Kestrix & Uvodo
Open Scout #17
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Startups of the week
Startup name: Kestrix (2022, UK)
Overview: Building decarbonization initiatives have been gaining momentum lately as many cities and governments have started setting net-zero emission targets. While energy requirements and metrics have been introduced to promote new high-performing and net-zero constructions, decarbonizing existing residential buildings is still lacking a clear roadmap.
Did you know that a large proportion of the existing built environment needs to be retrofitted to achieve net-zero? To achieve this, every aspect of retrofitting needs to be much more scalable than it currently is.
So, what exactly is a net-zero building? To quote Wikipedia:
A Zero Energy Building (ZEB), also known as a Net Zero Energy (NZE) building, is a building with net zero energy consumption, meaning the total amount of energy used by the building on an annual basis is equal to the amount of renewable energy created on the site.
Kestrix is working on developing scalable solutions for measuring building thermal performance. It uses aerial thermal imagery to build the “Google Maps” of heat loss for the built environment, then extracts building level insights that determine return on investment for retrofit. This allows property owners to optimize their net zero investments into their property portfolios.
A few insights:
Construction is directly or indirectly responsible for almost 40 percent of global CO₂ emissions from fuel combustion and 25 percent of GHG emissions as a whole. These figures include materials such as cement and steel. Within buildings, heating and cooking currently produces 6 percent of global emissions.
The transition to net-zero buildings will create opportunities for companies in two ways: retrofitting existing structures and ensuring that new construction generates low emissions.
As the retrofit cycle accelerates, there is potential for significant new demand for manufacturers and installers of low-emissions and efficiency-enhancing building materials and systems, as well as the services ecosystem that manages retrofit projects and maintains these systems.
Additionally, there is likely to be a rise in demand for digital systems to track and improve energy use. First movers into green engineering and performance-management services that support the retrofit industry will likely see bigger wins.
Founder(s) background: Matt Goodridge - prev. CEO @ Experiment X, Product Manager @ Google; Lucy Lyons - prev. Sustainability Associate @ Plan A
Backed by (public source): Carbon13
Startup name: Uvodo (2022, US)
Overview: Uvodo is a self-hosted, headless eCommerce platform for online sellers, developers, and agencies. It’s customizable, scalable, and compatible with 3rd party technologies.
A few insights:
Commerce has become ubiquitous, with a non-linear purchase journey. From seeing an ad on Instagram to browsing in-store, or receiving a link from a friend, e-commerce has become an integral part of our lives. As Arpan Podduturi, Director of Product Retail and Messaging, Shopify, puts it: "Commerce is everywhere".
The global e-commerce market is set to hit an incredible $6.3tn by the end of this year. That's a significant increase from just two years ago, when only 17.8% of sales were made through online purchases. However, we are seeing a steady increase, and by the end of 2023, that number is expected to reach 20.8%, which is a 2 percentage point increase in e-commerce market share.
The growth may not be as explosive as it was during the pandemic times, but e-commerce is still taking an increasingly larger slice of total retail sales worldwide.
According to the latest data from the Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce, e-commerce sales for 2022 were estimated at $1,034.1bn, which is a significant increase of 7.7% from 2021. E-commerce sales now account for 14.6% of total sales, and growth is expected to continue. By 2025, it's estimated that e-commerce will account for 23% of total sales, which translates to a 5.2 percentage point increase in just five years.
Founder(s) background: Taleh Karimli - prev. Co-founder @ Nextsale (acquired by AppHub); Orkhan Hajiyev - prev. Head of Growth @ Nextsale
Backed by (public source): Raised $300k pre-seed from MBA Club Investment Network and Khazar Ventures.
Abound, a UK-based consumer lending startup, raised an impressive $601mm in combined debt and equity funding. Investors in the round include K3 Ventures, GSR Ventures and Hambro Perks.
Character.AI, which allows users to chat with famous figures using LLMs, secured between $200mm and $250mm in funding, with a16z leading the round, valuing the company at approximately $1bn.
Fintech SaaS platform, Growfin, announced it has raised $7.5mm in Series A funding, with SWC Global, a Singapore-based venture capital firm, leading the round.
Glider AI, a skill intelligence platform, closed a total of $10mm in Series A funding, with participation from Primera Capital and other investors.
Chaos Industries, a defense tech startup with multiple products in development, including COHERENCE, a sensor, detection and radar solution with broad defense and commercial applications, announced the closing of a $70mm Series A funding round led by 8VC.
That’s all for this week. Stay tuned for more next Tuesday!
About $275 trillion of cumulative spending on physical assets (retirement or transformation of existing physical assets and the acquisition of new ones) would be needed over the next three decades under the NGFS Net Zero 2050 scenario.
Commerce growth slowed in 2022. And as the war in Ukraine contributed to surging oil and gasoline prices, the cost and time associated with transporting small packages went up—and not just in the region.
During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, e-commerce was one of the biggest stories in retail. Online shopping jumped 77% year over year just months into the pandemic, accelerating the innovation and adoption of digital commerce by half a decade.