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These Forge cofounders just raised $5 million to work on a new, still-stealth investing startup

Sohail Prasad and Samvit Ramadurgam are cofounders who met during Y Combinator’s 2012 summer batch and went on to cofound Forge, which helps accredited investors and institutions buy and sell private company shares and which most recently raised $150 million in new funding in May.
Forge — originally known as Equidate —  has taken off as demand for private company shares has ballooned. The company, launched in 2014, has now raised $250 million altogether, including from, Deutsche Börse, Temasek, Wells Fargo, BNP Paribas, and Munich Re. It acquired rival SharesPost last year for $160 million in cash and stock. According to the company, it now …

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Holy Grail raises $2.7M seed fund to create modular carbon capture devices

The founders of Holy Grail, a two-year-old startup based in Mountain View, California, are taking a micro approach to solving the outsized problem of capturing carbon.
The startup is prototyping a direct air carbon capture device that is modular and small — a departure from the dozens of projects in the U.S. and abroad that aim to capture CO2 from large, centralized emitters, like power plants or industrial facilities. Holy Grail co-founder Nuno Pereira told TechCrunch that this approach will reduce costs and eliminate the need for permits or project financing.
While Holy Grail has a long development and testing …

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Extra Crunch roundup: SaaS founder salaries, break-even neobanks, Google Search tips

Usually, a teacher who grades students on a curve is boosting the efforts of those who didn’t perform well on the test. In the case of cloud companies, however, it’s the other way around.
As of Q1 2021, startups in this sector have median Series A rounds around $8 million, reports PitchBook. With $100+ million Series D rounds becoming more common, company valuations are regularly boosted into the billions.
Andy Stinnes, a general partner at Cloud Apps Capital Partners, says founders who are between angel and Series A should seek out investors who are satisfied with $200,000 to $500,000 in ARR.

Full Extra …

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Merlyn Mind emerges from stealth with $29M and a hardware and software solution to help teachers with tech

We’ve chronicled, in great detail, the many layers of technology, services and solutions that have been wrapped around the world of education in recent years — and especially in the last year, which became a high watermark for digital learning tools because of COVID-19. Today, a startup called Merlyn Mind is coming out of stealth with a proposition that it believes helps tie a lot of this together in the K-12 classroom — a “digital assistant” that comes in the form of a piece of custom hardware and software to “read” natural voice and remote control commands from a teacher to …

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How much to pay yourself as a SaaS founder

“If you’re the founder of a seed-stage [company and] you’re worried about your electricity staying on this month, then your salary is too low. If you’re saving $10,000/mo, then your salary is probably higher than necessary,” investor Leo Polovets wrote in a Twitter thread.

Ultimately, a good test is to ask how you’ll feel if your startup fails: Will you wonder if your salary contributed to its fall? Or will you regret sacrificing more than you can recover?

This tweet is just one of many in a now burgeoning conversation about how founder pay needs to …

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Australian fintech Zeller lands $50M AUD led by Spark Capital at a $400M AUD valuation

Zeller, a Melbourne-based fintech founded by former Square executives to serve small- to mid-sized businesses, has raised $50 million AUD (about $37.5 million USD) led by Spark Capital, the investment firm whose portfolio also includes Twitter, Slack and Coinbase. Zeller’s valuation is now $400 million AUD (about $301 million USD).
The funding included participation from returning investors Square Peg, Apex Capital Partners and Addition, and brings Zeller’s total raised in less than a year to $81 million AUD. This amount includes a pre-launch Series A led by Addition, the investment firm started by Lee Fixel, and seed funding.

Zeller was founded last year …

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Fintech veteran Jitendra Gupta is ready for his new inning — now he is going after banks in India

For most people in India, having to engage with banks doesn’t instill a sense of joy. Banks in the South Asian market are notorious for making unannounced spam calls to upsell customers loans and credit cards, even when they have been explicitly asked not to do so.
Moreover, when a customer does reach out to a bank with a query, it can take forever to get the job done. Take ICICI Bank, India’s third largest bank and until recently my only banking partner for over six years, for an example.
It is now in its third month in …

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Mobile commerce startup Via rounds up $15 million in Series A funding

Mobile commerce is where it’s at, and rising investment in so-called conversational commerce startups underscores the opportunity.
Via, a two-year-old, Bay Area-based startup, is among those riding the wave, having identified some trends that are becoming clearer by the month. First, more e-commerce sales will be on mobile phones this year than desktops (as much as 70% by some estimates), people tend to read text messages almost immediately, and consumers spend upwards of 30 minutes a day engaging with mobile messaging apps.
Via also insists that unlike an expanding pool of startups that are focused on helping retailers and others broadcast …

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Uber to become the sole owner of grocery delivery startup Cornershop

Uber has reached a deal to become the sole owner of Latin American delivery startup Cornershop, just one year after acquiring a majority stake in the company. The ride-hailing giant said in a regulatory filing Monday that it will purchase the remaining 47% interest in Cornershop in exchange for 29 million shares. The transaction is expected to close in July.
Uber announced in 2019 plans to take a majority ownership in Cornershop. That transaction wasn’t completed until the third quarter of 2020 other than in Mexico, which closed in January 2021. This latest agreement, which was reached June 18 and reported Monday, will make Cornershop …

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