The startup funding round: Tech for COVID-19 vaccines, automating oyster farms, and $25 million for cybersecurity

startup funding Chipper Cash

Chipper Cash co-founders Ham Serunjogi and Maijid Moujaled. Source: TechCrunch.

In a week that saw Memories raise a whopping $31 million, Ivvy bag $7 million and Mys Tyler secure $1 million in seed funding, there has been plenty of other funding news we haven’t been able to cover in full.

This week’s bumper startup funding round includes AR for eating out (and entertaining the kids at the same time), tech for oyster farmers, and backing for two separate renewable energy storage projects.

Here’s the funding news you might have missed.

UpGuard

Aussie cybersecurity startup UpGuard has raised $25 million, off the back of five years of strong growth.

Founded in 2012 by Mike Baukes and Alan Sharp-Paul, who is now based in the US, UpGuard helps businesses prevent data breaches by monitoring and assessing third-party vendors.

The funding comes from existing investors including Square Peg Capital, Pelion Venture Partners, August Capital and IAG Firemark Ventures, the corporate venture capital arm of insurer IAG.

It follows a $17 million Series B raise back in 2016. Since then, sales have been growing at a rate of about 129%, year-on-year. In 2020 alone, it boosted its customer numbers by 179%.

“With third party breaches and supply chain leaks becoming a nearly daily occurrence, monitoring your vendors has become absolutely critical to anyone who manages business risk,” Baukes said in a statement.

Tanggram

Fintech Tanggram has raised $5 million for its rewards-points-cum-investment-platform tech.

Founded by chief executive Nick Tang, the startup is essentially a rewards platform, allowing users to build up ‘T points’.

Once they hit $200 in points, they can either cash out, or opt to invest in one of two funds — Tangggram Seed or Tanggram Spark, which is designed for more experienced investors and has a higher minimum.

Since its official launch in April last year, the platform has reportedly attracted some 70,000 users and accumulated $10 million in funds under management, all without any marketing spend.

“We see Tanggram as a personal wealth app, not just an investment app,” Tang said interview with the Australian Financial Review.

“The biggest advantage we provide is certainty, targeting stable returns.”

Endua

New clean energy storage startup Endua has launched with $5 million in funding, to build hydrogen-powered energy packs using CSIRO-developed electrolysis technology.

The business was formed through a three-way partnership between CSIRO, its deep-tech investment fund Main Sequence and fuel network Ampol, which is backing the business as part of its ‘future energy and decarbonisation strategy’.

It is headed up by chief executive Paul Sernia, who is also co-founder of electric vehicle charger provider Tritium.

The investment is the latest in Main Sequence’s ‘venture science’ strategy, whereby the investment opportunity begins with identifying a problem in need of a solution, then collaborating with partners to create one.

This same strategy was highlighted as an area of focus following the recent close of Main Sequence’s $250 million fund. To date, it has also led to investments in v2food and Quasar Satellite Technologies.

“Solar, wind, hydro and batteries all play a part in getting us to net zero. Yet there are places and situations where these sources won’t get us all the way there,” Sernia said in a statement.

“Hydrogen will play a crucial role in our transition but only with the right technology and business model to make hydrogen power generation and storage cost-effective. Endua is making both achievable.”

The Endua founding team. Source: supplied.

Cubiko

Medtech startup Cubiko has raised $1.7 million, after seeing its customer base grow by 300% over the past 12 months.

The platform is designed to capture and streamline information, helping doctors and medical clinic managers improve their operations.

According to chief executive Chris Smeed, the tech has been used during the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines, helping GPs quickly identify their highest-priority patients.

“The federal government announced that only people aged 50 and over could get the Astrazeneca jab on a Thursday night,” Smeed said in a statement.

“By the next morning, our team had tweaked the software so that GP practices were able to quickly identify those younger people who may be at risk, and update its rollout based on the new criteria.”

The Village Co

Hunter Valley hospitality tech startup The Village Co has raised $1.2 million in a seed funding round that was opened and closed within 72 hours.

The funding will be focused on growing the startup’s Grub Lab product, which creates augmented reality-enabled activity packs to keep children entertained when dining out at restaurants.

The business has also partnered with the National Rugby League to create an NRL-themes activity pack.

The Village Co founder and chief Mick Carr described the raise as “a major milestone” for the business.

“Along with funding from investors, our recent partnerships with a number of leading hospitality companies highlights the appetite for technology innovation within this sector,” he said.

The Village Co’s Grub Lab in action. Source: supplied.

Tribu

Brisbane startup Tribu has reportedly raised $1.25 million from the Brisbane Angels investment syndicate, and a US syndicate headed up by investor Jason Calacanis.

Tribu uses AI and machine learning technology to help IT managed service providers handle basic support requests, allowing skilled engineers to focus on more complex issues.

The funding follows the startup’s participation in Calacanis’ 13-week Launch Accelerator program. Following completion, the related angel syndicate reportedly invested some $1.1 million into the business, which was topped up with $152,000 from the Brisbane Angels group.

“What we have created is absolutely critical for the Brisbane ecosystem,” Tribu co-founder Lucas Meadowcroft told Startup Daily.

“I want to be part of bridging the gap between Australia and the US, and raising capital here in Brisbane has allowed that to happen. This is just the beginning.”

SmartOysters

A startup modernising the oyster farming industry has raised $258,000 from more than 170 investors, through a successful equity crowdfunding campaign.

SmartOysters set out to raise a minimum of $200,000 and up to $600,000 to

Founded back in 2016, SmartOysters offers a mobile and desktop app designed to help farmers analyse their inventory and performance remotely.

It’s also intended to help farmers pass on their knowledge, allowing them to hire and train more employees and boost productivity of farms.

The subscription SaaS platform is currently used by about 50 farms across Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Ireland and the US.

The Birchal campaign remains open for another eight days.

BatNav

In more equity crowdfunding news, energy storage startup BatNav has also surpassed its minimum campaign target, securing $212,000 for its tech designed to help businesses buy batteries.

The Cell Engineer product is designed to help people who are buying large batteries for storage of renewable energy.

The platform allows users to assess various providers objectively and negotiate the best prices and terms, making the process run more smoothly and efficiently.

With eight days remaining on its Birchal campaign, the startup is seeking to raise a maximum of $500,000, which it will use to form strategic partnership and build additional features, before releasing a product for the commercial and industrial market at the end of the year.

Chipper Cash

Finally, in international news, African cross-border payments startup Chipper Cash has closed a US$100 million Series C funding round.

Founded about three years ago, Chipper Cash was intended to make transferring funds within Africa easier and more accessible “and maybe even fun”, co-founder Ham Serunjogi said in a blog post on the raise.

Since then, it’s attracted backing from SVB Capital, the investment arm of Silicon Valley Bank, as well as from 500 Startups, Tribe Capital, Jeff Bezos’ Bezos Ventures, and more.

It has also introduced transfers for cryptocurrencies, capitalising on the wide use of digital currencies in Africa.

“Building for the next billion users is going to require very many talented people working very hard every day,” Serunjogi added.

“It is going to require patience, perseverance, and empathy.”

Chipper Cash co-founders Ham Serunjogi and Maijid Moujaled. Source: TechCrunch.

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