Her Black Book co-founders Sali Sasi and Julie Stevanja. Source: Supplied
The total amount raised by startups this week may be substantially lower than the past two weeks, but the companies with fresh funding are no less interesting.
In this week’s funding round-up, we have an SME lender, three quantum computing startups with government grants and an online shopping app that’s also changed its name.
Take a look at eight Aussie startups that together raised $30.2 million this week.
Lumi founder and chief executive officer Yanir Yakutiel. Source: supplied.
Small business lender Lumi has added $15 million to its warchest in a raise that values the fintech at more than $100 million, according to the AFR.
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Lumi was founded in August 2018 by former Sail Funding founder Yanir Yakutiel with an ambitious goal to shake up the alternative lending space for SMEs. It quickly raised $31.5 million in debt and equity funding in its first three months of operating, and followed that up with $8 million in May 2019, $20 million in December 2021, and $10 million in February 2022.
Lumi promises small businesses quick access to loans and lines of credit. Loans of up to $500,000 are available to small businesses, with term lengths of up to three years, along with lines of credit up to $500,000.
For some low doc, unsecured loans, eligible businesses can apply online in five minutes for up to $300,000, with the startup pledging to respond within two hours and if approved, get the funds to the business on the same day.
Speaking to the AFR, Yakutiel said the latest raise will position the company “to continue increasing the size of the business and the profitability”.
The co-founders of Verve. Source: Supplied
Women-focused financial services company Verve has secured $3 million via an oversubscribed pre-Series A round to launch its new ethical investing platform, Verve Money.
Co-founder Christina Hobbs told SmartCompany this week that the new capital, which was led by impact-focused family office Alberts, will go towards the Verve Money platform, as well as Verve Super, the superannuation fund Hobbs founded with Alex Andrews and Zoe Lamont in late 2018.
The Verve Money investment app, launched on July 17, allows investors to select from one of three ethically curated portfolios, which are designed with different goal time frames in mind, ranging in risk level and anticipated returns.
Each portfolio is ethically screened and also includes impact-focused alternative investments, including a minimum 20% investment of each portfolio in climate solutions.
Verve currently has close to 9,000 members across the two products, Verve Super and Verve Money, and over 25,000 members in its community.
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Sydney-based Diraq was one of three quantum computing startups to receive grant funding from the NSW government last month, with details of the recipients of the Quantum Computing Commercialisation Fund (QCCF) made available this week.
Diraq will receive around $3 million from the fund to commercialise its first product, a cloud-accessible 10-qubit processor, over a three-year period.
Diraq was founded by CEO Andrew Dzurak, the Scientia Professor in Quantum Engineering at UNSW Sydney, and its team is leveraging more than two decades of engineering and research expertise at the university.
The one-off $7 million QCCF is a competitive funding program administered by the Office of the NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer within Investment NSW, which is a division of the NSW Government Department of Enterprise, Investment and Trade (DEIT).
More information about the recipients is available here.
Andrex Cox of Sensor Global. Source: Supplied
Proptech startup Sensor Global also raised this week, bagging $2.65 million in seed funding from well-known property investors for its Internet of Things (IoT) solutions for residential property, with the first being a smart smoke alarm that will launch later this month.
The startup, which is headed by veteran proptech innovator Andrew Cox, is set to launch its first IoT sensor in Australia in late July. The company has already pre-sold its patented devices to community housing and selected property managers.
Property business investors including Shane Oswin, David Lynas and David Welsh participated in the seed round together with Causeway Equities LLC and Second Century Ventures, the VC arm of the National Association of Realtors in the USA, through its REACH Australia accelerator.
The company says the successful funding round, which was achieved within 90 days, has also prompted discussions for a second series to raise an additional $2.4 million to support the company’s US expansion later this year.
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Q-CTRL founder Michael Biercuk (right) with Square Peg Capital investment partner Tushar Roy. Source: Supplied.
Sydney-based Q-CTRL has also received a grant funded from the QCCF in NSW, with the quantum computing startup to get $2.3 million from the fund for its project to create a hybrid quantum computing SaaS product for the financial sector.
The project aims to create technology that neutralises errors within hybrid quantum computers that prevent them from solving optimisation problems for financial companies.
Q-CTRL was founded in 2017 and has previously raised significant venture capital, including $35 million in a Series B round in December 2021 and $22 million in September 2019.
Her Black Book co-founders Julie Stevanja and Sali Sasi. Source: supplied.
Serial entrepreneurs Sali Sasi and Julie Stevanja have raised $1.8 million to relaunch their curated shopping, discovery, and discounts app Her Black Book as Wrapd.ai, to attract more male shoppers and take the startup global.
The new funding comes from existing investors, Afterpay’s Touch Ventures and former Tattarang boss Andrew Hagger, as well as Islero Capital chief executive Samantha van Gelder, according to the AFR.
Twin sisters Sasi and Stevanja founded the startup in November 2021, 10 years after they launched activewear retailer Stylerunner, which fell into receivership in 2019 before being acquired by Accent Group weeks later.
In March 2022, the sisters raised $1.6 million in seed funding for their latest venture, and 12 months later, launched Festival of Her, a successful online shopping event celebrating women-led fashion brands that reached nearly 1 million people on its first day.
According to the AFR, the startup had raised a total of around $4 million in funding prior to the last round, and while men have used the app from the start, the founders also received feedback that some men thought the business’ name made it sound like a “dating service”.
“We want to be gender-agnostic and open up to a broader audience, and that will be of great benefit to our retailers, too,” Stevanja said.
Quantum Brilliance co-founders: Mark Luo, Dr. Marcus Doherty and Dr. Andrew Horsley
The third Sydney-based quantum computing startup to receive grant funding from the NSW government is Quantum Brilliance, which will receive $1.4 million from the QCCF.
The funds will go towards building the startup’s Qristal Emulator, a software package that is run on regular computers but emulates quantum hardware.
Like Q-CTRL, Quantum Brilliance has also previously raised venture capital, including US$18 million ($25.7 million) in February this year and a $13.4 million round of investment back in 2021.
Founded in 2019, the startup has been developing an international business for its miniaturised quantum computers that use synthetic diamonds to run at room temperature, and last year partnered with La Trobe University and RMIT to establish a Research Hub for Diamond Quantum Materials.
RecycleSmart co-founders Marco Prayer and Giorgio Barracchi (right) with a RecycleSmart customer. Source: supplied.
Plastics recycling startup RecycleSmart also has $1 million in fresh funding to continue building out its platform that helps households get rid of hard-to-recycle plastics by picking them up from a customer’s doorstep.
The materials, including soft plastics, clothes, shoes and small e-waste, are then sorted and transferred to specialist recycling operators, including APR Plastics, Mobile Muster, and the Red Cross, which accepts unwanted but wearable clothing.
Late last week, the startup completed its Birchal equity crowdfunding campaign, having raised a total of $1.04 million from 965 investors.
RecycleSmart has already been working with NSW councils and now hopes to expand to other capital cities with both direct-to-consumer and business-to-business offerings.
The first stop will be launching in Melbourne, says co-founder and chief technical officer Marco Prayer, with the startup planning to extend its coverage to as many major metro areas as possible by the end of 2023.
“We need to make sure that the recyclers have the capacity to manage, that we have the right infrastructure in place, that everything is safe, but so far, so good,” Prayer told SmartCompany on Monday.
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