News from around the world – July 14


A compilation of important news from the international startup world: 

How To Discover Your Life Purpose: A Tech Start-up CEO Shares His Recipe For Success
A few years ago, Everett Harper, the CEO of Truss, a software infrastructure consulting firm that solves complex engineering problems in the public interest, read about University of Virginia business school professor Dr. Saras Sarasvathy’s research into what makes a great entrepreneur. In short, successful entrepreneurs are “effectualists”—people who make rather than find opportunities, while recognizing the constraints of reality. “An effectualist is a cook who scours the fridge for leftovers and still creates a meal of nourishing beauty,” said Harper. “As a chef and entrepreneur, that resonated with me.” Harper then began to understand that his life purpose is “to create space that invites people to do their best work. That’s how I parent, that’s how I lead, that’s how I learn.” His leadership position at Truss allows him to do just that.

Sri Lanka President assures tech-startup friendly climate in six months
President Maithripala Sirisena had recently told a group of active investors and entrepreneurs involved in technology startup companies that necessary policy decisions would be made to create a tech startup- friendly climate in the country before the Year 2016 is out, to encourage more funding for Sri Lankan tech startups. The President had given this assurance when Sri Lankan investors and entrepreneurs of BOV Capital met him to discuss a venture capital fund focused on helping early-stage tech startups in the country. Following this meeting, BOV Capital, based in Sri Lanka and Singapore yesterday announced a two-billion rupee fund focused on Sri Lankan startups to grow regionally and globally, at a media briefing held at the BMICH in Colombo.

Ex-banking and finance professionals shake up Singapore’s start-up scene
According to recruitment consultancy Robert Walters Singapore’s senior consultant Faiz Modak, former bankers, traders and finance analysts now make up the bulk of mid-career professionals venturing into the start-up world. When first-time entrepreneurs Daniel Chia and Cynthia Siantar quit their jobs at major financial institutions to create geolocated social networking app BlastOut in 2013, they faced objections from their family members, with Mr Chia’s father commenting “IT cannot make money one, lah.” For their families, ditching a career as an investment banker, with its perceived prestige and financial rewards, for the uncertain life of a tech entrepreneur seemed like an odd career move. However, the duo persevered and moved on to a second venture a year later – financial technology (fintech) start-up Call Levels, which has since raised US$500,000 (S$674,264) from US venture capital firm 500 Startups and several prominent angel investors, including local financial industry veteran Timothy Teo.

How 2112 put Chicago’s entertainment tech companies under one roof
2112 — Chicago’s hub for innovation and tech in the entertainment industry — will celebrate the organization’s one year anniversary. Scott Fetters, the organization’s director, said the past year has seen the innovation hub grow into a cornerstone of the city’s entertainment industry. Based out of Fort Knox Studios, the hub is modeled after tech incubators like 1871 in an effort to connect entertainment-focused entrepreneurs with other businesses and artists in the community. “My goal was to figure out how to bring people together,” Fetters said. “2112 became a physical manifestation of that work.” Fetters said 2112 already has about 75 member companies, each of which finds its roots in areas like video production, band management, editing and entertainment-focused technology.

Healthy meal delivery startup Freshly raises $21M
Freshly is announcing that it has raised $21 million in Series B funding. The New York City-based company delivers healthy meals for a price of around $11 per meal — which may make it sound like many other food startups, but CEO Michael Wystrach (pictured below with his co-founder Carter Comstock) said the model is different in some key ways. Unlike a meal kit service such as Blue Apron, Freshly meals don’t require any cooking (you just heat them up in your microwave or on your stove), and unlike on-demand meal services such as Sprig, Freshly just makes a single delivery with all your meals for a given week. “Our thought process was that on-demand means different things,” Wystrach said. “What we like to say is that you could have someone deliver you toothpaste when you want it, but having toothpaste already in your medicine cabinet is true on-demand. And when people are hungry, you’re hungry right now. You don’t want to have to wait for it.”

Compass wants investors to believe it’s worth $1.3B
Less than a year after raising $60 million, Compass is seeking a new cash infusion that sources said would value the company between $1.2 billion and $1.3 billion, The Real Deal has learned. To date, the three-year-old startup brokerage has raised $135 million from investors including Joshua Kushner’s Thrive Capital, Founders Fund, .406 Ventures, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and Condé Nast parent Advance Publications, all of which made repeat investments in Compass. “With our last funding round less than 10 months ago, and due to extremely strong [first half of 2016] results, Compass is exploring another funding round based on inbound interest from investors,” Compass told The Real Deal in a statement, adding that proceeds from the round — expected to close in late 2016 — would fund its international expansion. “While the company has not yet begun formally inviting specific existing investors to participate, every existing investor that was asked if they would be interested in investing in the next round said they would like to.”

Level39 operator Xntree to set up fintech accelerator hub for Asia in Seoul
South Korea’s capital city Seoul aspires to become an Asia’s financial technology (fintech) hub through establishment of the Korean version of Level 39, Europe’s largest accelerator for fintech companies, in the country’s financial district of Yeouido. British fintech company Xntree, operator of Level39, will set up Xntree Asia Hub in Hewlett-Packard Korea Office Building in Yeouido in September this year, according financial industry sources Tuesday. Xntree plans to hold a ceremony to celebrate the establishment at Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) in Seoul on June 19, together with Global Fintech Demo Day event that showcases global fintech companies. Xntree and Maekyung Media Group will jointly support Korean fintech companies’ advance to overseas markets by holding Maekyung Fintech Award event in September.

IDG Capital, Breyer raise $1b to invest in Chinese startups amidst slowing investments
Chinese venture capital firm IDG Capital Partners and Silicon Valley investor Breyer Capital have reached final close for their $1 billion fund to invest in startups in China. The new fund, IDG Capital Fund III, will focus on investing in sectors such as technology, media & telecommunications, healthcare, energy, and consumer products, both in China as well as in global companies looking to enter the market. “I have invested in China with the IDG team for over a decade and have been continually impressed by the caliber, creativity and drive of Chinese entrepreneurs working across a range of industries. China continues to represent tremendous long-term investment opportunities, particularly in companies applying machine-learning and artificial intelligence,” said Jim Breyer, founder and chief executive officer of Breyer Capital. IDG Capital started operations in China in 1993, and was the nation’s first technology venture capital and private equity investment firm. It has invested in some of China’s biggest tech companies like Baidu, Tencent Holdings, and Xiaomi. More than 100 of its portfolio companies have gone public or been acquired.

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