Deals of the Week, March 8 to March 12 – GrowthBusiness roundup

Growth Business roundup of Deals of the Week, March 8 to March 12, listing seed funding, venture capital and crowdfunding deals of note

Zego becomes UK’s first insurtech unicorn

Commercial motor insurer Zego has become the UK’s first insurtech unicorn after raising $150m (£107m), valuing the company at $1.1bn. Zego will use the funding to expand across Europe and beyond and to double its workforce to over 500 employees. DST Global led the Series C funding round with other new backers including General Catalyst. All existing investors followed on, including Transferwise founder Taavet Hinrikus, who sits on Zego’s board, as well as Target Global, Balderton Capital and Latitude.

Pluto goes into orbit with £29m third round

Pluto Digital Assets, a crypto venture capitalist, has closed $40m (£29m) in funding bringing its total assets under management to $50m. This is within just 50 days of being established. Argo Blockchain led this third funding round alongside Pires Investments and Riverfort Global Opportunities. In addition to investing in new cryptocurrency issuances and digital assets at seed level, Pluto is active in the booming non-fungible token (NFT) collectables market and is actively curating a private collection, with the first pieces to be unveiled shortly.

Ibex gets £27m boost for AI-powered cancer diagnostics

Ibex Medical Analytics has raised $38m (£27m) to accelerate adoption of its AI-powered cancer diagnostics. Octopus Ventures and 83North led the Series B round, with additional participation from aMoon, Planven Entrepreneur Ventures and Dell Technologies Capital, the corporate venture arm of Dell Technologies. This brings total funding of Ibex to $52m. Ibex’s AI technology helps doctors and healthcare professionals diagnose cancer with greater accuracy.

Preply gets top marks with £25m Series B round

Language learning platform Preply has raised $35m (£25m) in Series B funding, a sum which exceeds the total raised since 2013. Owl Ventures and Full In Partners led the round, with participation from previous investors Point Nine Capital, Hoxton Ventures and All Iron.

Preply said it has had an exceptional year, driven by the interest in remote learning triggered by Covid, with its number of students and tutors and overall revenues all quadrupling. The UK is Preply’s biggest market with 20 per cent of students learning Spanish, followed by English, French, Arabic and Italian.

Scoro scores £12m Series B funding round

Scoro, the work management software for professional services, has closed a $16.4m (£11.7m) Series B funding round led by Kennet Partners. Additional investors included Columbia Lake Partners, Inventure, Livonia Partners and Tera Ventures. The money will be used for international expansion as Scoro rolls out French and Spanish versions of its software.

Octopus Ventures ploughs £8m in Wefarm

Wefarm, the text-messaging platform for small-scale farmers, has closed a $11m (£8m) Series A funding round. The money will develop the free AI-driven SMS service into an online platform for its 2.5m users. The round was led by Octopus Ventures, with participation from new and existing investors, including True Ventures, Rabo Frontier Ventures, LocalGlobe, June Fund and AgFunder. This round of investment brings Wefarm’s total funding to $32 million. Until now Wefarm has used SMS technology because many of the world’s farmers are out of range of 4G or 5G mobile coverage – despite this, the Wefarm marketplace has generated $27m in sales since 2015.

Brit-Pol hauls in £2.5m invoice discounting facility

Bibby Financial Services has closed a £2.5m invoice discounting facility for family-run haulage firm Brit-Pol, whose footprint includes Germany, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and the UK. Established in 2011 by brothers Adam and Sebastian Zegocki with just one truck and one customer, the company now has a fleet of 90 trucks in the UK, 40 trucks and 300 trailers in Europe and an annual income of £15m.

Verofax finds treasure from Trove

Verofax, an anti-counterfeiting platform, has secured $1.2m (£859,000) in seed funding led by London-based Trove Capital. Other investors included MFD Holding, Kepler Fund Managers, and Casablanca Holding. Verofax uses blockchain to help combat fake goods, which exceed 20 per cent of global trade in some industries totalling $1.7tr of losses globally.

Seedrs finds its Passion Capital

Early-stage VC fund Passion Capital has opened up its third £45m fund to investors registered with the Seedrs platform. This is the first time a Europe-based VC fund has opened up to crowd investors. Passion Capital has already made 11 new investments from Passion Capital Fund III, which qualifying Seedrs investors can be a part of, with a further 15-20 new investments to be made. To date, Passion Capital has made 81 tech investments in companies worth more than £3bn, including Monzo, GoCardless, Butternut Box, Adzuna, and Marshmallow.

ARIE Capital start-ups to float on Tel Aviv stock exchange

Two tech start-ups backed by Arie Capital plan to hold an initial public offering within the next few weeks. SatixFy, a satellite technology firm, and Cipia, in-car driver monitoring software, both plan to list on the Tel Aviv stock exchange, with valuations of $400m and in excess of $150m respectively. The boutique VC firm initially invested in both companies about three years ago.

“SatixFy and Cipia were two of the earliest companies that we identified when we first formed ARIE Capital back in 2016,” said ARIE Capital CEO and co-founder Simon Tobelem. “They fit perfectly into our strategy of identifying some of the most exciting Israeli technologies that were out there and represented exactly the kind of growth potential that we now see coming to fruition.”

Further reading

Deals of the week, February 28 to March 5 – GrowthBusiness roundup

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