Here is my list of some interesting deals from Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), seen in January. The CEE has a lot of cheap and skilled talent. Often overlooked by big US and European investors, the region offers many good deals, at much cheaper valuations compared to the US market.
London-based and Estonia-born peer-to-peer money transfer service TransferWise raised $58 million in a new round of funding that values the company close to $1 billion. The Series C funding round is led by US venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. Previous investors Valar Ventures, Index Ventures and Seedcamp also participated. Ben Horowitz, a founding partner at Andreessen Horowitz with an interest in financial technology, is to join TransferWise’s board — a first for him for a European startup. TransferWise allows users to transfer money across borders and currencies significantly cheaper than the transfer options offered by banks. Founded by former Skype employees, it’s transferred more than $3 billion on its platform.
Israeli-based leading children’s mobile gaming startup TabTale acquired Serbian gaming studio Level Bit to help them expand their offerings to older audiences for an undisclosed sum.TabTale has offices in four continents, with operations in Israel (its headquarters), the U.S., China, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Macedonia, and now also Serbia: Level Bit’s 10-person Serbian staff will also fall under TabTale’s management.
AdCash, Estonian real-time advertising trading platform, raised €20 million from Naxicap Partners, a French VC with around €2 billion under management. AdCash aims to connect global advertisers with quality content publishers that meet their brand needs. The deal was also a mini-exit for the existing shareholders, who received a portion of the investment. AdCash has become an active player in the Estonian startup community and is now attracting a lot of talent and has already invested in Taxify and Oolala startups. AdCash has plans to scale world-wide and is already working on opening offices in China and Russia.
Bulgarian accelerator Eleven, one of the best accelerators in the region, just annonced 12 new teams that have entered in the 8th batch of this accelerator which makes total of 95 teams funded. Although focused mainly on tech startups, this time around Eleven is venturing mainly offline. Here are my two favotites from the current batch – Max Cart (Bulgaria) offers shopping cart solution, now expanding their product by offering a complete integration of online and offline sales channels, combining inventory management, CRM and payments in one place. Colombio (Croatia) is online platform for journalism, which can be used to create your own crowdreporting news agency.
Sometimes, the money goes the other way. Seattle-based startup LendingRobot completed a $3 million funding round led by the Russian VC Runa Capital. Club Italia Investimenti II also participated in the round along with a few angel investors. LendingRobot is an automated investment service for online lending, with more than 1,000 clients totaling around $15 million in assets. The firm uses automation software and machine-learning algorithms to help investors select and invest in loans as soon as they become available on Lending Club or Prosper marketplace, two of the leading online lending platforms in the U.S.