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Inside SaaS (Aug 23rd, 2019)

1. Spa-salon SaaS startup Zenoti has raised $20 million in an extended Series C round. The Seattle- and Hyderabad-based software firm said that the fresh funding will further accelerate its pace of innovation and help to expand operations into the U.K. Zenoti provides software to better manage online booking, billing, CRM, loyalty features and other functions for spas and salons. The company now reaches 44 countries and recently signed Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa as clients, powering business operations across more than 400 stores in the US and Canada. The Series C round, which closed in May, is now brought to a total of $70 million. Zenoti claims to be growing at 130 percent this year and projects to generate revenue of $120 million to $150 million over the next two years. -- INC42

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2. Israeli SaaS startups face the dilemma of "bifurcated" IP laws amid continued US-China trade war. China has attracted some of Israel's top startups (including sensor software firms Arbe Robotics and Innoviz), which see the Middle Kingdom as the "epicenter of urban innovation." But these startups face daunting legal challenges as a result of the raging trade spat between China and the U.S. According to Amir Galor, founder of a China-Israeli matchmaking platform, Israeli companies should prepare to create two wholly separate business units covering legal structure, IP and data hosting — one for China and the other for the US. These costs will undoubtedly be much harder to bear for startups. -- TECHNODE

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3. Workplace digital assistant Capacity (formerly Jane.ai) has raised $13.2 million in Series B funding. The latest funding round for the St. Louis-based startup, which launched last year, was led entirely by Midwestern private investors and angels. The startup helps organizations to streamline information by offering a chat interface and directory that employees can use to search for information. Along with its recent decision to rebrand, Capacity has also chosen to open up its platform to allow developers to connect apps to its platform. -- TECHCRUNCH

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4. Subscription-based ride-sharing app Nomad Rides is aiming to beat Uber and Lyft with a $25/month package. Cofounder and CEO Daniel Jones launched Nomad Rides at Indiana University Bloomington in February. The startup, which is now backed by Y Combinator, claims that its platform charges riders 20 percent less while drivers earn 20 percent more. “The results were absolutely bananas,” Jones recalled during a recent meeting at Y Combinator. “In just 61 days, we completed over 5,700 rides. We had so much demand, we had over 9,400 ride requests.” Unlike Uber and Lyft, Nomad Rides requires drivers to pay for their own car insurance and is instead focusing on being a "software-only" company. -- FORBES

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5. On-demand healthcare data firm MDClone has raised $26 million in Series B funding. The Tel Aviv-based software firm claims to have built a "first-of-a-kind" platform that allows physicians and researchers to quickly make sense of huge amounts of healthcare data, using synthetic data to protect patient privacy. Founded in 2016 by Ziv Ofek, a serial entrepreneur, MDClone will use the new funding to create new products and boost marketing efforts. The company currently counts the Washington University School of Medicine as one of its clients. -- REUTERS

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6. Zoom Founder Eric Yuan reflects on the "big risk" of leaving a vice president role at Cisco to create a SaaS startup. A longtime software engineer, Yuan (who was born in China) previously worked on Cisco's Webex video conference software but found it lacking. This precipitated a hard but ultimately life-changing decision to create a company that would rival his employer. Looking back, he said because he was not happy at the time working on Cisco's Webex, a project where he “did not see a single happy customer,” he considered the risk worth taking -- and it has paid off. “There are over 1 billion [office] workers worldwide,” he tells CNBC. “Our goal is to connect all those 1 billion knowledge workers with the Zoom platform." -- CNBC

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7. E-commerce data analysis platform DataHawk has raised €1.2 million ($1.33 million) in seed funding. The Paris-based SaaS firm was launched in early 2018 and released its inaugural product earlier this year after two years of research and development. The company's analytics solution, which is tailored to assist Amazon merchants, aims to help brands and retailers on Amazon make sure their products appear in top positions of organic search results on Amazon's search engine. “Competition on Amazon is extremely fierce,” explains Sghir, CEO & co-founder of DataHawk, adding that his solution provides a "data-driven approach to succeed." Over 70 percent of the company's clients are based in the U.S. -- TECH.EU

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8. Transport data analytics firm Zendrive has raised $37 million in a Series B funding round. With offices in San Francisco and Bangalore, Zendrive produces a software solution that aims to make driving safer using data analytics. The company plans to use the new funding round to develop its contacts in the global insurance market, a key beneficiary of its software, according to a statement. Bangalore has served as the firm's R&D center since 2014. -- HINDU BUSINESS LINE

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9. VC firm Y Combinator has funded 12 Indian startups in the largest batch it has secured on the subcontinent. This year, the Silicon Valley accelerator focused on Mountain View, California and Bangalore, India in its search for the next big startup. Starting in 2017, India has become a country of greater focus for YC, with this year marking the largest batch of startups to ever receive funding from the accelerator. Like China, India was once considered a "copycat" tech ecosystem. “But now they’re distinctly not doing that, they’re coming out with these big products,” said Adora Cheung, a partner at YC. -- CRUNCHBASE

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10. Mobile rewards app Drop has raised $44 million in a Series B round to expand into new markets. The Canada-based tech startup has taken an untraditional route into the rewards program market, opting to bypass "clunky cards" and launch straight into a mobile app. "The traditional reward industry is quite archaic... consumers often have to carry around a physical card," Drop CEO Derrick Fung told BetaKit. Drop's app is targeted at millennial shoppers and claims to have more than 3 million users across Canada and the U.S. -- BETAKIT

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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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