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Hyundai leads $14.3M investment in Indian car rental startup Revv

Korean automaker Hyundai is jumping into India’s on-demand mobility space after it led a $14.3 million investment in car-rental startup Revv . Hyundai, which is the second largest seller of cars in India , initially announced an undisclosed investment in Revv this week, but now the startup has confirmed that the capital is part of a larger 100 Crore INR (~$14.3 million) Series B round. Other investors in the round include Japan’s Dream Incubator, Telama Investment and Sunjay Kapoor of auto component firm Sona BLW. Existing investors Edelweiss and Beenext also took part in the deal, which takes Revv to $23 million raised from investors, according to data from Crunchbase . Revv was founded in 2015 and it offers on-demand car rentals using a model similar to Zipcar in the U.S. The startup is currently active in 11 cities in India with a fleet of around 1,000 vehicles. It claims to have served 300,000 users to date. One of its hallmarks is doorstep delivery and collection from customers, which eschews the usual process of designated collection and return locations. In an interview with TechCrunch, Revv co-founders Anupam Agarwal (CEO) and Karan Jain (COO) said the plan is to expand to 30 cities over the next 12-18 months while growing the fleet size to 10,000-12,000. The duo said that the investment from Hyundai didn’t include any specific clause to provide vehicles, but that it is possible that an agreement may be reached in the future. Beyond potential support on growing the fleet, Agarwal and Jain said that Revv plans to tap Hyundai for its knowledge in vehicles, including performance upkeep, maintenance of cars and more, and other tech areas as it builds out its platform and new products. A photo of the Revv team That’s because the startup’s expansion plan goes beyond new geographies to include different types of services, too. Right now, Revv offers on-demand car rentals and a subscription-based product — Switch — that is designed for power-users, but Agarwal and Jain want to introduce more modular and flexible products. Already Shift users account for around one-third of rentals, but Revv wants to go further.

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Slack confirms it has raised $427M at a post-money valuation of over $7.1B

Slack , the workplace communications platform, has taken off like a rocket since launching in 2013 and now has more than 8 million daily active users and 70,000 teams paying to use it. Now the startup of the same name has closed its latest round of funding to fuel its growth. The company said it has raised another $427 million in a Series H round that values it at over $7.1 billion, led by Dragoneer Investment Group and General Atlantic. The news confirms details first reported by TechCrunch earlier this month. Other investors in this round include T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc., funds advised by Wellington Management, Baillie Gifford and Sands Capital, along with unnamed investors. “Slack is an exceptional company that is revolutionizing the way people collaborate, and we look forward to a long term partnership with the Slack team as they continue to grow the business,” said Marc Stad, Founder and Managing Partner of Dragoneer, in a statement. Before this round, Slack had raised $841 million with its 40 or so previous investors reading like a who’s who of the VC world, including a number of individuals as well as the firms SoftBank, Accel, Kleiner Perkins, GV, DST, Index, Andreessen Horowitz, Social Capital and many more. Its most recent round before this was a SoftBank-led  $250 million round at a $5.1 billion valuation , pointing to a huge leap in Slack’s price since September 2017. Over the years, there have been a number of startups and larger tech giants attempting to build workplace communications platforms, but Slack appears to have been the right platform at just the right moment. The public appetite for social media and using digital platforms to communicate has exploded in recent times, and Slack’s easy interface, combined with the ability to integrate just about any other piece of software or app that you might use in your office into its conversation stream, has helped it take off. That has not come without a sharp rise in competition, with the likes of Facebook, Microsoft and others all developing their own platforms to take it on, either because they see an opportunity to jump on the trend to gain new customers and revenue streams, or to hang on to those that it already has (and possibly before Slack snaps them up). In previous rounds, Slack’s CEO and co-founder Stewart Butterfield has said that the company raises “opportunistically.” That is, it doesn’t  have to raise money because it’s already making money and still has some in the bank, but as long as VCs are knocking, it’s worth taking the funding if it’s coming in at good valuations because you never know what might lie ahead. That “ahead” appears to be now. The company did not specify how it plans to use this funding in the short statement it sent to TechCrunch (we’re asking), but it’s been buying up competitors (like Hipchat) in a bid to scale up and consolidate, in addition to ramping up its own offerings to target bigger and more lucrative customers beyond the smaller businesses and startups that helped the company get its start. “Slack has made strong progress in a very short time in this new era of enterprise collaboration.

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Get your tickets to TechCrunch Startup Battlefield MENA 2018

Calling all entrepreneurs, techies, aspiring startup founders and anyone else who loves the thrill and excitement that comes from seeing innovative startups compete head-to-head. TechCrunch Startup Battlefield MENA 2018 , our premier startup pitch competition, takes place October 3 in Beirut, Lebanon. Come and watch as 15 of the region’s top early-stage startup founders vie for the title of the Middle East and North Africa’s best startup. Tickets to this event — our first in this part of the world — cost $29 (including VAT), and you can buy your tickets right here . If you’ve never seen one of our Startup Battlefield competitions, this the perfect opportunity to learn what it’s all about and experience it up close and personal. Who knows? It might even inspire you to apply for the next Startup Battlefield. Here’s what you can expect to see onstage. During three preliminary rounds, 15 teams — five startups per round — have only six minutes to pitch and present a live demo to a panel of expert technologists and VC investors. After each pitch, the judges have six minutes to grill the team with tough questions. Thanks to the free pitch coaching they received from TechCrunch editors, the founders will be ready to handle anything that comes their way. Next, the judges confer, thin the herd and allow only five teams to move on to the next round — a new panel of judges, another pitch and more Q&A.

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One week left: Apply to Startup Battlefield at Disrupt Berlin 2018

Anyone with even a tangential relationship to the European tech startup scene knows that Startup Battlefield is one of the most effective launching pads for early-stage startups. All the pitch-competition drama and excitement goes down at  Disrupt Berlin 2018 on November 29-30. If you want to spotlight your startup in front of the continent’s brightest innovators, investors and influencers, you have only one week left to submit your application — right here . Last year at Disrupt Berlin 2017,  Lia Diagnostics —  makers of the first flushable pregnancy test — won the Startup Battlefield and walked away with the Disrupt Cup, the $50,000 grand prize and an incredible amount of media coverage and investor interest. Could 2018 be your year? Here’s what you need to know about competing in Startup Battlefield. Our TechCrunch editors, steeped in the ways of identifying hot prospects since 2007, will review every application and select approximately 15 early-stage startups. Our acceptance rate typically hovers around three percent. Participating founders receive free pitch coaching — again, from our Battlefield-tested editors — and they’ll be thoroughly prepped to step onto the TechCrunch Main Stage. That’s when the fun really starts. Teams have just six minutes to present a live demo to a distinguished panel of investors and entrepreneurs. Following each pitch, the judges have six minutes to grill the team with probing questions.

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Submit your application to TechCrunch Startup Battlefield Africa 2018

If there’s one thing we learned hosting last year’s Startup Battlefield in Kenya, it’s that the tech startup scene across Africa is both impressive and growing rapidly. More than 300 tech hubs connect and mentor entrepreneurs across the continent — making it an exciting time and place to be a startup. And we can’t wait to see even more of Sub-Saharan Africa’s best innovators, makers and technical entrepreneurs compete in TechCrunch Startup Battlefield Africa 2018  in Lagos, Nigeria on December 11. If you haven’t applied yet, what the heck are you waiting for? Submit your application right here and launch your early-stage startup to the world. We’re searching for the best of the best, and our expert TechCrunch editors will review every eligible application and select up to 15 companies to compete — keep reading for important specifics on who may apply. Among other criteria, the editors will look closely at a startup’s potential to produce an exit or IPO. Those highly experienced editors will also provide team founders with free and extensive pitch coaching. You might be nervous when the time comes to walk onstage to pitch your company, but trust us — you’ll be ready. Up to five startups will compete in one of three preliminary rounds, where they’ll have six minutes to pitch and present their demo to a panel of judges composed of entrepreneurs, technologists and VCs (recruited by our editors), all experts in their categories. Following each pitch, the judges have six minutes to ask the tough questions. The judges then choose five startups to pitch again — to a different set of judges. One of those five startups will be named the TechCrunch Startup Battlefield Africa 2018 champion and take home the grand prize: US$25,000 in no-equity cash, plus a trip for two to compete in Startup Battlefield in San Francisco at our flagship event, TechCrunch Disrupt 2019 (assuming the company still qualifies to compete at the time).

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SenSat, a UK startup that uses visual and spatial data to ‘simulate reality’, picks up $4.5M seed

SenSat , a U.K. startup aiming to use visual and spatial data to “simulate reality” and help computers better understand the physical world, has raised $4.5 million in seed funding — cash it will use to further develop the technology, and invest in its San Francisco office. The round was backed by Force Over Mass, Round Hill Venture Partners, and Zag (the venture arm of global creative agency BBH). Launched in 2017 by founders James Dean (CEO) and Harry Atkinson (Head of Product), SenSat turns complex visual and spatial data into what is described as “real-time simulated reality” designed to enable computers to solve real world problems. The idea is to let companies that operate in physical domains — starting with infrastructure construction — use AI to help make better informed decisions based on multiple variables, which are large in number and complexity. But to do this, first the real world needs to be simulated and those simulations injected with data that computers can understand and interact with. And that starts with using new technology to photograph the real world at a level of detail that goes beyond satellite imagery. “My background is in satellite remote sensing, the science of understanding an object without coming into contact with it,” SenSat CEO Dean tells me. “This actually gave me the initial idea, ‘if everything we do from satellites can be done 200 miles closer using autonomous drones, then the resolution of the corresponding information must be commercially valuable'”. Dean says the tech that SenSat has since developed is making it possible for computers to understand the real world through the lens of highly detailed simulated realities in order to “learn how things work and to change the way we make decisions”. The company does this by creating digital replicas of real world locations, then infusing real-time spatial data-sets with a high degree of statistical accuracy from both open and proprietary data sources. “The resulting simulations are realistic and fully digital, allowing large-scale machine learning and data analysis at an unprecedented scale,” he says. But why has SenSat chosen to initially target infrastructure construction

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LetGo, the 2nd-hand shopping app, raises another $500M at over a $1.5B valuation

LetGo , the app-based marketplace for people to sell each other second-hand goods, has nabbed a great deal of its own. Today, the startup announced that it has picked up an extra $500 million in funding from Naspers, the South African e-commerce and media giant, which it plans to use to double down on growth, both in its core second-hand goods sales as well as in newer areas such as the housing listings that it launched last month . The company is not disclosing valuation, although a source close to the business confirmed that it has definitely grown compared to its last funding round, when it raised about $100 million at around a $1 billion valuation . That means this round above $1.5 billion pre-money. LetGo said that $150 million of the total was transferred earlier this summer. Naspers had been a previous investor, and other backers of the company include Accel, Insight Venture Partners, New Enterprise Associates, 14W, Eight Roads Ventures, Mangrove Capital Partners and FJ Labs. LetGo competes with the likes of eBay, Craigslist, OfferUp (which has also broken through the $1 billion valuation barrier) and Facebook, among many others in the very crowded world of second-hand, locally-focused marketplaces . Within that, however, it’s carved out a strong place for itself: LetGo says that its app has passed 100 million downloads and 400 million listings in total, with monthly listers up 65 percent since the start of this year. Some 13 million messages are sent daily in connection with goods on the site, and 6 billion messages have been sent since first opening for business three years ago. (The company does not break out any financials, but we are still digging on this and will update if/when we learn more.) Part of its growth also has been due to some significant consolidation in the space: in 2016 it merged with rival Wallapop in a bid for more scale, and reportedly was looking to merge also with Offerup at one point. “We are extraordinarily fortunate to have investors who believe so strongly in our vision and team,” said LetGo cofounder Alec Oxenford in a statement. “We are fueling unprecedented growth in the secondhand economy through meaningful innovation. Our app makes it simple for tens of millions of buyers and sellers to connect in their own neighborhoods so they can put more money in their pockets, declutter their lives and put their space to better use.” Naspers is making its investment through its OLX e-commerce arm, and while LetGo’s business is up to now been primarily in the US and Spain (from its Wallapop heritage), it will be interesting to see if the startup plans to take the service more global with this funding, in keeping with its big investor’s larger footprint. “ letgo has established itself as one of the most promising startups in the world by injecting excitement, new technology and fresh thinking into a space that’s lacked all of the above for decades in the U.S.,” said Martin Scheepbouwer, CEO of OLX Group, in a statement.

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Handiscover, the startup that helps you find accessible travel accommodation, raises $700K

Handiscover , a startup that lets you find and book accessible travel accommodation, has raised $700,000 in new funding. The round is backed by Howzat Partners, which has previously invested in a number of successful travel companies, such as publicly-listed Trivago and more recently Lodgify . Tranquility Capital, a Swedish family fund with a background in accessibility, also participated. Originally launched in June 2015 to enable hosts to list accommodation and have Handiscover’s algorithm classify the accessibility of their properties or rooms, the startup has since evolved into a fully fledged two-sided marketplace, enabling consumers to search for and book travel accommodation based on various accessibility needs. The idea, founder Sebastien Archambeaud tells me, was born from his own experience as the father of 13-year-old Teo (pictured) who has a muscle condition and uses a wheelchair to get around. “When travelling as the family we got so frustrated about the lack of purposeful information about accessibility of both vacation rentals and/or rooms for hotels,” he says. “That was what planted the first seed in my mind. Having a long background in international management and some previous tech experience and knowledge about building marketplaces, I thought I was well equipped to build a project like that. But as usual it never is as easy at it first sounds”. Easy it might not be, but Handiscover seems to be making a decent dent so far, and appears more than capable of picking up any slack left by Airbnb’s recent acquisition of lesser-sized Accomable , which it has since shuttered. Handiscover currently lists 28,000 properties and rooms, and covers 83 countries, with more to come. “Our mission is to enable people with disabilities and special needs (15-20 percent of the population) to travel the world, by being able to find a great choice of accommodations at different price levels, adapted to our users specific needs,” explains Archambeaud. “As there is no international standard for accessibility we created our own, using an algorithm to classify accommodations according to their level of accessibility, in a consumer friendly way”. Archambeaud says direct competitors are mostly traditional travel agencies that specialise in disability, meaning they might have a website but are mainly focused on selling full holiday packages by phone

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Shell Ventures backs UK car repair marketplace WhoCanFixMyCar

WhoCanFixMyCar , the U.K. online car repair marketplace, has secured £4 million in new funding. Backing the startup is Shell Ventures — the corporate venture arm of Shell — in addition to chairman Sir Trevor Chinn (who previously chaired the boards ofAA, Kwik Fit and RAC), Active Partners, and Venrex Investment Management. Launched in 2011 by former investment bankers Al Preston and Ian Griffiths, WhoCanFixMyCar.com claims to be the biggest online marketplace in the U.K. for matching car owners with repair garages (although the likes of ClickMechanic might not agree, despite having slightly different models). Specifically, the company, which has offices in Newcastle upon Tyne, London and Kiev, operates a local garage and mechanic online comparison service, allowing drivers to post jobs and receive quotes from local garages and mechanics. The platform currently has 11,500 garages registered to the site, and says it has processed 1 million repair requests from U.K. drivers and receives circa 60,000 new job requests from drivers every month. This, I’m told, has seen single site garages obtaining around 600 new customers per year on average through WhoCanFixMyCar, with top regional garage groups securing 3,000-4,000 bookings per year. Furthermore, Shell’s investment via Shell Ventures follows the development of the Shell Helix Service Specialist Network, a recently launched scheme which allows independent workshops on the WhoCanFixMyCar.com site to be officially associated with Shell. In other words, strike this up as potentially quite a strategic investment for Shell. Armed with a cash injection, Al Preston, co-founder of WhoCanFixMyCar.com, says that the plan it to keep scaling the startup’s activities and consolidate its position in the UK.” We are also focusing on new products and solutions that will further benefit our garage network and provide car owners with a better, richer experience when it comes to car maintenance and repairs,” he says.

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Shell Ventures backs UK car repair marketplace WhoCanFixMyCar

WhoCanFixMyCar , the U.K. online car repair marketplace, has secured £4 million in new funding. Backing the startup is Shell Ventures — the corporate venture arm of Shell — in addition to chairman Sir Trevor Chinn (who previously chaired the boards ofAA, Kwik Fit and RAC), Active Partners, and Venrex Investment Management. Launched in 2011 by former investment bankers Al Preston and Ian Griffiths, WhoCanFixMyCar.com claims to be the biggest online marketplace in the U.K. for matching car owners with repair garages (although the likes of ClickMechanic might not agree, despite having slightly different models). Specifically, the company, which has offices in Newcastle upon Tyne, London and Kiev, operates a local garage and mechanic online comparison service, allowing drivers to post jobs and receive quotes from local garages and mechanics. The platform currently has 11,500 garages registered to the site, and says it has processed 1 million repair requests from U.K. drivers and receives circa 60,000 new job requests from drivers every month. This, I’m told, has seen single site garages obtaining around 600 new customers per year on average through WhoCanFixMyCar, with top regional garage groups securing 3,000-4,000 bookings per year. Furthermore, Shell’s investment via Shell Ventures follows the development of the Shell Helix Service Specialist Network, a recently launched scheme which allows independent workshops on the WhoCanFixMyCar.com site to be officially associated with Shell. In other words, strike this up as potentially quite a strategic investment for Shell.

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Flux partners with fast food merchant itsu for itemised paperless receipts

Flux , the London fintech that has built a software platform to offer merchants digital receipts, loyalty, card-linked offers and analytics, continues to sign new partnerships in a bid to solve its ‘chicken and egg’ problem. That is, it needs bank integrations to sign up merchants and it needs merchant integrations to sign up banks. The latest to partner with Flux is the U.K. food chain itsu, which sells Asian-inspired fast food. Under the deal — positioned as a trial for now — the food merchant will use Flux to power paperless receipts across all 72 of its U.K. stores. Customers paying with cards issued by Flux partner banks who have opted-in will receive digital itemised receipts directly into their banking apps when they shop at itsu. Founded by former early employees at Revolut, the Flux platform bridges the gap between the itemised receipt data captured by a merchant’s point-of-sale (POS) system and what little information typically shows up on your bank statement or mobile banking app. Off the back of this, it can also power loyalty schemes and card-linked offers, as well as give merchants much deeper POS analytics via aggregated and anonymised data on consumer behaviour, such as which products are selling best in unique baskets. On the banking side, it currently partners with challenger bank Starling , and has a closed trial with Monzo. After graduating from Barclay’s fintech accelerator, Flux also recently got added to Barclays via its Launchpad app , which is used by a subset of customers who want to get in on the bank’s latest innovations early. On the merchant side, in addition to today’s announced itsu partnership, Flux works with EAT and pod in the U.K., and has an upcoming trial with Costa Coffee. Asked how Flux is overcoming its chicken and egg problem, and how conversations with banks and merchants have changed over the last few months, Flux co-founder Veronique Barbosa says the startup faces the same challenge as any marketplace. However, she believes the company has built a solid foundation for what she dubs the “Flux Flywheel”, borrowing from Amazon’s Amazon Flywheel concept. “For every bank we add on, we unlock the opportunity to provide Flux to those cardholders.

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Don’t wait: Apply to Startup Battlefield at Disrupt Berlin 2018

Whether by plane, train or autobahn, thousands of early-stage startup founders, investors, tech-heads and entrepreneurs will travel to Germany to attend TechCrunch’s Disrupt Berlin 2018 on November 29-30. But here’s a question specifically for the founders of pre-Series A startups: Why just attend when you can compete — in Startup Battlefield ? You can apply right here . It won’t cost you a thing to apply or participate in our premier pitch competition, but the selection process is highly competitive. Our TechCrunch editors have been choosing early-stage startups for Startup Battlefield since 2007, and they’ve developed an uncanny knack for spotting hot prospects. They’ll review all applications and select approximately 15 startups to compete. The skilled TechCrunch bunch provides free pitch coaching to the founders of each team, and Battlefield teams will be ready to handle the pressure when they step onto the Main Stage at Disrupt Berlin. Teams have just six minutes to demo their product and dazzle a panel of judges, which consists of well-known investors and entrepreneurs. Following each pitch, the judges have six minutes to conduct a rigorous Q&A. Only five teams make the cut and move on to the final round of pitches and questions in front of a new set of judges. And only one will emerge the victor, winning the Disrupt Cup and a $50,000 non-equity cash prize — that’s a nice chunk of change. Possibly even more valuable than cash: a metric ton (give or take) of media coverage and investor interest. The entire pitch-off takes place in front of a huge, enthusiastic audience consisting of those media outlets and investors we mentioned, along with influential technologists and potential customers

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Only 24 hours left to apply for Startup Battlefield MENA 2018

Time is running out for the best entrepreneurial tech minds and makers across the Middle East and North Africa to compete in  TechCrunch Startup Battlefield MENA 2018 , which takes place in Beirut, Lebanon on October 3 at the Beirut Digital District. Applications to our premier startup-pitch competition close in just 24 hours. We’ve been traveling around the Middle East and North Africa meeting incredible entrepreneurs in the regional ecosystem and are excited to shine a light on the brilliant innovation happening there. If you think your pre-Series A startup has what it takes to be named “the Middle East and North Africa’s Most Promising Startup,” don’t waste another minute. Apply right here, right now before the 24-hour clock runs out. Why should you apply? Well, for starters, the winning team receives US$25,000 in no-equity cash and a trip for two to compete in the Startup Battlefield at TechCrunch Disrupt in 2019 (assuming the company still qualifies to compete at the time). Then there’s the priceless exposure that comes from placing your startup smack dab in front of influential technologists, VCs and media. The life-changing potential is very real. Plus, all participating founders — not just the ultimate winners — become part of the Startup Battlefield alumni network. This community consists of almost 750 companies that have collectively raised more than $8 billion in funding and produced more than 100 exits. Names like Mint, Dropbox, Yammer, TripIt, Getaround and Cloudflare. That’s some prime networking territory

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Don’t miss out: Apply to TC Startup Battlefield MENA 2018

We’re stoked about hosting our first Startup Battlefield in Beirut, where we’ll showcase 15 amazing early-stage startups across the Middle East and North Africa. There’s nothing we love more than learning about, reporting on and supporting creative entrepreneurs in a growing tech startup ecosystem. TechCrunch Startup Battlefield MENA 2018 takes place on October 3, and we want to make sure every awesome startup in the region gets a shot at being named “the Middle East and North Africa’s Most Promising Startup.” But you only have until August 6th at 9 p.m. PST to submit your application. Don’t wait and risk missing the opportunity to launch your company to the world. Apply here today . And what an opportunity it is. Since 2007, almost 750 early-stage startups have participated in Startup Battlefield and gone on to collectively raised more than $8 billion in funding and produce more than 100 exits. Battlefield alumni companies you might recognize include Mint, Dropbox, Yammer, TripIt, Getaround and Cloudflare. Here’s how Startup Battlefield MENA works. TechCrunch editors will closely review and vet all eligible applications (we’ll talk more about eligibility in a moment) and select 15 startups to compete. Founders of each team receive free pitch coaching from pitch-savvy TechCrunch editors and, come game day, they’ll be ready to present with confidence to a panel of expert judges. The competition starts with three preliminary rounds — five startups per round will each have six minutes to pitch and present their demo.

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