Digital Startup news roundup – Week ending 11th June

The weekly Tech update

Startup Street: StayUncle Is Helping Couples Get A Room In India – A New Delhi-based startup is playing cupid to unmarried couples, sports startup Athletes Today has some big expansions plans (think television) and an Intel-backed startup just acquired an American startup to beef-up its portfolio.  Blaze Arizanov is on a mission to beat India’s anti-Romeo squad and help unmarried couples get a room. His two-year old startup, StayUncle, promises 3-4 star hotel rooms for short and long stays sans judgement.The startup was initially intended for business travellers who needed rooms for a short duration. However, unmarried couples started approaching them more often. “If you give rooms for short stays, give it to us too”, they would say, recalled Arizanov. That is when he realised that unmarried couples were not allowed in hotels without submitting a marriage certificate, he added.

GE digital facility in Paris introduces its first set of startups to customers – GE has introduced the first set of companies to graduate from its European startup hub, with five startups making pitches to potential customers. Companies in the Digital Foundry develop software for GE customers to buy through the Predix platform, which is a bit like an industrial app store. It provides pre-built software components and a hosting platform for software. IrLynx is one. It uses sensors and data analytics technology for people tracking to enable businesses such as retailers and office planners to make decisions on the location and layout of premises and maximise the use of space. Another startup, Cosling, uses algorithms to optimise processes for companies moving physical objects and data. The utilities sector is the target customer base of another of the GE Foundry members, Predictive Layer, whose technology can predict energy supply using advanced mathematics. Also in the energy sector, where GE boasts many customers, is Evolution EnergieFinally, Cityzen Data is a startup offering advanced analytics tools through Predix.

How a Startup Accelerator at Boston Children’s Hospital Helps Doctors Launch Companies – Physicians, nurses, and others who work on the front lines of patient care are an important potential source for innovations that could improve patients’ health and reduce the cost of care. But turning clinicians into entrepreneurs is anything but easy. Given their day jobs — which at academic medical centers often include research, writing grant proposals, and tending to patients — they have little time. And they often lack much of the expertise needed to transform an idea into a viable product.

Digital entertainment startup Spout raises $2.1Mn to support business expansion – Singapore-headquartered Spout Entertainment Group has raked in $2.1 million (S$3 million) in a seed round of funding from REAPRA. It will utilize the fresh inflow of funds to support its expansion into emerging markets, with Myanmar first on cards. Also, it is setting aside up to $600,000 to provide free education resources to the local community. Post this round, Shuhei Morofuji, REAPRA Founder, and CEO; and Chief Financial Officer Takeo Matsuda, will be seen joining the group’s advisory board. While, Daryl Teo, Spout’s Founder and CEO will join REAPRA’s five-seat investment committee.

Uber is in talks to acquire valet startup Luxe’s tech and engineers – Uber is in late-stage talks to acquire some technology and team members from Luxe, the on-demand car valet service, The Wall Street Journal and Recode first reported, citing sources. TechCrunch has since learned that the talks are indeed happening, but that the deal hasn’t closed and therefore could unravel. The plan is for Uber to acquire some of Luxe’s technology and engineering talent, which had been working on a service related to short-term car rentals, according to the WSJ. Uber also has reportedly been interviewing engineers from Luxe to determine who to keep from the company, according to the WSJ.

Startup Launches to Bring E-Commerce to “Unboxing” Videos – Packagd has raised $6 million in funding to bring its e-commerce-fueled video app Unboxed to market. When Austin Evans posts a video on YouTube of himself unwrapping a new device, he regularly amasses half a million views. But there’s no easy way for the interested, engaged audience that he has attracted to immediately buy the products he’s showcasing and reviewing.


EdTech Startup Apptegy Raises $5.7 Million Dollars – A Little Rock startup is quickly becoming the single platform for all of the digital communication needs in schools.  Aptegy is the startup behind Thrillshare, an easy to use platform that allows a school district’s teachers and stuff to distribute information in every way possible. With Thrillshare the creator can create content just once and have it distributed across a website cms, Facebook, Twitter,  push notifications, voice calls, and other communications systems.

Online learning startup Coursera raises $64 mn in Series D funding; to expand higher degree portfolio – Online learning startup, Coursera has raised $64 million in a Series D funding round, taking the company’s total capital raised to date to $210.3 million. The latest round will be used to fund efforts in its enterprise business to expand its master’s degree portfolio, and to accelerate product innovation. The majority of the funding for this round came from existing investors—GSV Asset Management, New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers (KPCB) and Learn Capital. The Lampert Foundation also participated as a new investor, the company said in a statement.

€7 Million: Blockchain Startup Stratumn Completes Series A – The round was led by CNP Ventures, the venture arm of personal insurance firm CNP Assurances. Nasdaq, Digital Currency Group and Otium Venture also took part in the round, which comes more than a year after it raised €600k in seed funding. The Paris-based startup said today that it would use the funds to fuel its expansion into the US, as part of a broader product push. Stratumn offers a platform for developing enterprise-level blockchain applications.

RIP – Startups that Failed ?

Oh no, Silicon Valley! Failed startup CEO on fraud rap after allegedly bullsh*ting staff and refusing to pay them – In an indictment unsealed on Wednesday, Isaac Choi, founder and CEO of failed Silicon Valley job search startup WrkRiot, was charged with five counts of wire fraud for allegedly defrauding former employees. Problems at the upstart surfaced in August when Penny Kim, former head of marketing for the company, published an account of her experience at an unnamed biz. She said the unspecified outfit failed to pay her and forged wire transfer confirmations to make it appear it had transferred owed funds.

Feds come knocking at failed Zoom Health – Federal investigators are looking into the sudden demise of Zoom Health Plan, the failed insurance arm of the better-known ZoomCare chain of medical clinics. Investigators showed up at the downtown Portland offices of Zoom Health at about 10 a.m. Thursday and interviewed staff, confirmed Lisa Morawski, a spokeswoman for the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services. She would not say which agencies were involved.


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