The startup funding round: Digital ID verification, smart insurance, and nasal spray to protect against COVID-19

Mooven co-founder and chief Micah Gabriels. Source: supplied.

It’s been a big-money week on the investment front. We reported on Investible’s first $35 million close of its second fund, and on Bubble Tea Club, which raised more than $1 million in equity crowdfunding within 24 hours.

But the wrap up this week is also a big one, with cash raised totalling a massive $93.1 million.

That includes what is being called Australia’s biggest-ever tech seed round, construction tech, a workforce management solution and $5 million for a sustainable packaging startup.

Here are the funding stories you might have missed.

Honey

Insurance-tech startup Honey Insurance has secured $15.5 million what is being touted as the biggest ever seed funding raise for an Australian tech company.

The raise was led by a group of institutional investors, including RACQ, PEXA, Metricon, ABN Group, Mirvac, AGL, SFG, REI and Apex Capital.

It also included several big-name individual backers, such as Zip’s Larry Diamond, Afterpay’s Anthony Eisen and Airtasker’s Tim Fung.

Honey uses data to simplify the process of applying for home and contents insurance, and provides customers with smart home sensors, offering lower premiums for those taking extra precautions on their security.

“There are so many great things about living in Australia, but applying for home and contents insurance felt like travelling back in time thirty years,” co-founder and chief Richard Joffe said in a statement.

“The sign-up process was slow, unsophisticated and left me totally clueless as to whether I had the right level of protection or not. I knew there had to be a smarter way.”

Honey founder and chief Richard Joffe (centre) with RACQ chief David Carter (left) Honey chair Peter Tonagh (right). Source: supplied.

OCR Labs

Digital ID verification startup OCR Labs has reportedly raised US$15 million ($19.7 million) in Series A funding, in a round led by the Turkish investors Oyak Group.

Founded in 2018 by Daniel Aiello and Matthew Adams, the startup uses a range of technologies including optical character recognition, face-matching and video fraud assessment to support customer identification.

This identification is then used to automate onboarding, prevent identity fraud and ensure compliance with anti-money laundering and know-your-customer regulations.

Demand for such services is growing “exponentially”, as more businesses strive to operate remotely, Aiello reportedly said.

“No one wants to spend hours trying to prove who they are, whether it’s for a job or for a bank account.”

InstantScripts

InstantScripts has raised $10.9 million to fuel the expansion of its online health and prescription service.

Launched in 2018 and headed up by GP Dr Asher Freilich, the service allows for telehealth consultations and provides e-scripts for about 300 common medications such as contraceptive pills, cholesterol medication and asthma inhalers.

Scripts are checked over by a GP and sent to the customer’s pharmacy of choice, where they can be collected on the same day, or delivered to the patient’s home.

Some 200 million prescriptions are handed out in Australia each year, Freilich said in a statement. Most of those are basic medications or repeats.

“We are ensuring technology catches up with consumer demand for digital delivery of such services.”

Grounded

Sydney startup Grounded has raised $5 million to scale up its mission to help businesses move to more sustainable packaging.

Founded in 2019, the certified B Corp has since captured thousands of data points across the materials and supply chains, allowing the team to identify the best packaging solutions for a business, based on its needs and environmental impact.

“So many businesses want to make good packaging choices but misinformation and cloudy supply chains leave them in the dark,” co-founder Ben Grant said in a statement.

“The reality is that there is no silver bullet to sustainable packaging but we can create shades of better.”

The funding will allow Grant and the team to further develop its data and tech capabilities, building out its team and further automating its services for small businesses.

The raise was led by Kilara’s growth Equity Fund, and also included backing from existing investor the Impact Enterprise Fund.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Mooven

Construction tech startup Mooven has raised $5 million, after seeing revenue double over the space of 12 months.

The Series A raise was led by Equity Venture Partners (EVP), and also included Five Ventures Investment.

Software platform offering construction companies and government authorities detailed insights into the effects of infrastructure projects on surrounding communities, helping them make informed and evidence-based decisions.

Currently, the business counts more than half of Australia’s top-50 construction companies as customers.

The funding will fuel the growth of Mooven’s teams in Australia and New Zealand, as well as allowing the business to gear up to launch in the US.

“As investment into urban infrastructure continues to grow, so too does the opportunity for Mooven,” EVP investment director Daniel Szekely said in a statement.

Ento

Melbourne workforce management startup Ento has secured $5 million in a round led by Perennial Value Management, with AirTree Ventures also contributing.

Founded back in 2009, Ento provides a platform helping businesses manage rosters, leave attendance and communication. It is now in use at some 10,000 workplaces.

The funding will see the business double its team from 40 people to 80, and invest in R&D around AI and automation. The team is also looking to open new offices in Sydney and Canada.

“Despite last year’s challenges we were able to keep all our staff on, and the business rebounded quickly,” founder and chief Aulay Macaulay said in a statement.

“It was incredibly satisfying to hit a new revenue high at the end of 2020 and we now have the opportunity to bring the best WFM software in the market to the rest of the world,” he said.

Ento founder and chief Aulay Macaulay. Source: supplied.

Ena Respiratory

And finally, Melbourne biotech Ena Respiratory has reportedly secured $32 million, including from Andrew Forrest’s Minderoo Foundation, to fund human trials for its nasal spray product intended to protect vulnerable people from COVID-19.

The INNA-051 spray is designed to boost the immune system’s response to the virus. Rather than as an alternative to the vaccine, it’s complementary solutions intended for use in cases where the vaccine is less effective.

According to a report in The Sydney Morning Herald, an animal study last year found the spray reduced replication of COVID-19 by some 96%.

“Vaccines are very important and should be the priority, that is the real solution,” Ena co-founder and chief Dr Christophe Demaison said.

“But vaccines don’t work in all patients, and in those patient populations [where they are less effective], you need to complement that.”

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