The Briefing: Top Tier Closes On $310M For Europe, NerdWallet Aims To Go Public, And More

Here’s what you need to know today in startup and venture news, updated by the Crunchbase News staff throughout the day to keep you in the know.

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San Francisco-based Top Tier Capital Partners announced it has raised $310 million for a dedicated European investment fund. The fund will focus primarily on European funds with some investments in Israel. The Luxembourg-based investment fund seeks to invest broadly across the region, including in niche venture funds and expansion-stage technology startups.

How a former Navy SEAL helped Casey DeSmith get back to the NHL and on top of his game

Penguins goalie Casey DeSmith opened training camp ahead of the 2019-20 season enjoying a brand-new, three-year contract extension and what he thought would be the job security that came with it. What he got? A one-way ticket to Wilkes-Barre/ Scranton. “Obviously the hardest and the lowest point was right after preseason when I was told I was getting sent down, after I thought I had a really good year,” DeSmith said. “I wasn’t really worried about potentially being sent down. And then it happened. It was kind of a shock to the system a little bit.”

The Three Engines of Growth – with Eric Ries

Trying to grow a business can seem impossible. Some marketing works, other campaigns just get lost in the shuffle. Most of the time, the increased business from a campaign disappears just as quickly as it arrived. Instead of wasting your budget on promotions, you need to focus on one of the three engines of growth. When you do, you’ll build sustainable growth that will drive your business forward. Before I jump into explaining how you can build sustainable growth, I need to give credit where credit is due. A couple of months ago, Eric Ries released a book called The Lean Startup. This is one of the most critical books to read as a business owner. These concepts are straight from his book so if you want to get an in-depth explanation, definitely pick it up.

ILR alumni sell storage business for seven figures

When Nick Huber ’12 and Dan Hagberg ’12 started a storage business out of their Collegetown basement, they didn’t realize it would change their lives. “At the end of our junior year, during finals week on a whim, Dan and I started driving around, picking up and storing people’s stuff,” Huber said. They used their first profit to pay their rent. By the time of their exit from Storage Squad in January 2021 – sold to the tune of seven figures to a company in the storage container space – the startup was operating on 30 college campuses in 15 cities across nine states. Huber and Hagberg were not business students; they’re alumni of the ILR School, but thanks to an effort by Cornell to weave entrepreneurship opportunities across disciplines, the team worked on its venture during several introductory and advanced entrepreneurship ILR and SC Johnson College of Business courses.

Boost for cancer, haemophilia and arthritis treatments as University of Edinburgh takes lead on biotech project

The partnership involving FujiFilm Diosynth Biotechnologies (FDB) has secured funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), both of which are part of UK Research and Innovation. The £8.7 million, five-year research collaboration will use “state-of-the-art analytical tools” and engineering biology approaches to enable cost-effective manufacturing of biological drugs. These drugs are based on technology which brings together genetic material from different sources. They have transformed the treatment of life-limiting diseases including cancer, haemophilia and rheumatoid arthritis.

Bill Gates-Backed Startup Aims to Make Green Hydrogen Cheaper

An Israeli startup H2Pro has joined the race to make green hydrogen cheaper after securing investments from funds backed by Bill Gates and Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing. The company raised USD$22 million to move its technology from the lab to the factory floor.

What is Happening?

  • Demand is growing for green hydrogen, which is produced by splitting water- using renewable electricity- as a potential carbon-free fuel to replace coal, oil and natural gas. 
  • Hydrogen has been tipped as the fuel to help decarbonise industries like steel and cement, and potentially shipping and aviation. However, until recently, hydrogen hasn’t been widely adopted because of its expense to produce.
  • H2Pro’s technology is similar to the alkaline electrolysers that are most commonly used today to make green hydrogen, but with an important twist. Typically, when water is split, the current process uses electrical energy not just to break the hydrogen and oxygen atoms apart, but also to pair two hydrogen atoms and two oxygen atoms, respectively, to make the separate gases. H2Pro reduces this energy use by splitting the step in two. First, it creates hydrogen at the electrolyser’s cathode. The chemical reaction also changes the composition of its nickel-based anode. The cell is then flooded with a hot liquid, which helps the anode release oxygen gas with the help of thermal energy instead of electrical power, before the first step can be performed again.
  • The startup hopes that using this technology will enable it to make green hydrogen for $1 per kilogram by the second half of this decade- far cheaper than Bloomberg analysis which doesn’t expect the price to go that low until 2050. In 2019, a kilogram of green hydrogen cost $2.50 to $6.80.

Waiting Lists: What to Expect

Many are convinced that next week, when Ivy League and other competitive colleges theoretically tell applicants if they were admitted, they actually won’t — for thousands of students. Those students will be placed on waiting lists. And while colleges are quick to say that any student placed on a waiting list could succeed at the college, many students find waiting lists particularly frustrating — arguably more frustrating than rejection. This year, waiting lists are expected to be the worst ever (meaning the longest ever). The pandemic has led to a surge in applications at the most competitive colleges — public and private. The new applications include minority and low-income applicants who in the past felt unwelcome or who are attracted by the fact that many of these colleges were test optional for the first time. (Colleges that cater to these students struggled for applications.) Many of the top colleges also admitted large early-decision/early-action classes.

How I got fully vaccinated in Florida before my age was eligible (and you can if you’re 18+)

Important update: Matrix appears to have changed its criteria between Saturday, March 20 and Sunday, March 21. At Sunday’s event, organizers turned away anyone who was not eligible under state criteria; only a small number of vaccine doses were administered.

I want my life back. Like many of you I’ve been mostly isolated for more than 12 months and there’s so much I want to change about that. Sure, I want to hear live music at concerts. But more than that I want to see my loved ones. I want to hang out with my daughter for the first time in 14 months. I want to hug my sisters. I’d like to stay a weekend with my (vaccinated) mom at her Volusia County beach house. I divorced during the pandemic — eventually I’d like to date.

Students who took a gap year plan their returns

Some students who decided to put their education on hold to skip the current virtual academic year are planning to return after Cal State Fullerton announced they anticipate a primarily in-person fall semester. Eric Medley, a sociology undergraduate student, transferred to Cal State Fullerton when the COVID-19 pandemic began and said he did not get to experience campus life because of classes moving online in March of 2020. He said he decided to take only one class for fall 2020 and spring 2021 semesters until in-person classes resumed.

The Briefing: Fanatics Scores $320M, Lands $300M, Everlywell Buys Two Companies, And More

Here’s what you need to know today in startup and venture news, updated by the Crunchbase News staff throughout the day to keep you in the know.

Report: Fanatics scores $320M for sports merchandise e-commerce

Fanatics, the Jacksonville-based licensed sports merchandise retailer, has raised $320 million at a $12.8 billion valuation, Reuters reports, citing sources familiar with the matter. The round was led by existing investors Silver LakeBlackstoneFidelity InvestmentsNeuberger BermanThrive Capital and Major League Baseball, according to the report. The funding will be used in part to pursue mergers and acquisitions and for international expansion, sources told Reuters. Fanatics had previously raised $2 billion in funding, according to Crunchbase data. It has already made at least five known acquisitions, including most recently acquiring WinCraft and Top Of The World Headwear late last year.