.2 billion in a round led by Walmart, hasn’t finalized the new investment and the deal size as well as the valuation may change, one of the sources said.

In an earnings call in November last year, Walmart said Flipkart and its payments entity PhonePe had seen the number of monthly active customers reach an all time high. In an earnings call in March this year, Judith McKenna, President and Chief Executive Officer of Walmart International, said Flipkart’s GMV growth was impacted by a 53-day national lockdown in India in the first half of the last year.

“But the business rebounded and exited Q4 with strong momentum, delivering GMV growth roughly double that of the full year,” said McKenna, adding that more than 250 million customers in India engaged with the e-commerce platform during last year’s festival sales.

India was hit by a second wave of the coronavirus in early April, which has again prompted some states to enforce restrictions on servicing of non-essential items on e-commerce platforms.

Flipkart’s cap table as of September last year, according to research firm Tracxn.

The Bangalore-headquartered firm competes neck to neck with Amazon in India. The American e-commerce group has invested over $6.5 billion in the South Asian market.

Both the firms are struggling to aggressively expand their footprint in India, where physical stores continue to drive the vast majority of retail sales. A new powerful player arrived in the market last year to further increase the competition.

JioMart, a joint venture between Reliance Retail (India’s largest retail chain) and Google and Facebook-backed Jio Platforms (India’s largest telecom operator), launched last year in over 200 cities and towns across the nation.

At stake is one of the world’s fastest-growing e-commerce markets that is poised to grow even further as more first-time internet users begin to shop online. India’s e-commerce market is estimated to reach more than 300 million shoppers by 2025, according to estimates by Bain & Company. These shoppers would have bought items worth more than $100 billion from online platforms, the firm projected.

In recent years, Flipkart and Amazon have made a number of bets to expand their reach in India. Both of them have rolled out support for Hindi language (Flipkart has added several additional Indian languages as well), and partnered with neighborhood stores.

“34% of the population [in India] are millennials, young people. By 2030, there is an estimate that this young population of millennials and GenZ will be 75% of the total population. 700 million Indians are digital today. And I also want to just quickly acknowledge that Digital India vision of the Government of India, which has actually enabled this. So you have a unique combination of a big market, completely digital, getting wealthier and very young,” said Kalyan Krishnamurthy, CEO of Flipkart, in February.

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/05/10/flipkart-in-early-talks-to-raise-1-billion-ahead-of-ipo/

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Fintech

Shorting private company stock? This fintech startup is banking on its inevitability

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Even the most sanguine industry observer has to be stunned at times by the pace of dealmaking right now. Not quite halfway through 2021, startups are routinely closing new rounds just months apart and sometimes seeing their valuations triple and even quadruple with every new round.

Maybe they will all become trillion-dollar companies. It’s more likely, however, that they will not, which is where year-old Caplight comes in. Led by Javier Avalos, a former investment banker who recently spent more than three years with the secondaries platform Forge, Caplight is developing tech to enable institutional investors to take long and short private company positions via synthetic, cash-settled derivatives, so whether or not they own any actual shares in certain startups, they can bet on their rise or fall.

Caplight isn’t the first company drawn to the idea. Another young startup in New York, Apeira Capital, is also looking to “short” overvalued startups.  More, Avalos and his cofounder, Justin Moore, a former engineering manager at Forge, could also face competition, from their old firm, for example, as well as Carta, the venture-backed company that makes software to manage equity stakes in other startups.

Still, Avalos thinks he’s on to something. Caplight already has $400 worth of interest from more than 30 institutions, he says. It also just closed on $1.7 million in pre-seed funding led by Fin VC, with participation from Susquehanna Private Equity Investments, Clocktower Ventures, and Dash Fund. We talked with him late last week to learn more; below are excerpts from that chat, edited lightly for length.

TC: You were at Forge, which helps people buy and sell pre-IPO shares. What opportunity did you see while working there?

JA:  I think what platforms like Forge have done really well is build tech solutions for startup employees, for startup founders, and for the companies themselves, and that’s great. What we’re really focused on are larger institutions who need true liquidity, meaning higher frequency of trading, whether that’s buying and selling option contracts, or entering swap-type agreements. [They need a way] to quickly move in and out of positions, as well as hedge themselves.

Caplight [aims to become the] infrastructure that enables any other fund that is looking to take directional positions in private companies. It’s meant to be the plumbing that connects that fund to a market, but not just the marketplace –all of the infrastructure that comes with that. So holding assets in prime brokerage; being able to quickly settle transactions through clearinghouses; being able to provide [the] data to inform a mark to market to value those contracts.

TC: Even more specifically, what are you offering?

JA: So we [want to] allow institutional investors to hedge their private company stock — to generate income on their private company stock by selling out-of-the-money option contracts, for instance. We also allow institutional investors to take short or long positions [and] we’re doing all of our transactions synthetically, so the underlying shares don’t don’t actually have to move.

TC: Is that private company stock used as collateral or encumbered in any way? Do you need the permission of the startup?

JA: The pre-IPO stock can be used as collateral. It doesn’t always need to be though. The great thing about building a synthetic platform is you can inject liquidity into the market by working with sellers who don’t actually own the stock. If I’m a hedge fund, and I don’t own shares of a pre-IPO company, but I still want to express a short interest — a negative view on that company — I could use Caplight to do that. I’d just need to hold other tradable securities as collateral. That’s part of the beauty of what makes this a marketplace that can have very rapid settlement and execution.

TC: So if a hedge fund wants to go short, it just needs to needs to find another party on your service who’s willing to take that trade? 

JA: What you need is two parties — one who one who’s interested in going short on the name, and another who’s interested in going long on the name. Beyond that, you need a model that helps these parties arrive at not just an agreed-upon valuation of the company today, but also where they’re comfortable striking a contract at some point in the future, and then a methodology for valuation at any point in time in between those two points.What we’re talking about here is a methodology to create a mark to market on what the value of that contract is at any given time between the time you enter the contract and the time you ultimately go to settle the contract. Those are really the three main ingredients that are needed here.

TC: How do you develop this methodology? How automated is it?

JA: We’re in the process of building that out now. There’s quite a bit of work, as you can imagine, that goes into that. And part of the mandate that we have having raised this pre seed funding is to go out and find the best talent to come in and help us with this.

TC: Assuming some of these inputs would include fund-raising announcements, any announced revenues, and where things are trading on the secondary market, what are other inputs might surprise people?

JA: Maybe a less obvious one is that when public mutual funds own private tech companies’ stock, they have to report out on at least a quarterly basis where they’re marking those positions, and that’s all public information. So that’s another alternative data set that we would love to pull into our platform in product form.

TC: Why does your company make sense now versus earlier? Does it tie to smart contracts?

JA: Smart contracts are are definitely an enabler. But I think it’s more of a function of where we are in the markets. Forge alone is [ approaching a billion dollars a quarter of volume] and that’s just one platform. When you sum up all the activity, we think there is $20 billion of transaction volume, meaning pre IPO shares that are trading hands each year. For that size marketplace to exist without the ability to have directional bets on top of that, or hedging that is made very easy, it just didn’t make sense to us that hedging and derivative-type transactions don’t exist.

TC: This is a work in progress. In the meantime, what’s to stop Forge or Carta from doing what you’re doing?

JA: It’s something I spend a lot of time thinking about. It goes back to a point that I mentioned earlier, which is that I think Carta and Forge have done a really good job of building tech solutions that serve the companies, and I think a lot of future growth from Carta and Forge and some of the other players is pegged on their ability to develop company relationships. And when you have a lot of [your] growth pegged on building out these relationships — a lot of the valuation that’s being ascribed to Forge and Carta and other secondary platforms is tied their ability to maintain those relationships — to turn around and stand up a marketplace that allows institutions to go short on the same companies that you’re fighting to build relationships with is a direct conflict.

Above, from left to right, Caplight founders Javier Avalos and Justin Moore. For more from this chat, including some of the legal hurdles Caplight has to overcome to operate its business, and how it attracts buyers and sellers to the platform, you can hear our longer conversation here.

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/05/10/is-buying-and-selling-short-positions-in-private-companies-next-this-fintech-startup-is-banking-on-it/

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Startups

Serial fiction app Radish acquired by Kakao Entertainment for $440M

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Serialized fiction app Radish will be acquired by Kakao Entertainment in a transaction valued at $440 million. Kakao Entertainment is owned by Kakao, the South Korean internet giant whose services include its eponymous messaging platform. Radish founder Seungyoon Lee will hold onto his role as its chief executive officer, while also becoming Kakao Entertainment’s global strategy officer to lead its growth in international markets.

Radish claims millions of users in North America, and the acquisition will help Kakao Entertainment expand its own webtoons and web novel business there, and in other English-speaking markets. Radish will retain management autonomy and continue operating as its own brand.

The news comes as another South Korean internet giant, Naver, completes its acquisition of Wattpad, in a deal that also focuses on intellectual property and geographic expansion.

Founded in 2015, Radish originally focused on user-generated content, but now the core of its business is Radish Originals, or serial fiction series designed specifically for the app. The company said the launch of Radish Originals in 2018 helped propel its growth, with revenue increasing more than 10 times in 2020 from the previous year.

Radish monetizes content through its micropayments system, which allows users to read several free episodes before making payments of about 20 to 30 cents to unlock new episodes (users also have the option of waiting an hour to unlock episodes for free). About 90% of its revenue now comes from Radish Originals.

The acquisition means that Radish Originals’ intellectual property will now be adapted by Kakao into webtoons, videos and other content, increasing their reach. Since 2016, Kakao Entertainment has adapted several web novels including “What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim?,” “A Business Proposal” and “Solo Leveling” into webtoons and other media.

Lee told TechCrunch that Radish started exclusively distributing several of Kakao Entertainment’s most popular original series, like “What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim?” last month. It plans to launch more content from Kakao Entertainment’s portfolio and are also “looking at ways in which we can make original localized novel adaptions of Kakao’s popular stories,” he added.

In a press statement, Kakao Entertainment CEO Jinsoo Lee said, “Radish has firmly established itself as a leading web novel platform and yet we see even greater growth potential… With the combination of Kakao’s expertise in the IP business and Radish’s strong North American foothold, we are excited about what we can achieve together.”

The acquisition has been approved by Radish’s board of directors, which includes a representative from SoftBank Ventures Asia, its largest investor, and the majority of its shareholders. Radish’s other backers include Lowercase Capital, K50 Ventures, Nicolas Bergruen, Charlie Songhurst, Duncan Clark and Amy Tan, the best-selling author.

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/05/10/serial-fiction-app-radish-acquired-by-kakao-entertainment-for-440m/

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Startups

Serial fiction app Radish acquired by Kakao Entertainment for $440M

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Published

on

Serialized fiction app Radish will be acquired by Kakao Entertainment in a transaction valued at $440 million. Kakao Entertainment is owned by Kakao, the South Korean internet giant whose services include its eponymous messaging platform. Radish founder Seungyoon Lee will hold onto his role as its chief executive officer, while also becoming Kakao Entertainment’s global strategy officer to lead its growth in international markets.

Radish claims millions of users in North America, and the acquisition will help Kakao Entertainment expand its own webtoons and web novel business there, and in other English-speaking markets. Radish will retain management autonomy and continue operating as its own brand.

The news comes as another South Korean internet giant, Naver, completes its acquisition of Wattpad, in a deal that also focuses on intellectual property and geographic expansion.

Founded in 2015, Radish originally focused on user-generated content, but now the core of its business is Radish Originals, or serial fiction series designed specifically for the app. The company said the launch of Radish Originals in 2018 helped propel its growth, with revenue increasing more than 10 times in 2020 from the previous year.

Radish monetizes content through its micropayments system, which allows users to read several free episodes before making payments of about 20 to 30 cents to unlock new episodes (users also have the option of waiting an hour to unlock episodes for free). About 90% of its revenue now comes from Radish Originals.

The acquisition means that Radish Originals’ intellectual property will now be adapted by Kakao into webtoons, videos and other content, increasing their reach. Since 2016, Kakao Entertainment has adapted several web novels including “What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim?,” “A Business Proposal” and “Solo Leveling” into webtoons and other media.

Lee told TechCrunch that Radish started exclusively distributing several of Kakao Entertainment’s most popular original series, like “What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim?” last month. It plans to launch more content from Kakao Entertainment’s portfolio and are also “looking at ways in which we can make original localized novel adaptions of Kakao’s popular stories,” he added.

In a press statement, Kakao Entertainment CEO Jinsoo Lee said, “Radish has firmly established itself as a leading web novel platform and yet we see even greater growth potential… With the combination of Kakao’s expertise in the IP business and Radish’s strong North American foothold, we are excited about what we can achieve together.”

The acquisition has been approved by Radish’s board of directors, which includes a representative from SoftBank Ventures Asia, its largest investor, and the majority of its shareholders. Radish’s other backers include Lowercase Capital, K50 Ventures, Nicolas Bergruen, Charlie Songhurst, Duncan Clark and Amy Tan, the best-selling author.

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/05/10/serial-fiction-app-radish-acquired-by-kakao-entertainment-for-440m/

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