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Inside SaaS

Inside SaaS (Aug 21st, 2019)

1. Immigrant-focused social media platform Homeis has raised $12 million in Series A funding. The New York- and Tel Aviv-based startup claims to be the "first digital platform for foreign-born communities around the world." Founded in 2017, Homeis aims to create a space that allows immigrants to openly discuss the day-to-day challenges of living in a foreign culture. Co-founded by Hanan Laschover, former CEO of AOL Israel, the platform is billed as a "culture network," which he now plans to expand starting with Mexican and other Latin communities in the U.S. -- VENTURE BEAT

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2. Device trade-in platform Phobio has created a spin-off SaaS company from its workplace collaboration app Rodio. The Atlanta-based tech company has appointed Dan Barton as Rodio’s CEO, overseeing the development of the workplace app's AI-based technology, which is built-in to maximize team engagement and allow larger organizations to better reach employees. The new company, which faces steep competition in an already crowded space that includes Slack and Microsoft Teams, has chosen to narrow its focus, developing the app as a specific approach for the retail and healthcare industries. -- AMERICANINNO

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3. FOUNDER'S CORNER: This week we spoke with co-founder and CEO Peter Ord of customer onboarding startup Beynd, which recently raised $2 million in its second round of seed funding after launching just 10 months ago.

To what do you owe your rapid customer growth, which has now increased to 6,800 users the first year?
Our viral component plays a huge part in our growth. Just last week, we sold a company our product who had participated in an onboarding experience “Powered by Beynd” from another company, who had just started with Beynd. Companies are rewarded exponentially for spending the extra time and effort to build a product that creates evangelists, and that’s definitely something we strive for.

What makes Beynd different from the many other customer workflow management startups out there?
Beynd is hyper-focused on providing a platform that enables companies to keep their customers on the same page with the products and services they are delivering.  The onboarding/setup experience is the most important part of the customer lifecycle and most directly affects churn in the short and long term, which is why we built our product with our customers’ customer at the hub of the wheel.   

What most inspired you to start Beynd

I’m obsessed with the early-stage fun of building systems, processes, and the trench work that builds incredible cultures. Early team members gain a sense of ownership and pride that contributes to a satisfaction level that is tough to attain in late-stage companies.  Nothing beats it!

What’s one final golden nugget that you would tell all aspiring entrepreneurs?

Have grit. At the end of the day, your grit will define your success. Not your talent, not your IQ score, but your passion, perseverance, and stamina. 

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4. Online mortgage lender Better.com has increased its Series C funding round to a total of $160 million. Launched in January 2016, Better.com initially securing $70 million for its Series C round in January, with Activant Capital, a global private investment firm leading the series C round closure, bringing the New York City-based company’s total funding to $254 million. Better.com's platform digitizes and streamlines the home-buying process to allow buyers to close a typical mortgage in half the time it usually takes -- 21 days, versus an industry average of 42 days. -- FORTUNE

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5. Open-source AI software firm H2O.ai has raised $72.5 million in a Series D round led by Goldman Sachs. Founded in 2012, the company also announced the latest release of its driverless AI software, which aims to "democratize" the ability to develop autonomous vehicle technology, founder and CEO Sri Ambati said in a statement. The Series D round brings total funding to $147 million and places a larger spotlight on the company's open-source machine learning library, which has become widely used among data scientists. -- ENTERPRISE AI

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6. Objectives and key results (OKR) solutions firm Ally has raised $8 million in Series A funding. Founded last year, Ally aims to make OKR spreadsheets, a common planning method in Silicon Valley, more scalable and easier to use for startups. Founder and CEO Vetri Vellore told TechCrunch that he was inspired to start the company following work at his last startup, Chronus, which was experiencing challenges managing growing teams. When a company outgrows Google Docs or other software not suitable for scalability, for example, OKR solutions can be used to replace these tools. -- TECHCRUNCH

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7. Study abroad platform AdmitKard has raised $1 million in pre-Series A funding. The Noida, India-based startup received the latest financing in a round led by Australia-based education technology fund Growth DNA. AdmitKard co-founder Piyush Bhartiya said that the new cash injection will be used to invest in emerging technologies, which include AI-driven counseling algorithms and blockchain-managed partnership contracts. Founded in 2016, the company claims to have partnered with a host of companies that make the study abroad experience more frictionless for users, such as student accommodation, education loans, banking, and test-prep service providers. --- INC42

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8. Automated software testing platform SpotQA has raised $3.25 million in seed funding. The London-based startup that was founded in 2016 claims to use machine learning to increase the speed of software testing by up to 25 times, bringing down the costs of quality assurance by 80 to 90 percent. SpotQA's initial funding round was led by Crane Venture Partners, a London venture capital firm focusing on “intelligent” enterprise startups. -- EU STARTUPS

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9. Github is expanding its Student Developer Pack program by adding 21 companies. The popular open-source platform offers students free access to GitHub Pro and various discounts to other services as part of its educational program, which it now plans to expand to include more developer tools. The new toolkit of the free program will include web design tools like Bootstrap Studio, domain registrar .TECH, SSH client Terminus, and configuration management tool ConfigCat. -- TECHCRUNCH

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10. Grocery delivery app Grofers has received $70 million as part of an additional Series F round led by Softbank. The latest cash transfer is part of a $200 million funding round led by the Japanese bank's investment arm, SoftBank Vision Fund. Grofers said the new funding, which brings its valuation to $567 million, will be put towards making it more competitive against its main rivals in India, which include BigBasket, Flipkart, Amazon and Reliance Fresh. -- INC42

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This newsletter is written and curated by Justin Calderón. Justin is based out of Barcelona, Spain, and has covered technology and SaaS news for a variety of publications, including the BBC and Newsweek. Follow him on Twitter at @justinfuyun

Editor: Kim Lyons (Pittsburgh-based journalist and managing editor at Inside).

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