8 startups that have raised funding since the Covid-19 lockdown

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With terms like “furlough” and abbreviations like “CBILS” being added to the nation’s lexicon in recent months, it’s easy to understand why entrepreneurs across the country are worried about the immediate future. In the midst of a lockdown, newly announced government support measures have seen many startups fall through the cracks, further highlighting the importance of outside investment in these businesses.

Independent research firm Beauhurst has collected a list of startups fighting their corner, profiling the 8 largest equity fundraisings that have been announced since UK lockdown due to COVID-19.

1. Cazoo

Amount raised: £100m
Date of fundraising: 23rd March 2020
Investors: DMG Ventures, General Catalyst Partners, CNP Assurances, Mubadala Capital, Octopus Ventures, Eight Roads Ventures, and Stride VC

Cazoo was started by Alex Chesterman, known for founding and selling LoveFilm and Zoopla, in 2018. The company has transformed the much-maligned second-hand car market, allowing users to buy a vehicle and have it delivered to their door, often in as little as 72 hours.

With the current lockdown measures that have been introduced by the government, the Cazoo is better positioned than traditional second-hand car dealers, based on its affordability and the fact that its business is primarily online.

Manuel Lopo de Carvalho, CEO of Cazoo-investor DMG Ventures, commented on the move stating “we are very excited to continue to support Alex and the team at Cazoo. The pace of what they’ve achieved and the level of adoption they’ve seen in the first few months since launch is remarkable. With almost 8 million used car transactions a year in the UK, there is a clear opportunity to provide a more convenient way to buy a car and shift part of the market online.”

2. Privitar

Amount raised: £65.3m
Date of fundraising: 6th April 2020
Investors: Warburg Pincus, Accel, Partech, IQ Capital, Salesforce Ventures and ABN AMRO Ventures

The London-based company creates and develops software that allows the mining of sensitive data sets by preserving the privacy of the underlying individuals. Primarily used in financial services and healthcare due to their heavy regulation, the company’s customer base includes HSBC, Citibank and the NHS.

Since its launch in 2014, the grown considerably establishing offices in Paris, Munich, Boston, Singapore and New York. This latest round of investment will allow the company to increase marketing, develop new software and create new jobs across its global operation.

While many companies have been forced to work remotely during the coronavirus pandemic, Privitar’s tools allow them to access and share data safely. This USP makes their offering essential and may allow the company to go from strength-to-strength despite the uncertainty.

3. Glassbox

Amount raised: £32.7m
Date of fundraising: 7th April 2020
Investors: Brighton Park Capital, Updata Partners, Ibex Investors, Gefen Capital and CEIIF

In this digital age, companies are scrambling to understand the behaviours of online users. Why they do or don’t interact with your platform the way you thought they would…enter Glassbox. Founded in 2010, Glassbox allows organisations to analyse every digital customer interaction in real-time, allowing them to optimise their user experiences on web and apps.

Glassbox was set up by former HP and Mercury executives Yoav Schreiber and Hanan Blumstein and works with laundry-list of global companies from industries ranging from banking to hospitality. The company has offices in New York, London and Petah Tikva in Israel.

Their Series C funding round, led by Brighton Park Capital raised £32.7m and took Glassbox’s total funding to £55.7m. Company CEO Yaron Morgenstern said “Even in these extremely difficult times, digital traffic is surging and companies are focused on how to communicate with new and existing customers digitally. Our technology helps the most sophisticated companies in the world map, protect and grow their digital assets.”

4. SoftIron

Amount raised: £28.8m
Date of fundraising: 25th March 2020
Investors: HNWIs, institutional investors and private companies

SoftIron develops and sells enterprise servers for data storage. The appliances radically improve industry-standard performance on all critical metrics including: density, efficiency, capacity, speed and heat emission. The business was founded in 2012 by Norman Fraser, Phil Straw and Mark Chen.

To date, the company has received a total of £40.7m in equity investment and 288k in grant funding. The latest round of £28.9m of equity has been sourced from the companies existing investor base, including a collection of HNWIs, institutional investors and private companies. Having spent the past few years flying under the radar and honing its vision, SoftIron will use the funding to expand its presence across North America and Europe.

5. Humio

Amount raised: £17m
Date of fundraising: 25th March 2020
Investors: Dell Technologies Capital and Accel

Humio develops logging software that allows companies to analyse and manage their data in real-time. The company was co-founded by Christian Hvitved, Kresten Thorup and current CEO Geeta Schmidt. Headquartered in London and with offices in Denmark and the US, Humio has customers across multiple industries including financial services, education, healthcare, communications and cloud-based service providers.

The latest investment round of £17m was led by Dell Technologies Capital, with participation from existing investor, Accel. The funding, which brings total investment raised to £26m, will be used to increase the company’s capabilities and expand the development of its SaaS products. Log management platforms are forecasted to experience significant growth, as they continually collect data about what’s happening across a company’s infrastructure, and help identify a variety of problems from application service down-time to cyber attacks.

6. Enable

Amount raised: £11.2m
Date of fundraising: 23rd March 2020
Investors: Menlo Ventures and Sierra Ventures

Enable is the software platform that helps businesses calculate, plan and accrue rebate deals precisely, in order to drive profitable growth.

The company secured its first equity fundraising of £11.2m in March, which was led by Menlo Ventures with participation from Sierra Ventures. Commenting on the investment, Andrew Butt, co-founder and CEO said “Having demonstrated positive early traction with our product whilst bootstrapping, now is the perfect time to secure venture capital funding to start scaling the business and extending our reach.”

The investment will be used to increase overseas sales, particularly within North America and Europe. This will involve building a sales and marketing organisation in San Francisco, to complement its engineering, operations, sales and support teams in the UK.

In response to the coronavirus outbreak, Enable is offering its ‘Essentials’ package free of charge to help businesses better collaborate with trading partners.

7. Yapily

Amount raised: £10.6m
Date of fundraising: 6th April 2020
Investors: Lakestar, HV Holtzbrinck Ventures and LocalGlobe

Established back in 2017 by ex-Goldman Sachs employee Stefano Vaccino, Yapily has developed a platform that is designed to provide open banking through a single gateway, securely and seamlessly connecting clients to all banks.

Leading the latest investment round of £10.6m is Lakestar, which is also a backer of fintech unicorn Revolut, and is well known as being an early investor in Skype, Spotify, Airbnb and Facebook. Existing investors HV Holtzbrinck Ventures and LocalGlobe also backed the round. The fintech company has said it will use the investment to further drive open banking adoption and promote its benefits, especially in a time where it’s services can fuel greater financial management and accessibility.

In total, the company has raised £15.9m in equity finance across four funding rounds, other investors include; Taavet Hinrikus(co-founder of Transferwise), Frank Strauss (Former CEO of Deutsche Postbank), Ott Kaukver (Twilo’s CTO) and Roberto Nicastro (UniCredit’s former deputy CEO).

8. Emma Bridgewater

Amount raised: £8m
Date of fundraising: 27th March 2020
Investors: BGF Growth Capital

Founded in 1985, Emma Bridgewater is a British company best known for its hand-decorated pottery. Although significantly older than the other companies featured in this list, Emma Bridgewater has gained significant popularity within the past few years, and the name has become eponymous with the demand for quality goods that embody the quintessential English countryside.

The £8m investment secured in March was backed entirely by BGF Growth Capital. The fundraising will support the company’s continued growth in the UK, increase capacity at its Stoke-on-Trent factory, and explore expansion into international markets.

Needless to say, this is a time of great uncertainty for smaller businesses seeking sufficient funding, and many face permanent closure even after Britain’s ‘lockdown’ laws are lifted. The news of this investment comes as a welcome surprise, especially within the retail sector, as in March 2020, rivals Laura Ashley fell into administration and Cath Kidston have filed a notice of similar intention.

Flying the flag for UK startups

These investments illustrate an interesting turn in user experience and business functionality as a result of COVID-19. With more people going online and relying on digital interfaces to shop, entertain, work and source-critical information, tech companies are faring reasonably well. And whilst it might not be business as usual at the moment, these fundraisings illustrate that COVID-19 will not bring all investment to a grinding halt.

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