Italian premium delivery startup Cosaporto has raised €1.8 million in a new funding round. The startup has already established premium retail partners such as London-based Peggy Porschen, Unico Gelato, NIO Cocktails and Maison Samadi, and will use the fresh funding to further its UK expansion.
Founded in 2017, Cosaporto is a home delivery service bringing users goods from upmarket and premium shops in Rome, Milan, Turin, Bologna and London. The startup carefully selects the best independent shops, producers and artisans, delivered direct to the user’s doorstep within hours of ordering. The service can be used to send beautiful gifts, or for events, as well as surprises. Currently Cosaporto operates in several Italian cities, including Rome, Milan, Turin and Bologna, and last year it launched a London branch of the business.
The startup’s ‘bundling’ service allows goods from multiple high-end retailers to be delivered at the same time. Cosaporto additionally prides itself on its approach to minimising environmental impact, with Italian delivery drivers using its own fleet of electric delivery vehicles.
In Italy the brand is working alongside Michelin starred establishments, chefs and brands to become a recognisable and respected delivery name. Besides expansion in London, Cosaporto is also eyeing up expansion in Paris, which will be the next city outside of Italy to welcome the service.
Founder and CEO of Cosaporto, Stefano Manili commented: “This past year Cosaporto has gone from strength to strength in Italy, with the business seeing a 600% increase in orders year on year, along with a 30% rise in the average spend of each customer. COVID-19 has meant a complete re-shaping of the delivery market which has allowed us to really thrive and cement our brand amongst the public. This new capital will allow us to turn our attention to the UK arm of our business and inject cash where needed to foster the same growth we’ve seen in Italy. Not only are we looking to grow our customer base, but to double the number of carefully selected partner stores from 35 to 70 in London by the end of the year. Being backed by a new investor with strong credentials brings a huge amount of confidence and we look forward to realising our strong growth potential.”
“From Zoom fatigue, to after-hours pings on Slack, the typical work experience is fuelling burnout”: Interview with Qatalog’s founder and CEO, Tariq Rauf
Tariq Rauf is the founder and CEO of the UK startup Qatalog. Founded in 2019, Qatalog is a work hub that brings together all the SaaS bricks of modern work, including Teams, Slack, Google Drive, Zoom, Confluence, Jira, Notion, Asana and others. It organises and contextualises these tools around a company’s relevant people, teams and projects.
The London-based company has been growing with more recent funding to build out its product suite and expand the team. That’s why we thought a chat with Tariq was long overdue.
Hello Tariq, it’s great to have you here with us today. Could you please give us a short overview about how you became an entrepreneur as well as why you founded Qatalog?
My journey into startups unusually began with a passion for programming, which started when I was 7, and my formal training in Architecture. I went on to work with and be mentored by renowned Indian architect Charles Correa, designing large research and cultural facilities in Portugal, Canada and India. This is where I acquired a strong people-first, context-conscious and sustainability-focused mindset for building things. Building places that 5,000 people could use was nice, but the prospect of building technology 50 million people could use with the same mindset was even more enticing! So I spent more of my time building software for clients around the world, and this eventually took me to the UK where I joined a few early stage startups including Wise (fka TransferWise). After helping Wise scale globally, I moved to Amazon where I drove initiatives for Prime globally.
Wherever I went, the chaos of modern work would follow. Working with hundreds of colleagues in teams scattered across countries, apps and projects — it was persistently disjointed and this was plaguing every company as far I could see. Everyone was drowning in a sea of constant notifications, shoulder taps, pings and constantly interrupting strangers trying to find needles in haystacks, re-inventing the wheel every time they kicked off new projects. The architect in me was screaming! The design was messy, the system was breaking, there were huge inconsistencies from team to team. It was happening everywhere, in every team that relied on a patchwork of work apps to get things done. This was a huge, gnarly, complex and enormously valuable problem to sink my teeth into. I came here on a work visa and as soon as I got my UK permanent residence, I left Amazon the week after and started Qatalog.
Qatalog is based in London, a city known as Europe’s top startup ecosystem, both for the number of startups and the number and size of funding rounds. What is your opinion on the environment for creating a company there?
While London does indeed have a vibrant startup ecosystem that has come on leaps and bounds in the past decade, geography is increasingly irrelevant when building a software company. Our location is “the internet”, more than one specific city. A little over a year into Qatalog’s existence, we’ve already hired people from across Europe, North America and Asia. An asynchronous, location-agnostic working style opens access to the best talent from around the world. From a team building perspective, this is going to be the norm for global-scale startups.
That aside, the local angel and investment network for entrepreneurs in Europe today is incredibly strong. In fact, the ecosystem has noticeably closed the delta between the US and Europe. The difference between VC funding in Europe ten years ago versus what we have in 2021 is night and day. There is a mature and diverse ecosystem of angels, investors, advisors and employees who understand the nuances and challenges of building global companies and products in London. It is an incredible edge it has over most ecosystems and one that did not exist until just a few years ago. We’re at an incredibly exciting tipping point.
As for local governments, there is plenty they are doing to help specific industries thrive. The UK government set an example here with fintech in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crash, helping to create inspiring success stories in the likes of Wise and Monzo. Today, as we (hopefully) start to exit the pandemic, British ministers are drawing up policies on how to make flexible working the default option for companies after the pandemic. The evolution of this kind of regulation will arguably play a role in shaping an economy that promotes progressive ways of working and the innovation in software to support it.
So, Qatalog brings together all of the SaaS building blocks of modern work. How are you helping remote teams to navigate the complexity of the modern workplace?
For most of us, work isn’t working. From Zoom fatigue, to after-hours pings on Slack, the typical work experience is fuelling burnout. We can have ten conversations at once, but we’re not getting anything done at ten times the speed. We have new video conferencing tools, but the same old meetings. We have a sea of apps to keep on top of our work, but all too often we’re drowning in it.
In fact, 89% of us say work life is getting worse. We’re conducting deep research into why this is the case, partnering with GitLab to dissect the state of remote work and separately with Cornell University to understand how people use technology to manage, share, access and create knowledge in the workplace.
With Qatalog, we’re shaping an entirely different work experience defined by trust, focus and belonging. This comes in the form of a work hub built entirely from first principles and built around people and team-first thinking. It’s a connectivity layer that elegantly knits all your work apps together and organizes everything thoughtfully. Think of it like a homepage for work. Our users love how easily they can find information that’s usually hidden within specific tools, collaborate with other departments transparently, and join up tools to automate processes. Ultimately, it’s a radically different way of working that enables happy teams, deep focus, and clear direction.
The world has been gripped with the COVID-19 pandemic for a year now. In your opinion, what are the main challenges that have arisen from this disruptive event?
COVID-19 accelerated a lot of trends in the making over the past decade or two. From ecommerce and telemedicine to remote work, the pandemic thrust so much forward. One of the greatest challenges with remote work in particular was that cobbling together Zoom and Slack just wasn’t enough to keep teams going. These were emergency measures. It was the equivalent of jumping into a lifeboat and calling it sailing!
We now need a sustainable solution. There’s a much bigger investment companies have to make in software and culture to properly enable asynchronous working. But they’ve learned important lessons from this disruption; as they consider an equally disruptive transition to hybrid work, they’re making those investments to be better prepared for a radically different work style.
We know how many people have been propelled into remote working in the last year and one thing that I have noticed with that trend is that mental health issues have been one of the biggest challenges of working from home. How have you been dealing with this situation within your own team?
It’s been an extremely tough year all round. We’re particularly focussed on this at Qatalog and do our utmost to prioritize the mental health of all our colleagues. This is hard and people are complex beings – even with all this effort we don’t always get it right. There are no easy tips or tricks to protect employees from these kinds of issues, but we put a lot of emphasis on building the right culture and also give people the tools to work through personal challenges. From a cultural perspective, we go the extra mile to foster a strong sense of belonging for all team members and ensure we provide a work environment rooted in trust and flexibility. We also provide access to third-party online therapists, fully funded by Qatalog, as well as personalized support in case of emergencies.
In your opinion, what needs to be done in the next five years to make remote working a success for everyone (companies, employees, teams)?
Two things. The first is an awakening, as people come to realise that productivity tools are killing productivity. We’ve got all these powerful work apps, but they’re all working against us. Tech is stealing time, trapping knowledge, and killing focus. But we can also thoughtfully use technology to create order out of the chaos, to help people work asynchronously in distributed teams without the distractions or isolation. That’s what we’re building at Qatalog.
Secondly, companies need to embrace a new set of cultural norms that enable asynchronous work. The 9-5 is dead, but we’ve grafted these legacy norms to the online workplace, meaning we’re still too reliant on synchronous communication — leading to the worst of both worlds when it could be so much better. The new workplace is people-first, corporation second, not the other way round. And it’s rooted in trust, flexibility, focus and belonging. This is a paradigm shift in the employer-employee relationship and we’re going to see lots of innovation along this line of thinking.
Any advice to remote working teams and companies looking to address some of these challenges?
The world is shifting into a higher-trust work environment but without the support systems, technology, policies and mindsets to make it work well. It’s not possible to supervise and monitor employees as they could before, nor can they police their work hours—employers have to get on board with the idea of giving their employees wholesale trust. If they cling to legacy working styles defined by presenteeism and supervision, they’ll lose out on the best talent. Simple as that. The companies that embrace effective asynchronous work will race ahead because their teams will be happier, more focussed, and better aligned.
Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
The Crypto Wizard Of India – WazirX
India, a country with population of over 1 billion people, is experiencing a revolution in its economic spectrum for the past few years. With more than 40% of its population having access to the internet our country is not that far behind in technological furtherance.
If we go back to the year 2012, minuscule bitcoin transactions were already happening during that time. The term ‘Crypto’ was still at a primitive stage of advancement and only bitcoin enthusiasts were curious about it. But in 2013, Everything changed Bitcoin started gaining popularity and was expanding across many nations globally. (Fun fact: A pizza business called Kolonial in the Worli area of Mumbai became the first restaurant service in India to accept Bitcoin payments).
Shortly, Cryptocurrency exchanges began to crop up within the country. Pioneers like BtcxIndia, Unocoin, and Coinsecure started offering crypto trading services in India.
Indeed, With a rapid increase of crypto trading and exchange platforms, the crypto market in India came a long way from its humblest level, when it was just considered a hobby to what it is today considered as a digital asset.
There are lots of problems faced by people while understanding the concept of cryptocurrencies (to be specific ‘Bitcoin’), It’s so volatile and hard to follow in real-time, but one can hit the bull’s eye and end up making millions if invested intelligently.
Before investing, one should know its pros and cons. Here are some of them:
- Unmatched Transparency: Cryptocurrencies being anonymous and the transactions being stored in an open ledger aka the blockchain enables the visibility of the transactions to anyone.
- Its Accessibility: One can access their digital coins from anywhere with just a few steps so it makes their financial experience smooth and easy.
- Its Complexity: It can be hard and overwhelming for a normal person to understand the whole concept behind cryptocurrency.
- Illegal Transactions: Since the privacy and security of cryptocurrencies are high, it’s hard for the government to track down any user by their wallet address or keep tabs on their data.
The rapid increase of the crypto market globally led Nishcal Shetty to start own India’s crypto exchange platforms. Now, there are so many crypto exchange platforms in India like Unocoin, Zebpay, CoinDCX, CoinSwitch Kuber, among others, but WazirX is doing way more than these platforms.
The four-year-old platform is working on increasing the accessibility of cryptocurrencies to a lot of people in the country. With its easy-to-use interface, a non-techie person could also wrap up the format to invest in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, among several others.
WazirX is considered to be one of the most trusted cryptocurrency exchanges in the country. The immersive growth of the platform led Binance Holdings, a world leader in crypto exchange by trade volume, to acquire WazirX. In November 2019, Cayman Island-headquartered Binance completed the acquisition of WazirX, allowing Indian users to buy and sell crypto with Indian Rupees on the Binance Fiat Gateway.
Now, This crypto surge wasn’t easy in India, It had faced so many hurdles in recent times. Earlier, It was reported that the Indian government is planning to propose a bill to ban all cryptocurrencies trading in the country. Despite this, many global investors have shown interest in fueling Indian crypto exchanges. Last month, another crypto trading platform CoinSwitch Kuber took $25M funding from global investors at a valuation of $500 million.
Nischal Shetty, the founder & CEO of WazirX, has been creating products for a decade now and is profoundly known for building CrowdFire, a social media management tool for businesses. In 2017, Nischal got completely immersed into the world of Blockchain and ended up building a cryptocurrency exchange for India. It was infuriating to him because the existing crypto exchanges were not accurate and up to the mark.
In the year 2021, The crypto market witnessed a whopping 405% increase in overall trading volume. WazirX also saw a 50% increase in its user base from 1 million to 2 million in a span of 78 days. According to several reports, The platform is estimated to have the highest conversion rate in the INR segment in India.
The goal is to work on a product, make proper usage of it, and help people access it seamlessly. Communicating with the audience, and building the features accordingly to their needs.
He believes that what creates an impact on both the tokens as well as the audience. According to the reports, Binance-owned cryptocurrency exchange WazirX has outshined all of its competitors with a trading volume of over $200 million daily and $2.3 billion monthly, it claims.
The WazirX (WRX) token, which is based on the Binance blockchain, is known to be India’s first token to get listed on more than seven global crypto exchanges. As per the CoinMarketCap report, WazirX is the 27th top crypto exchange globally based on traffic, liquidity, trading volumes, and confidence in the legitimacy of trading volumes.
Furthermore, The platform is also educating people about investing in crypto through its awareness initiative programs. Since many people are still unaware of the nitty-gritty of the industry, they tend not to trust the sources but are intrigued by the idea of having digital assets.
WazirX is now aiming to hit a $1 billion trading volume per day in 2021. “BTC, WRX, TRX, ETH, MATIC, DOGE, ZIL are some of the top traded tokens in India. Our customers are spread across the country. Metros form a large chunk of the customers but other cities are growing fast. The majority of users are in the range of 22-to-30-year of age,” Shetty said.
“Hope to see Indian banks taking the step forward to working with the Indian Crypto Industry. Banks around the world are building up their Crypto skill sets and working closely with the Crypto ecosystem.”
To support the growth of crypto adoption in India, The startup had last year launched a $50 million ‘Blockchain for India’ fund to invest in crypto/blockchain startups in India.
The future is luminous for both the crypto industry and our trusted crypto exchanges in India in the forthcoming years, he added.
Antwerp-based traveltech startup Live the World lands €300K in pre-seed funding
Live the World, an Antwerp-based startup that is creating a digital slow travel guide, has announced the closure of its pre-seed funding round, raising €300K from undisclosed angel investors.
Live the World launched in December 2020. Entrepreneurs Joris Vanherp and Zoë Vets joined forces in their mission to create a fun and easy-to-use travel planning platform which provides personalized content and recommendations. Unlike other popular travel platforms, Live the World does not promote activities based on commissions. Travellers seeking local, authentic experiences for their trip planning will find their ideal solution on Live the World’s travel application.
The company is accomplishing this through its unique selling propositions: authentic slow travel experiences verified by locals; 100% independent information in a bite-sized, trusted format; personalized and curated activities driven by AI technology; a fun and easy to use experience.
The platform is currently in beta and temporarily free to use, with a focus on Belgium. In Belgium alone, Live the World has content of over 300 activities (of which 200+ activities COVID-proof) live on site.
The startup is now ready for its next stage of growth and will become a pay-for-content platform where a user pays in the form of a subscription or by country in order to access the application and its content. “By doing this, we literally put a stamp of authentication on our content, we can promise we will be 100% independent and never push certain tours or activities, as we don’t receive commissions like most websites do”, said Zoë Vets, co-founder of Live the World. “By making sure we have local and relevant experiences wrapped up with amazing yet simple product features, our target community gets what they’re looking for, and is willing to pay for this premium.”
With the money raised from the pre-seed round, the start-up plans to focus on growth across 3 key areas. The first being the creation of content in new countries. The startup plans to expand into Czech Republic and the Netherlands this summer and into more countries by the end of 2021.
The second will be building the product functionality and taking it to the next level. This includes a travel guide feature where you will be able to read country, province and city-level general content just as you would in a traditional travel guide book. Live the World will also start to build trip planning functionality where you can build and plan your very own itinerary in an interactive, simple way that you can easily share with your fellow travellers.
Lastly, the company will use the money to grow their user base as well as recruit additional employees to support its strong growth plans.
Currently planning a trip takes a lot of time – on average a person visits over 121+ travel sites before booking a trip (according to an EXPEDIA survey). “You have to scroll through thousands of blogs, check social media, buy a travel guide and then try to put this all together in some kind of spreadsheet or document”, said Joris Vanherp, co-founder of Live the World, “Simply put, there is information overload, but you often get the same, unreliable information. We want to make it easy for our community to find those authentic & local experiences. We also plan to use artificial intelligence in the future to make personalized recommendations and itineraries.”
“The slow travel trend is becoming more and more relevant, particularly once the world opens up again after the COVID vaccinations. People are more and more looking for unique, smaller-scale experiences, and avoiding the major tourist attractions,” said Zoë Vets, co-founder of Live the World.
Zencargo, a London-based digital freight forwarder, raises €35 million
Today Zencargo, a London-based digital freight forwarder enabling organisations (from FTSE 100 businesses to fast-growing startups) to make smarter decisions through a real-time overview of their supply chain, has raised around €35 million in Series B financing.
Led by Digital+ Partners, and with participation from existing investors including HV Capital, Zencargo will use this latest round of funding to significantly grow its team – from 150 to 350 people over the next two years – and further expand internationally, to the Netherlands, Hong Kong, and the US. Zencargo has now raised a total of around €49 million, and is targeting revenues of over €115 million for this year, and over €230 million for 2022.
Zencargo is a digital freight forwarder moving sea, air and road cargo, enabling businesses to be more efficient, accurate, and sustainable in their logistics operations.
Relied upon by the likes of Vivienne Westwood, Swoon Furniture, Farfetch, and Soho Home, Zencargo not only handles all the necessary components of transporting goods, from point of production to end-customer, including warehousing, packing, documentation, and customs clearance, but also provides complete visibility of the supply chain down to the item level.
Founded in 2017 by Alex Hersham (CEO), Richard Fattal (CCO), and Jan Riethmayer, in the past year, Zencargo has more than doubled its headcount to 150 (from 65 at the beginning of 2020).
Zencargo empowers clients to make data-backed decisions that on average drive up to a 4% increase in revenues, a 9% reduction in carbon emissions, a 6% reduction in transportation costs, and a 15% improvement in working capital, because supply-chain teams can focus on ordering and moving only the products they need at any given moment.
Despite the huge volume of goods moved every year, many traditional freight forwarders still rely on time-consuming, manual processes, using paper, spreadsheets and email. The unprecedented levels of disruption caused by Brexit, the Suez Canal blockage, and the COVID-19 pandemic – which has combined a supply side issue (due to closed factories and port employees being off sick) with a sharp uptick in demand (from consumers stuck at home and shopping online) – have created further complications.
“With global freight reliability so low as a result of the pandemic, Brexit, and even the Suez Canal delays, it’s more important than ever for businesses to make informed supply-chain decisions that will enable them to serve and satisfy their customers, and Zencargo is the perfect partner to help them do that,” commented Zencargo CEO and co-founder Alex Hersham.
In the case of the recent Suez Canal blockage, Zencargo was able to create a live dashboard mapping its customers’ shipments with vessels that were affected by the blockage, then worked directly with affected customers to arrange mitigations and alternative plans.
Through Zencargo’s freight forwarding and a comprehensive, real-time overview of the status of each shipment, businesses understand where all their inventory is, where it needs to go, and what needs to happen to get it there. Since Zencargo’s technology platform connects directly with global transportation markets and manufacturers, customers can see a full digital picture of the freight environment, helping them make improvements and transport cargo more efficiently. Zencargo also presents customers with information on their carbon footprint, enabling them to choose to reduce and offset emissions.
Given the different needs for shipping different products (for example, furniture versus cosmetics), Zencargo works with customers to understand what is important based on their unique circumstances, and deliver actionable advice. For example, one company might decide it worthwhile to pay higher shipping rates to quickly service demand and avoid any reputational damage that a delay could cause. Another company, with tighter margins, might prefer to accept an increased lead time and avoid impacting their bottom line. Zencargo helps supply-chain teams weigh up these decisions, balancing their priorities for customer service, cost and sustainability.
“We pride ourselves on the outstanding service we provide to customers, combining unrivalled industry experience and know-how with purpose-built technology so that our customers’ inbound supply chains are run in a far more sustainable and efficient way, enabling them to maximise growth,” continued Alex Hersham. “This funding comes at a time of significant growth for the business, and will enable us to grow our team and operations and provide critical support to even more clients.”
“The freight industry has struggled to keep pace with innovation. Archaic processes are still in place across the board, resulting in widespread inefficiencies,” commented Patrick Beitel, Managing Director and Founding Partner at Digital+ Partners. “Zencargo’s cutting edge technologies, plus deep industry experience and knowledge, are transforming the supply chain, and that marries up perfectly with Digital + Partners’ mission to back companies with best-in-class technology and exceptional management teams. We are honoured to join them on the next stage of their journey.”
“HV Capital is delighted to once again back Zencargo, a true leader in the supply-chain management sector,” said Dr. Christian Saller, General Partner at HV Capital. “The growth of the company, in terms of customer acquisition, headcount, and product development, has been remarkable, and that is down to the world-class leadership team at the helm.”
In addition to expanding its team and operations, Zencargo will use this funding to make inroads into Trade Finance, under the leadership of its newly appointed CFO, Chris Greenacre, who has joined from B2B lending giant Sonovate. Previously, Chris was a Director at PwC, overseeing TSB and Metro Bank’s IPOs, the merger between Standard Life and Aberdeen Asset Management, and BT’s acquisition of EE.
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