Scotland must become an ESG investment ‘superpower’ – McKee

The Minister for Business, Trade and Tourism has set out his desire for Scotland to become a “superpower” in ESG (environmental, social and governance) investing.

Ivan KcKee was speaking at an off-COP26 Net Zero Pension Summit, organised by the Edinburgh-based Global Ethical Finance Initiative, where he announced the establishment of an industry-led taskforce to help set out the actions necessary to establish the nation as a leader for domestic green finance and attracting overseas investment.

“It’s been an interesting week and a half so far, but private sector finance has really come to the party – I think the scale of the challenge is understood, so it’s about what we can do together,” McKee said, referring to the UN climate summit so far.

Noting Scotland’s long history in pensions innovation – and current status with Edinburgh as one of the industry’s largest employment hubs – he pointed out the potential threats to the financial system as a result of the insurability of assets due to climate risk – adding that “resilience is hugely important to the sector and the entire economy”.

Hone, a human-powered platform for leadership training, nabs $16 million

As the Great Resignation builds, corporations and organizations are looking for bigger and better ways to retain talent. One of the most popular ways to do that, right now, is to offer to employees better tools around personal development and career growth.

Hone, a startup backed by Cowboy Ventures, is looking to do just that.

The company is today announcing the close of a $16 million Series A funding round led by F-Prime Capital, with participation from Cowboy Ventures, NextGen Venture partners, Slack Fund, Gaingels and SemperVirens.

UpWest raises $70 million for Fund IV, investing in Israeli founders looking to tackle US market

UpWest, the venture firm led by Shuly Galili, Gil Ben-Artzy and Assaf Wahrhaft, announced this morning that it has closed on a $70 million fund, the fourth in the firm’s more than 10-year history.

The firm is unique in that it specializes in funding and supporting Israeli founders who are looking to enter the U.S. market early in their startup’s life.

The earliest funds for the firm were sub-$10 million, but returned and then some for LPs thanks to investments in startups like SentinelOne, which recently went public at a valuation north of $10 billion. Some other standout portfolio companies for UpWest include Honeybook (valued over $2 billion after its recent raise)Stampli, Imbuit and CyCognito.

Nokia chief backs enhanced carbon trading system

The chief executive of an international telecoms business has called for an enhanced carbon trading system, based on the Europe’s Emissions Trading System, so that polluters pay the full price for damaging the environment.

Nokia boss Pekka Lundmark, who was speaking at a COP26 event organised by Glasgow Chamber of Commerce and supported by the Scottish Government, said he was privileged to be working in an industry that is “genuinely part of the solution” to the climate emergency.

Lundmark, who took over last August, spoke about how combining power of cloud computing, the Internet of Things and the increasing digitisation of sensors, as power consumption of devices is falling and speed increasing, will enable precision data for industries from manufacturing to farming.

However, he also spoke of the need for new sustainable ecosystems where the auditing of decarbonising supply chains is imperative, and financial incentives are aligned with sustainability.

The State of U.S. Early-Stage Venture and Startups: 3Q21

  • 3Q21 was the second-best quarter ever for early-stage startups on AngelList in terms of positive activity (markups and exits).
  • Roughly 11.3% of the startups in our portfolio raised a round or exited.
  • Median pre-seed valuations were $8M and median seed-stage valuations were $15M.
  • Blockchain and crypto startups on AngelList captured 16.6% of all deployed capital.
  • Startups with a female founder comprised 17.95% of all deals.
  • Read all our findings in our 3Q21 State of U.S. Early-Stage Venture & Startups Report.

Venture funding into early-stage startups on AngelList remained extremely elevated in 3Q21. Roughly 87% of events that happened to startups in the AngelList portfolio in 3Q21 were positive ones (markups or positive exits)—a minor downtick from 2Q21’s record-high of 90%.

The Buzz Around Florida Startup Growth Isn’t Just Hype

So far this year, Florida companies have raised just over $1 billion in early-stage funding, per Crunchbase data. That’s nearly quadruple the sum raised in all of 2020, and comes as other investment stages are also posting gains.

What’s driving the momentum? There is certainly a buzz factor. Among tech influencers on Twitter, posts singing the praises of Miami became a thing last winter. Miami Mayor Francis Suarez capitalized on the moment with a social media campaign to attract startup talent to the city.

But just as you can’t start a fire without a spark, you can’t build a startup hot spot without some elements already in place. Although the spotlight cast on South Florida intensified in recent months, founders, investors and universities in the region have actually been engaged in a years-long process to build up startup momentum, said Kevin Burgoyne, president and CEO of the Florida Venture Forum. Now, much of that effort is coming to fruition.

Meet the Tampa startup bringing representation to videos — and that just won $25K from Daymond John

Imani Lee‘s last nine years of work on his startup was coming to fruition. His clothing line focused on health and healing was getting ready to take off, but events in 2020 made Lee re-evaluate.

“I asked myself, ‘What can I do to support my Black community, to help us become more visible, help other people learn about Black culture, to break down stigmas and stereotypes?'” Lee said. “I was making traction with my passion project, but I really had to decide at that moment what direction I could go with. I had been working on the side for nine years, so to put it down completely spoke volumes on how passionate I was about this company.”

More women are investing Florida’s startup scene, new report says

Women are investing in startups at higher rates but are less likely to lead them, according to a new report by Tampa-based Embarc Collective.

The innovation hub published its second annual Glaring Gap report, with funding from JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM). The report looked at data of Florida startups funded from 2011 through 2020, totaling 2,675 startups. 

This is in conjunction with the Tampa Bay Wave/Embarc Collective TechWomen Rising Accelerator program, which is mentoring 12 local, women-led startups.

Don’t sleep on it: Tampa founder believes his napping company can make you more productive at work

Scott Chester got the idea for his startup after witnessing road rage on the Howard Frankland Bridge.

It’s an unusual place for inspiration to hit, Chester acknowledges, but it was something he and his then co-workers would witness daily on their way to work.

“There’s nothing but anger on the roads and then you get to work and carry that frustration and take it out on others,” Chester said. “And we were in the IT department, so we would talk about places like Google that really take care of their people.”

It’s 5 o’clock somewhere: Local app helps you find food and drink deals in Tampa Bay

The seed was planted for Neil Jirele’s first company when he worked abroad in Spain for a summer as an undergraduate. He offered to take his co-workers out for some happy hour drinks and hit sticker shock when he realized the beers were roughly eight euros — or $12 — each.

“I thought I had to find a way to find food and drink specials so I can enjoy the city of Madrid,” he said.

Shortly after, he was convinced by a bar promoter to sit down at a bar, only to find the same $12 beers at a quarter of the price.  

“The guy literally grabbed me and put me at a table; I thought there has to be a better way for bars and restaurants to reach people like me at the decision-making time,” Jirele said. “I thought it would work in Iowa City where I was going to school, in Minneapolis where I’m from — just anywhere with the robust hospitality scene.”