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Cash-Based Payments Network PayNearMe Raises $20M Series E, Expands Via Family Dollar Partnership

Posted by on Feb 6, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

making-PNM-paymentCash-based payments platform PayNearMe, which allows consumers to pay their rent, utility bills and loans, buy tickets online and more, is today expanding its footprint significantly in the U.S., thanks to a partnership with Family Dollar. The deal will allow consumers to use the service in the over 8,000 Family Dollar stores in 40 states, which brings PayNearMe’s total number of payment locations to 17,000, including their previous deals with 7-Eleven and ACE Cash Express. Additionally, the company has raised $20 million in new investment, led by GSV Capital. Also participating in the round were previous investors, August Capital, Maveron, True Ventures, and Khosla Ventures. Founded in 2009, and know as “Kwedit” up until its name change in fall 2010, PayNearMe is focused on serving the quarter of the country who prefers to or needs to pay with cash. “Nobody has really innovated on their behalf in 20 or 30 years,” explains Danny Shader. “We’ve come along and made these transactions faster and cheaper,” he says, “but the biggest limitation we had was footprint.” Through 7-Eleven and ACE Cash Express, PayNearMe had a good reach, but not a great one. Now, that changes – especially because Family Dollar stores tend to be located in areas where 7-Eleven is not. To date, the company works with thousands of business customers, including directly with those who do their own billing as well as larger entities that service the industries PayNearMe has been targeting. For example, the company partnered with property management software maker AppFolio in 2012 to allow consumers to pay their rent using cash at nearby stores, but it also works with Greyhound, to help consumers buy tickets online with cash. Other customers include H&R Block, Herbalife, governments (local and state, so far, for things like child support or parking tickets), Shaw Systems (used by auto lenders), plus Kubra and FIS (electronic payments). While Shader declines to discuss PayNearMe’s revenue, he would say that payment volume tripled between 2012 and 2013, largely coming from its rent business, as well as from municipalities, and transportation. To put the market PayNearMe serves into perspective, he notes that in the categories it serves today, there are roughly $22 billion dollars per year flowing through in terms of payments. “It’s big entities that we’re serving, so you can imagine that the volumes aren’t small,” Shader says of PayNearMe’s own cut of that larger payment flow. And,

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Crowdfunder Raises Another Million Ahead Of International Expansions

Posted by on Feb 6, 2014 in Crowdfunding, Startup | 0 comments

crowdfundingCrowdfunder, the Venice-based crowdfunding platform which helps to connect entrepreneurs and investors, particularly in the area of local investment, has raised an additional million in seed funding, the company is announcing today. The funds will help the company further expand its activities outside the U.S., as well as continue development of its subscription-based fundraising and marketing platform for entrepreneurs. Participating in the round were 500 Startups / 500 Mexico, Rob Nail (CEO of Singularity University), K5 Ventures, Ben Goldhirsh (CEO of GOOD), Sharon Chang (CEO of Yoxi), a Banamex Director (a small business bank in Mexico), and other U.S. and Latin American individual investors. The company says this brings its total raise to date to just under $2 million. Founded in 2011, and launched the following spring, Crowdfunder’s initial focus was on making connections between startups, small businesses, and other for-profit enterprises through local events. While still an ongoing focus today, changes to the regulatory environment around six months allowed the platform to open up more broadly to accredited investors. Specifically, the SEC issued “No-Action” letters, plus Crowdfunder benefitted from Title 2 of the JOBS Act, which allows companies to now publicly solicit funding. Since then, Crowdfunder has funded 13 deals in the seed and Series A stage, with an average deal size of about $1.2 million. The majority of those are tech startups, but others are social enterprises and small businesses. To date, $55 million in investment deal flow has come through Crowdfunder, the company says. Today, Crowdfunder has seen 40,000 entrepreneurs and investors on its platform, which includes 7,000 companies who converted to paying accounts. A smaller portion of these accounts are active at present, as the companies generally pay the premium during their active fundraising process. Instead of taking a percentage of the funds raised, Crowdfunder instead charges companies a flat fee based on how much they’re raising, and other factors, like whether or not they want a featured position on the site. Its packages start at $99/month and go up to $999/month, the latter which is more typically used by those funding their Series A. Thanks to the new investment, the plan is now introduce an additional tier to this service which will better centralize the fundraising process for entrepreneurs into more of a CRM system, by allowing them to tap into their social networks, and pull in their Gmail contacts to help figure out who you

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Dónde Raises A Million For A Smarter Mobile Store Locator That Tells You Where Products Are Located

Posted by on Feb 5, 2014 in Startup | 0 comments

donde-techcrunch“Mobile is opening up new opportunities in ‘boring’ products,” Dónde co-founder and CEO Anthony Nicalo once said. His company, which makes a mobile product and store locator service for brands and retailers, may be one example of that. But it’s not as boring as you think, as the company has recently closed on $1 million in seed funding from Mercury Fund (Blair Garrou) Chicago Ventures (Kevin Willer), Full Stack, Vine St. Ventures, and Tim Kopp, previously CMO at ExactTarget.

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YC-Backed DataRank Raises $1.4M For Its Online Analytics Platform For Brands

Posted by on Feb 3, 2014 in Startup | 0 comments

datarankRecent Y Combinator grad DataRank, which helps companies track online conversations related to their brands and perform other competitive analysis, has closed on $1.4 million in seed funding, the team is announcing today. The funding is led by New Road Ventures, and also includes participation from FundersClub and other angel investors. Founded in October 2011 by Ryan Frazier, Chuong Nguyen, and Kenny Cason, and headquartered in Fayetteville, Ark., DataRank lives far outside the Valley, but its unusual home base is one that turned out to be more practical over the years, as the company shifted from its original focus of being a financial tool to one tracking data for consumer product companies. That’s because the world’s largest brick-and-mortar retailer, Walmart, is also headquartered in nearby Bentonville. Today, there are roughly 1,400 consumer product companies with research teams in the area surrounding Walmart, explains Frazier, who is DataRank’s CEO. “Being able to walk into those places – sitting down, showing them your product and getting immediate feedback, has been immensely helpful,” he says. That being said, DataRank later joined Y Combinator to expand its network in the Valley, allowing it to compete for the engineering talent it needs to grow. The 11-person company recently hired four additional engineers, and is now looking to grow out its sales team. As for the product itself, DataRank offers companies a way to track conversations around their product shared across thousands of sources on the web and social media, including well-known outlets like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube as well as blogs, forums, e-commerce stores’ review sections, and more. After first signing up to use DataRank, the company will pull in six to 12 months of historical data, then establish the product or brands and competitive topics the customer wants to track. For instance, DataRank can be used to track the volume of conversations, total reach, sentiment, and demographics surrounding a brand, digging into details about who uses the products, where they live, how old they are, their gender, and other factors. It can also compare how various product features (e.g. packaging, product features, coupons available, etc.) compare with competitors’ products, as well as how new products from the competition are performing. In fact, notes Frazier, a larger share of the company’s revenue today comes from this competitive analysis. Today, DataRank counts 14 enterprise customers including Clorox, Callaway Golf, ConAgra Foods, and others under NDA. It charges anywhere from $500

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YC Alum Asseta, A Marketplace For Used Manufacturing Equipment, Raises $535K

Posted by on Feb 3, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

macbookpro-mockupAsseta, the B2B marketplace for used manufacturing equipment which was sort of the odd one out in Y Combinator’s summer 2013 program last year, has now scored a seed round of $535,000. Investors included Ace & Company, Beenos Partners, Matt Huang, and others, as well as help from the WeFunder and AngelList crowdfunding platforms. The latter two were responsible for $271,000 of the funding. The founders say they didn’t plan to raise most of the round via crowdfunding, but it worked out because of their “unsexy” marketplace concept. “Today, most software-focused VCs don’t have insight into the unique challenges in hardware markets,” says CEO Anton Brevde. ”It’s kind of ironic because we’re disrupting the industry that gave venture capital its start,” He also tells TechCrunch that almost all of the company’s investors had a connection to manufacturing and had first-hand experience with the problem Asseta is solving, describing them as “people that had seen a room full of equipment thrown out because the owner had no use for it.” The company, for background, launched an online marketplace last August aimed at eliminating the middleman in transactions involving the buying and selling of used manufacturing equipment, primarily semiconductor equipment to start. Three of the four founders at Asseta have a background in this industry, and spotted the potential there to change how things were usually done – that is, through equipment brokers whose sales’ process is far less than transparent. The company notes this $100 billion industry has been stagnant for over 20 years, operating through these middlemen and traditional auctions. With Asseta, sellers can instead create their own equipment listings with the make, model, year, description, etc., and Asseta will even go on site to take photographs, if need be. The company also handles the payment, shipment and fulfillment, taking only a 5-10% transaction fee, which Brevde says is lower than the industry standard of 50%. Since its launch, Asseta has talked with fellow Y Combinator alum Soylent about the difficulty in finding affordable manufacturing equipment, and hopes to expand to support more hardware startups in the future, too. For now, the company is taking a vertical-by-vertical approach, beginning with the semiconductor industry, then moving on to high-tech industries, and, eventually, all used industrial equipment. To date, Asseta has added over 200,000 listings to its site and is growing at 50% month-over-month. Brevde declined to discuss the number of transactions Asseta has handled or revenue, however. The new funding

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