While many in the F&B industry have felt the negative impact of the coronavirus pandemic, 3 SQUARE – a digital foodhall network and virtual restaurant group – today announced that it has successfully raised an oversubscribed seed round of US$1.2 million.
3 SQUARE raised a round of investment from leading Taiwanese department store chain Hanshin Department Store Co. Ltd and foodtech VC firm Foodland Ventures. Prominent family offices and angel investors have also participated. The funding will be used to scale the business in Taiwan and prepare for its entry into Southeast and North Asia.
The company was founded in 2020 by Victor J. Chow. Victor, previously an executive at food delivery platforms honestbee and foodpanda, has extensive experience servicing over 5,000 restaurants in Taiwan and 25,000 restaurants across the Asia Pacific region. His love of food and respect for restaurant owners started at a young age, where he grew up in an immigrant family that owned, operated and invested in multiple restaurants.
“With COVID-19 leading to the closure of restaurants and bars, many restaurant owners are looking for an alternative to the traditional brick and mortar restaurant business model in order to cope with the significant shift in consumer demand from dine-in to delivery, a rapidly changing F&B market and high overhead costs. 3 SQUARE eliminates barriers to growth, reduces risk and enables partners to grow profitably by providing upgraded cloud kitchen spaces,” says Victor, 3 SQUARE’s chief executive.
3 SQUARE’s first location is in the center of Taipei City, with twenty restaurant brands available for delivery, takeaway and dine-in. Popular restaurant partners include new brands from the Michelin-starred MUME Group and 30 year old night market standout Shi Yuan Taiwanese Fried Chicken.
3 SQUARE also has a virtual restaurant group with six in-house fully branded restaurant concepts available at launch. These menus are developed using big data and trend analysis with culinary design and consumer insights for the best foods that customers crave.
3 SQUARE is preparing for the next round of fundraising to accelerate an expansion of 300 brands in the 3 SQUARE ecosystem across Southeast and North Asia, with the vision to become the most impactful cloud kitchen network and virtual brand group in the region.
Spices Export Startup Agricorp International Raises $17.5 Million
Agricorp International, Nigerian based spices producing, processing, and exporting company has raised $17.5 million in Series A funding to increase its processing capacity up to 7000 metric tonnes. This fund was raised from Vami Nigeria, One Capital LLC and AFEX. Nigerian-based Vami led the funding round with $11.5 million in equity, while the other investors provided working capital financing for the company. Ernst & Young (Nigeria) served as transaction advisers while Elisio Law Office and Pavestone Legal served as legal advisers.
Founded in 2018 by Kenneth Obiajulu and Wale Omotimirin, Agricorp is contributing to meeting the growing demand of spices as an export material. Data from Nigeria’s Ministry of Agriculture shows that despite being the third highest exporter of ginger globally, Nigeria’s ginger production is put at 31 million MT while demand is put at 65 million MT, leaving a gap of 34 million MT. While Nigeria accounts for more than 16% of the global production of ginger, it gets less than 4% of the export market share.
Kenneth Obiajulu, Agricorp’s CEO said, “We believe that by increasing our capacity to 7,000MT, we will maximise the potentials to boost Nigeria’s forex earnings through export, contribute our quota to improving the Nigerian GDP from agriculture, and serve as a worthy model to African youths who aspire to be agribusiness owners. We want to show them it is possible and very rewarding as well”.
According to lead investors, Vami Nigeria, “we led the round because we saw a clear growth path, strong social impact, excellent financial trajectory, and global collaborations with key partners. Most importantly, the depth of knowledge, passion, and resilience of the team is unrivaled.
Samirah Ade-Adebiyi, Managing Director at AFEX, said “our other businesses have transacted with Agricorp on several occasions and have seen the business grow over time. Now, we are committed to providing the working capital they require to scale their operations at any level”.
It will take a bold approach to put Nigeria on the global export radar by leveraging investments to build simple processing systems for spices and other agro products. Agricorp aims to be that bold company standing at the forefront of enhancing global food systems.
Shimmer Announces $2M Seed Funding Led by VoLo Earth Ventures
Shimmer Industries, Inc., an end-to-end software and firmware platform that automates the design, development and deployment of large-scale lighting projects by reducing the typical project lifecycle by thousands of hours, announced today that it is raising $2 million in seed funding led by VoLo Earth Ventures, an early-stage VC investing in the new energy economy through innovative products and technologies.
Shimmer redesigns light as software, connecting billions of lighting devices and providing a data platform that captures insights and helps building owners and managers cut their costs and energy consumption by up to 85% when compared to current systems.
Shimmer’s flagship product, Stellar 3D Studio, is recognized by lighting designers, architects and engineers for pioneering a “radical shift” in how complex lighting systems are planned, prototyped, and deployed. Shimmer’s products can reduce a typical lighting project lifecycle by thousands of hours. Commercial lighting is a $105 billion industry including the rapidly growing smart lighting segment (18% CAGR thru 2030) driven by a massive upgrade cycle to meet new energy code compliance demands in-line with smart infrastructure. To ensure compliance with energy and green building regulations, Shimmer generates minute-by-minute energy consumption models that span up to one million LEDs, reducing energy usage by up to 85% while significantly lowering carbon emissions.
As Kareem Dabbagh, Managing Partner of VoLo Earth Ventures points out, “Shimmer redesigns light as software, connecting billions of lighting devices and providing a data platform that captures insights and helps building owners and managers cut their costs and energy consumption by up to 85% when compared to current systems.” Joseph Goodman, PhD, Managing Partner at VoLo Earth Ventures, adds, “Our optimism about solving climate change comes from our belief in innovation. Conditions have never been clearer for backing energy breakthroughs like Shimmer that use the power of software to illuminate a sustainable future.” Jean Koeppel, CEO of Shimmer, remarks, “Our collaboration with VoLo Earth will accelerate our ability to deploy Shimmer-enabled environments at scale through the use of software automation to dramatically lower energy and operating costs. We are truly excited to be partners.”
The first Shimmer-designed commercial installation will be unveiled this fall at London’s iconic Southbank Tower. Other Shimmer-based projects are in various stages of the planning and development pipeline at leading architectural and lighting design firms worldwide.
Echion Technologies, Cambridge, UK secures £10M Series-A Funding Round
Echion Technologies (“Echion”) is a leading developer of next generation materials for Lithium-Ion batteries. Its products deliver a unique combination of fast-charging capability, cost-effectiveness, and high energy density; vital for the world’s shift towards decarbonisation through pervasive electrification.
The Series-A funding round has been led by CBMM – the world’s leading supplier of niobium products and BGF – the UK & Ireland’s most active and dynamic investor of equity capital in growth economy companies, with the University of Cambridge, Origin Capital and other existing shareholders also taking part.
Richard Pugh, Investor at BGF, who joins the Board of Echion says: “Echion has huge potential to use its cutting-edge battery chemistry technology to accelerate the adoption of batteries in a range of applications. BGF is convinced that batteries will play a critical role in the energy transition, and identified that Echion’s technology brings significant benefits in key areas such as fast-charging or high-power applications.”
“This funding round will support an exceptional management team in completing the final push to commercial adoption, working in parallel with a range of very high quality stakeholders for instance recent joint projects with Johnson Matthey, and a number of other high profile international customers.”
This increases BGF’s investment in companies engaged in carbon reduction and the energy transition to £230m, and comes shortly after the announcement of a Clean Growth Advisory Board chaired by Baroness Brown of Cambridge.
Echion’s materials have been successfully evaluated by major battery cell and battery materials manufacturers around the world, who are now moving forward to larger scale trials. This financing will allow Echion to scale-up to multi-tonne level material production, demonstrating high-yield, cost effective manufacturability as well as to supply the growing demand for material for pre-production trials.
Rodrigo Amado, Head of Strategy and New Ventures at CBMM says: “This partnership is part of our global strategy to accelerate the time to market of our Battery Materials Business front and bring to market an innovative niobium applied technology that will truly transform the way the world moves. Together, CBMM and Echion will advance towards sustainable mobility by offering ultra-fast charging batteries that have greater stability and longer life. We are optimistic and believe that these new products will be available within the next year.”
The funds will also be used to strengthen customer support, commercial and R&D operations.
Echion CEO Jean de La Verpilliere said: “We are tremendously excited to start the next stage in our journey to bring the Echion Mixed Niobium Oxide products to market. We have great synergies within our investor base, and will keep building a world-leading team to deliver exceptional performance to our customers. We look forward to creating value for our partners and contributing to making superfast charging batteries a reality.”
Echion is keen to hear from other cell or battery material manufacturers who also wish to evaluate its products.
Chris Gibbs, Investment Manager at Cambridge Enterprise said: “Having supported Echion right from the start of its journey to commercialise its novel lithium-ion battery technology, Cambridge Enterprise is delighted to see it complete this significant funding round. Echion is now in a very strong position to deliver on the team’s robust commercial traction and make a significant impact in the industry.”
About Echion Technologies:
Echion is a world-leading developer of advanced lithium-ion battery materials, whose products enable cell manufacturers to deliver cost-effective, fast-charging, high-energy density and long-life power cells for a wide range of markets including automotive, transportation, premium consumer electronics, and grid-storage applications.
Echion provides materials and battery cell manufacturers with packages of protected intellectual property, customisation options, materials synthesis and cell integration know-how and for different end-user markets.
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