What is working in the office going to look like in a post-COVID-19 world?
That’s something one startup hopes to help companies figure out.
Saltmine, which has developed a web-based workplace design platform, has raised $ 20 million in a Series A funding round.
Existing backers Jungle Ventures and Xplorer Capital led the financing, which also included participation from JLL Spark, the strategic investment arm of commercial real estate brokerage JLL.
Notably, JLL is not only investing in Saltmine, but is also partnering with the San Francisco-based startup to sell its service directly to its clients — opening up a whole new revenue stream for the four-year-old company.
Saltmine claims its cloud-based technology does for corporate real estate heads what Salesforce did for CROs in digitizing and streamlining the office design process. It saw an 80% spike in ARR (annual recurring revenue) last year while doubling the number of companies it works with, according to CEO and founder Shagufta Anurag. Its more than 35 customers include PG&E, Snowflake, Fidelity and Workday, among others. Its mission, put simply, is to help companies “create the best possible workplaces for their employees.”
Saltmine claims to have a 95% customer retention rate and in 2020 saw 350% year over year growth in monthly active users of its SaaS platform. So far, the square footage of all the office real estate properties designed and analyzed by customers on Saltmine totals 50 million square feet across 1,500 projects.
Saltmine says it offers companies tools to do things like establish social distancing measures in the office. Its platform, the company says, houses all workplace data — including strategy, design, pricing and portfolio analytics — in one place. It combines and analyzes floor plans with project requirements with real-time behavioral data (aggregated through a combination of utilization sensors and employee feedback) to identify companies’ design needs. Besides aiming to improve the workplace design process, Saltmine claims to be able to help companies “optimize their real estate portfolios.”
The pandemic has dramatically increased the need for a digital transformation of how workplaces are designed and reimagined, according to Anurag.
“Given the need for social distancing capabilities and a greater emphasis on work-life balance in many office settings, few workers expect a complete ‘return to normal,’ ” she said. “There is now enormous pressure on corporate heads of real estate to adapt and modify their workplaces.”
Once companies identify their new needs, Saltmine uses “immersive” digital 3D renderings to help them visualize the necessary changes to their real estate properties.
“I saw the same pain points and unmet needs in office real estate that I did in the residential market,” she said. “Real estate is the second-largest cost for companies and has a direct impact on their largest cost — their people.”
Looking ahead, Saltmine plans to use its new capital to (naturally) do some hiring and continue to acquire customers — in particular, seeking to expand its portfolio of Global 2000 companies.
Saltmine has about 125 employees in five offices across Asia, Europe and North America. It expects to have 170 employees by year’s end and to be profitable by the end of fiscal year 2021.
The company’s initial focus has been in North America, but it is now beginning to expand into APAC and Australia.
JLL Technologies’ co-CEO Yishai Lerner said JLL Spark was drawn to Saltmine’s approach of making data and analytics accessible in one place.
“Having a single source of truth for data also facilitates collaboration across teams, which is important, for example, in workspace planning,” he told TechCrunch. “This reduces inefficiencies and improves workflows in today’s fragmented design, build and fit-out market.”
JLL Spark invests in companies that it believes can benefit from its distribution and network — hence the firm’s agreement to sell Saltmine’s software directly to its customers.
“As JLL tenants and clients continue to embrace the future of work, they are seeking technology solutions that keep their buildings running efficiently and effectively,” Lerner said. “Saltmine’s platform checks all of the boxes by streamlining stakeholder collaboration, increasing transparency and simplifying data management.”
The startup that I was part of got acquired (in return for shares of the acquirer) just under a year ago. The CEO informed us at the time that he's planning to ask the board that the employees shares get vested.
And that was it. After the acquisition, we have not received any legal paper or communication from him. He mentioned in a text message to myself once that the board approved the shares vesting but we still don't know our number of shares and what they mean as % of the other company. People have been following up with him and he keeps saying "I'll send you the information once I have the time to do the paperwork and there is no ETA". It's now been almost a year and we are concerned about what it is that's making him not share anything official with us.
Is this normal in the tech startup world?
My biggest concern is the VC's and the founders converted their own shares from one class to another and made our shares worth nothing.
Interviewed for full-time job, received a job offer but asked to come on board as a contractor for a few weeks before starting full-time role.
Many red flags showing up. For example: the contractor contract stipulates the need for several years worth of liability insurances. And things discussed in the interview/job description (equipment and equity) have evaporated. After questioning the contractor contract, and liabilities, I've now been told that they are not worried about having a contract in place.
They seem really desperate to get me on board and aren't really addressing my concerns. I haven't signed or started yet.
I know startups can be chaotic, but is this switch and bait normal? Is it normal to come on as a contractor? Is it normal not to bother with a contract? I feel like the company has mishandled this, and either they don't know what they are doing, or they are out to screw me.
The dawn of 2021 ushered in hope and positivity after 2020 turned out to be one of the worst years in the history of mankind. With the market crashing, businesses going under, and job losses, 2020 certainly spelt misfortune for people and businesses alike, around the world. However, hiring seems to be picking up in 2021, with many European companies planning to increase their team strength.
Apart from hirings, several European startups are undergoing leadership transitions in order to adapt and navigate the new normal brought upon by the pandemic. These companies are bringing in fresh perspectives to steer them towards prosperity and growth.
We have, therefore, compiled a list of the key leadership appointments that have taken place in 2021.
Marlene ten Ham new director of Thuiswinkel.org
Thuiswinkel.org, founded in December 2000 by 38 companies, was the formal merger of two existing associations; the Dutch Mail Order Association and the Online Winkeliersvereniging. According to the company, the two organisations decided to join forces and continue jointly as a new interest group for all (web) stores in the Netherlands: Thuiswinkel.org.
Thuiswinkel.org has announced that from 10th May 2021, it will be led by Marlene ten Ham. At that time, Ten Ham will take over the position of director from Wijnand Jongen.
In addition to extensive management experience (including as managing partner of an international consultancy firm in Brussels), Marlene ten Ham is familiar with both European and national advocacy and is familiar with files and developments within the online sector. In recent years, she has worked as director of Ecommerce Europe for a strong digital commerce sector in Europe.
Unknown Group appoints new CTO
Earlier this month, Unknown Group announced the appointment of Giels Brouwer as Chief Technology Officer (CTO). Brouwer joins Unknown Group as a seasoned entrepreneur and specialist in product development, machine learning and data intelligence. He previously founded leading sport performance analytics scaleups, SciSports and BallJames, where he will continue to remain active as a shareholder and advisor to the board.
Brouwers appointment as CTO comes in the same week as the merger announcement between Unknown Group and VenturesOne.
Amber appoints Teun Kraaij as new COO
Car sharing app Amber has recently announced the appointment of Teun Kraaij as its new COO. He has already been working with the company since January. Kraaij has been recruited to scale up the company together with CEO Hans de Penning.
Previously, Kraaij was MD of BuyBay, which is active in sustainable return processing. He was a partner at consultancy firm McKinsey & Company. Kraaij’s switch to car sharing company Amber stems from the desire to make a sustainable contribution.
Markus Pertlwieser becomes the new CEO of Penta
Pertlwieser, an experienced bank manager and proven digital strategist, is expected to further accelerate Penta’s growth in the area of digital solutions for business customers in the coming years. In addition, Pertlwieser is expected to work with Penta’s management team to develop new options for the gradual expansion of the platform’s business. From 2001 to 2008, Pertlwieser worked for the management consultancy McKinsey.
Prior to Penta, Markus Pertlwieser held various management positions at Deutsche Bank from 2008 to 2020: including as a member of the Management Board of DB Privat- und Firmenkundenbank AG, and as Chief Digital Officer for the bank’s private and corporate clients.
The fintech expert has been a member of the FinTech Council of the German Federal Ministry of Finance since 2017, as well as on advisory boards of various fintechs and startups from the platform economy sector.
N26 appoints Dr. Jan Kemper as Chief Financial Officer
Berlin-based challenger bank N26 has announced the appointment of Dr Jan Kemper as Chief Financial Officer. Jan has decades of experience leading and building finance and operations teams, as well as a strong background in M&A and IPO.
As the CFO, Jan will report directly to N26 co-founder Maximilian Tayenthal, who will take on the role of co-CEO alongside CEO Valentin Stalf, with both co-founders continuing to retain oversight of their current areas of responsibility within the organisation.
Jan has served as Group CFO at German DAX 30-listed entertainment company ProsiebenSat.1 Media from 2017 to 2019. He brings with him extensive expertise in scaling companies of all sizes and stages of growth, most notably as the CFO of Zalando, where he was part of the team that grew the company from a Berlin-based startup to one of Europe’s most successful e-commerce companies. In his seven years at the company, Jan helped grow their market capitalisation to €11B from 2010 to 2017 and led their successful IPO on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange in 2014.
Glovo appoints new CTO
Narek joins at a pivotal time for the company, as Glovo has recently launched its Q-Commerce division, delivering “everything” within cities in thirty minutes or less, through its network of dark hubs.
Verdian has more than 10 years of experience working with giants such as American Express, Expedia, and Hotels.com. At Glovo, he will drive the company’s tech strategy and strengthen the user experience of the platform, to provide an even better service to its couriers, partners, and customers.
Five Degrees appoints Reza Warnink as new CCO
Amsterdam-based Five Degrees, a financial technology provider offering real alternative to banks and other financial institutions, has anounced the appointment of Former Mendix and Backbase executive Reza Warnink as its new Chief Commercial Officer.
Warnink has twenty years of leadership experience across enterprise software service providers to help identify and drive Five Degrees’ commercial agenda. He will be responsible for the company’s sales, marketing and customer success teams as well as focus on extending the growth ambitions of Five Degrees as the company is launching a new cloud-native core banking platform this year.
The news of the appointment follows Five Degrees’ recent funding round of €22M in December 2020.
Tissium expands executive leadership team
Paris-based Tissium, a medtech company developing biomorphic programmable polymers for tissue reconstruction, has added to its leadership team as it looks to accelerate its partnership strategy and increase its focus on the US market.
Hunt Henrie has three decades of experience as a global leader in the finance industry, including more than 25 years in investment banking, private equity, and venture investing. He has developed vast experience driving strategy, business development and investments for global medtech and life science companies. Henrie is a former member of the board of directors at XShares and he advises a number of innovative medtech companies. He has also served as MD and Global Head of Medtech at Locust Walk, an independent strategic advisory, M&A, and capital markets investment bank. And, he has also held positions at Ferghana Partners and JP Morgan Chase, among others.
As for Schulman, he has more than 25 years of experience in regulatory affairs at medical device and biotech companies across the US. He has recently served as Vice President, Regulatory Affairs at Penumbra Inc., a global healthcare company developing medical devices and innovative therapies. Prior to that, he held roles at Genzyme Biosurgery (now, Sanofi Genzyme), Medtronic Vascular, and Boston Scientific.
HealthTech company appoints first CCO
Visionable has appointed Walker to capitalise on its existing success. The company’s first CCO, Walker will be responsible for developing and creating new partnerships with international organisations to expand Visionable’s presence in thriving markets. He will also be identifying new markets where the company’s technology can make huge differences to current practices and efficiencies, also overseeing the expansion of the team as Visionable grows.
Walker has leadership experience in a range of industries, having held senior commercial roles at Sky Television, Dyson, fintech Neyber, and most recently as CCO of AI-based technology company Winnow. He has been appointed as his experience in creating compelling propositions from innovative products places him in a position to understand and deliver on Visionable’s current offering and messaging.
InspiredMinds announces new board advisors
London-based AI and healthtech company InspiredMinds appoints ex-Apple chief Chris Broad alongside three appointments as advisors to the board of directors.
With this development, InspiredMinds has also announced the launch of an AI omnichannel for its community called “Mothership”.
Chris Broad, former Apple Chief of Staff joins to assist the company’s transition to an ‘always on community’. Chris participated alongside Steve Jobs in the meteoric rise of technology giant Apple in three decades of captivating work since studying electronics in Southampton and an MBA from INSEAD. As Director of Sales Development and Support team he managed 80 staff as the tech giant introduced its product lines into the major retail chains and played a key role in the launch of its online store, Apple’s multi-channel sales strategy and geo-expansion.
Also joining the board as advisors are 3 further appointments, these include;
Paul Thandi CBE is CEO of the NEC Group in Birmingham, where he has overseen the growth and recent sale to Blackstone Group. He joins InspiredMInds as advisor on investor relations and commercial growth.
Renee Cummings Criminologist and AI Ethicist joins the board as advisor on Diversity and Inclusion. Renee is a renowned criminologist and AI ethicist. Advocating for more diverse, equitable, and inclusive AI, she is on the frontline of ethical AI, generating real time responses to many of the unintentional consequences of AI.
Huguette Diakabana, WHO digital health technical advisor, joins the board as advisor on new and emerging communities, and youth generation. Huguette has experience of working with international organisations and governments. She is passionate about fostering collaboration and expanding access to valuable and impactful knowledge to help achieve meaningful progress, in sub-Saharan Africa.
Alpian hires head of investments to shape customer offering
The Switzerland-based digital financial service company, Alpian has appointed Victor Cianni as its head of investments. Cianni will lead on the disruptor’s wealth advisory offering, along with discretionary management products for private bank clients.
Cianni joins the company to accelerate Alpian’s digital-first approach to drive accessibility to wealth management amongst an underserved demographic in the market.
Prior to this, Cianni has private banking experience in senior roles at Citi Private Bank, Lombard Odier, and Credit Agricole. In his last role, at Citi Private Bank, he worked in the investment lab covering the MENA and Northern European region, heading up a team constructing bespoke portfolios for ultra-high net worth individuals. Significantly, Cianni has experience in using technology to design tailored investment strategies, which will form a major part of his role at Alpian.
Founded in 2019, Alpian is a digital financial service brand that aims to be the first bank to provide the stability, security, and personal care of a traditional Swiss private bank to its clients through a digital interface. The company had raised CHF 12.2M in its Series A round of funding and has recently applied for a full banking license from Swiss regulator, FINMA.
Curve adds ex-Samsung chief to its board
London-based Curve, a fintech company that combines multiple cards and accounts into one smart card, has announced Cuong Do as an independent Board director. Curve recently announced a successful Series C investment of $ 95M and is pursuing ambitious growth plans, which include its widely-anticipated launch in the US and a deeper European footprint.
Shachar Bialick, founder of Curve says, “Cuong will work closely with myself and senior management to ensure we continue to build our innovative platform, and meticulously execute our strategy.”
Cuong was most recently President of the Samsung Global Strategy Group responsible for developing and executing an enterprise-wide strategy and building out Samsung’s business plans.
Prior to that, he was the Chief Strategy Officer for Merck, TE Connectivity, and Lenovo. He was also a Senior Partner at McKinsey & Company, where he helped to construct its healthcare, high tech, and corporate finance practices.
It has also has named Anju Patwardhan as a non-executive director to its Board, this month. She was most recently managing partner at CreditEase’s Fintech VC Fund, one of China’s largest fintech venture funds. CreditEase focuses on wealth management and inclusive finance in China, and Anju remains an advisor there.
Cuong has also founded three biotech companies. One of them, drug discovery firm Callidus Biopharma, was acquired by Amicus Therapeutics. Besides, he is also an active philanthropist, starting a foundation for helping autistic teens thrive in adulthood and another for helping parents and clinicians working with autistic children.
Holland Fintech’s new board
With an aim to shape the future of the fintech ecosystem in the Netherlands, Amsterdam-based Holland FinTech is strengthening its governance as an association. It has appointed a new board with representatives, leaders, and experts from the fintech network.
The executive team comprises the founder of Holland Fintech Don Ginsel, who will be supported by the current team at Holland Fintech, ensuring full continuity of program and services to the network.
The non-executive Board will strengthen the liaison with members and other stakeholders in society and will be chaired by Douwe Lycklama (founding partner at Innopay), as President of the Board. In addition, the non-executive board will also include Andre Moen (founder & CEO at Intersolve); Angelique Schouten (Executive Board at Ohpen); Fleur Dujardin (CEO at Inshared); Harrie Vollaard (MD at Rabo Frontier Ventures); Hessel Kuik (founder & CEO at Bizcuit Group); and Marcel Prins (COO at APG).
Pavel Murnikov joins Inkitt as VP of Engineering
Berlin-based Inkitt, a data-driven publisher that predicts global best-sellers using a proprietary algorithm, announced the joining of Pavel Murnikov as VP of Engineering. In his role, Pavel will focus on accelerating the engineering team’s rate of innovation and product roadmap delivery.
In addition to that, he will also be responsible for leading the engineering team across all levels and building the various recruiting processes and systems required to continue attracting and developing the best talent.
Murnikov was previously VP of technology at US esports and video game company Activision Blizzard for five years. There, he was responsible for launching their streaming and VOD platform and leveraging it for content delivery in AAA video games. Additionally, he helped the company in ramping up tech talent to support the new esports business vertical and helping launch two new major esports leagues. He also held positions as CTO for professional esports organisation Major League Gaming, and music software startup Shapemix.
At Inkitt, he will report to CEO and founder Ali Albazaz, who has the ambition to triple the number of developers they employ in 2021, and they are actively hiring.
Leo Apotheker joins Appway as a first independent board member
Leo has previously worked for more than 20 years at the German software giant SAP and has held the role of the company’s CEO from 2007 through 2010. After that, from 2010 to 2011, he served as CEO and President of Hewlett-Packard Inc. Currently, Leo sits on the boards of a number of technology companies including Schneider Electric, NICE, and Syncron.
Appway provides a software platform designed to support the digital transformation of customer-focused organisations across the financial services industry. Its software helps in digitisation, automation, and acceleration of core business processes, such as the onboarding of new clients, managing changing client circumstances, and regulatory reviews. In June 2020, Appway raised $ 37M in funding since its inception in 2003 to support its next phase of growth.
Former Goldman Sachs Asia-Pacific CEO joins the Antler
Singapore-based global venture capital firm Antler announced the appointment of former Goldman Sachs Asia-Pacific CEO, Ken Hitchner to the Global Advisory Board. The appointment comes at a time when Antler is planning to increase its presence in Greater China. He will also be the co-chair of the Greater China Advisory Committee.
Ken joined Goldman Sachs in 1991 after a career as a US Navy pilot. He has also helped set up and lead its global healthcare banking practice and leading APAC ex-Japan. Ken brings a depth of commercial expertise, network, and experience into Antler’s senior management team. This follows other recent additions to the Global Advisory Board, including Baillie Gifford’s James Anderson.
Kleos hires Chief Revenue Officer
Luxembourg-based Kleos Space, a space-powered Radio Frequency Reconnaissance data-as-a-service (DaaS) company, has appointed seasoned industry executive Eric von Eckartsberg as its Chief Revenue Officer.
Eric von Eckartsberg has prior experience in international sales and business development teams within the defence and intelligence sectors. His industry expertise includes senior leadership roles at satellite imagery and geospatial services providers Maxar Corporation and Vricon Inc, network security analytics platform RedSeal Networks, and advanced AI and text analytics software company Basis Technology Corp. He also served as a US Government Intelligence Officer for more than 10 years.
Eric will be responsible for Kleos’ global sales, the business development and sales teams, and strategic customer partnerships.
Cledara appoints Oscar Hackett
London-based Cledara, a platform that standardises the way companies discover, buy, manage, and cancel their SaaS, has announced the appointment of Oscar Hackett to lead its sales across the UK and Europe. The move comes after the company raised $ 3.4M in December 2020, in a Seed round by Nauta Capital, Anthemis, and Eric Nadalin.
Cledara is an all-in-one SaaS purchasing and management platform for enterprises. The platform manages, controls, and automates a company’s cloud software to scale operational processes, comply with regulations, and save money.
Oscar Hackett joins Cledara at a crucial time as the company is looking to expand and continue the fast growth it had achieved last year, in 2020. Hackett will spearhead the sales organisation in the company’s existing UK and European markets.
Oscar has experience from the technology industry, with a background in sales to venture-backed startups around the world. Prior to joining Cledara, he led sales teams at SaaStock, a SaaS Industry Conference. Based in London, he will report to Cledara’s COO and co-founder, Brad van Leeuwen.
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I have a CPG startup and my advisory board is asking for .25% equity each (there are 4 of them) until we launch in a few months, then they each want another .25% for the first 6 months. They are proposing to commit 8 hours a month. All in that would be 2% equity for less than a year of advising. The other part is that I am trying to hire one of them to work as a contractor. This is what he suggested. He would be a great asset, but also wants the other advisors involved. This seems high to me but I know they are committing a higher amount of time than most advisory boards. Does this feel in range? They said we can propose another offer, but trying to figure out what feels fair. Any ideas on what to counter?
Currently early stage D2C startup (mobile app), released paid MVP 1 month ago with good traction.
We're formalising an agreement with one of our advisors, who has been a great help so far and added value. We're offering options for their time. I expect that they will be very useful when it comes to our planned seed raise later this year.
They have asked for a clause in their contract for a finders fee at Series A – 5% of funds raised from any introductions, on a success fee basis. Is this normal?
This is my first startup so any thoughts / advice would be welcome.
It has been a tough time for me to finally chose my startup ahead of everything else. I don't come from a strong financial background but I always wanted to continue working on my idea no matter how hard my financial situations are.
After two years of work I was able to launch my startup and make sales. People always use to come with their old suggestions that i must go back to my job and leave all these new things . It won't work and I will not be able to do it. I kept working and today I am at least making money. When I was in high school i realized that i will do something like this of my own. Please share your time when it an idea hit your head and you chose your career to be a startup. Thanks.