On the surface, investors were quite varied this week when it came to backing B2B startups. With more than $95 million in financing placed, startups across eProcurement, cybersecurity, logistics, alternative finance, blockchain and supply chain management secured support. A closer look at the deals, however, reveals investors’ appetite for artificial intelligence (AI). From using AI to enhance eProcurement processes to deploying AI-powered robots in warehouses, the B2B startups that integrate the technology into their own offering impressed backers this week. Unsurprisingly, however, a blockchain company working to enhance B2B payments across borders beat out the competition with the largest funding round of the week. PYMNTS breaks down the deals below.
Seattle-based Suplari enhances the eProcurement process with artificial intelligence, with a focus on helping the enterprise identify cost-savings opportunities and supplier risk they might have otherwise missed. This week, the company announced $10.3 million in Series A funding led by Shasta Ventures, while Two Sigma Ventures and Workday Ventures came on board as new investors. Existing backers Madrona Venture Group and Amplify Partners also participated, the firm said. Suplari did not disclose exactly how it plans to use the funding, but noted its emphasis on AI-driven data analytics to enhance eProcurement spend management by assessing data across systems, including commercial cards, travel and expense management and accounts payable.
Blacksoil Capital linked B2B eProcurement firm IndustryBuying with nearly $2 million in venture debt, reports in Inc42 said this week. The India-based startup has already seen funding from Kalaari Capital, Saif Partners and Beenext. IndustryBuying targets small- and medium-sized enterprises with its eProcurement marketplace. The firm’s CEO, Swati Gupta, said the funding will help the firm continue to scale as it plans to turn its first profit by the end of this year.
In another debt financing round, Power2SME, also based in India, raised $6.2 million from InnoVen Capital, Inc42 reported this week. The company provides an online marketplace for small businesses (SMBs) in the country to procure raw materials and negotiate with larger suppliers. The platform also integrates a financing feature. According to InnoVen Capital India, in addition to the financing, the firm will also develop a deeper relationship with Power2SME through its existing financial institution partners to enable SMBs on the platform to access financing from third-party lenders.
Power2SME isn’t the only B2B startup on this list that operates an SMB lending solution. Reports in Fortune India said Namaste Credit raised $3.8 million in Series A funding from Nexus Venture Partners. With plans to use the funds to scale and expand geographically, Namaste Credit is also looking to enhance its underlying data analytics technology to strengthen underwriting capabilities. Rather than operating a lending marketplace, however, Namaste Credit works with financiers to enhance their underwriting capabilities and automate lending processes that are traditionally manual and paper-based.
In extending its Series B funding round, BitPay announced $40 million in fresh funding from an array of backers, including Menlo Ventures, Capital Nine, G Squared, Nimble Ventures and Delta-v Capital, in addition to other individual investors. BitPay deploys blockchain technology to facilitate cross-border B2B payments via bitcoin. The company said it has so far processed more than $1 billion in bitcoin payments, and with the new funding, the U.S.-based firm plans to expand across Asia. The investment marks Menlo Ventures’ first institutional crypto-investment, reports in CoinGeek said.
Supply Chain Management
Citi Ventures led new funding for Contguard, which provides technology for businesses to enhance visibility and control over their supply chains. Canaan Partners Israel also participated in the investment, though the companies did not reveal how much was placed in the company. Contguard integrates artificial intelligence technology and Internet of Things (IoT) shipment monitoring to enhance business intelligence of goods as they are shipped and move throughout the supply chain.
With $8.2 million in Series A funding, Threat X will be able to focus on growing its Software-as-a-Service tool designed for businesses’ web apps. The company integrates threat detection and firewall solutions for its clients’ apps flexible enough to meet the cybersecurity needs of platforms that operate on hybrid cloud, web apps, legacy environments and deploy a mix of APIs for web, mobile and IoT solutions. The Seattle-based company secured the investment from Grotech Ventures and Access Ventures Partners.
Artificial intelligence lands on this week’s B2B venture capital roundup again as 6 River Systems, based in Boston, announced $25 million in Series B funding. The company offers fulfillment services for eCommerce players faced with tougher customer demands, deploying AI technology and its proprietary fulfillment robot, named “Chuck.” The company is working on a decision-making engine for warehouses and also plans to use the investment to expand its staff, the company said. The funding was provided by Menlo Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners, Eclipse Ventures and iRobot.