Investment Round: WorldRemit, Compass, Stagedoor, Chattermill, Heartbeat, MishiPay

Investment Round is our weekly update on which firms have secured new funding, which areas are seeing the most financing, and who is putting up the cash that enables these companies to keep pushing the capabilities of mobile marketing further.

WorldRemit raises $40m to target 5m customers in Africa
Digital money transfer service WorldRemit has raised $40m (£30m) to drive the next phase of its global growth, aiming to serve 10m customers connected to emerging markets. Half of these customers will be in Africa.

As part of the expansion, WorldRemit will enable customers in Africa to transfer money to 148 countries as easily as sending an instant message, using the WorldRemit app. Countries in Africa which now receive remittances through WorldRemit will also become send countries. Most importantly, the new service will make sending money within Africa faster, easier and less expensive. According to the World Bank, inter-Africa transfers are currently amongst the most expensive in the world.

Money transfers to Africa account for more than half of WorldRemit’s total volume of transactions. The company currently handles 74 per cent of remittances to popular mobile money services across Africa such as MTN, Ecocash, Tigo Pesa, Vodafone M-Pesa and Airtel Money.

The Series C round was led by LeapFrog Investments, a dedicated equity investor in emerging markets. Existing investors Accel and Technology Crossover Ventures (TCV) also participated.

The latest funding round follows a Series B investment raised from TCV in 2015 and a Series A from Accel and Project A in 2014. In total, WorldRemit has raised $220m to date, and since the 2015 funding round has launched 206 new services across the globe and grown transaction volume by 400 per cent.

“This new funding will fuel our growth, and help bring our service to millions more customers across the globe,” said WorldRemit founder and CEO, Ismail Ahmed. “Africa is a crucial market for us and over the next few years, we will expand our services so customers can send and receive with WorldRemit, getting the benefits of our fast, secure online service.”

Property startup secures $500m
Real estate startup Compass has raised a cool half billion dollars, taking in $450m from the SoftBank Vision Fund, with another $50m in secondary deals. The deals take the company’s funding to $775m, valuing it at $2.2bn.

Compass currently operates in 10 US cities but has visions of going global and this latest round of funding will help accelerate that process. The company matches buyers and sellers of upmarket residential properties, aiming to streamline the process of buying or selling a house or apartment, and taking a cut of the sale price for its efforts.

The company is led by co-founders Ori Allon and Robert Reffkin. Allon sold a previous company, Julpan, to Twitter in 2011, and prior to that, he sold an algorithm called Orion that helps search engines to produce relevant results, to Google.

Stagedoor busts Seedrs funding target with £312,000 in three weeks
Theatre discovery app Stagedoor has raised £312,000 in the first three weeks of its Seedrs crowdfunding campaign, easily surpassing its goal of £200,000.

Stagedoor has decided to close the Seedrs campaign at £350,000, so potential investors need to move fast if they want to take a stake in the company at this stage. So far, the app has proved popular with investors from across the theatre and tech industries in the UK and abroad. The money raised in this round will be used to help the Stagedoor app reach 100,000 users in London and expand to New York.

Stagedoor helps users discover and book shows in London via personalised recommendations that take into account their preferences, as well as those of their friends. The app is also home to a fast-growing community of user-reviewers who leave thousands of comments to guide their fellow theatre-goers.

Prior to crowdfunding with Seedrs, Stagedoor raised €230,000 (£203,000) from angel investors and €135,000 in the form of an EU innovation grant. The company is currently valued at £2.5m.

Heartbeat secures $1m to develop its brand endoresment platform
Two-way brand endorsement platform Heartbeat has closed a $1m seed round, led by Sinai Ventures, backers of Pinterest and Compass, along with Firebrand Ventures. Heartbeat’s existing investors also took part in the funding round. The investment brings Heartbeat’s funding to $2.9m to date.

Heartbeat aims to make social campaign spend more effective by enabling brands to engage in a direct conversation with consumers through trusted friends, which are part of Heartbeat’s extensive network of more than 145,000 millennial and generation Z Ambassadors. They create and share content about these brands and why they love them with their friends, in an attempt to create authentic connections between brands and consumers.

Since launching last year, the company has enabled numerous influencer campaigns in partnership with premium brands including H&M, Amazon, Bebe, Warner Bros, and Saks Fifth Avenue. Additionally, the company has formed strategic partnerships with generation Z and female-focused agencies including Clique Media Group, W Promote and AwesomenessTV. Heartbeat’s total audience reach has grown to more than 526m consumers. Its 145,000 Ambassadors currently generate over 100m likes and over 9m comments weekly.

The company offers granular targeting and segmentation capabilities to ensure brands reach the right audience, based on interests, location, shopping habits and more. Brands can then choose from seven types of marketing campaigns, such as a new product launch or driving increased sales on-site. Once a campaign launches, Ambassadors begin publishing user generated content immediately, enabling brands to review insights and optimize campaigns in real-time from an analytics dashboard.

£600,000 for deep learning customer feedback analysis firm

Chattermill, which deploys deep learning tech to understand what customers are talking about and how they feel about their experiences with brands, has closed a seed funding round of £600,000 from Entrepreneur First, Avonmore Developments and angel investors including Jeff Kelisky, CEO of Seedrs.

This seed round is in addition to an earlier round in 2016 from the same group of investors, bringing the total raised to date to £935,000. The company was co-founded by Mikhail Dubov and Dmitry Isupov in 2015.

Chattermill counts numerous fast-growth businesses in its client base, including Transferwise, Deliveroo, HelloFresh and Just Eat, as well as more traditional businesses including TSB.

The company collates all feedback channels in one place and then builds a customised deep learning model to extract actionable insight. It can then measure sentiment to see how customers are feeling about each part of the overall brand experience, from the design of the app down to speed of delivery and attitude of customer care agents.

Chattermill integrates with tools such Saleforce, SurveyMonkey and Zendesk that a company may already have in place, aggregating every piece of feedback such as Net Promoter Score surveys, reviews, support tickets and social media, for a thorough analysis of the customer experience.

Chattermill CEO and co-founder Mikhail Dubov said: “We’ve been lucky enough to help some of the world’s most customer centric businesses see genuine value by understanding their users at scale. Our platform not only challenges their assumptions, but gives them incredibly detailed insight in real-time, at a fraction of the cost of traditional customer experience research.”

£1.65m seed funding for self-checkout firm MishiPay
MishiPay, which has developed technology to enable consumers to self-checkout via its app in participating retailers, has raised £1.65m in seed capital from Nauta Capital.

MishiPays tech allows shoppers to pick up a product, scan the barcode with their phone, pay with their phone and simply walk out with it, or choose home delivery. It provides a fully theft-proof scan, pay and leave solution that eliminates queuing in retail outlets. And it does not require the consumer to interact with the in-store checkout system.

If a shopper tries to leave a store without paying for an item, the RFID tag will trigger the alarm. But if they have paid using MishiPay, the RFID security system is disabled, enabling them to leave the store with the goods they have paid for, without triggering the alarm.