E-bikes, SME lending and rethinking ‘tickets’: Seven $1 million-plus raises you might have missed

startup funding

Licorice founder Samantha Glocker. Source: supplied.

Once again there has been so much money flying around the Australian startup ecosystem this week that it’s been tough to keep up.

In Wollongong, we crowned a new Aussie unicorn as BNPL player Scalapay raised $692 million at a valuation of more than $1 billion “in all the currencies”.

Arkon Energy also took home probably the biggest pre-seed round in Australian tech history for its tech using excess renewable energy to mine bitcoin. And a Western Australian startup raised $1 million in 30 minutes to take local medicinal honey to the world stage.

But elsewhere, money was also pouring into e-bikes on subscription, two different digital verification startups (playing in very different spaces) and tech rethinking the ticketing process used by IT professionals.

Here are seven $1 million-plus raises you might have missed this week.

OCR Labs: $42 million

Aussie regtech OCR Labs has closed a $42 million Series B round, as it gears up to expand its global footprint.

The digital identity verification tech is designed to help businesses comply with anti-money laundering and know-your-customer regulations, using things like character recognition, face-matching and video fraud assessment.

Over the past 12 months, the startup has seen a 500% increase in new clients, and tripled its headcount.

The latest round, led by New York VC Equable Capital, will see it expand that team further in Australia, North America and the EMEA region.

Zoomo: $27.8 million

E-bike startup Zoomo has tacked another US$20 million ($27.8 million) onto its Series B raise, bringing the total value of the round to more than $100 million.

Founded in 2017 and backed by Atlassian co-founders Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar, Zoomo offers e-bikes on subscription, largely for gig economy workers and last-mile couriers.

As well as catering to individuals, it also works with businesses to provide whole fleets of bikes. According to Zoomo, that enterprise arm of the business grew 20-fold in 2021.

The business also expanded its presence from three countries to six. The fresh funds will partly be used to accelerate that global growth.

“We see a world within the next decade where every last-mile delivery will be completed on a light electric vehicle,” Zoomo founder Mina Nada said.

Zoomo

Zoomo co-founders Mina Nada and Michael Johnson. Source: supplied.

Lumi: $10 million

Small business lender Lumi has secured $10 million to scale its platform nationwide.

The cash injection follows a $20 million raise announced just months ago in December last year. The business has, however, been growing more quickly than forecast, founder Yanir Yakutiel said in a statement.

Now he’s predicting a strong year of growth for Aussie SMEs as they recover from two years of lockdowns and uncertainty.

“The last two years have been a stress-test of the technology-driven model we have pioneered at Lumi,” Yakutiel said.

“We have come out of that test with flying colours — our loan originations remained strong, and the number of customers who had to apply for hardship was low.”

connect with large enterprises

Lumi founder and chief executive officer Yanir Yakutiel. Source: supplied.

Upflowy: $6.6 million

Sydney-based Upflowy has banked US$4 million ($6.6 million) to build out its ‘drag-and-drop’ tool helping businesses provide personalised experiences online.

The tech is designed to help businesses improve customer experience and make better use of data. It also means businesses can more easily track their customers’ journeys, noting and improving on any areas where they may drop off.

The round was led by San Francisco investor Counterpart Ventures, and marks the first time the VC has invested in Australia.

The funding will mainly be used for building out the tech, as well as for hiring and investing in customer support.

Upflowy founders

Upflowy founders (L-R) Alex Girard, Matthew Browne and Guillaume Ang. Source: Hero Shot Photography

Linkby: $5 million

One of the co-founders of Pedestrian has reportedly raised $5 million for his adtech startup, Linkby.

Founded in 2020, Linkby allows brands to pay for content with selected publishers, on a cost-per-click basis.

In an interview with The Australian Financial Review, co-founder Chris Wirasinha said the tool offers brands an alternative to the big-tech advertising models, which are not as they once were.

“There are tonnes of direct-to-consumer brands whose return on investment on Facebook is going backwards and are hungry for more advertising channels,” he said.

“It’s created a moment for publishers to re-enter the conversation when it comes to contextual and mindset-based targeting.”

Fortiro $3.5 million

A fraud prevention startup spun out of PwC has reportedly closed a $3.5 million raise, led by Our Innovation Fund.

Fortiro is headed up by former PwC directors Sean Quagliani, David Weber and Amir Vahid, who left the corporate to formally launch their startup as an independent business just weeks ago.

Their Protect product was designed and built within the professional services firm, to help organisations verify the legitimacy of proof-of-income documents such as payslips.

It combines machine learning, document forensics and data extraction to speed up the verification process that had previously been largely manual.

“It’s a massive pain point for lenders,” Quagliani told the Australian Financial Review.

“There’s lots of generic document processing tools that you can try and use, but these documents are complex, and it’s hard to do any meaningful automation or validation.”

Licorice: $1.8 million

An Adelaide startup has secured $1.8 million for its AI-powered scheduling tool for IT professionals.

Licorice is designed to replace the outdated ‘ticket’ system for IT tasks. The AI tool matches requests with the appropriate engineer, calculates the time required and allows users to select an appropriate.

Founder Samantha Glocker compares the tool to Apple’s Genius Bar, “but for all enterprise IT services or any industry with a complex customer support business model”.

The idea is that jobs will be prevented from slipping through the cracks, she adds, while timings, bookings and biollables are also calculated automatically.

“In the world of IT tickets, the most urgent jobs are triaged to the top of the list while less critical tasks are shuffled down the pack, and that’s where over 30% of revenue is lost in IT companies,” Glocker adds.

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