The startup funding round: Electric motorbikes, quizzes before TikTok and Aussie wins in Silicon Valley

startup funding

1Questiob co-founder Ann Elnekave. Source: supplied.

It’s been another week of big cheques in Australia’s startup scene, with Judo Bank closing a huge $174 million capital raise, Zeller bagging $50 million and Sendle securing $45 million after recording 1000% growth in its US business.

But we also saw more money coming into the ecosystem at the early-stage, with the launch of angel syndicate Flying Fox Ventures, headed up by experienced investors Kylie Frazer and Rachael Neumann.

And there was yet more equity crowdfunding activity, with fintech Unhedged raising $1.7 million for its app democratising share trading.

But we’ve still managed to fill a startup funding round, and this week there’s something of an international vibe, taking us from Australia across the ditch to New Zealand, as well as to France and Silicon Valley.

Here’s some of the funding news you might have missed.

Songtradr

Aussie-led Silicon Valley startup Songtradr has raised a whopping $50 million in Series D funding, valuing the business at more than US$300 million ($395 million).

Founded in 2014 by Aussie Paul Wiltshire, the LA-based startup is a marketplace connecting artists, composers, labels and publishers — anyone who owns or controls music rights — with those who use music in their content.

The latest funding comes from a group of Australian institutional investors including Regal, Aware Super, Perennial, Argo and Greencape, as well as follow-on investment from Richard White, founder and chief of Wisetech Global.

It also follows a US$30 million Series C raise in August last year.

Since then, the business has continued to develop its platform, while also integrating new acquisitions.

“Songtradr experienced over 100% revenue growth year-over-year in 2020 and we are on track to achieve this again in 2021,” Wiltshire said in a statement.

Songtradr

Songtradr founder and chief Paul Wiltshire. Source: supplied.

UBCO

New Zealand electric vehicle startup UBCO has raised $10 million as it revs up to launch Down Under, and even an ASX listing.

Founded in 2015, UBCO produces tough and lightweight electric vehicles, including its flagship 2×2 electric motorbike, designed to be used for anything from food delivery to traversing Kiwi farms.

Over the past year, the business has more than doubled its headcount, and launched its subscription offering.

Revenues are expected to increase from NZD$3 million ($2.8 million) in 2020 to more than NZD$12 million in 2022, when the founders plan to go public on the ASX.

The team will use this latest funding to boost the team on a global scale, and to fast-track R&D and market development activity.

For co-founder and chief Timothy Allen, growth plans also include an imminent expansion into the Aussie market.

“We see Australia as a key global market for UBCO due to the close economic relationship with New Zealand,” Allen said in a statement.

“It will be the second market after New Zealand to have vehicle subscription. This will provide businesses and consumers cost effective access to the sustainable advantage of electric vehicles.”

Source: supplied.

1Question

Aussie edtech startup 1Question has raised $1.95 million through an equity crowdfunding campaign on OnMarket.

The startup has released an app that requires kids to answer a study question, tailored to their age, skill level and curriculum subjects, before they can access apps on their mobile devices.

It then uses AI to assess the child’s strengths and weaknesses and charts a customised path of learning.

The app is designed to “turn screen time into productive time”, co-founder Ann Elnekave said in a statement.

“If you want to open TikTok, yeah sure, but first, what’s 7×8?”

Launched on the Apple Store and Google Play Store in April 2021, the app has been downloaded more than 13,000 times.

The equity crowdfunding campaign has attracted backing from 451 investors, allowing the founders to start scaling on a global scale.

Aircall

In international startup funding news, cloud-based call-centre software business Aircall has raised US$120 million in Series D funding, which will partly be used for expanding its new Sydney office.

The raise, led by Goldman Sachs Asset Management, values the business at more than US$1 billion, elevating the French scale-up to unicorn status.

Founded in 2014, Aircall offers a voice platform helping businesses manage high volumes of customer support and sales calls.

In 2020, it saw a 65% increase in customer numbers, year-on-year.

“We’ve helped thousands of companies to enrich their customer experience through voice channels, with more empathy than ever in the past year,” co-founder and chief Olivier Pailhes said in a statement.

“We also witnessed an increasing demand for visibility and data about teams and performances,” he added.

“Now that hybrid, on-site or remote teams are likely here to stay, we’ll continue to work to achieve our vision.”

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