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Silicon Roundup; Hallelujah It’s Raising Men (& Women)! & Assorted Tech Titbits Incl. Our Pick For Britain’s Next Unicorn

firework on new year countdown at temple of dawn in Thailand

It’s a new dawn, its a new day – as former SpAd to David Cameroon and all round tech do-er Rohan Silva pointed out in a recent Times column, we can either moan and complain about Brexit, or put our noses to the grindstone. That said, the HT notes how quick the “remain” leaning press have been to dismiss the notion of a second vote / declaring the referendum unconstitutional…

Nothing will help disillusioned post-Brexit startups, angels and investors feel a bit more perky about things more than the news that several of their peers have raised impressive rounds of funding in London this and last week.

“AI meets publishing” service Echobox bags $3.4m from Mangrove Partners

An AI startup, Echobox, that uses tech to help determine the optimal time for publishers to share their content across social media platforms, and claims to be able to determine if a particular piece constitutes “breaking news” has raised $3.4m in a round led by Luxembourg based Mangrove Capital Partners.

Echobox is used by a who’s who of mainstream publishers including Vogue, Le Monde, The Telegraph and Vice and has offices in London and New York.

The team say that on average, their product Echobox Social “doubles referrals” from Facebook and Twitter, and their machine learning capabilities negate the need for analytics. The company also provide automated posting capabilities, A/B testing for Facebook and round the clock support for clients.

Echobox AI, meanwhile, has been developed to assess a piece of media’s chances of “going viral”, and works out the optimal time to publish for maximum views.

Echobox founder Antoine Amann told Tech Crunch’s Steve O’Hear; “we will use our capital to innovate further and build an even better AI technology. We’re also expanding our sales and marketing team efforts to ensure more online publishers can benefit from our technology.”

The CEO also adds that optimizing content distribution on rapidly evolving sites such as Facebook is “a massive and constantly evolving data science problem. This is where Echobox comes in”.

HealthTech Workplace management software provider wins £5.3m from BGF Ventures

Another London software provider, this time a platform called Network Locum that matches locum doctors with shift work across GPs and hospitals, whose major client is the NHS, has raised £5.3m from BGF Ventures, Tech City News reported on Sunday.

BGF’s founding partner Simon Calver says that “in Network Locum we believe we have found a truly innovative business that has the power to revolutionise the way the NHS recruits and manages its temporary staff”.

Calver also made reference to Brexit, commenting that the UK “has a network of tech investors who are still ready and willing to commit to the best ideas and entrepreneurs in the UK’s tech scene.”

Co-founder and CEO Melissa Morris admitted that the referendum result had caused her concern in the run up to the raising, telling Business Insider: “We had more than one offer but I was terrified we would be affected by Brexit”. In the end however, she said “we got more than we wanted and more than doubled our valuation from our A round (£3.2m raised from Piton Capital), which was only 8 months ago.”

Network Locum, who have already signed up 40% of GP practices in England and Wales, and employs 45 staff, completes something of a welcome tech trifecta – female co-founder, a post Brexit raise (the biggest yet, allegedly), and a boost for the NHS / public sector.

What3Words picks up $8.5m Series B

Making it the second largest raise since Brexit (honestly, what was everyone worried about!), What3Words’ Series B round led by logistics giant Aramex, with Intel Capital, Force Over Mass Capital, JamJar investments and Horizons Ventures also joining the round, raised $8.5m.

The company has also raised 2 seed rounds totalling $1.5m and a Series A, led by Intel Capital, of $3.5m bringing total funding up to the $13.5m mark.

Crunchbase describes What3Words as a “a global grid of 3mx3m squares – each square has a preallocated, unique and fixed 3-word address, which means and everyone and everywhere now has an address”.

“We are on a mission to change the way people communicate location, to make the world a more efficient, less frustrating and a safer place with 3-word addresses”, says Chris Sheldrick, the startups’ CEO and co-founder. The company plans to use the money to launch a voice recognition product for the smartphone, wearables and automotive sectors, as well as developing the system into other Asian and Arabic languages.

Everyone uses maps, and they can be fun and frustrating in equal measure; which is why What3Words, IOHO, could be a game-changer; especially so now that it has another $8m of funding to play with

“By integrating 3-word addresses into our e-commerce operations across the Middle East, Africa and Asia, we are better able to reach more consumers worldwide; the partnership is perfectly aligned with our commitment to becoming a technology-based enterprise, looking for new and innovative solutions to enhance our operations”, commented Aramex CEO Hussein Hachem.

There’s something about the underlying concept of What3Words that makes the HT think it stands a very good chance of being Britain’s next “unicorn” startup – let’s hope we aren’t forced to eat our What3Words.

“Rightmove for Livestock” outperforming on Seedrs

Meanwhile, Seedrs reports that its biggest moo-ver (if you’ll pardon the pun) this week is SellMyLivestock, which it describes as “Rightmove for cattle and sheep”.

The company has returned to Seedrs after merging with Graindex, a marketplace for selling crops directly from farms to merchants. The group name is Hectare. The campaign is now 240% funded, with £240k raised so far. 223 investors have participated in this EIS eligible “seed” round. You “herd” it hear first (stop it!).

And Finally:

Meanwhile, as Rohan Silva predicted in the Sunday Times (although he wanted to reduce it to just 10%), Chancellor (but for how long?) George Osborne has pledged to cut Corporation Tax to 15%;

Rajesh Agarwal, founder of Rational FX, has been appointed Deputy Mayor for business by Sadiq Khan;

General Assembly are offering start-ups the chance to go on a “Tech Tour” of Silicon Valley;

“Grumpy entrepreneur” David Murray Hundley has penned a sympathetic article about crowdfunding on behalf of Crowdfinders;

The Sharing economy is dope – let’s carpool  / hire!

And Mark Chapman and Graham Hobson, the co-founders of Photobox, the one stop shop for photo printing and photo gifting, have backed peer-to-peer car lending site HiYa Car’s second equity crowdfunding campaign, which raised $300.94k and completed on the last day of June, bringing the site’s total fundraising to $770.75k.

Said Chapman: “I’m delighted to be investing in HiyaCar; I believe a great combination of well thought out strategy and an able, passionate team will deliver a leading business in what is a rapidly changing market.”

HiyaCar’s co-founders Robert Larmour and Graeme Risby said: “Mark’s knowledge and input will be invaluable and we are thrilled to have Mark join us on this exciting journey.”

The sharing economy (“Why own anything any more”) is hot right now; HiyaCar say members can “own their own driving experience without owning the car”, and that car owners can earn up to 70% commission from their sharing revenue – as much as $2,000 per month.

Says Risby: “HiyaCar exists because we want to see a world where communities have the freedom to have a better life. For me, there isn’t a more exciting and socially rewarding sector in the world in which you could be part of as a company owner.

For more information on HiyaCar you can contact Chloe Shepherd at Independent Media News;


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