Investment Round: Elvie, Octopus, Kuaishou, Nested, Zenreach

Alex Spencer

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 firms to pushing the capabilities of mobile marketing further.

Elvie lands $5m for female-focused health tech
Elvie – creator of a pelvic floor exercise tracker and paired app for women - has raised £5m in a Series A funding round.

Elvie will use the funds to roll out into 25 additional countries across America, Europe and Asia-Pacific – on top of the 59 it already operates in – and launch a second device aimed specifically at new mothers, both before the end of 2017.

The funding round was led by Octopus Ventures, along with VC AllBright. The company has formerly received investment from the likes of Google Maps founder Lars Rasmussen, Lulu founder Alexandra Chong and NJF Capital founder Nicole Junkermann.

“Our mission is to become the leader in femtech by improving the health and wellness of women everywhere and at all stages of their life through smarter technology,” said CEO and co-founder Tania Boler.

Octopus Ventures extends AI investment fund
Octopus Ventures has raised a £120m tech investment fund to supporting AI startups in the UK.

The VC firm is planning to participate in the Seed rounds of two AI startups over the coming months.

Tech firms which Octopus has invested in previously include Lovefilm, Zoopla and Kabbee. The three AI startups in its portfolio – SwiftKey, Evi and Magic Pony – have all been acquired, by Microsoft, Amazon and Twitter respectively.

“We have expertise in the machine-learning field, but the challenge today is pretty much every business that comes through to us is machine learning or artificial intelligence,” Octopus CEO Alex Macpherson told the FT.

Tencent leads $350m investment in Kuaishou
Chinese photo app firm Kuaishou has raised $350m (£279m) in a funding round led by Tencent.

Kuaishou, founded in 2011, offers an Instagram-style photo sharing app with 400m users, plus a more recently-introduced live streaming video service, which has picked up 50m daily users.

The funding comes ahead of a rumoured IPO in the US later this year, with the company valued at $3bn, according to TechCrunch.

Kuaishou will investment the money into product R&D and specifically AI. It also plans to work with Tencent and previous investor Baidu – an impressive pairing of companies, essentially tech royalty in China – on product, tech and distribution.

Nested raises £8bn
Nested, a property tech firm with the USP of a guaranteed sale within 90 days for people who list a house for sale on its service, has raised £8bn in a funding round led by Passion, along with GFC.

The company provides instant online valuation – worked out by its algorithm, based on a combination of publicly available data and info entered by the homeowner – and promises to sell it for at least 95 per cent of this valuation within three months. If properties don’t sell in this time, Nested will buy the property and keep attempting to sell it.

“Our ability to secure millions of pounds worth of funding just months after starting reflects the high demand among consumers and the recognition that this sector sorely needs to innovate,” said Nested CEO Matt Robinson. “After just four months we are processing five sales a month, and have demand for far more – I see no impediment to us doing 100 sales per month or more by the end of the year.”

Offline marketing offering attracts $30m for Zenreach
Zenreach has raised $30m for its wi-fi platform, which helps brick-and-mortar businesses build CRM and marketing campaigns through a wi-fi hotspot.

Investors include Maverick Ventures, Founders Fund, 8 VC, Bain Capital Ventures, First Round Capital, and SV Angel, plus NBA player Kevin Durant and actor Ashton Kutcher.

This funding brings Zenreach’s total to date to $80m, which it says will be used to expand into ‘new initiatives and new markets’.