The startup funding round: Hospitality tech, Kiwis going global, and Blumenthal’s bet on plant-based meat

Fable Food Co

The Fable Food Co. team. Source: supplied.

This week, we’ve heard from Aussie luggage startup July, which has successfully launched in the US, as well as celebrating the launch of the new Tech Council of Australia.

In between all of that, Dovetail has secured $5 million and v2food saw its valuation soar to half a billion dollars.

The funding news has still been coming thick and fast, and, as you all know, we can’t cover everything.

So from legal tech to batteries to yet more plant-based meat, here are some of the funding stories you might have missed.

Kiwi legaltech bags $16 million from global backers

Across the ditch, a Kiwi legaltech startup tailored to in-house legal teams has raised a huge NZ$17 million ($16.2 million) in Series A funding, led by New York-based VC giant Insight Partners.

The round also included repeat backing from Aussie VC AirTree Ventures.

LawVu tripled its annual recurring revenue in 2020, with more than two thirds of that coming from outside its home market.

The team will use this fresh funding to hire key roles overseas and continue to grow its global reach, with a focus on the US.

“In-house legal teams perform a critical function inside every corporation,” co-founder and chief Sam Kidd said in a statement.

“However, you’ll often find that the only ‘tech’ they have is email and word documents, and legal teams are becoming a bottleneck, as the rest of the business leverages technology to speed up.”

It’s the latest in a string of significant investments Insight Partners has made in the region of late. Perhaps most significantly, it recently invested a massive $223 million in Brisbane startup Octopus Deploy, and contributed to SafetyCulture’s $99 million raise and Employment Hero’s $140 million Series E.

Rachel Geller, managing director at Insight Partners, will join the LawVu board.

“LawVu’s global growth speaks volumes to its future as a business and ability to provide high-value outcomes to legal teams,” she said in a statement.

“Its combination of intuitive user experience and excellent customer feedback make LawVu a stand out in the legal tech industry.”

AirTree Ventures partner James Cameron added that the founders “have found themselves with the right product, in the right market at the right time”.

“As we’ve seen from other global leaders that have emerged from our region such as Canva and Linktree, there’s huge demand from global investors to invest in fast-growing Aussie and Kiwi tech businesses,” he added.

“This is a testament to the emerging technology ecosystems that are developing here.”

Fable Food Co. secures $6.5 million and celeb chef partnership

Fable Food Co, the plant-based meat startup headed up by Shoes of Prey founder Michael Fox, has secured $6.5 million in seed funding, plus a partnership with celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal.

The raise was led by Blackbird Ventures, and included backing from food-focused VCs AgFunder, Aera VC and Better Bite Ventures, as well as Ban Choon Marketing.

Warren Hogath, a former partner at Sequoia Capital, also contributed.

Founded in 2019, Fable has since put its products on the shelves in both Woolies and Coles, and in Harris Farm Markets. Products have also been included in Marley Spoon and Dinnerly, and have found themselves on the menu in restaurants in Australia, the UK and Singapore.

Earlier this month, Fable’s Meaty Mushroom Burger Pattie made its debut on the menu of burger chain Grill’d, and it’s now set to be included in the fantastical dinners of Heston Blumenthal, in his chain of Michelin Star restaurants.

Blackbird Ventures partner Nick Crocker called Fable “a pioneer in the meat alternative sector”.

He also praised Fox himself, who he has known for some two decades.

“To see a founder like him be so mission driven is one of the great joys of this job,” he said.

This raise marks a continuation of the plant-based meat boom in Australia. Just last week, v2food announced it had closed another $72 million round, as it expands into the Asian and European markets.

Fable’s plant-based meat product. Source: supplied.

Ordermentum raises $6 million and adds SEEK co-founder to its board 

Hospitality startup Ordermentum has secured $6 million in fresh funding, as it continues to help venues and suppliers navigate ongoing restrictions and lockdowns across the country. 

Ordermentum was founded in 2015 by Hey You co-founder Adam Theobald to help solve order and payment issues between hospitality venues and their suppliers. 

The startup raised $5 million only six months ago in a round led by Pure Asset Management, which also participated in this week’s secondary round, along with the startup’s chairman David Gordon, SEEK co-founder Matt Rockman, and Pocketbook founder and former Zip Co executive Bosco Tan. 

The raise will see Rockman join the Ordermentum board and Tan has joined the company as a growth advisor. 

Ordermentum says it is now working with more than 28,000 Australian hospitality venues and suppliers and it processed close to $700 million in orders over the past year, as the industry has grappled with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

In a statement, Theobald said Ordermentum is focused on helping more venues and suppliers “connect, recover and work better together”. 

“The most recent round of restrictions paints a gloomy picture, and while we’ve unfortunately seen many businesses shut their doors during this period, we’re encouraged by how quickly the industry has bounced back following previous lockdowns,” he said.

Ordermentum founder Adam Theobald. Source: supplied.

Battery startup Sicona raises $3.7 million in pre-Series A round

An Australian battery startup has raised $3.7 million in pre-Series A funding from a host of local and international investors as it eyes off commercial-scale production in Europe and North America.

Sicona Battery Technologies was founded in June 2019 by Christiaan Jordaan and Andrew Minett to develop next-generation technology to be used in the anodes (negative electrodes) of lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles. 

The startup is commercialising technology and materials that have been developed over the past decade at the Australian Institute for Innovative Materials at the University of Wollongoing, and it completed a $1 million seed round in July 2020. 

Sicona then went on to receive a $704,000 Accelerating Commercialisation Grant from the federal government at the end of last year and participated in Startmate’s Summer 2021 climate tech accelerator. 

The latest funding round was led by global VC Artesian and US-based Riverstone Ventures.

Other participants in the round included Australia-based Bandera Capital, New York-based Chaos Ventures, and SDGx Ventures in Singapore, alongside a number of unnamed Australian climate-tech investors and global battery materials specialists. 

In a statement, Jordaan said the startup is on a mission to “provide scalable next-generation materials at an affordable cost to our customers”. 

“We are taking multiple products to market, including the binder system, conductive carbons and active anode materials,” he added. 

“Furthermore, we are solving key supply chain issues by taking a leading role in deploying our technology in Australia, Europe and North America, thereby disrupting the Chinese concentrated supply chain.”

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