Startup News Roundup – Tech Startup Aerobotics, Legal Tech (25 – 29 January 2021)

Updated on 26 January 2021

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Aerobotics Raises $17 million Round Led by Naspers

Tech startup Aerobotics has raised $17 million in an oversubscribed Series B round. This was led by Naspers, with significant participation from Platform Investment Partners, FMO: Entrepreneurial Development Bank and Cathay AfricInvest Innovation.

Aerobotics has quickly scaled its mission to provide customers with intelligent tools to feed the world. Aerobotics’ data provides certainty to farming and food security. This is as the global agricultural industry stretches to meet expected population growth and food demand.

Aerobotics has experienced record growth in the last few years. In the United States alone, the company’s revenue has grown in excess of an order of magnitude. The Series B investment will further technology development and product delivery in the United States and Aerobotics’ other core territories.

James Paterson, CEO at Aerobotics says, “Thank you to our customers for believing in our vision and to our investors for backing us. We’re committed to providing intelligent tools to optimize automation, minimize inputs and maximize production. We look forward to further co-developing our products with the agricultural industry leaders.”

Legal tech startup, Legal Lens, to Stop Unfair Legal Billing

A new legal tech startup, Legal Lens, will protect companies, state entities, and individuals from inflated legal fees. The startup is able to reduce legal fees by as much as 60% but say that 10% is about average.

The founders areCatherine-Jane Paulse and Yusha Davidson, both admitted attorneys. The duo recognised that legal invoices often reflected billing practices and errors that resulted in unfair, high legal fees.

“The recent discussion paper by the South African Law Reform Commission regarding its investigation into legal fees also confirms that improper and unethical billing is a reality in South Africa,” Paulse says.

Davidson explains, “We realised that it’s awkward and difficult reviewing legal invoices, as clients fear disrupting the close relationship they have with their lawyers and may not have the knowledge needed to dispute a legal invoice. It’s time consuming. So, we developed a tech solution to review legal invoices and reduce legal fees.”

All that clients need to do is send the legal invoices to Legal Lens. They also must also share any correspondence regarding fee arrangements and their letter of engagement with the lawyer.

Legal Lens digitally reviews the legal invoices to identify areas for potential savings. They use experienced attorneys, optical character recognition and machine learning. Legal Lens then engages with the customer’s lawyer regarding the fees in dispute. The legal invoice is then renegotiated and revised. A new invoice is then obtained by Legal Lens from the legal firm that reflects the reduced amount to be paid.

They charge clients 17.5% (including VAT) of the amount saved. If there are no savings, Legal Lens does not charge.

Endeavor South Africa Entrepreneurs Raised R2 Billion in 2020

Despite prolonged global market uncertainty, Endeavor South Africa has reported significant growth in their portfolio of disruptive tech businesses.

Endeavor supports high-impact entrepreneurs in emerging markets. The South African chapter reports collective raises of R2bn in 2020 alone amongst the portfolio of 29 businesses, compared to R1.3bn combined during 2018-2019. A number of these businesses delivered strong results, achieving a 300% uptick in volume.

Capital Markets Lead, Antonia Bothner, attributes this acceleration in capital raising to the growth stage nature of these businesses and the strong underlying performance of the businesses in the tech or tech-enabled space. The portfolio is 95% tech or tech-enabled and has managed to benefit strongly from increased digitisation.  

Capital in access of R4bn is expected to be raised over the next 24 months. “This last quarter has seen entrepreneurs riding the wave of accelerated digitisation,” she says. “They are growing at a rapid pace – beating budgets, increasing capital raising and hiring.”

Endeavors’ flagship mentorship programme provides access to over 174 local and 3,200 global mentors in 35 countries worldwide. The organisation also recently developed a unique Series A term sheet guidance template. The template aims to provide support in Seed and Series A capital raises in South Africa and beyond. Bothner believes it will help entrepreneurs and investors alike by providing a better starting point in the capital raising negotiations and to lay a solid foundation of best practice for future capital raisings. Setting a good precedent is vital not just for the entrepreneur raising capital but for the whole ecosystem.

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