LBS Ventures Spotlight
Update #2, February 2022
LBS eclipses Switzerland and Portugal in VC funding!
That's a big statement. But so it's the news.
In 2021, LBS alumni received $4 billion of startup funding, more than the capital raised in Switzerland and Portugal combined. So far, 6 companies started by LBS alumni reached unicorn status:
Livspace, one of Asia’s largest home interior and renovation platforms
Wayflyer, a revenue-based financing platform for e-commerce companies
Razor Group, which aggregates and scales up Amazon FBA businesses
Feedzai, AI-powered risk management for financial services to detect fraud
Zepz, a digital cross-border payments platform with 11+ users in 150 countries
HelloFresh, a company offering weekly home-delivered meal kits
Interested in finding the next LBS startup to join the unicorn club? Read on!
LBS Funding Recap | Jan-Feb 2022
Ventures founded by LBS alumni continued to gather investors' interests in the first two months of 2022, closing funding rounds across different stages.
How many? We are listing 3 below, but if you send us an email with your guess, we will let you know the right number and send over the complete list!
Ridge, an Isreali managed web services provider allowing developers to deploy cloud-native applications anywhere users are located, raised a $22M round led by NFX
Workwize, a Dutch digital procurement platform empowering employees to work from home efficiently, raised a €1.5M round led by Peak Capital
Databook, a US customer intelligence platform to boost enterprise sales performance, raised a $50M Series B led by Bessemer Venture Partners
For this edition of the Spotlight, we have talked with two amazing founders: Cong Le, MBA'22, co-founder and COO at Blockchain Monster Hunt, a multi-chain Pokémon-style game; and Etienne Louvet-de Verchère, MiM’21 co-founder and CEO at IONA, an autonomous drone company enabling deliveries in low-density rural areas.
Hunting Blockchain monsters - Cong Le, MBA'22
With NFTs finding their way into gaming, we have started to see a little bit into what the future of gaming could be like. The invention of NFT allows users to have full ownership and control of their in-game assets, which is a remarkable development and has the potential to revolutionize the gaming space in the coming years. However, the NFT game market today mostly consists of games that are not yet completely decentralized and on-chain, essential factors that compose a true blockchain game.
Guess what? A serial gaming entrepreneur and 2 ex-Google and Facebook software engineers are here to change that! They hope to utilize their multi-chain infrastructure and provide a plug-in solution to integrate different chains for other games that want to go multi-chain. They also aspire to be the pioneers in the multi-chain movement as they believe multi-chain will be the next breakthrough in the crypto market, connecting the vastly fragmented blockchain communities together and reducing dependency on any single blockchain.
How? Through Blockchain Monster Hunt - a multi-chain NFT game where players can hunt, collect, battle, and train rare NFTs born from the blockchain within the multiverse (multi-chain metaverse). Their game aims to provide users with an innovative experience that allows them to interact with different blockchains, such as Ethereum, Binance Smart Chain, Polygon, Avalanche, Moonbeam, and many more to be integrated.
Further, the team looks to build cross-chain capabilities that bring high added value to the crypto space. For example, the team is currently developing an in-house cross-chain infrastructure such as bridges where users can transfer NFT and token between any two chains. What’s more, they’re creating the coveted play-to-earn possibility for players.
In September 2021, they raised $3.8M USD raised in a private funding round led by Animoca Brands and other investors including some notable infrastructure partners such as Polygon. By October 2021, they listed the project's governance token and integrated it into their ecosystem of 6 blockchains including ETH, BSC, Polygon, Moonbeam, KCC, and Avalanche (received grant from Moonbeam). By November 2021, they had sold 15,000 Genesis NFTs in collaboration with 10 launchpads for $3M USD. And, by December 2021, they had conducted 4 versions of the Open Beta Test and successfully launched on Jan 25, 2022.
Drone deliveries in rural areas - Etienne Louvet, MiM'21
Over the last decade, we have witnessed a revolution in home deliveries, with fulfillment times shrinking from several days to less than 24 hours, or rather 30 minutes for the most popular SKUs. Yet, while the quick commerce economy is exploding in urban areas, the situation looks very different in low-density rural areas. There, deliveries are not only slower but also much more polluting and expensive, with customers incurring delivery surcharges between 30% and 50% compared to urban areas.
To address these problems, Etienne Louvet-de Verchère (MiM'21) and Paulo Geraldes (EMBA'16) have founded IONA, which designs and operates decentralized networks of autonomous drones running on green electricity for day-to-day deliveries. IONA promises to provide a green alternative that reduces costs by 20% to 70%, while also unlocking a wide range of delivery options for residents of rural areas like local food and same-day parcel deliveries.
IONA insources R&D to create modular and fit-for-purpose drones while outsourcing manufacturing to build scale. According to Etienne, competitors either rely on non-scalable cost structures – using third-party technologies that impact maintenance costs at scale – or use drones that have been designed for different purposes (e.g., filmmaking, medical equipment) and are therefore poorly suited for day-to-day deliveries
To achieve this vision, IONA can count on a strong technical team. The CTO, Paulo Geraldes, Ph.D., has 20 years of experience in aviation and drones including as Head of Project Management Office for DE&S (UK Ministry of Defence). IONA's Lead Engineer and Aerodynamicist, Saïf-Deen Akanni, Ph.D., has founded an award-winning drone engines company and has 30 years of relevant experience, including roles at Airbus and as a Senior Aerodynamicist for Ferrari-Hass F1 Team.
Drones will generate £42B in net benefits to the UK economy by 2030 (PwC), and IONA estimates its Serviceable Obtainable Market to worth £650 in the UK (£10B in Europe). The company plans to operate as both a 3PL provider and a marketplace on which consumers and local businesses can trade in a decentralized and autonomous way.
IONA is currently raising a £150k SEIS to complete the production phase and aims to start the first drone flights this Summer. It will initially target Scotland, where households pay £45M each year in delivery surcharges but plans to expand in 2023 to the rest of the UK – where the government has unlocked £65M through Innovate UK for the Future Flight Challenge Phase 3 – and in Europe.
Like what you read? Get in touch with IONA on LinkedIn or by email, and access their pitch deck here.
Announcements and upcoming events
eClub Podcast Launch
New #podcast alert! In the second episode, James Chappell, Founder & Chief Innovation Officer at Digital Shadows, talks to us about the early days of Digital Shadows and his decision to become an #entrepreneur in the #cybersecurity space, the collaboration with his co-founder, their fundraising journey, and their partnership with Storm Ventures.
Follow Season 1 of the LBS Entrepreneurship Club's podcast 'Those who launched: The pilots and the propellant' where our host, Eleanna Sfyra Ragkousi MiFPT2022, talks with #venturecapitalists and #founders from their portfolio companies to learn the tricks and challenges of building a business.
🎙 Listen now
Eclub flagship events: Launchpad & Booster
The final pitching nights of our two flagship initiatives will be on April 26th (Booster) and May, 11th (Launchpad). As a reminder, these are mentorship programs to help LBS students launch (Launchpad) and scale (Booster) their ventures.
If you would like to participate as a judge or be involved as a mentor, please drop an email to email@example.com or leave a comment below! We would love to have you 😊
Do you have any comments or feedback? Get in Touch!