Zyl raises $1.1 million to resurface old memories from your photos – gpgmail


French startup Zyl has raised $1 million (€1 million) in a round led by OneRagtime. The company has developed an app that uses artificial intelligence to find the most interesting photos and videos in your photo library.

Now that smartphones have been around for a while, many people have thousands of unsorted photos on their iPhone or Android device. And chances are you don’t often scroll back to look at past vacations and important life events.

Zyl is well aware of that. That’s why the company does the heavy lifting for you. The app scans your photo library to find important memories and photos you may have forgotten. It has even registered patents for some of its algorithms.

But identifying photos and videos is just one thing. In order to turn that process into a fun, nostalgia-powered experience, the app sends you a notification every day to tell you that Zyl has identified a new memory — they call it a Zyl. When you tap on it, the app reveals that memory and you can share it with your friends and family.

You then have to wait another 24 hours to unlock another Zyl. That slow-paced approach is key as you spend more time looking at Zyls and sharing them with loved ones.

It’s also worth noting that Zyl processes your photo library on your iPhone or Android device directly. Photos aren’t sent to the company’s server.

Up next, Zyl plans to enrich your collection of Zyls with more photos and videos from your friends and family. You could imagine a way to seamlessly share photos of the same life event with your loved ones, even if they are currently spread out over multiple smartphones.

With today’s funding round, the company wants to improve the app and reach millions of users. Zyl already has impressive retention rates with 38% of users opening the app regularly during 5 weeks or more.


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Akeneo raises $45 million for its product information management service – gpgmail


French startup Akeneo has raised a $45 million Series C round led by Summit Partners, with existing investors Alven, Partech, Salesforce Ventures and Stephan Dietrich also participating. The company develops a popular product information management (PIM) service to manage all information about products in your stores, online and in paper catalogs.

Akeneo started as a sort of CRM for product information. Instead of managing your catalog using Excel spreadsheets or an outdated ERP, Akeneo provides a service that works across all your communication channels. You can also collaborate in Akeneo directly.

Akeneo started as an open source PIM application. Today, thousands companies actively use that open source version. But Akeneo also offers an enterprise edition with a more traditional software-as-a-service approach. The startup has managed to attract 300 clients, such as Sephora, Fossil and Auchan.

“With the open source edition, we have 60,000 companies actively using Akeneo. It means that we are the most used PIM solution in the world,” co-founder and CEO Frédéric de Gombert told me.

Over the years, Akeneo has expanded beyond product information management. The company acquired Sigmento, a startup that collects public data about millions of products in order to automatically generate descriptions, specifications, keywords and more.

Akeneo has integrated Sigmento into its core product and now has a database of 50 million different products. Akeneo uses machine learning to clean up that data set. For Akeneo customers, it lets you automate several tasks and fix mistakes in specifications for instance.

“Investing in this technology is one of the goals of this funding round,” Frédéric de Gombert said.

With today’s funding round, the company also wants to hire more people and focus even more on the U.S. — it currently has 180 employees and they will be 300 by the end of 2020. 75% of its revenue is coming from abroad, and the company generates 20% of its revenue in the U.S.


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Spendesk raises $38.4 million for its corporate card and expense service – gpgmail


French startup Spendesk has raised another $38.4 million Series B round with existing investor Index Ventures leading the round. The company has raised $49.4 million (€45 million) over the years.

Spendesk is an all-in-one corporate expense and spend management service. It lets you track expenses across your company, empower your employees with a clear approval process and simplify your bookkeeping.

The service essentially works like Revolut or N26, but for corporate needs. After you sign up, you get your own Spendesk account with an IBAN. You can top up that account and define different sets of policies.

For instance, you can set payment limits depending on everyone’s job and define who’s in charge of approving expensive payments. After that, everyone can generate virtual cards for online payments and get a physical card for business travel.

When you’re on the road, you can pay directly using Spendesk just like any corporate card. If you have to pay in cash or with another card, you can take a photo of the receipt from the Spendesk mobile app and get your money back.

Many Spendesk users also leverage the service for other use cases. For instance, you can define a marketing budget and let the marketing team spend it on Facebook or Google ads using a virtual card.

You can also track all your online subscriptions from the Spendesk interface to make sure that you don’t pay for similar tools. If you hire freelancers, you can also upload all your invoices to the platform, export an XML with your outstanding invoices and import it to your banking portal.

Spendesk tries to be smarter than legacy expense solutions. For instance, the company tries to leverage optical character recognition (OCR) to match receipts with payments, autofill the VAT rate, etc.

With today’s funding round, the company plans to open offices in Berlin and London, add more currencies and develop new features. Over the past year, the company went from 20 employees to 120 employees. There are now 1,500 companies using Spendesk in Europe.


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Upflow grabs $2.7 million to streamline payment processes – gpgmail


French startup Upflow has raised a $2.7 million funding round (€2.5 million) from Kima Ventures, eFounders and various business angels. The company tracks your outstanding invoices and makes sure you get paid on time.

If you’re running a small company, chances are you’re using Excel spreadsheets to enter invoice information, check your company’s bank account every day and manually tag invoices that have been paid.

Microsoft Excel has been such a powerful tool for so many different use cases that plenty of startups are trying to replace it — I call this phenomenon The Great Unbundling of Excel. And Upflow is one of those startups.

If you want to replace a system that works well, you need to make it radically better. In order to do that, Upflow has created a payment brick that sits between your bank account and your customers.

Every time you send an invoice, you can write an email from the Upflow interface so that the entire sales team is on the same page. Making this experience collaborative with a software-as-a-service approach is already a big improvement over Excel spreadsheets.

Your invoice features banking information for your Upflow account. When your customer transfers the money, Upflow can instantly mark an invoice as paid. The startup transfers money back to your company’s bank account every day.

Over time, you get insights about your recurring customers, you can see how much money your clients collectively owe you and you can send reminders to late clients.

If you want to read more about Upflow, you can read my profile of the company.


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Lime stops working with freelancers in Paris – gpgmail


Scooter startup Lime is ending the juicer model in Paris. The company has announced that it will stop working with freelancers to recharge scooter batteries at night. Lime is switching to Amazon’s model by partnering with third-party companies.

Lime has often been criticized for relying on freelancers to take care of its scooters. As Libération reported back in May, the company used to pay freelancers €20 per scooter and slowly decreased that amount to €5 per scooter.

Juicers received a notification today telling them that their accounts will be deactivated in 45 days. The company probably doesn’t want to end the juicer program overnight so that freelancers have enough time to look for another job.

After that, Lime isn’t going to hire all juicers directly. The company is now looking for third-party companies that can help them manage the scooter fleet in Paris.

Lime says that those companies will have to comply with multiple quality and safety standards. For instance, the company will first select companies that use electric vehicles and renewable electricity. Based on wording, it seems like it doesn’t mean that all partners have to use electric vehicles and renewable electricity.

Finally, Lime says that former juicers will get some opportunities to become Lime employees. The company will also try to help some of them create a formal company to keep working with Lime.

This structure is quite reminiscent of Amazon in France. Amazon doesn’t hire delivery persons directly. They partner with third-party companies. Libération also reported that Amazon takes advantage of that relationship to foster productivity at all costs. If your company doesn’t perform well enough, Amazon just stops giving you packages to deliver.

Back in June, the City of Paris announced that it would clamp down on scooter startups. There are just too many of them currently operating in Paris. The city plans to select two or three companies and give them a license to operate.

It’s clear that Lime wants to improve its processes to get a license. Paris said that it would select companies based on how they pay workers charging scooters overnight and how they handle broken scooters.


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Health insurance startup Alan launches four new verticals – gpgmail


French startup Alan announced new products, international expansion plans and a brand refresh at a press conference this morning. The company also announced plans to overhaul some of its tech stack to improve the overall user experience.

Alan is a software-as-a-service startup that offers health insurance in France. The company wants to create a well-designed insurance product with transparent pricing and policies to make healthcare more accessible. The startup has obtained an official health insurance license and raised around $86 million over the years.

Until today, Alan offered insurance products to companies and freelancers. The startup is greatly expanding its potential user base by addressing new markets.

“Our users are smart. We already had users for all products that we’re launching today, but they were working around the rules,” co-founder and CEO Jean-Charles Samuelian said.

First, Alan is launching specific insurance products for the hospitality industry (hotels and restaurants). Companies and employees can sign up directly from the mobile app as people working in the hospitality industry don’t sit in front of a computer all day long.

These insurance products are now compliant with legal requirements for the hospitality industry. There are two different tiers, Alan Cerise with basic coverage for €30 per month and Alan Pomme with better coverage for €55 per month. As always, companies pay at least 50 percent of health insurance, employees pay the rest.

Alan is also launching an insurance product for individuals, not just freelancers. And it opens up three new segments — individuals who don’t work for a French company or have specific needs, retired people and public servants.

Starting today, teachers, retired people looking for a digital insurance product and other individuals can sign up to Alan. Pricing depends on your age. It ranges from €46 per month if you’re 18, €62 per month if you’re 30, €83 per month if you’re 50, €133 per month if you’re 70, etc.

When it comes to branding, Alan has worked with James Vincent on a new logo, a new color palette, a new mascot design, etc. The company is also launching a TV ad.

“Our mission is to be more than a health insurance company, we want to be your health ally,” Samuelian said.

Alan also shared some details about future product updates and business updates. The company is going to expand to other countries starting next year.

After looking at other European markets, Alan is going to focus on Spain and Belgium first. The startup doesn’t need to re-apply to a local license as it can passport its insurance license all around Europe.

Alan has also been working on a big overhaul of its tech stack. The company has been working with a third-party company to handle payments and reimbursements in order to launch more quickly.

But Alan started working on its own payment system. 30 percent of the engineering team is going to work on that project from May 2019 to December 2019. And the goal is to make payments 10 times faster after the switch. Sending a dentist or optician quote to see if Alan is going to cover you is going to be much faster as well.

There are now 126 people working for Alan. 2,850 French companies use Alan to cover 37,000 people. It represents $31 million in annual recurring revenue (€28 million). And the company still has a ton of cash on its bank account — around $61 million (€55 million).

Over the next 12 months, the company wants to cover 100,000 people and have a team of 250 employees. In other words, things are looking good.


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