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Funding roundup July 19 – July 23: Recapping a busy week for startups

Another week has passed, and Australia remains shut, COVID-19 cases continue to climb, and both employers and employees are suffering financial losses as a result of extended lockdowns. 

In fact, a study by Deputy found that the ongoing shutdowns are expected to affect a quarter-million Australian workers.

But as the saying goes, if the problem exists, so must the solution. Sarah Britz, along with Lauren Hateley, created an online marketplace and directory of small businesses based in rural and regional Australian areas to help them get their businesses online and sell their products amid lockdowns.   

Interestingly, according to another study by Atlassian Corporation, Australia is witnessing a dramatic cultural shift among its millennials, who are prioritising mental health over work. On a lighter note, we also had KERB — a Brisbane-based startup that assists drivers with real-time parking spot location, comparison, and booking.

On the startup front, we did witness some exciting action. HR and payroll startup Employment Hero has entered into a “soonicorn” (soon-to-be-unicorn) list after raising $140 million in a Series E round. The startup is now valued at $800 million.

In addition, Zip Co, an Australian-fintech, said it would give users a chance to trade in cryptocurrencies, according to Reuters.

Here are the key startup fundraising rounds from this week:

Brisbane’s ‘non-bank’ fintech WLTH secures $3 million seed round, targets $15 million in Series A round

Digital lending and payments provider WLTH secured a $3 million seed round, with Brisbane fintech now launching a $15 million Series A to expand overseas.

WLTH, founded in 2019, said the seed funds would be used to accelerate the expansion of WLTH’s fintech platforms, expand worldwide, and support the firm’s clean oceans project.

Brodie Haupt, co-founder and CEO of WLTH, said the company had received more than $700 million in loan inquiries since releasing its 1.99 per cent variable rate owner-occupied house loan rate and digital application system.

The company also announced that a Series A investment round will be launched in August 2021, with a target of raising $15 million.

WLTH intends to work with small and medium business owners to develop a suite of products to solve cash flow issues, including card-linked credit facilities, invoice-secured buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) options for businesses, loyalty points, and a high-security business payments platform.

Employment Hero raises $140 million, brings total valuation to $800 million

HR and payroll startup Employment Hero has raised $140 million in a Series E that tripled the venture’s valuation to $800 million.

The round was led by U.S.-based Insight Partners, with existing local investors SEEK, OneVentures, AirTree Ventures and Salesforce Ventures also chipping in again.

The company said it would use cash to bolster engineering capabilities, enhance the platform and accelerate expansion in the Southeast Asia and Western Europe markets.

The latest round follows a $45 million series D on a valuation of $250 million, announced in March 2021. The company says its revenue growth is up 113% in 12 months.

Founded in 2014, the company has more than 6000 companies on its platform. The venture currently employees 325 full-time equivalent employees.

Employment Hero moved into the Asian market in October 2020 and now operates in New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Malaysia and Singapore.

Fintech Indebted raises $25 million series B

InDebted, the Sydney fintech that successfully collects outstanding debts, has raised $25 million in a Series B.

The round was led by Perennial Value Management alongside follow-on investments from Carthona Capital, Reinventure and Mass Mutual Ventures Southeast Asia, and several prominent local investors, including former Tiger Global operating partner Jason Lenga.

The company said the cash injection would be used to accelerate new market expansion plans; product builds out, engineering, data science and go-to-market teams, and invest in new areas and products to support consumers.

InDebted currently operates in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. 

Go1 Raises US$200 Million in Series D Funding 

Edtech startup Go1 raised US$200 million in Series D round that has the company valued at more than US$1 billion. 

The company said it plans to use this new investment to continue and create new partnerships, expand product offerings, and grow its physical presence globally to support the more than 3.5 million learners at more than 1,600 customer organisations worldwide.

This Series D funding round was led by new investor SoftBank Vision Fund 2, as well as AirTree Ventures and Salesforce Ventures, with additional investors Blue Cloud Ventures, Larsen Ventures, Scott Shleifer and John Curtius from Tiger Global, and TEN13.

Previous investors also contributed to the round, including M12 – Microsoft’s venture fund – Madrona Venture Group, SEEK, and Y Combinator. To date, the company has raised more than US$280 million total inclusive of previous rounds.

VentureCrowd raises over $30 million for startup and property ventures in FY21 

VentureCrowd, a digital investment platform for alternative assets, has raised $30.7 million for startup and property ventures during the 2021 financial year, taking the total amount raised on the platform to over $150 million. 

The average deal size for FY21 increased to $1.75 million and the average investment size to $45,826. 

The platform also successfully exited three venture capital deals, with the most recent generating a 295% return for investors on ASX listing, and paid over $7.5 million in distributions to investors.

India’s foodtech giant raises US$1.25 billion at a US$5.5 billion valuation

Swiggy has raised $1.25 billion from investors, including SoftBank and Prosus, nearly matching the funds raised by rival Zomato in an initial public offering (IPO), as the two companies battle to dominate India’s food delivery market. 

The recent funding values Swiggy at US$5.5 billion. 

Existing investors, including Accel Partners and Wellington Management, took part in the fundraising. New investors in the round include Qatar Investment Authority, Falcon Edge Capital, Amansa Capital, Goldman Sachs, Think Investments and Carmignac.

Meanwhile, Swiggy’s chief rival Zomato also recently went public through IPO and raised around US$1.2 billion.

Bengaluru-based BlackBuck becomes India’s 16th unicorn this year

Online trucking platform, BlackBuck closed a $67 million round of equity financing led by Tribe Capital, IFC Emerging Asia Fund and VEF, in a Series E round at over a billion dollars of valuation.

The Bengaluru-based business has a post-money valuation of over $1 billion, making it the 16th Indian startup to join the prestigious unicorn club this year.  When it last raised $150 million in 2019, the company was valued at around $850 million.  

Energy Renaissance raises additional funding from the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre

NSW-based lithium-ion battery manufacturer Energy Renaissance received an additional $525,072 grant from the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre(AMGC) to develop processes and workforce skills for its pilot manufacturing facility at Tomago, NSW.

This co-funded grant includes financial and in-kind contributions matched by Energy Renaissance for a total project value of $1.48 million. 

With the additional funding, Energy Renaissance will accelerate the development of the scalable process and procedures from a 2,700 square metre pilot facility in Tomago.

FreeGuides closes its seed round of funding amid lockdown

FreeGuides closed its seed round of funding in the midst of a lockdown, showing investors’ strong belief in the future of travel.

With over 160 experiences created, full launches in Australia and New Zealand and the implementation of sponsored experiences, FreeGuides aims to continue its upwards trajectory amidst the pandemic. 

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