Pavegen, which harvests energy and data from footsteps, secures crowd and Hinduja Group funding

Pavegen, a UK startup which harvests energy from people’s footsteps and also tracks that data, has raised £2.6m on its crowdfunding push having doubled its initial £950k target.

The campaign secured funds from over 1,400 investors, including partnership and anchor investment from major global engineering conglomerate Hinduja Group and family investment firm Tamar Capital.

The Hinduja Group, whose Co-Chairmen topped the UK 2019 Rich List, aims to use the technology to reduce the cost of manufacturing and provide access to fast-growing markets in India and South East Asia.

The funding round follows expansion into 36 countries worldwide, and £1.8m in revenues in 2018, with installations including smart city developments, retail destinations, transport hubs and education institutions in Hong Kong, India, Korea, Thailand, UAE, UK & USA.

In 2018, Pavegen also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with global engineering and technology giant, Siemens, to develop smart city projects together.

The key to Pavegen is not just power generation. Pavegen which converts the kinetic energy of footsteps into both electricity and data, and it is also developing an ecosystem allowing people to be rewarded for steps on Pavegen walkways.

The company says its first shopping center deployment at The Mercury mall in East London has raised engagement with the site by 15%.

Laurence Kemball-Cook, CEO of Pavegen, said: “We believe in placing people at the heart of the smart city. With the support of Hinduja Group, Siemens and Tamar Capital, our plan of making our technology ubiquitous for all cities becomes achievable.”

Hrag Sarkissian, Founding Partner, Tamar Capital, said: “Pavegen is very relevant when it comes to Smart cities, from a power and a data play. As cost comes down, large scale deployments could really change the game.”

Shom Hinduja, President of Alternative Energy and Sustainability Initiatives at Hinduja Group said: “It’s an exciting time for Pavegen with new projects in airports, retail sites and smart city developments in Asia, the Middle East and North America. We believe the Hinduja team will be able to play a key role in enabling the Pavegen team to rapidly bring their ambitious vision to life.”

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Electric scooter and bike startup Grow hits 10 million trips across Latin America

Latin America-based Grow, which formed after micromobility companies Grin and Yellow merged earlier this year, has hit 10 million rides. Grin, which first started operating about one year ago in Mexico, has since expanded into 23 cities across Latin America. That is, of course, thanks in part to its mergers with Yellow and Ride.

This milestone is notable in part because it shows Grow is, err, growing at about the same rate as Bird and Lime did in each of those companies first years. In September, Bird hit the ten million scooter rides milestone after about one year of operations. That same month, Lime hit 11.5 million bike and scooter rides after about 14 months of being in business.

It’s also notable given Lime just expanded into Latin America yesterday with an electric scooter presence in Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Mexico and Chile. Lime currently counts 65 million rides.

Grow, with $150 million in funding, Grow counts five million users across its shared scooter, bike and e-moped services in Latin America. Collectively, riders have traveled more than nine million miles on Grow’s micromobility vehicles.

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Toronto Raptors founder brings Bird scooters to Canada as a platform partner

Bird’s somewhat weird but also very clever global expansion model is to let others handle it, and one of those others is bringing their service online this month. Bird Canada, which is a wholly Canadian-owned company entirely distinct from Bird, will begin offering on-demand electric scooter rental service in Alberta this month, with plans to offer its services across more Canadian communities on a gradual rollout schedule after that.

Bird Canada will be operating its service under the Platform plan that the original Bird announced earlier this year, which will see it acquire its scooters from the U.S. Bird at cost, and gain access to the Santa Monica-based startup’s tools, software and technology to operate the service, in exchange for a 20 percent cut of ride revenue.

The new Canadian e-scooter company is founded by Canadian serial entrepreneur and Toronto Raptors founder John Bitove (he led the bid that brought the NBA expansion team to Toronto in 1993), who will act as the company’s Chairman. Bird Canada’s day-to-day operations will be overseen by CEO Steward Lyons, who previously worked with Bitove on SiriusXM’s Canadian business and the startup national wireless provider Mobilicity which the two entrepreneurs founded together.

For its part, the Canadian entity will operate the fleet, including recharging the electric, battery-powered scooters and ensuring they’re in good working order. Local operators are also the ones who’ll need to work with city and any other relevant governing officials, which is a big reason why this probably seemed like the wisest or at least most expedient path to getting revenue from markets outside the U.S. for Bird.

Bird is also being selective about how it rolls out these franchise-like Platform partnerships, by picking only one partner per region and also by avoiding any such partnerships in markets where it does have an interest in eventually expanding itself.

Both Lyons and Bird CEO Travis VanderZanden provided quotes around this news that emphasize how scooter charing can offer sustainable, affordable transportation that helps alleviate traffic, and Lyons specifically said that Alberta is “leading the way in Canada.” The regulatory environment around scooters is at best murky in most Canadian cities, and local governing authorities are scrambling to figure out what the formal rules should be ahead of the scooter explosion traveling north of the U.S. border in a bigger way.

Bird Canada is likely hoping to set the tone for that conversation and be involved in encouraging more communities beyond those in Alberta to open its arms to on-demand rental businesses, but it’ll be interesting to see what kind of reception these receive, and what approach Bird Canada takes to managing their fleet in the country’s harsher winter conditions.

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Laundrapp and Zipjet merge to form largest on-demand laundry service in UK, seal new funding

Two of Europe’s biggest on-demand laundry startups are merging today. Laundrapp from London and Zipjet from Berlin are confirming the completion of a previously-rumored merger through which the combined business will become the largest on-demand laundry business in the UK.

Alongside this, the combined business has completed a funding round from existing investors including Toscafund, Hargreave Hale VCT, Henkel, Rocket Internet and further minority shareholders. The amount involved has not been disclosed. News of a planned merger was broken by Sky News back in April this year.

The European on-demand laundry and dry-cleaning market is estimated to be worth around €20bn per annum. Both Laundrapp and Zipjet have benefitted from this demand, with revenues, they say, rising more than 30% yoy. Together, the businesses currently process over 150,000 items of washing each month, with the ‘Wash & Fold’ service representing approximately 25% of volumes. The business says customers tend to start with the classic dry-cleaning offering, but later convert to the laundry and linen offering, driven by its convenience.

London is currently the main market for both Laundrapp and Zipjet, and this transaction gives the combined business-critical operational mass, whilst maintaining two separate brands in the short term.

Oliver Bedford at Hargreave Hale commented: “Bringing together two significant operators within the on-demand laundry industry will help lay the foundations for the next wave of investment into technology and infrastructure. Laundrapp aims to put convenience, choice and value at the centre of its customer proposition and we see this transaction as an important step towards building a sector leading capability.”

Lorenzo Franzi, CEO of Laundrapp, commented on the deal: “Bringing the two businesses together allows us to realise synergies, leveraging our technological advantage and critical mass to better serve customers and partners, and in the process cement our position as the #1 player.”

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Grab raises more money — again

Southeast Asia’s highest-capitalized startup is sitting on even more money from investors today after ride-hailing Grab announced it has raised $300 million from Invesco.

The deal takes Singapore-based Grab $7.5 billion raised to date. The money is part of its ongoing — feels-like-everlasting — Series H round which was started last June via a $1 billion capital injection from Toyota.

The round swelled to $4.5 billion thanks to contributions from a range of partners throughout 2018 and early 2019, then Grab said in April that it would add a further $2 billion to reach a $6.5 billion close before this year is out. This investment from Invesco is the first piece of that newest tranche to be announced, but there’s plenty happening under the surface, including a potential investment from PayPal, Ant Financial and others in a spinout of Grab’s financial services.

Grab declined to comment on the status of its Series H, and how much it has raised for the round so far.

Getting back to today’s news and, despite a relatively dry-looking announcement, there is an interesting takeaway to be found here.

Yes, this isn’t a SoftBank Vision Fund sized round — that $1.5 billion deal closed earlier this year — and it lacks the strategic significance of investments from backers like Toyota, Booking.com or Microsoft, but it does represent a doubling down on Grab from Invesco.

The firm merged with emerging market-focused fund Oppenheimer back in May. Oppenheimer — which has close to $40 billion in assets under management for its developing market fund alone — was among the participants in an initial $2 billion raise for that Series H, and now the merged entity is coming back to increase its position.

That first deal (from Oppenheimer) was $403 million, Grab said, so this new addition takes its spend on Grab to over $700 million. It also comes at an interesting time for the firm, which is reported to have reorganized its management team following the completion of the merger.

Based on that clearing of the decks/realignment, the decision to double down on Grab is a positive validation for the ride-hailing company. While it might not be a household name to those outside financial markets, Grab president Ming Maa played up Invesco as “one of the smartest investors in developing markets” in a statement released alongside news of the investment.

Grab acquired Uber’s regional business last year to become Southeast Asia’s undisputed ride-hailing leader, but it perhaps didn’t reckon on its local rival Go-Jek mounting a bid to finally expand its service regionally.

Having built a strong presence in Indonesia — where it pioneered ‘super app’ concepts like services on-demand and payments in the context of ride-hailing — Go-Jek has since expanded into Vietnam, Thailand and Singapore, with the Philippines also in its sights. Those moves were fuelled by investment from the likes of Tencent, Google and Warburg Pincus . As it seeks to go further and deeper in those markets, Go-Jek is currently raising a round for growth that is expected to reach $2 billion, half of which it said it had secured in January.

That accumulation of cash seemed to spark a call to arms for Grab, which turned its Series H into a gargantuan rolling round after increasing the overall round target first to $5 billion and then to $6.5 billion.

Uber may have decided to leave Southeast Asia, but the ride-hailing industry in the region is still as fascinating as ever.

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