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Spain’s Glovo picks up $528M as the food deliver market continues to heat up

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On the heels of Deliveroo raising more than $2 billion ahead of its debut on the London Stock Exchange this week, another hopeful in the food delivery sector has closed a super-sized round. Glovo, a startup out of Spain with 10 million users that delivers restaurant take-out, groceries and other items in partnership with brick-and-mortar businesses, has picked up a Series F of $528 million (€450 million).

Glovo aims to become the market leader in the 20 markets in Europe where it is live today, in part by expanding its “q-commerce” service — the delivery of items to urban consumers in 30 minutes or less — and it will be using the money to double down on that strategy.

This is a milestone funding round not just for the company, but its home country: it marks the largest-ever round raised by a Spanish startup.

“We started in Spain, where you have access to far less capital than other countries in Europe. We do more with less and that’s made us leaner,” said Sacha Michaud, the co-founder of the company, in an interview this week. “We’ve got our own strategy and it seems to be working.”

The funding is being led by Lugard Road Capital and Luxor Capital Group (the former is an affiliate of the latter), with Delivery Hero, Drake Enterprises and GP Bullhound also participating. All are previous backers of Glovo.

“We’re thrilled to have the continued backing of Luxor Capital Group and all of our existing investors. Over the last few months, we’ve moved very, very quickly but our vision remains unchanged,” said Oscar Pierre, Glovo’s other co-founder and CEO, in a statement. “This investment will allow us to double-down in our core markets, accelerate our leadership position in places where we are already very strong and continue to expand our excellent Q-Commerce division, as well as bring new innovations to our unique multi-category offering to extend more choice to our customers.”

Valuation is not being disclosed with this round, but when it raised its $166 million Series E in December 2019 — just ahead of the Covid-19 pandemic that truly changed the face of delivery services in many parts of the world — the company had a valuation of $1.18 billion, according to PitchBook data. Michaud would only confirm to me that it was “definitely an up-round,” which would put it at at least $1.7 billion, based on that estimate.

The funding comes on the heels of a very busy period of fundraising in the sector as investors the race to get in on the delivery of hot food, groceries and other necessities in Europe — a fast-growing business model in the most normal of times that blasted off in the last year as an essential service for consumers confined to their homes, often by government mandate, to stave off the spread of the coronavirus.

Just in the last few days, Gorillas in Berlin raised $290 million on a $1 billion+ valuation for its on-demand grocery business; Everli out of Italy (formerly called Supermercato24) raised $100 million (Luxor is one of its investors too); and reportedly Zapp in London has also closed $100 million in funding. Earlier in March, Rohlik out of the Czech Republic bagged $230 million.

Amid all those private raises, we also had Deliveroo’s IPO yesterday, which — as IPOs so often do — exposed some of the trickier aspects of the business. The company — which is backed by Amazon, a formidable player in food and essentials delivery — easily raised the most of money of the month — $2.1 billion in the private placement ahead of the listing — but then proceeded to slog out its debut on the LSE with shares progressively slumping throughout the day and ending up significantly lower than its offer price.

Areas of concern around Deliveroo serve as cautionary tales for all of them: not just how you price an IPO and what allocation you give to future shareholders, but also the unit economics of your business model, the price of competition, and where labor costs will fit into the bigger picture (and the bottom line).

“We’ve got our own road and we’re doing a pretty good job,” Michaud said in an interview when the subject of Deliveroo IPO came up. “We’re still David versus the Goliath out there.” Part of that for Glovo has also included some decisions made on rationalizing its own business: the company sold off its Latin American operations in a $272 million deal to its backer Delivery Hero last year to focus solely on Europe and adjacent geographies.

But even before the Series F being announced today, Glovo itself was one of the companies raising money for specific purposes, and those efforts point to how it plans to proceed in the weeks and months ahead on its own growth plan.

In January Glovo announced a strategic deal with Swiss real-estate firm Stoneweg, which pitched in €100 million ($117 million), to co-develop a number of “dark stores” in areas where Glovo already operates to improve its distribution networks and help speed up its delivery times. It’s part of a fulfillment operation that complements the hot food that Glovo sells on behalf of its restaurant partners: the dark stores are stocked with items Glovo sells on behalf of other companies such as Carrefour, Continente, and Kaufland, as well as a lot of independent retailers, companies that have not built their own (costly) B2C delivery networks but have wanted to provide that service to consumers nonetheless.

Although the company today promises deliveries in 29 minutes, in many markets, Michaud said, it’s already averaging 10-15 minutes and the aim is to make that the norm everywhere.

Restaurant delivery of hot food remains the biggest category of business for Glovo, but the company has seen a surge of demand for the other kinds of items and is expanding that accordingly.

“With Covid, we’ve been delivering pretty much anything you want in your city,” Michaud said. “Covid has been an accelerator and has educated the market. Instead of crossing city and spending time waiting and buying items, anything I want and Glovo will bring it to me. Why wouldn’t I do this?” He believes the more traditional rush of people doing in-person shopping is “definitely not gong to come back,” with groceries to be in the same position as restaurants in a couple of years. That’s leading the company to expand into more areas: “clothing, fashion and pharmacy, flowers. Hopefully we’re now in a good position to do that.”

Jonathan Green, Founder and Portfolio Manager at Lugard Road Capital, said in a statement: “Our investment in Glovo reflects our commitment to a company and leadership team that continues to innovate and disrupt in the on-demand delivery space.  As a long-term investor in Glovo, we are excited to watch the company continue to delight its customers through its unique multi-category offering, amidst an enormous market opportunity in both existing and new geographies.”

 

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Vietnamese electric motorbike startup Dat Bike raises $2.6M led by Jungle Ventures

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Son Nguyen, founder and chief executive officer of Dat Bike on one of the startup's motorbikes

Son Nguyen, founder and chief executive officer of Dat Bike

Dat Bike, a Vietnamese startup with ambitions to become the top electric motorbike company in Southeast Asia, has raised $2.6 million in pre-Series A funding led by Jungle Ventures. Made in Vietnam with mostly domestic parts, Dat Bike’s selling point is its ability to compete with gas motorbikes in terms of pricing and performance. Its new funding is the first time Jungle Ventures has invested in the mobility sector and included participation from Wavemaker Partners, Hustle Fund and iSeed Ventures.

Founder and chief executive officer Son Nguyen began learning how to build bikes from scrap parts while working as a software engineer in Silicon Valley. In 2018, he moved back to Vietnam and launched Dat Bike. More than 80% of households in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam own two-wheeled vehicles, but the majority are fueled by gas. Nguyen told TechCrunch that many people want to switch to electric motorbikes, but a major obstacle is performance.

Nguyen said that Dat Bike offers three times the performance (5 kW versus 1.5 kW) and 2 times the range (100 km versus 50 km) of most electric motorbikes in the market, at the same price point. The company’s flagship motorbike, called Weaver, was created to compete against gas motorbikes. It seats two people, which Nguyen noted is an important selling point in Southeast Asian countries, and has a 5000W motor that accelerates from 0 to 50 km per hour in three seconds. The Weaver can be fully charged at a standard electric outlet in about three hours, and reach up to 100 km on one charge (the motorbike’s next iteration will go up to 200 km on one charge).

Dat Bike’s opened its first physical store in Ho Chi Minh City last December. Nguyen said the company “has shipped a few hundred motorbikes so far and still have a backlog of orders.” He added that it saw a 35% month-over-month growth in new orders after the Ho Chi Minh City store opened.

At 39.9 million dong, or about $1,700 USD, Weaver’s pricing is also comparable to the median price of gas motorbikes. Dat Bike partners with banks and financial institutions to offer consumers twelve-month payment plans with no interest.

“These guys are competing with each other to put the emerging middle class of Vietnam on the digital financial market for the first time ever and as a result, we get a very favorable rate,” he said.

While Vietnam’s government hasn’t implemented subsidies for electric motorbikes yet, the Ministry of Transportation has proposed new regulations mandating electric infrastructure at parking lots and bike stations, which Nguyen said will increase the adoption of electric vehicles. Other Vietnamese companies making electric two-wheeled vehicles include VinFast and PEGA.

One of Dat Bike’s advantages is that its bikes are developed in house, with locally-sourced parts. Nguyen said the benefits of manufacturing in Vietnam, instead of sourcing from China and other countries, include streamlined logistics and a more efficient supply chain, since most of Dat Bike’s suppliers are also domestic.

“There are also huge tax advantages for being local, as import tax for bikes is 45% and for bike parts ranging from 15% to 30%,” said Nguyen. “Trade within Southeast Asia is tariff-free though, which means that we have a competitive advantage to expand to the region, compare to foreign imported bikes.”

Dat Bike plans to expand by building its supply chain in Southeast Asia over the next two to three years, with the help of investors like Jungle Ventures.

In a statement, Jungle Ventures founding partner Amit Anand said, “The $25 billion two-wheeler industry in Southeast Asia in particular is ripe for reaping benefits of new developments in electric vehicles and automation. We believe that Dat Bike will lead this charge and create a new benchmark not just in the region but potentially globally for what the next generation of two-wheeler electric vehicles will look and perform like.”

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Binance Labs leads $1.6M seed round in DeFi startup MOUND, the developer of Pancake Bunny

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Decentralized finance startup MOUND, known for its yield farming aggregator Pancake Bunny, has raised $1.6 million in seed funding led by Binance Labs. Other participants included IDEO CoLab, SparkLabs Korea and Handshake co-founder Andrew Lee.

Built on Binance Smart Chain, a blockchain for developing high-performance DeFi apps, MOUND says Pancake Bunny now has over 30,000 daily average users, and has accumulated more than $2.1 billion in total value locked (TVL) since its launch in December 2020.

The new funding will be used to expand Pancake Bunny and develop new products. MOUND recently launched Smart Vaults and plans to unveil Cross-Chain Collateralization in about a month, bringing the startup closer to its goal of covering a wide range of DeFi use cases, including farming, lending and swapping.

Smart Vaults are for farming single asset yields on leveraged lending products. It also automatically checks if the cost of leveraging may be more than anticipated returns and can actively lend assets for MOUND’s cross-chain farming.

Cross-Chain Collateralization is cross-chain yield farming that lets users keep original assets on their native blockchain instead of relying on a bridge token. The user’s original assets serve as collateral when the Bunny protocol borrows assets on the Binance Smart Chain for yield farming. This allows users to keep assets on native blockchains while giving them liquidity to generate returns on the Binance Smart Chain.

In statement, Wei Zhou, Binance chief financial officer, and head of Binance Labs and M&A’s, said “Pancake Bunny’s growth and MOUND’s commitent to execution are impressive. Team MOUND’s expertise in live product design and servie was a key factor in our decision to invest. We look forward to expanding the horizons of Defi together with MOUND.”

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Battery Resourcers raises $20M to commercialize its recycling-plus-manufacturing operations

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As a greater share of the transportation market becomes electrified, companies have started to grapple with how to dispose of the thousands of tons of used electric vehicle batteries that are expected to come off the roads by the end of the decade.

Battery Resourcers proposes a seemingly simple solution: recycle them. But the company doesn’t stop there. It’s engineered a “closed loop” process to turn that recycled material into nickel-manganese-cobalt cathodes to sell back to battery manufacturers. It is also developing a process to recover and purify graphite, a material used in anodes, to battery-grade.

Battery Resourcers’ business model has attracted another round of investor attention, this time with a $20 million Series B equity round led by Orbia Ventures, with injections from At One Ventures, TDK Ventures, TRUMPF Venture, Doral Energy-Tech Ventures and InMotion Ventures. Battery Resourcers CEO Mike O’Kronley declined to disclose the company’s new valuation.

The cathode and anode, along with the electrolyzer, are major components of battery architecture, and O’Kronley told TechCrunch it is this recycling-plus-manufacturing process that distinguishes the company from other recyclers.

“When we say that we’re on the verge of revolutionizing this industry, what we are doing is we are making the cathode active material — we’re not just recovering the metals that are in the battery, which a lot of other recyclers are doing,” he said. “We’re recovering those materials, and formulating brand new cathode active material, and also recovering and purifying the graphite active material. So those two active materials will be sold to a battery manufacturer and go right back into the new battery.”

“Other recycling companies, they’re focused on recovering just the metals that are in [batteries]: there’s copper, there’s aluminum, there’s nickel, there’s cobalt. They’re focused on recovering those metals and selling them back as commodities into whatever industry needs those metals,” he added. “And they may or may not go back into a battery.”

The company says its approach could reduce the battery industry’s reliance on mined metals — a reliance that’s only anticipated to grow in the coming decades. A study published last December found that demand for cobalt could increase by a factor of 17 and nickel by a factor of 28, depending on the size of EV uptake and advances in battery chemistries.

Thus far, the company’s been operating a demonstration-scale facility in Worcester, Massachusetts, and has expanded into a facility in Novi, Michigan, where it does analytical testing and material characterization. Between the two sites, the company can make around 15 tons of cathode materials a year. This latest funding round will help facilitate the development of a commercial-scale facility, which Battery Resourcers said in a statement will boost its capacity to process 10,000 tons of batteries per year, or batteries from around 20,000 EVs.

Another major piece of its proprietary recycling process is the ability to take in both old and new EV batteries, process them and formulate the newest kind of cathodes used in today’s batteries. “So they can take in 10-year-old batteries from a Chevy Volt and reformulate the metals to make the high-Ni cathode active materials in use today,” a company spokesman explained to TechCrunch.

Battery Resourcers is already receiving inquiries from automakers and consumer electronics companies, O’Kronley said, though he did not provide additional details. But InMotion Ventures, the venture capital arm of Jaguar Land Rover, said in a statement its participation in the round as a “significant investment.”

“[Battery Resourcers’] proprietary end-to-end recycling process supports Jaguar Land Rover’s journey to become a net zero carbon business by 2039,” InMotion managing director Sebastian Peck said.

Battery Resourcers was founded in 2015 after being spun out from Massachusetts’ Worcester Polytechnic Institute. The company has previously received support from the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Advanced Battery Consortium, a collaboration between General Motors, Ford Motor Company and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

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