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Parts of Beijing on lockdown after major new COVID-19 outbreak; fear of second wave after new confirmed cases appear for the first time in more than 50 days

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Authorities in China have locked down areas surrounding Beijing’s largest wholesale food market after more than 50 people tested positive for COVID-19, according to a report from AFP. China’s capital had gone 50 days without reporting a new local case.

Affected areas include major seafood and produce market and several residential complexes. A total of 53 people out of 517 tested at the Xinfadi market tested positive for Covid-19, a district official said. None were displaying symptoms.

Lockdowns have been imposed in 11 nearby neighborhoods, while 10,000 market staff will be tested. The authorities also want to test everyone who has had recent contact with the market as well as those living in the district surrounding it. These are the first new confirmed cases in Beijing for more than 50 days.

“In accordance with the principle of putting the safety of the masses and health first, we have adopted lockdown measures for the Xinfadi market and surrounding neighbourhoods,” Chu Junwei, a district official, told a briefing.

Update: According to South China Morning Post, Beijing’s Fengtai district has launched “wartime-like control measures” following a spike in novel coronavirus cases centred around a major wholesale market called Xinfadi. All six confirmed Covid-19 cases reported on June 12, 2020, were in relation to the Xinfadi market. Throat swabs from 45 people, out of 517 tested at the market, had also tested positive for the virus without showing any symptoms.

You can see the video below.

This news is still developing. Please check back for updates.


Source: https://techstartups.com/2020/06/13/parts-beijing-lockdown-major-new-covid-19-outbreak-fear-second-wave-new-confirmed-cases-appear-first-time-50-days/

Start Ups

Orbion, manufacturer of in-space plasma propulsion systems, raises $20M Series B

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Electric propulsion developer Orbion Space Technology has raised $20 million in a Series B funding round, which it says it will use to scale production capacity of its Aurora propulsion system.

The Michigan-based startup manufactures Hall effect plasma thrusters for use in small and cube satellites. Thrusters are used throughout the lifespan of a satellite (or any object in space that needs to maintain its orbit, like the space station) to adjust orbital altitude, avoid collisions, and de-orbit the craft once it has reached the end of its useful life. Hall thrusters use a magnetic field to ionize a propellant and produce plasma.

While they have long been used in space, this type of thruster has mostly been too expensive for small satellite operators. Orbion says it has created a cost-effective production capacity to meet the growing demand of startups and developers launching to low Earth orbit. Orbion CEO Brad King said in a statement that the company considered contract manufacturers but ultimately chose a vertically integrated manufacturing model. Now, the company says it has outgrown its existing manufacturing space.

The company is facing “unprecedented market demand” for its Aurora system, King said. With the boom of the so-called new space economy, driven in part by the decreased costs of processors, components and even launch, it’s no surprise that there’s been a concurrent uptick in demand for efficient in-space propulsion systems.

The company had previously raised a $9.2 million Series A in August 2019. Since that time, the company secured a research partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense that’s testing the resiliency of American space systems. Orbion also landed a contract with satellite manufacturer Blue Canyon Technologies last September.

This most recent funding round was led by the US-India VC firm Inventus Capital Partners, with additional participation from Material Impact, Beringea and Wakestream Ventures.

“The space game is changing,” Inventus Capital Partners investor Kanwal Rekhi said in a statement. “Large satellites are being replaced by a multitude of nano-satellites; just like the PCs replaced mainframes. Orbion is providing these nano-satellites maneuverability to get into more precise orbits and stay there longer.”

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/06/24/orbion-manufacturer-of-in-space-plasma-propulsion-systems-raises-20m-series-b/

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Fintech

Accept.inc secures $90M in debt and equity to scale its digital mortgage lending platform

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A lot of startups were built to help people make all-cash offers on homes with the purpose of gaining an edge against other buyers, especially in ultra-competitive markets. 

Accepti.inc is a Denver-based company that is attempting to create a new category in real estate technology. To help scale its digital mortgage lending platform, the company announced today that it has secured $90 million in debt and equity – with $78 million in debt and $12 million in equity. Signal Fire led the equity portion of its financing, which also included participation from existing seed investors Y Combinator and DN Capital.

Accept.inc describes itself as an iLender, or a “technology-enabled lender” that gives people a way to submit all-cash offers on a home upon qualifying for a mortgage.

Using its platform, a buyer gets qualified first and then can start looking for homes that fall at or under the amount he or she is approved for. They can purchase a more expensive home, but any amount above what they are approved for would have to come out of pocket. Historically, most buyers don’t know that they will have to pay out of pocket until they’ve made an offer on a specific home and an appraisal comes under the amount of the price they are paying for a home. In those cases, the buyer has to cough up the difference out of pocket. With Accept.inc., its execs tout, buyers know upfront how much they are approved for and can spend on a new home “so there are no surprises later.”

SignalFire Founding Partner and CTO Ilya Kirnos describes Accept.inc as “the first and only iLender.”

He points out that since it is a lender, Accept.inc doesn’t make its money by charging buyers fees like some others in the all-cash offer space.

“Unlike ‘iBuyers’ or ‘alternative iBuyers,’ Accept.inc fronts the cash to buy a house and then makes money off mortgage origination and title, meaning sellers, homebuyers and their agents pay no additional cost for the service,” he told TechCrunch.

IBuyers instead buy homes from sellers who signed up online, make a profit by often fixing up and selling those homes and then helping people purchase a different home with all cash. They also make money by charging transaction fees. A slew of companies operate in the space including established players such as Opendoor and Zillow and newer players such as Homelight.

Image credit: Accept.inc. Left to right: Co-founders Adam Pollack, Nick Friedman and Ian Perrex.

Since its 2016 inception, Accept.inc says it has helped thousands of buyers, agents and sellers close on “hundreds of millions of dollars” in homes. The company saw ”14x” growth in 2020 and from June 2020 to June 2021, it achieved “10x” growth in terms of the size of its team and number of transactions and revenue, according to CEO and co-founder Adam Pollack. Accept.inc wants to use its new capital to build on that momentum and meet demand.

Pollack and Nick Friedman met while in college and started building Accept.inc with the goal of “turning every offer into a cash offer.” The pair essentially “failed for two years,” half-jokes Pollack.

“We basically became an encyclopedia of 1,000 ways the idea of helping people make all-cash offers wouldn’t work,” he said.

The team went through Y Combinator in the winter of 2019 and that’s when they created the iLender concept. In the iLender model, the company uses its cash to buy a house for buyers. Once the loan with Accept.inc is ready to close, the company sells back the house to the buyer “at no additional cost or fees.”

“Basically what we learned through those two years is that you have to vertically integrate all of your core competencies, and you can’t rely on third parties to own or manage your special sauce for you,” Pollack told TechCrunch. “We also realized that if you’re going to build a cash offer for anyone who could afford a mortgage, you’ve got to make it a full bona fide cash offer that closes in three days as opposed to a better version of what existed. And you have to own that, and take the risk that comes with it and be comfortable with that.”

The benefits of their model, the pair say, is that buyers get to be cash buyers, sellers can close in as little as 32 hours, and agents “get a guaranteed commission check.” 

“Our mission is that everyone should have an equal chance at homeownership,” Friedman said. “We not only want to level the playing field, we want to create a new standard.”

Buyers using Accept.inc win 6-7 times more frequently, the company claims. With its new capital, It also plans to double its team of 90 and enter new markets outside of its home base of Denver.

SignalFire Partner Chris Scoggins believes that Accept.inc is different from other lenders in that its focus is on “winning the home, not just servicing the loan, with a business model that’s 10x more capital-efficient than other players in the market.

The team is driven…to level the playing field for homebuyers who today lose out against all-cash offers from home-flippers and wealthy individuals,” he added. “We see an enormous opportunity for Accept.inc to become the backbone of the future of mortgage lending.”

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/06/24/accept-inc-secures-90m-in-debt-equity/

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Start Ups

Exclusive: Startup bttn. Takes On Medical Supply Ordering With $1.5M Seed

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Three months after launching, health care technology startup bttn. closed on a $1.5 million seed round, anchored by Amol Deshpande, to automate the purchase of medical supplies.

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JT Garwood and Jack Miller started the Seattle-based company in March after seeing health care companies struggle during the global pandemic to pay fair prices for supplies as they competed with other entities due to shortages.

“My background is in software sales at Microsoft, and we started and then sold PPE.Exchange, a marketplace to alleviate supply shortages during the pandemic,” Garwood told Crunchbase News. “As we talked to health care companies, we learned how hard it was to purchase supplies at a fair price. After conversations with vendors, hospitals and clinics, we saw an opportunity to change the medical supply industry.”

Targeting the U.S. wholesale medical supply market, which is predicted to be valued at $243.3 billion this year according to IBISWorld, bttn. developed a platform aimed at cutting out middlemen, offering direct-from-manufacturer pricing and providing a better ordering experience.

Its marketplace eliminates the need for exclusive and restrictive contracts and enables providers to save between 20 percent and 40 percent on their medical supply bills, while also taking advantage of improved shipping and delivery speeds, Garwood said.

“We are taking a process that traditionally involved fax machines or a sales rep, and putting it on a web application for order automation,” he added. “You can build a cart with gowns and syringes and then subscribe on a 30-, 60- or 90-day basis.”

In its first three months of operation, bttn. secured more than 300 customers and did more than $500,000 in sales, he added. In addition, the company formed partnerships with 11 health care associations and have 20 more being finalized.

The company will use the funds to expand its technical, sales and operations teams.

Deshpande, co-founder and CEO of Farmers Business Network, said in an interview that when he met Garwood, he admired his mission-driven approach to lowering costs for health care businesses.

“bttn. is bringing transparency to small businesses,” he added. “JT and Jack understand where small hospital systems are coming from when buying goods, and have easier options for how to do it. I liked the gritty way they launched and got initial traction. They have a big potential to make an impact and be a big company.”

Illustration: Dom Guzman

Stay up to date with recent funding rounds, acquisitions, and more with the Crunchbase Daily.

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Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/exclusive-bttn-takes-on-medical-supply-ordering-with-1-5m-seed/

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Start Ups

The Briefing: Visa Buys Tink For $2.15B, A16Z Closes $2.2B Crypto Fund, And More

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Here’s what you need to know today in startup and venture news, updated by the Crunchbase News staff throughout the day to keep you in the know.

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Visa acquires Swedish fintech Tink for $2.15B

Visa has announced that it is acquiring Tink, a Stockholm-based open banking platform, for $1.8 billion Euros (US$2.15 billion).

Founded in 2012, Tink previously raised over $300 million in known funding, per Crunchbase data. Through its API, the company allows  customers to access aggregated financial data and tap into services such as risk insights and account verification.

Under terms of the deal, Tink will retain its brand and current management team, and its headquarters will remain in Sweden.

— Joanna Glasner

New Funds

Andreessen Horowitz closes $2.2B crypto fund: Venture firm Andreessen Horowitz (A16Z) said it has raised $2.2 billion for its Crypto Fund II, which will invest in crypto networks and the founders and teams building in the space. Previously, A16Z has been a heavy and active investor in the crypto space, capping its best exit year ever with this year’s market debut by Coinbase.

— Joanna Glasner

Cybersecurity

Illumio lands $225M: Sunnyvale, California-based Illumio, a provider of a SaaS platform offering automated enforcement against cyberattacks, said it raised $225 million in a Series F funding round led by Thoma Bravo at a $2.75 billion valuation.

— Joanna Glasner

Stay up to date with recent funding rounds, acquisitions, and more with the Crunchbase Daily.

Crunchbase News’ top picks of the news to stay current in the VC and startup world.

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Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/briefing-6-24-21/

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