Pacer Ventures partners Founder Institute, launches $3M fund for early-stage African startups – Benzinga

Pacer Ventures partners Founder Institute, launches $ 3M fund for early-stage African startups  Benzinga
“startups when:1d” – Google News

German challenger bank N26 launches new subscription plan for €4.90 per month; product offerings to evolve in coming months

Berlin-based challenger bank N26 has launched a premium subscription service called N26 Smart. The new monthly subscription combines a slew of premium features of the service and other benefits, including new functionalities that will help users organise their finances.

N26 Smart features detailed

N26 Smart, the new monthly premium subscription service, will be bundled on top of N26’s digital current account. It will include the following features at the cost of €4.90 per month. Firstly, there will be dedicated phone support along with in-app chat support, up to 5 free ATM withdrawals per month and global payments in any currently sans any fee, and curated benefits and offers from partners.

Users can access to up to 10 ‘Spaces’ – N26’s sub-accounts along with Shared Spaces – that will let users save, spend and manage money with a maximum of 10 people. There will be access to the new Round-Ups feature, which will round each purchase to the nearest Euro automatically and set the spare change to help users increase their savings with minimal effort. Finally, users can choose from five different colours for the N26 Smart Mastercard – Sand, Slate, Ocean, Aqua, and Rhubarb, to make a statement.

The subscribers of N26 Smart can access all intuitive features of the paperless and branchless banking experience offered by N26. These include 100% digital account opening, automatic categorisation of spending via the statistics feature, instant notifications, free global payments with Google Pay and Apple Pay, in-app access to N26 Mastercard’s digital version, and fund protection of up to €1M under the German Deposit Protection Scheme.

Notably, the benefits of N26 Smart premium monthly subscription will be available to both self-employed individuals and freelancers in the N26 Business Smart subscription. It will add 0.1% cashback on all card spends as well.

“Everybody should be empowered to manage their money in a way that makes sense for their priorities and way of life. With more and more customers turning to digital banking in these uncertain times, N26 Smart will put our most popular tools at our customers’ fingertips at a budget-conscious price point, helping anyone effortlessly manage their money digitally with confidence and ease,” says Valentin Stalf, co-founder and CEO of N26.

Other N26 updates coming soon

Notably, it is claimed that the launch of N26 Smart is one of the planned updates that will soon be brought to the company’s product portfolio. All the new updates are likely to be rolled out to the digital bank’s free and premium products over the coming months. There will be changes to N26 Standard, which will provide a 100% virtual payment experience to N26 digital card users, N26 You will become N26 International with borderless banking features, and N26 Metal will become N26 Unlimited offering the best digital banking experience, claims the company.

The startup announced securing over €92.29M in Series D funding extension, earlier in May this year. Series D round of funding for N26 commenced back in January 2019. The startup has now announced an extension of it to an overall value of €526M, while maintaining its valuation at €3.23B.

Main image picture credits: N26

Startups – Silicon Canals

Marie Ekeland launches 2050, a new fund with radically ambitious, long-term goals

Marie Ekeland has unveiled her next act — and it’s a new fund called 2050. But it’s not your average French VC fund as it’s going to be an evergreen fund focused on building a better world. It sounds ambitious, but Ekeland isn’t just daydreaming as she has a detailed action plan.

If you’re not familiar with Marie Ekeland, she used to be an investor at French VC firm Elaia. She invested in adtech firm Criteo, which later became a public company in the U.S. She is also one of the founding members of France Digitale, the main startup lobby in France.

More recently, she co-founded Daphni, her own VC firm. While she’s no longer involved with Daphni’s day-to-day activities, she still follows her own investments in Daphni’s first fund. Her investments include Shine, Swile, Holberton School and Lifen.

With 2050, Ekeland is going back to the drawing board with a different vision when it comes to investment thesis, fund structure and the firm’s own values.

“Investment is self-fulfilling,” Ekeland told me. “When you invest in this company instead of that one, you’re shaping the future of society.”

During our lengthy discussion, it became quite clear that Ekeland both suffers from tech fatigue and also still believes she can have a positive impact through her investments.

Let’s start with the investment thesis. 2050 wants to focus on five fundamental areas — the future of food, better healthcare, improving education, shaping a sustainable lifestyle and fostering trust in the media and financial institutions.

As the name suggests, 2050 has a lot of time to think about these issues. The firm is willing to invest over the long haul. But if an entrepreneur wants to sell their company, that’s OK too. The idea is that there shouldn’t be any time frame pressure.

With traditional VC firms, limited partners invest in a fund and expects returns 10 years later. That’s why most VC funds have to sell their positions within eight to 10 years. It could lead to some pressure to go public, get acquired or find other investors to buy back previous investors.

So how do you remove short-term financial pressure from investment firms? 2050 is a fonds de pérennité, which works a bit like a trust fund, a mission-driven fund.

As an evergreen fund, investors in 2050 can invest whenever they want. Regularly, 2050 will open up liquidity distribution windows. It means that existing investors will be able to sell their positions in 2050. New investors will purchase those positions.

“What we’re doing is quite innovative, so we’re learning by doing,” Ekeland said. 2050 is still expecting regulatory approvals from France’s financial regulator AMF. In the meantime, 2050 has already participated in Withings’ latest funding round. Along with Ekeland, Anne-Lise Bance, Aicha Ben Dhia, Charly Berthet, Meyha Camara and Aude Duprat have already joined the team.

2050 also plans to dedicate 10% of investments in the fund and 50% of the team’s carried interest for digital commons. Arguably, this is the most interesting part of 2050. It proves that the team is committed to its vision beyond blog posts.

For instance, 2050 will contribute to Université Paris Dauphine’s class on the ecological challenges of the 21st century. The idea is to share that class as broadly as possible under an open license.

Some key concepts will be turned into actionable items for entrepreneurs. If you browse the business book section of your local bookshop, chances are you’ll see a ton of books about building a startup, growing as fast as possible and not paying attention to structural damage.

By investing in (often underfunded) knowledge, 2050 could share a different kind of actionable items with its portfolio companies and the tech ecosystem at large. Other investments in commons could include infrastructure investments that help everyone, or mutualized research.

Tech isn’t just about building companies. Public institutions, individuals and nonprofit organizations also have a say in the tech ecosystem. And I’m glad to see that 2050 understands that tech investment isn’t just about financing private companies. It’s such an important shift and I hope other investors will follow suit.

Startups – TechCrunch