Startup Monday Issue #32 9 March 15 — March 21): Latest tech trends and news happening in the global startup ecosystem!

Narine Emdjian
8 min readMar 21, 2021


Venture Capitals / Blockchain / Asia / Robotics / Europe


Weekly VC Overview

Venture capital firm Juxtapose raises $300 million as it seeks ‘venture-like returns’ with less risky investments. Juxtapose wanted to tap into a rising consciousness around health and wellness as a lifestyle.

Zane Venture Fund, an Atlanta early-stage investment firm, is targeting the initial close of its first, $25 million funds. The close includes investments from Calendly CEO Tope Awotona and “the Godfather of Angel Investing” Sig Mosley, who’s also a venture partner. The firm also received a seven-figure commitment from a financial institution that declined to be named. The firm is focused on investing in diverse founders who are creating technology-enabled solutions in the Southeast. Investments range from pre-seed to Series A.

Responding to evolving Venture Capital and Private Equity market needs when evaluating the leadership teams of their portfolio company investments, Chasm Partners announced today the introduction of ChasmDILIGENCE. ChasmDILIGENCE builds on Chasm’s deep expertise in evaluating executive talent for high-growth healthcare organizations, providing insights to help investors perform human capital diligence at the deal stage.

Eximius Ventures, a micro venture capital firm, announced the first close of its maiden fund of $10 million, which it aims to invest in early-stage startups with about $300,000 equity cheque per startup.

Health care company Gravie has pulled in a $28 million round of venture capital, it announced Thursday. The round was led by AXA Venture Partners, the venture capital arm of the French insurance company Axa. Other participants included New York City-based FirstMark Capital, Eden Prarie-based Split Rock Ventures and San Francisco-based Revelation Partners. The cash will go to helping Gravie grow into new markets and expand its sales and marketing.


Robotics safety system developer Fort Robotics last week announced a $13 million raise. Led by Prime Movers Lab, the round also features Prologis Ventures, Quiet Capital, Lemnos Labs, Creative Ventures, Ahoy Capital, Compound, FundersClub and Mark Cuban. This Philadelphia-based company is focused more on safety software, for collaborative robotics and other autonomous systems. Among the other issues being tackled by the company is cybersecurity vulnerability among these sots of workplace robotics. Other issues targeted here include broader system failure and potential human error.

Inspired by the shell-swapping hermit crab, MIT’s HERMITS use interchangeable mechanical shells to do all sorts of creative things.

Blockchain/Crypto report projects that the global blockchain IoT market size will grow from USD 258 million in 2020 to USD 2,409 million by 2026, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 45.1% during the forecast period. The growing need for IoT security, simplified processes supported with transparency and immutability, and high adoption of blockchain-based IoT solutions using smart contracts and AI is expected to surge demand for the blockchain IoT market globally.

Coinbase is paying the price for its earlier cryptocurrency trading practices. Coindesk and the Wall Street Journal say the Commodity Futures Trading Commission has fined Coinbase $6.5 million for allegedly providing misleading info about its trading volumes. The company’s Coinbase Pro exchange ran two programs that sometimes traded Bitcoin and Litecoin with each other between 2015 and 2018, and included those trades in data it shared with outside services — making it look like there was more trading volume than there really was.

The9 Limited and Blockcap — have now purchased a total of 36,000 bitcoin miners worth more than $150 million from Bitmain. Specifically, The9 Limited, a Nasdaq-listed Chinese gaming company, is buying 24,000 Antminer S19j machines via its unit NBTC Limited. The total cost is estimated at around $120 million. One unit of S19j, Bitmain’s latest model of bitcoin miner, is priced at about $5,000. North American Blockcap, on the other hand, has purchased 12,000 Antminer S19 machines, according to an announcement shared with The Block exclusively. The total cost of the purchase is estimated at more than $33 million — one S19 costs around $2,800.

Have $93 Million? You May Be Able to Boost Bitcoin’s Price by 1%. Bloomberg reports The largest cryptocurrency has doubled so far in 2021 as institutions and retail investors pour in cash, not to mention Tesla Inc’s $1.5 billion purchase and all the buying from MicroStrategy Inc. JPMorgan Chase & Co. strategists have estimated that institutional flows into Bitcoin are up 20% in dollar terms this quarter from the prior period, while retail has increased 90%. And that intake may be moving the price of Bitcoin more than it would some other assets, according to strategists at Bank of America Corp. including Francisco Blanch and Savita Subramanian.

Startups in Europe

On-demand fulfillment startup Cubyn announces last week a €35 million round led by Eurazeo and Bpifrance Large Venture, with new participation from First Bridge Ventures and Fuse Venture Partners. Cubyn will use its new funding to double its team of 85 to 170+ employees by the end of 2021, and deploy its service internationally, starting with Spain and Portugal launching in April 2021 followed by Italy, UK and Germany. The company will also open a 25,000 sqm automated facility in the Paris area in the coming months, to increase its automation capabilities and continue to drive costs and delivery times down.

Pollinate, the global software business that partners with banks to help them deepen and extend relationships with their business customers, last week announced it has closed an approx. €42 million Series C funding round, led by Insight Partners, the global venture capital and private equity firm. The round also includes participation from all existing investors, including NatWest Group, Mastercard, National Australia Bank (NAB), EFM Asset Management, and Motive Partners.

Charge Amps, a Swedish GreenTech company and maker of EV (‘electric vehicle’) charging solutions, has announced that it has raised around €12.8 million in a round led by Swedbank Robur via its equity funds, Microcap and Ny Teknik. In addition, Swedbank Robur has purchased shares corresponding to approx. €1.9 million from current shareholders, bringing its total investment in Charge Amps to around €14.7 million.

The Norwegian video meeting challenger and one of Europe’s fastest-growing startups, has raised around €10 million from Point Nine, Jason M. Lemkin’s SaaStr fund, and a group of more than 20 angel investors. Founded in 2013, the Oslo-based team has already grown a team of 75+ and offers a competitive solution for easy video meetings — with no login needed for guests, no app or installs required, and the same video link each time

Indian-Asian Startup Ecosystem

Pharmaceutical groups signed partnerships with Chinese biotechnology startups at a record rate last year, with China freeing up the industry. Last year, a record 271 cross-border licensing partnerships were agreed between multinational groups, which include Roche, Bayer, AbbVie, and Pfizer, as well as Chinese pharma companies, according to data from consultancy ChinaBio. These collaborations involve clinical trials, development, and commercialization, and sharing data, and they are up almost 50 percent from 2019 and more than 300 percent since 2015. In 2016, China’s healthcare industry overtook Japan, making it the world’s second-largest and, by 2024, it is expected that it will surpass the US. Pharmaceutical spending in China totaled US$137 billion in 2018 and will reach US$140–$170 billion by 2023, according to data provider IQVIA.

Last year, a record 271 cross-border licensing partnerships were agreed between multinational groups, which include Roche, Bayer, AbbVie, and Pfizer, as well as Chinese pharma companies, according to data from consultancy ChinaBio. These collaborations involve clinical trials, development, and commercialization, and sharing data, and they are up almost 50 percent from 2019 and more than 300 percent since 2015.

India-focused venture capital funds raised $3 billion in 2020, the highest in the last five years and around 40% more than in 2019, a report by Bain & Co. showed. Marquee investors, including Sequoia Capital, Elevation Capital, Falcon Edge, and Lightspeed Venture Partners closed funds for India investments last year, with Sequoia itself accounting for about 40% of the quantum raised, the’ India Venture Capital Report 2021' showed.

New Delhi India has 100 unicorns with a combined market capitalization of $240 billion, and two-thirds of them have started after 2005 because of remarkable changes in the funding, infrastructure, regulatory, and business environment, a Credit Suisse research report has said.

Startups in Israel

While traditional investment in the ocean technology sector has been tentative, growth in Israeli maritime innovations has been exponential in the last few years, and environmental concern has come to the forefront. As the planet’s largest ecosystem, the ocean stabilizes climate, stores carbon, nurtures biodiversity, and directly supports human well-being through food, energy, medicinal, cultural, and recreational services, the United Nations recently reported.

London-based Flashpoint seeks to invest $100 million in Israeli tech. Tech investment firm plans to raise $200 million in a secondary fund, part of which will be channeled to late-stage Israeli startups; the firm has $350 million in managed assets.

Israel launches 2-year pilot, preparing the sky for a network of delivery drones. Demonstrating the ability to fly multiple drones in single airspace, Israel hopes to become a playground for local and foreign startups to test technologies and set up rules.

M12, Microsoft’s venture fund in Israel, announced on Sunday that veteran VC investor Irad Dor is coming on as a partner. Dor, formerly a partner at the Eight Road Ventures Fund, will focus on early-stage investments in cloud infrastructure, cybersecurity, and enterprise software in Israel and the broader EMEA region. At Eight Road, Dor led investments in Israeli companies including FireBlocks, Gloat, and ScyllaDB. Prior to that, he served as a Director at Innov8 VC, Singtel’s investment fund, and built Singtel’s innovation center from the ground up, developing the organization’s activities in Israel and throughout Europe.

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Narine Emdjian

Founder at iFund Lab | Federal Funding Expert helping startups & tech entrepreneurs to raise non-dilutive funding through SBIR & other federal funding programs.