October did not deliver seasonal horrors to early-stage startups.
Tech deal flow picked up last month with 361 pre-seed and seed deals, compared with the 287 pre-seed and seed rounds we saw in September, according to data from Dealroom.
The early-stage scene drummed up €599m in total (that’s pre-seed and seed amounts together), compared to €488m in September.
October 2023’s early-stage funding was significantly up on the €373m raised in October 2022. The start of a mini tech rally? It’s too early to say. But something to keep an eye on over the next few months.
So where were the deals being cut? The UK held onto its seed crown and France remained in second place. The UK pooled €142m in funding in October, dead level with the €142m raised in September, while tech money raised in France rose from €71m to €116m. Germany took third place in October, with €79m worth of deals (up from €39m in September).
It’s been a so-so year for fintech, but early-stage startups in the sector were the biggest draw for investors in October, pulling in almost €88m. Next came enterprise software and healthtech startups.
Here are 12 seed rounds that caught Sifted’s eye.
You’ve been itching to own your own personal flying vehicle, haven’t you? Sweden’s Jetson raised €14.1m from investors including music artist will.i.am in October to help launch one — which it’s calling the Jetson One — in 2024. This thing won’t fly too high, but it can get up to 100km an hour. It will also set you back around £100k.
We’re back, baby. Europe’s golden tech vertical has had a fairly crap 2023, pulling in far less funding than in recent years. But this month saw the return of some crunchy seed raises.
UK fintech Lopay swiped €6.9m in October from investors including Backed VC, Portage, The Venture Collective and a number of angels. The startup, which has signed up more than 20k small businesses, enables SMEs to take card payments from customers more cheaply than the costs charged by more established payment providers. The company says it can do the job at “less than half the price of [payment rivals] SumUp, Zettle and Square”.
Another UK-based fintech, kennek, which makes operating systems for lenders, bagged €11.8m in a round led by HV Capital and supported by Dutch Founders Fund, AlbionVC, ffVC, Plug & Play Ventures and Syndicate One. The company says its software provides a single solution that includes loan writing, report generation, portfolio management and investor relations.
Over in Ireland, Dublin’s Kota netted €5m for its employee benefits software platform, in a round led by Sweden’s EQT Ventures. The company’s trio of founders previously worked for Bolt, Bamboo and Flipdish, respectively, and are pitching their company as an upstart to transform an industry dominated by admin-heavy old-school brokerages. Individuals that chipped into the deal include Remote.com CEO Job van der Voort and Romain Huet, formerly of Stripe, now with Open AI.
One of the biggest seed deals of the month involved Lyon-based precision fermentation startup Bon Vivant, which is using biotech techniques to produce animal-free milk proteins. It raised a tasty €15m in a round by Sofinnova Partners, Sparkfood and Captech Santé, and the team says its business-to-business focus is a big reason for why it's been a hit with investors. Bon Vivant is aiming for FDA approval for its product in the US by 2025.
Health investors, possibly with their minds on the yearly winter squeeze in hospitals, continue to back “hospital at home”-type care. Last month we had a pair of deals that fit this description, the first one being the €1.2m raised by Berlin’s remote monitoring startup HealthCaters (which comes with the slightly awkward tagline inviting patients to “unblackbox your health”). The company offers a suite of medical self-screening tools and an “AI-powered health coaching” app. The round was led by Barmenia Next Strategies, with Venpace, DvH Ventures, and angel investor Philipp Götting all chipping in.
France’s RDS, meanwhile, raised additional seed funding in October — taking its total to €13m — to develop a medical device that delivers continuous measurements of key health parameters for remote patients, including heart rate, respiratory rate and oxygen saturation.
No seed wrap-up this year is complete without some AI.
Germany’s ecommerce site VisionAI has a fun website, which pitches the company as a “rebel” taking on “monopolies like Amazon and Zalando”. The company raised €5m last month, in a round led by HV Capital, to help smaller shops tool up with a bunch of AI features, which basically help retailers visualise their wares in nicer ways online.
Here’s a chunky one: Switzerland’s Viso netted €8.7m last month to help companies build and deploy computer vision-enabled projects. So, for example, a company that operates cameras on its property could jazz things up by using Viso tools to label and/or tag image feeds. Accel — and a weighty list of angels drawn from startups including DeepMind and UiPath — chipped in to this one.
Staying in Switzerland, we saw Copresence, a company that specialises in “digital avatar generation” software, raise €5.6m. Things have gone very quiet on the metaverse front this year, but this startup will help you create fun, photorealistic 3D avatars using just a smartphone.
It’s not often we feature a tech deal from Luxembourg (sorry, Luxembourg) but it’s worth highlighting the €8.5m raised by Circu Li-ion to scale its battery upcycling offering. The company’s pitch is compelling: it says that increasing the number of new batteries in the market to meet growing demand is not a feasible option due to the majority of CO2 emissions arising from battery production. So that leaves us needing to find a second life for batteries to solve this over-demand/under-supply puzzle. Circu Li-ion promises to recover significantly more raw materials from batteries than rivals manage.
Another climate tech deal that drew our peepers was Copenhagen’s CO2 asset management platform Klimate, which helps companies set carbon removal strategies. It bagged €3.5m in October from investors including Eneco Ventures, Helen Ventures, Rockstart and the Export and Investment Fund of Denmark.
*Note, November 17: The original article stated that HealthCaters' raise was €1.12m. This has been corrected.