Posts Tagged ‘Funding’

Samsung Backs GamePop As BlueStacks Adds $13M In New Funding

gp+samsung1 Samsung’s venture arm has contributed to a round of funding that adds $ 13 million to the total raised by BlueStacks, the virtualization startup that debuted its GamePop platform earlier this year to offer over-the-top mobile gaming for living room and TVs. Samsung’s investment backs the company’s vision of delivering GamePop as a white-label solution aimed at TV makers and… Read More

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Super PAC to end all super PACs hits its $5 million funding goal

A crowdfunded super PAC designed to end all super PACs has achieved its funding goal. The Mayday PAC raised $ 5 million from over 50,000 small contributions over the past couple of months. Added to the $ 5 million matching contribution it’s expecting and the $ 2 million it pulled in this past May, the political action committee should have the $ 12 million founder Lawrence Lessig said it’d need to wield influence in five key House races this year.

Lessig, a Harvard professor outspoken against the state of campaign finance in the US, said in a blog post that “this may be this movement’s most incredible moment so far.” He added, “We’ve got lots of ideas about how to make this work. We’ll be testing them and improving them and building lots…

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With $8M In Fresh Funding, Ezetap Is More Than Just A Square For Emerging Markets

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There are almost 900 million active cell-phone users in India now, and from newer startups to some of the biggest companies in the world, everybody is chasing the next mobile disruption that could potentially result in a business model for all of the emerging markets.

One such startup is Ezetap, a mobile payment company backed by some of the biggest names in the VC industry, including Chamath Palihapitiya, a former Facebook executive and founder of Social+Capital Partnership, and Angelprime, an Indian seed fund run by serial entrepreneurs.

Today, Ezetap is raising $ 8 million in Series B funding led by Helion Advisors, Social+Capital and Berggruen Holdings. This round takes the total fund raised by Ezetap to around $ 11.5 million (including $ 3.5 million it had raised in Series A funding in November 2012). The fresh capital will be used to expand Ezetap in Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa. 

Ezetap is much like Square, at least in terms of the basic model. It uses a rectangular device that can turn any mobile phone into a point-of-sales terminal when plugged in. The device including a card reader and chip, costs around $ 50, and Ezetap has been able to sell around 12,000 of them to date. The startup is aiming to have over 100,000 such devices installed across Asia-Pacific, Africa and Middle East in a year.

“From day one, we wanted to go global and really felt that mobile payments in general is a great opportunity for emerging markets. There’s disparity in cash versus electronic payments leading to the challenges of financial inclusion,” Abhijit Bose, CEO of Ezetap, told TechCrunch.

Ezetap was incubated in 2011 by Angelprime, a $ 10 million seed fund backed by Mayfield Fund, Palihapitiya and several others in the Silicon Valley. It’s run by three veteran entrepreneurs — Sanjay Swamy, Shripati Acharya and Bala Parthasarathy. With the latest round, Ashish Gupta of Helion is joining the startup’s board. Helion is an India focused, $ 600 million fund. 

Ezetap is the second attempt by Abhijit and Sanjay to build a mobile payment company in India. In 2006, Sanjay was the CEO of mChek which had raised around $ 10 million by 2009, and Abhijit worked with another venture-funded payment startup called Ngpay. 

Back then, mChek and several others fizzled out because of several challenges.

“I believe there was nothing wrong with mobile payment back then, it was just the timing,” said Bose.

Indeed, the environment has changed dramatically. Back then, there were only 10 million credit cards. Today there are around 316 million credit and debit card holders in India. More importantly, the telecom infrastructure has improved tremendously, allowing users to do much more than just voice calls and texting.

“For us, Android and iOS are the game changers, too. Moreover, consumers are much more willing to use mobile payments for ease of use,” said Bose.

After building the product for one year, Ezetap officially launched with a Citibank mobile payment pilot in January 2013. Since then, the startup has signed up several banks and newer e-commerce companies, including Flipkart and online grocery retailer BigBasket. In Kenya, Ezetap partnered with Mastercard and Equity Bank to launch its services in March last year. Later in May 2013, Ezetap’s solution received global certification from EMVCo, an organization that specifies processes and gives approval for chip-based payment cards. 

“Chip and pin is now the established global standard for mobile payment processing, and will soon take over the U.S. as well. Ezetap has created the only product that is certified globally, at a price point materially better than any other player – regional or otherwise,” said Palihapitiya.

Both Ezetap and Square are using similar models to enable mobile payments, but for completely different target markets, which is perhaps why Bose doesn’t like being called “the Square of India.”  Ezetap’s merchants include India’s biggest e-commerce company Flipkart and even much smaller mom-and-pop shops.

“I always hate it when people call it that [Square of India]. Fundamentally, we are attacking underserved markets and are both similar in thinking about mobile payments. But we want to build a business that makes us number one mobile payment platform in emerging markets,” said Bose.

To be sure, Ezetap is not the only mobile payment startup that’s beginning to do well. With around 2 million customers using its mobile wallet, MobiKwik is aiming to reach the 100 million mark in two years. While MobiKwik and at least two dozen others are offering mobile wallets, startups such as Mswipe are more similar to Ezetap. Mswipe raised its Series B funding earlier this year from investors including Matrix Partners. All these startups are shaping an ecosystem of mobile payments in India that goes beyond just creating a non cash economy.

 

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With $8M In Fresh Funding, Ezetap Is More Than Just A Square For Emerging Markets

photo-11

There are almost 900 million active cell-phone users in India now, and from newer startups to some of the biggest companies in the world, everybody is chasing the next mobile disruption that could potentially result in a business model for all of the emerging markets.

One such startup is Ezetap, a mobile payment company backed by some of the biggest names in the VC industry, including Chamath Palihapitiya, a former Facebook executive and founder of Social+Capital Partnership, and Angelprime, an Indian seed fund run by serial entrepreneurs.

Today, Ezetap is raising $ 8 million in Series B funding led by Helion Advisors, Social+Capital and Berggruen Holdings. This round takes the total fund raised by Ezetap to around $ 11.5 million (including $ 3.5 million it had raised in Series A funding in November 2012). The fresh capital will be used to expand Ezetap in Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa. 

Ezetap is much like Square, at least in terms of the basic model. It uses a rectangular device that can turn any mobile phone into a point-of-sales terminal when plugged in. The device including a card reader and chip, costs around $ 50, and Ezetap has been able to sell around 12,000 of them to date. The startup is aiming to have over 100,000 such devices installed across Asia-Pacific, Africa and Middle East in a year.

“From day one, we wanted to go global and really felt that mobile payments in general is a great opportunity for emerging markets. There’s disparity in cash versus electronic payments leading to the challenges of financial inclusion,” Abhijit Bose, CEO of Ezetap, told TechCrunch.

Ezetap was incubated in 2011 by Angelprime, a $ 10 million seed fund backed by Mayfield Fund, Palihapitiya and several others in the Silicon Valley. It’s run by three veteran entrepreneurs — Sanjay Swamy, Shripati Acharya and Bala Parthasarathy. With the latest round, Ashish Gupta of Helion is joining the startup’s board. Helion is an India focused, $ 600 million fund. 

Ezetap is the second attempt by Abhijit and Sanjay to build a mobile payment company in India. In 2006, Sanjay was the CEO of mChek which had raised around $ 10 million by 2009, and Abhijit worked with another venture-funded payment startup called Ngpay. 

Back then, mChek and several others fizzled out because of several challenges.

“I believe there was nothing wrong with mobile payment back then, it was just the timing,” said Bose.

Indeed, the environment has changed dramatically. Back then, there were only 10 million credit cards. Today there are around 316 million credit and debit card holders in India. More importantly, the telecom infrastructure has improved tremendously, allowing users to do much more than just voice calls and texting.

“For us, Android and iOS are the game changers, too. Moreover, consumers are much more willing to use mobile payments for ease of use,” said Bose.

After building the product for one year, Ezetap officially launched with a Citibank mobile payment pilot in January 2013. Since then, the startup has signed up several banks and newer e-commerce companies, including Flipkart and online grocery retailer BigBasket. In Kenya, Ezetap partnered with Mastercard and Equity Bank to launch its services in March last year. Later in May 2013, Ezetap’s solution received global certification from EMVCo, an organization that specifies processes and gives approval for chip-based payment cards. 

Both Ezetap and Square are using similar models to enable mobile payments, but for completely different target markets, which is perhaps why Bose doesn’t like being called “the Square of India.”  Ezetap’s merchants include India’s biggest e-commerce company Flipkart and even much smaller mom-and-pop shops.

“I always hate it when people call it that [Square of India]. Fundamentally, we are attacking underserved markets and are both similar in thinking about mobile payments. But we want to build a business that makes us number one mobile payment platform in emerging markets,” said Bose.

To be sure, Ezetap is not the only mobile payment startup that’s beginning to do well. With around 2 million customers using its mobile wallet, MobiKwik is aiming to reach the 100 million mark in two years. While MobiKwik and at least two dozen others are offering mobile wallets, startups such as Mswipe are more similar to Ezetap. Mswipe raised its Series B funding earlier this year from investors including Matrix Partners. All these startups are shaping an ecosystem of mobile payments in India that goes beyond just creating a non cash economy.

 

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With $8M In Fresh Funding, Ezetap Is More Than Just A Square For Emerging Markets

photo-11

There are almost 900 million active cell-phone users in India now, and from newer startups to some of the biggest companies in the world, everybody is chasing the next mobile disruption that could potentially result in a business model for all of the emerging markets.

One such startup is Ezetap, a mobile payment company backed by some of the biggest names in the VC industry, including Chamath Palihapitiya, a former Facebook executive and founder of Social+Capital Partnership, and Angelprime, an Indian seed fund run by serial entrepreneurs.

Today, Ezetap is raising $ 8 million in Series B funding led by Helion Advisors, Social+Capital and Berggruen Holdings. This round takes the total fund raised by Ezetap to around $ 11.5 million (including $ 3.5 million it had raised in Series A funding in November 2012). The fresh capital will be used to expand Ezetap in Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa. 

Ezetap is much like Square, at least in terms of the basic model. It uses a rectangular device that can turn any mobile phone into a point-of-sales terminal when plugged in. The device including a card reader and chip, costs around $ 50, and Ezetap has been able to sell around 12,000 of them to date. The startup is aiming to have over 100,000 such devices installed across Asia-Pacific, Africa and Middle East in a year.

“From day one, we wanted to go global and really felt that mobile payments in general is a great opportunity for emerging markets. There’s disparity in cash versus electronic payments leading to the challenges of financial inclusion,” Abhijit Bose, CEO of Ezetap, told TechCrunch.

Ezetap was incubated in 2011 by Angelprime, a $ 10 million seed fund backed by Mayfield Fund, Palihapitiya and several others in the Silicon Valley. It’s run by three veteran entrepreneurs — Sanjay Swamy, Shripati Acharya and Bala Parthasarathy. With the latest round, Ashish Gupta of Helion is joining the startup’s board. Helion is an India focused, $ 600 million fund. 

Ezetap is the second attempt by Abhijit and Sanjay to build a mobile payment company in India. In 2006, Sanjay was the CEO of mChek which had raised around $ 10 million by 2009, and Abhijit worked with another venture-funded payment startup called Ngpay. 

Back then, mChek and several others fizzled out because of several challenges.

“I believe there was nothing wrong with mobile payment back then, it was just the timing,” said Bose.

Indeed, the environment has changed dramatically. Back then, there were only 10 million credit cards. Today there are around 316 million credit and debit card holders in India. More importantly, the telecom infrastructure has improved tremendously, allowing users to do much more than just voice calls and texting.

“For us, Android and iOS are the game changers, too. Moreover, consumers are much more willing to use mobile payments for ease of use,” said Bose.

After building the product for one year, Ezetap officially launched with a Citibank mobile payment pilot in January 2013. Since then, the startup has signed up several banks and newer e-commerce companies, including Flipkart and online grocery retailer BigBasket. In Kenya, Ezetap partnered with Mastercard and Equity Bank to launch its services in March last year. Later in May 2013, Ezetap’s solution received global certification from EMVCo, an organization that specifies processes and gives approval for chip-based payment cards. 

Both Ezetap and Square are using similar models to enable mobile payments, but for completely different target markets, which is perhaps why Bose doesn’t like being called “the Square of India.”  Ezetap’s merchants include India’s biggest e-commerce company Flipkart and even much smaller mom-and-pop shops.

“I always hate it when people call it that [Square of India]. Fundamentally, we are attacking underserved markets and are both similar in thinking about mobile payments. But we want to build a business that makes us number one mobile payment platform in emerging markets,” said Bose.

To be sure, Ezetap is not the only mobile payment startup that’s beginning to do well. With around 2 million customers using its mobile wallet, MobiKwik is aiming to reach the 100 million mark in two years. While MobiKwik and at least two dozen others are offering mobile wallets, startups such as Mswipe are more similar to Ezetap. Mswipe raised its Series B funding earlier this year from investors including Matrix Partners. All these startups are shaping an ecosystem of mobile payments in India that goes beyond just creating a non cash economy.

 

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UPDATED: Fin, The Bluetooth Ring That Turns Your Hand Into A Wireless Controller, Hits Its Funding Goal

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Back at CES in January, TechCrunch met Fin, the Bluetooth ring that went on to become one of our Hardware Battlefield finalists. Fin, which turns your hand into a wireless controller for smartphones, TVs, and other connected devices, just reached its $ 100,000 Indiegogo goal. Now Fin is aiming for its stretch goal of $ 150,000, which will make the ring available for a discounted price to visually impaired people.

Fin is worn on your thumb and has a tiny optical sensor that detects movements, allowing you to send commands to connected devices with a few swipes and taps of your fingers. As TechCrunch’s Greg Kumparak described when he wrote about the device’s prototype in January, you can turn down your phone’s volume by swiping your thumb down your index finger or skip the current track by swiping your thumb across the palm of your opposite hand. In the future, creator RHL Vision wants to use biometrics to assign a different behavior to each segment of your finger, basically turning them into buttons.

Fin is one of the coolest wearable devices out there because it makes you look like you have magical powers. But the ring is also very useful, especially for people with visual or motor impairments. RHL Vision says that Fin can potentially help more than 285 million visually impaired people interact more smoothly with technology. If it reaches its stretch goal, the company will make its ring available for $ 59 to blind people.

To get a sense of a visually impaired person can use Fin, take a look at this video, in two users talk about how Fin helps them control their smartphones and tablets without struggling to see controls on their touchscreens.

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Fin, The Bluetooth Ring That Turns Your Hand Into A Wireless Controller, Is Almost At Its Funding Goal

Fin_ring

Back at CES in January, TechCrunch met Fin, the Bluetooth ring that went on to become one of our Hardware Battlefield finalists. Fin, which turns your hand into a wireless controller for smartphones, TVs, and other connected devices, is now just a few hundred dollars short of its Indiegogo goal. To be sure, Fin has a flexible funding campaign, which means it will receive all money raised even if it doesn’t hit its target amount. But if Fin reaches its stretch goal of $ 150,000, it will be able to make the ring available for a discounted price to visually impaired people.

Fin is worn on your thumb and has a tiny optical sensor that detects movements, allowing you to send commands to connected devices with a few swipes and taps of your fingers. As TechCrunch’s Greg Kumparak described when he wrote about the device’s prototype in January, you can turn down your phone’s volume by swiping your thumb down your index finger or skip the current track by swiping your thumb across the palm of your opposite hand. In the future, creator RHL Vision wants to use biometrics to assign a different behavior to each segment of your finger, basically turning them into buttons.

Fin is one of the coolest wearable devices out there because it makes you look like you have magical powers. But the ring is also very useful, especially for people with visual or motor impairments. RHL Vision says that Fin can potentially help more than 285 million visually impaired people interact more smoothly with technology. If it reaches its stretch goal, the company will make its ring available for $ 59 to blind people.

To get a sense of a visually impaired person can use Fin, take a look at this video, in two users talk about how Fin helps them control their smartphones and tablets without struggling to see controls on their touchscreens.

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Boombotix Develops Sync Tech For Concurrent Playback Over Bluetooth, Seeks Funding On Kickstarter

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Boombotix, a startup based out of SF building rugged speakers for active lifestyle use, today launched a new Kickstarter campaign, this time for a new technology it’s building to complement it hardware products. The Boombotix Sync tech manages to synchronize audio from multiple mobile devices over 4G and Wi-Fi, allowing those to output to Bluetooth speakers and have the playback match for surround sound results.

The tech was developed in response to user input – many asked the Mission-bases startup for a way to sync up a number of units for output to multiple endpoints at once. That’s not something that’s possible over Bluetooth, and I’ve seen other Kickstarter projects attempt and fail to make it happen with a custom-coded solution. But Boombotix saw another possible way: Building a protocol that allows multiple apps on multiple devices to playback audio simultaneously, so that more than one speaker can join in on the action. It works a bit like FM radio, Boombotix VP of Product Management Chris McKelroy says, so that more than one user can tune in at once and here the same feed played back at the same time.

It’s not a perfect solution (they’re building in TrueWireless for two speaker, single device connections), but it’s one that will help users reach “critical mass” according to McKleroy, which means a whole team going out for a mountain bike race, or a group of kayakers, for instance, can all bring their speakers and listen along to the same stuff at the same time, as you can see briefly in the video. McKelroy says it’s amazing witnessing huge groups of people riding by, with “Boombots in perfect sync pumping 90+ db.” Also, you can flashmob with this pretty perfectly, if that’s what you’re into.

McKelroy says that this tech is going to be kept proprietary to Boombotix products in the short term, rather than being made an open protocol, for instance.

“we’re planning on keeping this proprietary, focused on creating the best experience for our users as we continue to improve the speed and scale of our syncing technology,” he said. “The next hurdle we face is aligning with key content providers in the music space, to increase the availability of content and enhance the user experience further.”

And this is just the first step in terms of networking hardware. Boombotix is keenly aware that users want to use one device to broadcast to many speakers at once. “A fully networked device ecosystem is paramount to our goals,” he says, and suggests watching for more hardware developments from the startup to help make this a reality in the coming months. For now, the Kickstarter project for the music sync app is seeking $ 15,000 to help finish development, with Boombot speakers available to backers starting at the $ 55 pledge level.

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Indiegogo’s European Presence Grew 300% In The Last Year, 30% Of Funding Now Outside U.S.

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Indiegogo co-founder and CEO Slava Rubin took the stage today at TechCrunch Disrupt Europe 2013, and he shared some interesting stats about the crowdfunding platform’s progress to date, and he specifically addressed some of the company’s international growth. Over the past year, Indiegogo has managed to expand its business 300 percent in Europe over the past year, and international funding now accounts for a full 30 percent of its platform activity.

A lot of the hard work about that came around adding new languages, Rubin said, and then it was also challenging because of the various currencies that had to be incorporated into the platform. Most of the heavy lifting is around working out how to take and receive payments in different countries, Rubin said, and adding a number of new international capabilities in that regard has really helped speed up their growth.

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The international growth is actually a core part of Indiegogo’s vision, for an open and democratized future of funding.

“It’s really simple, we want to democratize funding across the world, the only way to do that is to be open,” Rubin said. “To be open is hard [...] The only way to create an open platform is to be totally global, if you only focus on one vertical or one country, you’re only creating liquidity in that space.”

It’s hard because you need to reach as many people as possible, you need to build a product that’s both open to all submissions but also reliable and consistent, and because you have to defend against fraud, which is hugely complicated when you’re trying to be open.

Yet defend against fraud is exactly what Indiegogo has done. The crowdfunding company has faced numerous fraud attempts since 2008, but Rubin says that they’ve had “virtually zero” actually carried out successful. Its net of anti-fraud detection, which includes community monitoring, advanced fraud detection algorithms, and people to track down and follow-up with flagged incidents, is so far pretty bulletproof, Rubin says.

As to what this means in terms of actually delivering funding to project creators, Rubin says that there’s now “millions” being distributed to between 70 and 100 different countries per week. Indiegogo may have strong competition in the form of Kickstarter, but it’s clearly focus on growing internationally quickly and covering as much ground as possible while Kickstarter moves a little more slowly on reaching new countries.

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Pressy stretch funding goal promises one-button screen capture-and-edit

With four days left in its campaign, Pressy — the one-button Android controller that plugs into your headphone jack — is still going strong on Kickstarter. If the gizmo hits $ 650,000 in funding by Monday (it’s currently at $ 622,262), developer Nimrod Back will include a simplified take on …

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