Former Stripe engineer raises $4M for Beam, a fintech startup out to help contractors get paid faster

Beam, a five-month-old startup out to more easily help general contractors pay subcontractors and get paid themselves, has raised $4 million in a seed funding round led by Accel.

Both the startup’s founder and lead investor previously spent years working at payments giant Stripe. Before starting Beam in October of 2022, Adam Eagle had spent five and a half years as a software engineer at the fintech company, building core APIs and infrastructure for Stripe billing, invoicing, commerce, and payments. Amy Saper, lead investor on the round, helped build and grow Stripe’s product marketing team before joining Accel as a partner in 2019.

Saper worked with Eagle as his product marketing counterpart when he built out the Stripe billing and invoicing product, seeing firsthand his technical capabilities. So when the company set out to raise funds, Accel stepped up to lead the raise, which closed earlier this year.

Building for (literal) builders

A common refrain in the construction industry is that most contractors are forced to complete projects before getting paid, often having to pay for material and labor out of pocket. For smaller operations, not having enough funds coming in can be stressful and the process of keeping up with who owes what via spreadsheets and at times using paper checks can be very time-consuming and tedious.

San Francisco-based Beam is focused on helping  smaller and mid-sized general residential contractors save time – and ultimately money – by giving them a way to “streamline” payments, invoices and receipts in one place. It also facilitates ACH payments directly into its app. It takes “minutes” for contractors to onboard onto Beam and once they are, they can start sending payments immediately, Eagle said.

Going from payments to construction tech might seem like a big shift but for Eagle, it was something that was almost inevitable. Before he started writing code, Eagle said he was always “super interested” in architecture and housing.

After years of seeing headlines about the housing crisis and our aging infrastructure, I decided that I really wanted to work in something that would touch on construction housing, infrastructure and the physical world,” he told TechCrunch in an interview. “A lot of it is just driven by a desire to improve the quality of lives and the quality of our cities.”

Upon researching the space, Eagle concluded that construction businesses have “really onerous” financial operations. He also realized that a lot of such businesses are SMEs or small, family-run organizations with just a few employees and minimal resources. As a result, owners either have to spend a lot of time manually processing invoices and payments or spend the money to hire a bookkeeper or office manager.

“When you start thinking about the financial situation for these construction businesses, you realize that they are in pretty dire situations – a lot of times they’re waiting to get paid from the client or they have to pay large amounts to subcontractors,” Eagle said. “Or if you’re a subcontractor you have to pay a lot of money for materials and you have to make payroll upfront and then you don’t get paid maybe until 30 or 60 or 90 days after performing labor.”

To help keep costs down for contractors, Beam claims that it charges lower fees for transacting compared to say PayPal or Zelle, who also put caps on transaction amounts.

“That’s one of the many reasons why a lot of construction businesses still use paper checks,” Eagle said. “Because with every single payment, they’re losing anywhere from $15 to hundreds of dollars due to high fees that the payment networks charge.”

Recognizing that a good percentage of its clientele are native Spanish speakers, Beam built the first version of its product to include Spanish localization for non-native speakers.


Image Credits: Beam/Beam’s five-person team

Briq is an example of another fintech focused on the construction industry. Eagle believes Beam differs in that Briq is more focused on building tools for large enterprises to automate their billing process. 

Long term, Beam aims to simplify payments for enterprise businesses as well.

Susa Ventures and Wischoff Ventures also participated in the seed funding, in addition to a group of angel investors that included founders and executives from several large and mid-sized fintech and construction businesses.

For Accel’s Saper, problems such as what Beam is trying to tackle have contributed to this nation’s housing shortage.

“It’s too hard to build,” she wrote in a blog post. “As deep investors in fintech-related companies (including Unit, Braintree and Venmo), we’ve seen innovation in payments and invoicing touch so many other industries. However, construction-related billing has yet to have its renaissance.”

Beam, Saper added, tackles this problem with its “easy-to-use billing and compliance platform” that brings together “various parties in the Beam network to allow for seamless and prompt payments.”

“Long term, Beam will embed even more financial services into their platform,” she said.

Former Stripe engineer raises $4M for Beam, a fintech startup out to help contractors get paid faster by Mary Ann Azevedo originally published on TechCrunch

Sequoia heats up early-stage startup investments in India and Southeast Asia

On a recent winter morning in New Delhi, Rajan Anandan and Pieter Kemps were pacing on the floor of a five-star hotel, quizzing a group of over two dozen young startup founders about their goals. One founder set eyes on getting the most downloads in the mobile gaming category. Another pledged to reach an annual recurring revenue of $100 million in a few years.

“When you think about how big you want to get, don’t think about $100 million or $200 million in revenue,” Anandan told the gathering, now fully silent.

“Doesn’t matter what company you’re building; that’s not thinking big enough at all. There’s no enduring company on the planet that is a $100 million revenue company. An enduring company is one that generates $100 million in free cash flow a week,” he said.

The Sequoia partners spent the next two hours walking founders through over a dozen slides, emphasizing that consistent growth over a long period of time — even if not skyrocketing quarter over quarter — can conjure trillion-dollar companies.

Undergirding their strong conviction is a bet that India and Indonesia and other markets in South Asia will double and triple their GDPs in the next 10 to 15 years, and the public markets and tech companies stand to take a significantly broader role in that surge.

The combined market cap of top-five tech companies in the U.S. is over $7 trillion, contributing to over a quarter of the nation’s GDP. The top five tech firms in China, with a market cap of over $1 trillion, contribute 7% to the nation’s GDP. But top five tech companies in India and Southeast Asia have a market cap of just $140 billion, accounting for only 2% of their GDPs.

The 12 startups gathered in the presentation hall had been hand-picked from about 3,600 applicants for the latest cohort of Sequoia’s four-year-old early-stage-focused Surge program. Surge launches two cohorts every year, featuring between 10 and 20 startups each.

The new cohort features startups operating in a wide-ranging space: Calyx Global is helping businesses choose better carbon credits and reimagining the ratings system; Arintra is an AI-powered autonomous medical coding platform to help U.S. hospitals get paid better and faster by automating their insurance claims submission; Meragi is making it easier for couples to access wedding-related services; Vaaree is a curated marketplace for high-quality home products; AltWorld is building a metaverse gaming platform to help Gen Z gamers create custom 3D worlds; and Bitfrost is building virtual worlds and synthetic datasets that AI teams can use to train their models for applications.

Diri Care offers on-demand, affordable products and services for a range of health and beauty needs; Masterchow wants to help people prepare Asian meals at home; Metastable Materials is attempting to pioneer a low-cost, clean and highly scalable method of recycling lithium-ion batteries; RedBrick AI is a SaaS platform to help companies build medical imaging AI; Requestly wants to help developers and quality-assurance engineers test and debug web applications in real time; and Tentang Anak is building a parenting ecosystem in Indonesia.

The sessions on a Thursday morning, attended by TechCrunch, were among a few dozen that these founders will take part in over the coming months as Sequoia partners walk them through different aspects of building a startup. Workshops will teach founders about how to think about the total addressable market. They will be given guidance on piecing together their tech architecture. Another will help them build mental models for when to switch from chasing growth to improving unit economics. And there is also a session to help founders pencil the vision and tagline for their firms. (In a few words, explain the problem you’re solving and how you’re solving it, and don’t make things sound boring, off-brand or long.)

Sequoia has “codified” its learning from over 50 years to assess the areas where a founder needs help in their journey and the roadblocks they will likely encounter, said Anandan in an interview. The storied firm’s vast resources — there are about 30 people who work diligently with these founders for months, offering them help in scores of areas — set it apart from its rivals in India even in the early-stage of venture. There are very few venture firms operating in India that have such a large team at all, let alone for one of the focus areas.

Sequoia doesn’t have to put in this amount of effort to win early-stage deals: It began investing in India over a decade ago and has minted 38 unicorns (of 102 in total) in the nation and 11 in Southeast Asia. So what’s with the change of heart?

In the past eight years or so, many firms have attempted to tackle the early-stage investments scene in India. Y Combinator gained momentum in the South Asian market after a handful of successful early pickings such as Meesho, Razorpay and Clear, even as its ever-growing casting net in recent years has caught fewer hits. Blume Ventures and Arkam Ventures have earned a reputation for being founder-friendly and have raised larger funds, backing many of the startups that larger funds missed. Tanglin Venture Partners, Antler, and Good Capital have also earned their spots in the market.

“Sequoia was seen as a Series A and B investor back in the day,” said a high-profile investor, who in his previous stint competed with Sequoia. “Seed was not a major focus for them, but they clearly wanted to get in early as deals started to become pricier in the market.” In Anandan, they found someone who had made over 100 investments in India in his personal capacity and had the Google credentials to supercharge their efforts, said another investor.

An angel investor, who also requested anonymity to speak candidly, said Sequoia’s Surge is the Indian and SEA vehicle’s answer to Y Combinator, undercutting the American accelerator in a number of ways.

Since last year, YC has been offering startups $500,000, where $125,000 gets them 7% equity in the startup and the rest is invested on a SAFE note that converts to equity in the startup’s next round. Sequoia, in comparison, is offering up to $3 million.

“Sequoia’s boutique of offerings is also far greater with resources, support and unlike YC, Sequoia is consistent with not picking multiple startups doing the same thing in the same batch, and it’s keeping the cohort size fairly small and diverse. So you’ve a different vibe when you’re picked in Surge vs if YC picks you,” said the investor.

To be sure, even as Surge appears to have a much higher strike rate than YC in India — Surge portfolio firms Doubtnut, Scaler, Khatabook, ShopUp, Bijak, Classplus, Hevo Data, InVideo, Juno, BukuKas, Atlan, LambdaTest, Plum, Absolute, ApnaKlub are among those that have raised multiple rounds — it is yet to mint a unicorn. (The firm said its portfolio startups have raised over $2 billion in follow-on financing rounds.)

But over the years, as many investors have conceded, Surge has outpaced its rivals.

“They have built a great brand. Sequoia and Surge are the first choice for startups to raise capital from. They have high-quality programs, they promise networking with the best of the best and have a huge support team in general,” said the first investor who, like others, requested anonymity to speak candidly.

Anandan — and in fact, many other Sequoia partners over the years — has always discounted the idea that his firm is trying to compete with YC on seed deals. “We have a huge respect for them,” he said in the interview.

Lightspeed and Accel, two venture funds that are closer rivals of Sequoia in India than most others, have also attempted to build their own Surge rivals but have not been able to make similar inroads.

What made Surge get the mileage it has? After several attempts, here’s the best I could get out of Anandan: “You have to have the commitment of very high-caliber resources. We have invested more than most venture firms just through Surge. And execution is the easiest thing to talk about, but the hardest thing to do in life and in business.”

Sequoia heats up early-stage startup investments in India and Southeast Asia by Manish Singh originally published on TechCrunch

Beaconstac lands $25M investment for its QR code management platform

QR code tech, which exploded during the pandemic as businesses searched for hygienic alternatives to physical touchpoints, continues to grow in popularity particularly across sectors such as restaurants and outlet retail. According to Insider Intelligence, more than 99.5 million smartphone users will scan a QR code by 2025, up from 83.4 million in 2022. There’s a potential downside — some argue QR codes reduce the need to hire employees who collect payments and service customers — but it seems clear that the tech, for better or worse, isn’t’ going anywhere.

That’s benefitted startups like Beaconstac, which works with companies including United Airlines, Amazon and Deloitte to create end-customer QR code experiences. In a sign of just how rosy business has been, Beaconstac today announced that it closed a $25 million Series A funding round led by Telescope Partners with participation from Accel.

Co-founder and CEO Sharat Potharaju says that the new capital will be put toward expanding the startup’s team and product R&D.


Image Credits: Beaconstac

“We’ve seen tremendous growth since the beginning of the pandemic because our QR code technology offers businesses an efficient, user-friendly solution for creating contactless experiences,” Potharaju told TechCrunch in an email interview. “We see more businesses continuing to adopt this technology because it streamlines the customer experience. The pandemic has only amplified the existing need to connect the physical and digital worlds better.”

Potharaju co-founded Beaconstac in 2019 alongside Ravi Maddimsetty. Potharaju is an investment banker by trade, having held posts at Merrill Lynch and Fieldstone Private Capital Group. Maddimsetty, a software engineer, was an IT associate at Morgan Stanley and contributed to open source Linux projects including the GNOME desktop environment.

With Beaconstac, Potharaju and Maddimsetty sought to ride the QR code adoption wave, building a platform that allows businesses to create, manage and track QR codes across different physical touchpoints. Using Beaconstac, companies can modify aspects of branded QR codes including the shape, captions and background colors to match their design languages.

Beaconstac also lets companies create QR codes that track engagement, like a customer’s location at the time of a scan. While not a feature every patron is likely to be comfortable with, Potharaju argues that it’s helping companies acquire first-party data at a time when more platforms (see Apple) are becoming averse to tracking. (Whether you agree with Potharaju depends which side of the privacy debate you fall on, of course.)

“Beaconstac’s platform does not collect any personally identifiable information when a QR code is scanned — we are compliant with GDPR regulations around security and privacy,” Potharaju said. “Consumers can always request data deletion under GDPR rules.”

While Beaconstac competes with vendors including Flowcode and, the company claims to have over 20,000 customers — double the figure from last year. Potharaju declined to share revenue figures, but said that Beaconstac — which has offces in the U.S. and India — plans to double its 75-person workforce sometime this year.

“In 2019, my co-founder and I were asking the question, ‘Our phones are great at getting us online, but why aren’t they better at connecting us with the physical world?,'” Potharaju said. “Beaconstac [is] helping companies … build digital cohorts based on interactions in the physical world.”

Beaconstac lands $25M investment for its QR code management platform by Kyle Wiggers originally published on TechCrunch

Snaptrude gets VC backing to take on Autodesk in building design space

Snaptrude, a young startup, is attempting to disrupt Autodesk in the building design space, giving customers modern and broader sets of features at more affordable cost. The early progress by the New York City-headquartered firm has helped it court thousands of customers and now, a seed funding.

The startup — which has raised $6.6 million in a seed funding co-led by Accel and Foundamental VC — is taking a similar approach as Figma to take on an industry that has relied on decades-old code and where cloud-based collaboration is still elusive.

“The problem has been that the industry is very backward in nature. It’s dominated by companies like Autodesk, humongous companies, software built largely in the 90s. So, the software stack is very old,” said Altaf Ganihar, founder and CEO of Snaptrude, in an interview.

Popular Building Information Modeling (BIM) solutions including Autodesk’s Revit have lagged in many areas. They lack interoperability and require high-end computers. Architects, engineers, construction firms and industry groups have raised these concerns in numerous open letters to the $40 billion Autodesk to little to no success.

Snaptrude is not alone in taking on the giants. Startups including Arcol, which started in January 2021 and we covered in March last year, is also trying to solve the same problem with their models. Ganihar said that Snaptrude is offering a full-fledged solution in the market, which is different from Arcol and other startups that may take a couple of years to bring their products out.

“There are hardly any players in a full-stack scenario,” he told TechCrunch.

Ganihar, who has a computer graphics and computer vision research background, got the idea to found Snaptrude after he had a terrible experience with legacy software while working on a national-level project to reconstruct the UNESCO world heritage site Hampi in India’s Karnataka.

He initially built plugins to work with existing software. But in 2017, the engineer started prototyping the idea of a cloud-based design tool. He showcased his prototype at TechCrunch Disrupt that year which got him some visibility and brought initial funding of $1.2 million in early 2018.

The initial funding helped build a team to bring Snaptrude to reality and add companies including WeWork and Square Yards to its list of over 6,000 customers across more than 30 countries worldwide.

Unlike Revit and other legacy solutions, Snaptrude works on a browser and offers collaboration for designing buildings in 3D as naturally as using Google Docs. It also comes with the ability to generate real-time data to inform about the impact of changing construction size on cost, climate and energy utilization. Additionally, the platform, available in a freemium model, supports all widely used file formats, including DWG, RVT, IFC, SKP, FBX, PDF and OBJ.

“The AEC [architecture, engineering and construction] industry is currently being held back by antiquated software systems & hasn’t undergone a modern cloud disruption. This is baffling, especially in an industry in which collaboration between teams and specialists is necessary. This is where Snaptrude is changing the game — enabling true collaboration, and access to real-world data in a huge, global market. We are bullish on Snaptrude’s strategy and category leadership ahead,” said Prashanth Prakash, Partner at Accel, in a prepared statement.

The startup has cumulatively raised $7.8 million to date. It plans to utilize the fresh funds to bring product enhancements and eventually implement and allocate money for its future growth. The all-equity seed round also saw participation from Possible Ventures, Clark Valberg (Founder, Invision), RFC, CapitalX and Thilo Konzok (co-founder Home).

Snaptrude has a globally-distributed workforce of 35, including geometry engineers and mathematicians. It plans to slightly expand the engineering team this year to bolster its market presence.

“Online collaboration tools have emerged as a necessity for businesses and professionals in today’s landscape and 3D design is no different. Snaptrude’s forward-looking suite of collaboration design tools is serving this vital need and, in the process, revolutionizing workflows in the AEC industry across the globe. We are thrilled to partner with Altaf and Snaptrude on their journey to create a more collaborative world of 3D design,” said Shubhankar Bhattacharya, General Partner at Foundamental.

Snaptrude gets VC backing to take on Autodesk in building design space by Jagmeet Singh originally published on TechCrunch

EdgeDB raises $15M ahead of the launch of its cloud database service

EdgeDB, the startup looking to modernize databases for cutting-edge apps, today announced that it raised $15 million in a Series A round led by Nava Ventures and Accel. The new capital brings the startup’s total raised to $19 million, which CEO Yury Selivanov said will be used to boost headcount and launch the previously announced hosted version of EdgeDB’s database solution, EdgeDB Cloud.

“Cloud, which in our case is a database-as-a-service, requires significant investment upfront to build a reliable and scalable infrastructure,” Selivanov told TechCrunch in an email interview. “We plan on eventually introducing turn-key integrations with Vercel, Netlify, GitHub, GitLab, Sentry, DataDog and many other services, making EdgeDB Cloud the key component of future application stacks.”

Selivanov co-founded EdgeDB with Elvis Pranskevichus in 2022, after co-launching a software development consultancy called MagicStack in Toronto in 2008. As they began to create bespoke tooling for clients, the founders came to the realization that they wanted to lead a purely product-driven company as opposed to a consulting firm.

And so EdgeDB was born. EdgeDB’s product is fundamentally a relational database, or a collection of data items with predefined relationships between them. But Selivanov makes the case that EdgeDB “reinvents pretty much every concept” about relational databases, introducing its own high-level data model, a query language called EdgeQL, a low-latency network protocol and a set of tools to handle day-to-day operations like installing the database and making backups.


Image Credits: EdgeDB

“EdgeDB’s extensive feature set was always guided by solving the real pain points we observed the industry has with databases,” Selivanov said. “Technical decision-makers appreciate the low friction of building with EdgeDB compared to most other relational database products on the market.”

EdgeDB competes with PlanetScale, Supabase and Prisma for dominance in the relational database market. At least one forecaster believes it could be worth $18.8 billion by 2026, growing nearly 40% from 2021.

It’s been a rockier-than-anticipated road to revenue — while Selivanov told TechCrunch in April that he expected EdgeDB would be generating revenue in Q4 2022, he now expects it won’t be until “late Q1 2023.” Selivanov blames that on the delayed launch of EdgeDB Cloud, which was originally set for 2022. But he stresses that EdgeDB’s 14-person team is heads-down, continuing to build out the database’s architecture and query language.

“After successful launches of EdgeDB v1.0 and v2.0, we could easily demonstrate that people love the product and now is the right time to focus on the hosted version. Raising money at that point felt like the natural next step,” Selivanov said. “In the next release we plan to introduce a visual constructor for queries and a visualization UI for explaining queries performance … We will also be expanding the list of programming languages we natively support.”

EdgeDB also has the advantage of backing from notable angels in the software dev space, including ex-GitHub CEO Nat Friedman, GitHub co-founder Tom Preston-Werner, Firebase co-founder James Tamplin, ex-IBM CEO Samuel J. Palmisano, Netlify co-founder Mathias Biilmann and Sentry co-founder David Cramer. OpenAI co-founder and CTO Greg Brockman is another supporter, having invested in EdgeDB’s seed round this spring.

EdgeDB raises $15M ahead of the launch of its cloud database service by Kyle Wiggers originally published on TechCrunch

Accel backs startup offering ‘Amazon-grade’ commerce engine to online sellers around the world

Accel has backed a startup named Mason based in India and the U.S. that has built a commerce engine for sellers around the world to help them sell products online without paying the exorbitant ‘Amazon tax.’

The California-based startup, which has its R&D headquarters in Bengaluru, is claimed to allow sellers to have their D2C storefront ready with a 50% uplift in their margins from day one. It offers a no-code, plug-and-play solution to let sellers offer products online without requiring a large engineering team.

Founded by Barada Sahu and Kausambi Manjita in 2020, Mason claims to have more than 1,000 customers and powers over 8,000 brands worldwide. While North America has been one of the strongest markets for the startup, it also serves clients in Singapore, Southeast Asia, Japan and India.

“People are stuck with having forced to sell on Amazon. Ideally, as a brand, you want your own presence, but you’re unable to do that because it’s very hard. It almost feels like a technology problem,” Manjita said in an interview with TechCrunch.

Mason product dashboard

Mason’s product dashboard

Sahu and Manjita decided to build their offering for online stores while working at Walmart-owned Myntra. While developing a custom engine at the fashion e-commerce company, the duo realized the need for bespoke store engines to run online stores selling various products successfully. That brought Mason to its reality.

Manjita is heading Mason’s product and customer experience, while Sahu looks after its revenues and growth.

The startup is aimed at small and medium businesses that already sell products online but are looking to upgrade their stores. Although Amazon can help in such cases, Sahu and Manjita say the commission charged by the e-commerce giant restricts entrepreneurs’ earnings.

Manson charges 1% of its customers’ total sales to offer its platform. But it is significantly less than the 30% charge Amazon puts on every sale through its platform, Sahu said.

By switching to Mason, Manjita said that a store improves average order value by 23% in 30 days and improves its session time by 17% and sell-through by 35% in 60 days.

In addition to its flagship commerce engine, Mason offers a Shopify plugin called ModeMagic. It is designed for brands getting started and basically deep diving into the Shopify ecosystem, Sahu said.

By offering its standalone platform and Shopify plugin, the startup essentially wants to cater to both types of entrepreneurs and businesses — the ones that are not relying on a particular platform and the others that use Shopify as their backend.

Mason has raised a total of $7.5 million in a seed round led by Accel and Ideaspring Capital, with participation from Lightspeed India Partners as well as Mana VC, Gaingels, Core91 and VH Capital.

“In order to build a truly scalable outcome, the team is on the journey to create a self-serve platform wherein e-commerce brand owners could use it to create, communicate and grow,” said Subrata Mitra, Partner at Accel, in a prepared statement.

Manjita said that Mason will utilize the fresh funding to set up its marketing, sales, customer success and partnerships teams — to bring the product to more and more customers. The startup also plans to create better and more content for entrepreneurs to help them learn about solving challenges in their e-commerce journey.

Mason currently has around 40 people in its team, including close to 30 working toward product technology and design operations. A large part of its workforce is based out of Bengaluru, though it has its early go-to-market teams in Toronto and advisors in San Diego and New York. It is also setting up its customer success, early marketing and growth and partnerships teams in North America.

Accel backs startup offering ‘Amazon-grade’ commerce engine to online sellers around the world by Jagmeet Singh originally published on TechCrunch

Apis in talks to back fintech Money View at $1 billion valuation despite market slump

India’s Money View is in talks to raise a new round of funding at a unicorn valuation, two sources familiar with the matter told TechCrunch, in a boost to the local fintech community that has been rattled by the central bank’s stringent guidelines and funding crunch in recent months.

Apis Partners is deliberating leading a funding round of about $125 million to $150 million in the Bengaluru-headquartered startup at a valuation of about $1 billion, the sources said. The round, a Series E, hasn’t been finalized, so terms of the deal may still change, the sources cautioned, requesting anonymity speaking about nonpublic information.

Apis Partners, Money View and the startup’s founders did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday evening local time.

The eight-year-old startup, which was valued at $615 million in a Series D funding round in March this year, offers lending to individuals who can’t avail credit from banks and other financial institutions. The startup has said in the past that the majority of its customers live in small Indian cities and towns.

“India is one of the most underserved large economies when it comes to access to credit. More than 70% of the credit provided by banks is only given to the top 10% of affluent Indians,” it describes on its website.

“The most underserved segments are people who earn less than 5L [$6,070] a year. Money View aims to bridge this credit gap by providing personalized loan offers for its customers through its robust data and risk assessment model. The company’s proprietary data models provide a 360-degree risk assessment, enabling credit for the underserved segments.”

Money View — which counts Ribbit Capital, Tiger Global and Accel among its existing backers — has been profitable for over a year, its founder Puneet Agarwal said in a press statement in May, and was on pace to clock an annualized revenue run rate of about $80 million.

“In the age of cash burning businesses, we are one of the very few fintech startups to be profitable for more than a year now,” Agarwal said in a press release in May.

Its new funding deliberations come at a time when the dealflow activity has slowed down dramatically in the South Asian market as investors grow cautious of writing new checks and evaluate their underwriting models after valuations of publicly listed firms take a tumble.

Indian startups raised $3 billion in the quarter that ended in September, down 57% from the previous quarter and 80% year-over-year, according to market intelligence platform Tracxn.

Apis in talks to back fintech Money View at $1 billion valuation despite market slump by Manish Singh originally published on TechCrunch

Knoetic lands $36M to unify diverse sources of HR data

In the last decade, so-called chief people officers (CPO) have seen a dramatic expansion of their day-to-day responsibilities. The role has evolved from an administrative HR function to a more strategic position, particularly as the pandemic has shined a spotlight on the importance of retention, upskilling and recruiting during a crisis. But despite the increased interest — the CPO is the third-fastest growing C-level position, according to LinkedIn — CPOs are often behind sales, marketing and customer execs in terms of their approaches to analyzing data.

Aiming to affect change, entrepreneur Joseph Quan founded Knoetic, a platform designed to provide insights on metrics like attrition, diversity and headcount growth. Knoetic integrates with HR systems to allow CPOs to run analyses and automatically generate reports, and it also delivers recommendations like how to improve employee retention if the platform identifies an issue with turnover.

Knoetic today raised $36 million in a Series B round led by EQT Ventures with participation from Accel and Menlo Ventures. More than 200 angel investors contributed, including CPOs from, Zapier, Box and Calm.

“We’re not building an analytics tool or another tired community — we’re building a second brain, a cybernetic augmentation that gives CPOs superpowers … We envision ourselves akin to Salesforce building the first, early cloud customer relationship management system,” Quan told TechCrunch via email, framing Knoetic’s mission in decidedly aggrandized terms. “[We’re] continuing to educate every CPO that they need data and analytics to earn respect as a next generation people leader.”


Image Credits: Knoetic

The Knoetic platform can integrate with human resources information systems, applicant tracking systems and performance and learning management apps, surfacing trends across the organization. At one point in time, Knoetic claimed to be exploring machine learning models to predict the drivers of attrition and turnover, successful or fast-promoted employees and employees who become central to the success of their departments.

Knoetic’s customers also gain access to a forum, CPOHQ, where they can discuss HR-specific topics like budget planning and immigration policies online and at in-person dinners, workshops and summits. CPOHQ also hosts documents with best practices and playbooks contributed by the community of more than 2,000 CPOs.

Knoetic counts Credit Karma, Calm, Checkr, Mural and Synk among its clients, and while Quan wouldn’t reveal an exact figure, he said that it’s grown 500% year over year. The startup’s war chest stands at around $50 million as Knoetic preps to add roughly a dozen people to its 50-person workforce.

“Knoetic was actually founded out of the pandemic, which served as a major tailwind for the company’s growth. CPOs leveraged Knoetic’s qualitative and quantitative tools to navigate the pandemic’s tough people challenges. The broader tech slowdown has also only strengthened the need for solutions to support a strategic HR function,” Quan said. “We have several years of runway with our current burn.”

Knoetic also stands to benefit from the perception that HR tech remains a safe bet even during a downturn. Data from WorkTech shows that VC investment for H1 2022 puts the year on track to meet or exceed the $17.9 billion record set in 2021, while Q2 was the fourth-largest quarter for the HR sector on record with $4.6 billion invested.

Knoetic lands $36M to unify diverse sources of HR data by Kyle Wiggers originally published on TechCrunch

General Atlantic buys out SoftBank’s 15% stake in edtech Kahoot, now valued at about $152M vs the $215M SoftBank ponied up 2 years ago

SoftBank’s retreat from its past investing exuberance continues apace. This morning, Kahoot, the Norwegian startup that provides a popular platform for people to build and use education-focused games, announced that General Atlantic is buying out SoftBank’s entire 15% stake in the company. SoftBank is exiting at a loss. The firm sunk at least $215 million into the company in the last several years. However, 15% of Kahoot’s current market cap (10.415 billion Norwegian Krone) works out to about $152 million (1,562,250,000 NOK).

This looks like an all-secondary round: no new investment coming in alongside the buyout. (We’re confirming this with Kahoot and will update as we learn more.) “Kahoot plans to partner with General Atlantic to accelerate further growth initiatives, drive innovation, and expand its global footprint in homes, schools, and corporations,” the company said in a statement.

Nevertheless, the deal comes as Kahoot, like many other tech companies, continues to feel the pinch of the general downturn in technology stocks and the wider technology market. A year ago, its shares were trading at 70.25 NOK on the Oslo Stock Exchange. They are now worth only 22.77 NOK. And that is with a bump of nearly 27% that Kahoot had this morning on the news of the investment/divestment.

SoftBank, meanwhile, has been in hot water itself, facing up to big losses in its splashy Vision Fund investment vehicles on the back of those wider tech industry doldrums. In August, Vision Fund I reported a loss of over $17 billion for just one quarter (Q1). Vision Fund 2 is reportedly down in value by some 19% on the funds that have been invested so far. Amid layoffs and big executive changes, no surprise, then, that it is now divesting stakes that are underperforming. (It’s still working on a Vision Fund 3 though, so never say die in the world of tech.)

“We are very grateful to SoftBank for their partnership over the past two years. As Kahoot! continues to pursue its mission to improve lifelong learning by building a leading global learning and engagement platform, we are thrilled to add a partner of General Atlantic’s caliber,” Eilert Hanoa, CEO of Kahoot, said in a statement. “The team at GA brings deep experience in scaling global education technology and software businesses and positioning market leaders for long-term success, and we look forward to our next phase of momentum in empowering the learning ecosystem around the world.”

“We believe Kahoot has significant potential for further growth as digital learning solutions continue to be adopted across its work, school, and home markets,” added Chris Caulkin, MD and head of technology for EMEA at General Atlantic. “With its much-loved brand, product-centric approach, and engaged global user base, Kahoot is well positioned to scale, and we look forward to supporting Eilert and the full Kahoot! team in the years to come as they reach and engage ever more users worldwide.” General Atlantic and SoftBank have partnered on many deals in the past, so there was clearly already a relationship between the two and that may have played a factor here as well.

To be fair, since SB Northstar (the SoftBank Group fund making the investment) made its first investment in Kahoot nearly two years ago, in October 2020, Kahoot has grown a lot. It had 1.3 billion users (“participating players”) at that time; now that number is 8 billion.

What started as a “YouTube for education”- style model (big emphasis on user-created content and a way of using what you have made for yourself or your own learning group, but also dipping in and using material made by others) has worked to diversify deeper into enterprise and more. It said today that Kahoot! at Work is used in 97% of Fortune 500 companies for corporate learning and engagement, and that Kahoot! at School is used by approximately 9 million teachers in the classroom. And Kahoot! at Home & Study has over 18 million users as an “at-home gamified learning solution.”

Indeed, the company went large during the Covid-19 pandemic, doubling down on being one of the platforms to help fill the gap of amusement and engagement for students who were no longer in classrooms; and ditto for remote workers as a way of team building and more.

But as with many companies that found business ballooning because of market conditions, now as more people return to the office, students are back in the classroom, and generally budgets are all being reined in in the current economic climate, it will be having an effect on Kahoot as well.

We’ll update this post as we learn more.

General Atlantic buys out SoftBank’s 15% stake in edtech Kahoot, now valued at about $152M vs the $215M SoftBank ponied up 2 years ago by Ingrid Lunden originally published on TechCrunch