This week has seen many exciting launches in the tech world!

Never have we appreciated tech more than at this time. As we are all staying at home, distanced and isolated from our loved ones here in the UK and across the world, we are all turning to tech to maintain contact. We are able to reach out digitally to help each other and even enjoy the simple things we took for granted before.   

For those of us lucky enough to be able to use tech to work from home, we appreciate that we are still able to do so as we respect and adhere to government advice to work from home. Online education platforms allow us to remotely teach our children, streaming services keep us entertained and libraries of online learning material help us fill our time productively. 

In a week where so much around us seems to have slowed it was heartening to flick through the tech pages and find there were still some things going ahead. This week we have chosen to focus on launches. As such, Our Week in Digital peers into the products and companies who prove there will be a horizon to the sorrow and worry that is sweeping our globe at the moment.

Our launches edition includes stories such as Revolut’s journey into the US and Hammersmith welcoming a new face – Lanistar, who aim to revolutionise banking for Millenials. RPA and Proptech also feature in our launches edition, having both launched new products that will help transform business processes and property management respectively.

A man uses his card to pay for something on his phone - this week has seen exciting launches for fintech

Revolut launches in the US.

Challenger bank, Revolut has more than 10 million customers across the UK and Europe. This week it looks set to significantly add to this number as Revolut launches in the United States.

Revolut launched in 2015 with the vision of building a financial super app. It was designed to help customers manage all their finances from a single app. Since then the company has raised more than $800m in funding, employs more than 2,000 people globally and has attracted a significant customer following.  

Since it hinted at a US launch earlier this year, Revolut has already attracted a mass of US customers.  

From this week, US customers can set themselves up with a Revolut account in minutes with a smartphone app. Once downloaded, customers simply enter their personal information and upload their ID. Once they have done so, their account should be approved and up and running in minutes.

As soon as the customer receives their details they can fully utilise the account; make payments and deposit a salary. Through a partnership with Metropolitan Commercial Bank, US customer deposits are fully FDIC insured up to the value of $250,000. US customers are also able to receive their salary up to two days in advance via direct deposit.

The Pros of challenger banks

Challenger banks’ services go over and above those of legacy institutions. This is something at the forefront of the Revolut mission. Nik Storonsky, Founder & CEO of Revolut has commented that “[customers] should have the tools to help them manage their money more conveniently and accurately”. With this in mind, Revolut customers can instantly send and request money to each other for free, split the bill at the tap of a button, and round-up every card purchase to the nearest dollar and save their spare change.

US customers can also transfer and spend money globally at the interbank exchange rate. In addition to this, they can hold and exchange 28 currencies in the app.

This premise is indicative of Revolut’s belief that the world is becoming more connected, and that the financial world needs to mirror this. Storonsky believes that the financial world should reflect and facilitate this digital connectivity rather than hinder it.  

NexBotix launches in the UK

Ignite has been vocal about the fact that RPA will be one of the key trends which will disrupt the tech space over 2020.  

This week Robot-Process-Automation (RPA) service, NexBotix has launched in the UK. The service helps businesses automate key processes.

It has a managed dashboard which can be applied to specific business objectives. This means that only the right processes are automated. The platform can be deployed into existing IT infrastructure in just 14 days. By streamlining in this way and working smarter, companies can see a return on their investment in as little as three months.

Indeed, in one case, the NetBotix platform helped a customer service organisation with 3,000 employees achieve an ROI of 802%. This contribution meant that the sales department of this particular company had made back its spend within just 30 days. 

The tech

NexBotix uses today’s leading technology from major vendors alongside its own NexBots. These include Microsoft, Google, IBM Watson, Automation Anywhere, NICE, UiPath and Abbyy.  

It has a ‘plug, play, and managed’ system which means that there’s minimal disruption to existing operations. It has no code to manage and so doesn’t require its users to be tech-savvy to get the best from it.

Perhaps this is why it can be used so broadly. NexBotix offers a low-cost solution for businesses across all areas of industry, including finance, banking, HR, IT, governance and compliance departments. It also covers other financial services, insurance, automotive, logistics, legal, retail and local government.

The platform is managed by a team of NexBotix experts. This negates the need for any company to have a dedicated technical resource looking after it. 

Its SaaS nature allows businesses to scale their operations up and down according to demand. This allows its human teams to focus on more high-value and rewarding tasks.   

Chris Porter, CEO of NexBotix, reports that this platform works alongside humans to “arrive at the best possible outcome; both in terms of efficiency and profitability”.  

NexBotix also provides real-time process analysis and performance data through NexAnalytics; the process analysis dashboard. To any 21st century business, data is king. Customer and sales insight is crucial if organisations are to target their resources to the most profitable and sensible business area. The NexAnalytics feature is key for businesses to manage and make such decisions with true clarity and insight.

Brex acquires 3 companies to help launch its bank alternative for startups. 

Traditional banks are often reluctant to lend to startups as they kick off their business journey. San Francisco based fintech, Brex has acquired three companies to help them give startups the financial springboard they need to get the money which the traditional big banks won’t lend them.

Neji, Compose Labs, Landria and 12 of their people join Brex for an undisclosed sum. The numbers may not have been made public, but we know that Brex isn’t short of capital. Thus far the Silicon Valley fintech has raised more than $300m in known venture capital from investors such as Kleiner Perkins, DST Global, Ribbit Capital and Y Combinator.

Looking more closely, each acquisition was most definitely strategic and each new entity will have its part to play!

Neji

Neji is a San Francisco-based startup that specializes in protecting customer data across multiple cloud deployments. Bank transactions require security…and lots of it. This acquisition will focus on making sure Brex Cash (the business cash management account that connects to the Brex Credit card) is secure.  

Compose Labs

Compose Labs powers information videos on coding and technology. It will help to capture data and analytics from Brex’s e-commerce credit card. This product is similar to Brex’s flagship credit card product. It includes partnerships with e-commerce tools and solutions. Co-founder of Brex, Henrique Dubugras says e-commerce has been a “fast-growing vertical” for Brex and that they are adding “engineering talent to specifically increase the number of data sources” used in underwriting and products around it. 

Landria

Finally, Landria helps companies organise and manage all their SaaS tools. Landria staff will help ensure transaction accuracy for customers.  

The deal

Although the deal may have been finalised this week, it has been a long-running conversation. Dubugras has confirmed that Brex began conversations with the three companies last autumn and closed the deals this quarter.  

These deals are a move from the company that confirms it is more than just a corporate credit card company. These acquisitions allow them to begin on the road to realising their dream of being a financial haven for startup enterprises. It also means they can add some significant expertise from other companies at the same time.

Since Brex’s journey began, it has largely been snapping at the heels of payment processing behemoth Stripe. Unlike Brex, Stripe has years of operation to prove why it should be trusted as a major fintech company. Perhaps these strategic acquisitions will add muscle to the Brex product and see them gain on their rivals.

A laptop screen displays code at a startup company

Tech Incubator launches in the UK and US.

Fountech.Ventures, a next-gen incubator for deep tech startups have launched in the UK and US.

The ‘Ventures’ arm is a subsidiary of parent company, Fountech.ai. Fountech.ai is an international AI think-tank and parent company to several specialist AI and deep tech firms.  

The project will be headed by Salvatore Minetti. It will work with deep-tech startups spanning artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, quantum computing and blockchain.

The project will develop tailored programs for members and will share its considerable technical and commercial knowledge. Additionally, they will provide interim CEOs, funding, business advice, office space and international networking opportunities.

This level of support will go over and above the support of a standard incubator. It will provide broader services over a longer timeframe. Founders of deep tech startups can then have the depth of support they need to fast-track their businesses from the inception right through to commercial success.

Fountech.Ventures will develop, coach and monitor members through a continuous assessment and tracking. It will use this analysis to determine how it should distribute its investments into its portfolio companies and will do so from pre-seed level right through to Series B.

Why choose the US and the UK?

Both the US and UK are a haven for savvy entrepreneurs and their startup enterprises. Salvatore Minetti, CEO of Fountech.Ventures said:

“The US and UK are home to a vast number of deep tech startups that have immense growth potential”.

He goes on to admit that reaching this potential can prove to be challenging… 

“‘Tech experts and PhD graduates have incredible ideas for how to use new and advanced technologies but often lack the skills and experience to transform them into successful businesses”, he says.  

Fountech.Ventures are looking to change this. It aims to deliver the “commercial expertise and infrastructure that is sorely needed”. Members will also be able to access crucial funding. The Ventures’ international hubs mean that it has a “unique ability to bring products and services grounded in leading-edge technologies to huge markets”.

Minetti concludes that it is the “end-to-end offering that makes us more than a typical incubator – Fountech.Ventures is a next-generation incubator”.

Fountech.Ventures already have 6 portfolio companies. These include Soffos, an AI TutorBot; Prospex, an AI-powered lead generation tool; and Dinabite, a restaurant app built on an AI platform.

Banking alternative Lanistar launches in the UK.

New banking alternative fintech company, Lanistar has launched in the UK this week.

Lanistar was founded by serial entrepreneur Gurhan Kiziloz with one ambition; to create a £1bn fintech company and challenge traditional banking services.

Lanistar has also recently raised $2m in seed funding. This injection of capital will support the fintech’s ambition to create a game-changing new debit card product. The product will help customers streamline their money through cutting-edge technology.

This new flagship product is set to be launched in winter 2020 and will make use of polymorphic technology and open banking.

Lanistar has the lucrative millennial and Generation-Z market as its target. Kiziloz believes these 18-35-year-olds are “crying out for a hassle-free banking alternative that can make their lives easier and give them first-class customer service”. He believes that this is a demographic who have been let down by the established banking providers. He goes on to say that;

 “We’re investing heavily in a product that will transform the market, giving consumers a personalised, exciting experience which will fit easily into their daily lives”.

Thus far, Lanistar has invested heavily to ensure it is fully compliant with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The company has also highlighted that cyber-crime and fraud are huge concerns within the online banking ecosystem. They have hired industry specialists to ensure all product developments are 100% secure.

Kiziloz concludes that “the days of outdated, poorly performing banking services are over and we’re here to set the new industry standard”.

This week has seen launches for companies producing technology for connected buildings as represented in this picture of the London skyline with lines connecting the buildings

Proptech platform launches to transform building performance.

A brand new, digital twin platform has been launched to change the way buildings perform and are managed. Twinview is working to make them safer and more energy-efficient.

Twinview is powered by cloud-based digital ‘twins’, which are 3D replicas of the real building. These cloud ‘twins’ connect the virtual and the physical buildings with real-time analytical data.

Building owners can then manage, monitor and maintain critical construction and operational information. This will allow them to establish and ensure that their properties are functioning as safely and efficiently as possible.

The platform as taken four years to get to the ‘go-live’ point. Despite its very recent launch, Twinview is already in discussions with several national and international businesses.

Rob Charlton is CEO of Twinview. He remarks that in the early days Twinview was developed for those responsible for estate management, especially in the commercial, universities and social housing sectors. Since then it is has developed. The likelihood is that Twinview will be used by contractors and designers across a breadth of sectors such as hospitality and hotels, retail, infrastructure, transport, private housing, and schools.

Why did it come about?

Twinview was developed in response to discussions the company was having with its clients. Charlton says; 

“The problem was that while complex building models were developed through the design and construction process, due to the need for proprietary software, training, and hardware, this information could not be viewed or maintained after building handover”.

He goes on to say that,

“Twinview removes the need for specialist and expensive hardware, software and training. Not only can users view models online using just a web browser, but they’ll also be able to update their models and view and access live data right down to individual asset level in milliseconds.”

He concludes,

“By making this technology and, more importantly, the data it provides more accessible to more building owners and operators we want to play our part in contributing to much-needed improvements in the way physical assets are managed and developed in the future.”

 What an exciting week it’s been

We hope you enjoyed our launches edition of Our Week in Digital. It has been great to see so much positive news and so many launches at such an unstable time.

Have any launches caught your eye this week? Let us know in the comments!

About the author: I manage the recruitment for a range of digital roles for my clients on both a retained and contingency basis. I specialise in senior and confidential appointments, always giving a first class representation of a client’s employer brand.

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