Reasons Why Non-Traditional Investors are Funding Indian Start-ups

These include sovereign wealth funds, hedge funds, PE firms and family offices, according to data sourced from venture capital firm Sequoia Capital …
September 13, 2019 2 min read
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With the number of start-ups ballooning in India requiring higher dose of capital infusion, new categories of investors are coming to the fore.

These include sovereign wealth funds, hedge funds, PE firms and family offices, according to data sourced from venture capital firm Sequoia Capital and cited by The Economic Times in a report. Some of the investors include Facebook, Ikea and Qatar Investment Authority, among others.

The Non-Traditional Route

The non-traditional investors have cracked several funding deals in India. For instance, Facebook invested in social commerce start-up Meesho, Ikea invested in home design start-up Livspace and Qatar Investment Authority pumped US$150 million in edtech unicorn Byju’s.

Apart from big companies and giants, many companies started off as non-traditional investors and took their game seriously, thereafter. SoftBank being a classic example of the same. It started off as telecom firm and went to establish the Vision Fund, becoming the biggest investor in the world.

Despite the number of start-ups going up in the country, a recent report by TiE and Zinnov recommended an urgent need to significantly increase the seed and early stage funding, which has tapered since 2017. But, the need for funding at these stages is increasing given that companies are preferring to remain private. Only a handful of companies such as Druva, Mobikwik and Freshworks have shown the intent to go public.

The Big Gaps

India is undervalued, underpenetrated and underbanked. With no dearth of a pool of talent and skill, it is lagging behind US and China despite having a solid and robust start-up ecosystem. There are gaps in the funding stages as well. According to a report by accelerator and VC, 9Unicorns, India gets 20x less funsing than US in Series A. in 2018, India had only US$ 4.1 billion pumped in Series A deals whereas US had a staggering US$84.1 billion pumped.

Additionally, Indian start-ups absorb US$12 billion-US$14 billion ever year as compared with China which has receives almost double the amount in the very first half of the year at US$23.2 billion, leaving the Indian market underpenetrated.

With over 17000 start-ups in India, the demand for capital infusion is bound to rise and here comes the role of non-traditional investors.

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Robotic Products Company Ori Secures $20 Million

This round of funding — which was provided by Sidewalk Labs, Ingka Group, Geolo Capital, and Khosla Ventures — will enable Ori to broaden its …
  • Robotic interior products Ori announced it raised $20 million in Series B funding from Sidewalk Labs, Ingka Group, Geolo Capital, and Khosla Ventures

Ori — a designer of robotic interior products and systems — announced it has raised $20 million in a Series B round of financing. This round of funding — which was provided by Sidewalk Labs, Ingka Group, Geolo Capital, and Khosla Ventures — will enable Ori to broaden its focus beyond creating products and systems to partnering with architects and builders on designing urban housing and spaces that are flexible, intelligent, sustainable, and affordable.

“At Ori we see interior space differently; we’re challenging the centuries-old view that the functionality is linearly related to the amount of available physical space,” said Ori founder and CEO Hasier Larrea,. “It is so energizing for us to have the opportunity to partner and collaborate with investors who similarly are rethinking how urban centers should be built and who are working at the building, neighborhood and city scale. From our perspective, Sidewalk Labs, Ingka Group, Geolo Capital and Khosla Ventures is the perfect team to supercharge our execution toward this vision.”

As an average of three million people move to cities every week and more than two-thirds of the global population are projected to live in cities within a generation, building livable, affordable, and sustainable urban housing has become an urgent challenge. And Ori’s focus on enabling residents to use only the space they need — when they need it — will ensure better utilization of scarce land and resources along with a dramatically improved and responsive living experience.

Edwin Hendriksen recently joined Ori to help lead this expanded strategy. Hendriksen was most recently The SVP Global Head of WeLive and Mixed-use Real Estate at The We Company. And previously Hendriksen was SVP of Investment and Development at citizenM — which is a pioneer of the micro hotel concept designed for modern travelers who value a luxury hotel experience in central city locations at an affordable price. Hendriksen is going to be joining Ori as its president and also will join its board of directors.

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“I couldn’t be more enthusiastic about joining Ori, and convinced that the concept of dynamic, responsive space is an absolute game-changer,” added Hendriksen. “For developers and real estate owners, Ori’s technology and solutions create a real competitive advantage. But more importantly, being able to transform and configure your space in a frictionless and elegant way not only means an enhanced experience for residents living in compact urban housing, but it also opens a new pathway to affordability and access to urban communities.”

Last year, with the release of Ori’s first production units, people across the country started living with robotic interiors designed by Ori.

“Flexibility and efficiency make dense urban living not only more enjoyable, but also more affordable. Ori’s technology and new way of conceiving flexible and responsive interior spaces unlocks the potential to provide city residents with access to a premier urban living experience at a reasonable price,” explained Sidewalk Labs chairman and CEO Dan Doctoroff.

Sidewalk Labs — an Alphabet company — is known for reimagining cities to improve quality of life. This is done by combining people-centered urban design with cutting-edge technology. Sidewalk Labs is currently designing a district in Toronto’s Eastern Waterfront to tackle the challenges of urban growth.

Ori’s collection of robotic interiors includes the Studio Suite, the Pocket Closet, and the Cloud Bed — which will be commercially available in 2020.

“This investment aligns closely with the direction of Ingka Group, where we want to be a partner in life at home for our customers by offering affordable, convenient and more sustainable small-space solutions – especially as more and more people move toward big cities. In addition, we see potential opportunities to explore, together with Ori, new ways of building more flexible and responsive spaces that may allow us to create innovative meeting places and inspirational retail experiences for our customers in the future,” commented Ingka Investments Managing Director Krister Mattsson.

Ingka Group is 1 of 11 different groups of companies that own and operate IKEA retail under franchise agreements with Inter IKEA Systems B.V. And Ingka Group is a strategic partner in the IKEA franchise system by operating 367 IKEA stores in 30 countries.

Ori’s products — all of which enable the transformation of space with the touch of a button or voice command — can be found in more than 30 projects located in major cities across the United States.

“As investors, developers and operators of branded real estate concepts, we’re fascinated by the growing convergence of the hospitality and residential sectors. Ori uniquely optimizes smart and efficient design, which fundamentally changes the way we look at multifamily and hotel development projects. As a result, Ori enhances resident and guest experiences, while maximizing the returns for developers. This is something we’re truly excited to explore together,” pointed out Geolo Capital founding partner and director John Pritzker.

Ori’s name is derived from “origami,” these Japanese art of folding paper for creating beautiful objects that take many kinds of elegant forms.

“In addressing the global housing crisis, Ori is taking on a challenge so large that breakthrough technology, and a genuinely different perspective, needs to be an integral part of the solution. But it is a problem that also needs a very human solution. So we are excited that Ori has assembled an investor group that represents some of the best thinking on all aspects of the future of urban living,” noted Khosla Ventures founder Vinod Khosla.

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Robotic furniture system Ori raises $20M in new funding round

They are joining current backer Khosla Ventures, a venture capital firm that provides assistance and strategic advice to entrepreneurs working on …

New funding for robotic furniture company Ori, will allow it to expand on its current product offerings including the Pocket Closet (shown here) which expands to reveal storage and contracts to offer more living space.

BOSTON – Ori, the robotic furniture system that moves to save space, has raised $20 million in Series B funding from several groups of investors to address the future of affordable and responsive living environments.

“At Ori, we see interior space differently; we’re challenging the centuries-old view that the functionality is linearly related to the amount of available physical space,” said Hasier Larrea, Ori’s founder and CEO. “It is so energizing for us to have the opportunity to partner and collaborate with investors who similarly are rethinking how urban centers should be built and who are working at the building, neighborhood and city scale.”

Larrea said the new funding will allow Ori to broaden its focus beyond creating products and systems to partnering with architects and builders on designing urban housing and spaces that are flexible, intelligent, sustainable and affordable.

Lead investors include Sidewalk Labs, a holding company formed from Google; Ingka Group, the main owner and operator of furniture giant Ikea’s retail; and Geolo Capital, a private equity investment arm. They are joining current backer Khosla Ventures, a venture capital firm that provides assistance and strategic advice to entrepreneurs working on breakthrough technologies.

To accomplish its new, broader focus, Ori has brought on Edwin Hendriksen as the company’s new president and a member of the board of directors. Hendriksen most recently acted as the global head of WeLive, and he was also senior vice president of investment and development at citizenM, a pioneer of the micro-hotel concept.

“For developers and real estate owners, Ori’s technology and solutions create a real competitive advantage,” said Hendricksen. “But more importantly, being able to transform and configure your space in a frictionless and elegant way not only means an enhanced experience for residents living in compact urban housing, but it also opens a new pathway to affordability and access to urban communities.”

Earlier this year, Ori teamed up with retail giant Ikea to introduce Rognan, a new robotic furniture solution for small space living that will launch in Hong Kong and Japan next year.

Anne Flynn Wear//Associate Editor

Anne covers the evolving landscape among retailers and manufacturers in the bedding, technology, e-commerce and disruptive retail segments.

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Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs leads $20 million round into Ori’s robotic furniture for small spaces

… by Alphabet’s urban innovation offshoot Sidewalk Labs, with participation from IKEA franchisee Ingka Group, Khosla Ventures, and Geolo Capital.

The world will be home to an estimated 10 billion people by 2050, one-quarter more than the Earth’s population today — and two-thirds of those will live in cities, according to United Nations figures. To combat overcrowding, the need to optimize space within urban dwellings will become an increasingly pressing issue, which is where Ori is setting out to make its mark.

Ori designs robotic home interiors that can be moved around and concealed when required. At its core, Ori helps homeowners, construction companies, and architects kit out residential buildings with space optimization firmly in mind.

Small spaces

The Boston-based startup today announced that it has raised $20 million in a series B round of funding led by Alphabet’s urban innovation offshoot Sidewalk Labs, with participation from IKEA franchisee Ingka Group, Khosla Ventures, and Geolo Capital. This takes its total funding to $27 million since its founding in 2015, and with its fresh cash injection it said that it plans to expand beyond creating robotic products and systems, and develop more partnerships with builders and architects to create flexible urban spaces.

Ori already has at least one impressive partner in place in the retail space, after it recently announced a tie-up with IKEA to develop robotic furnishings, which are expected to go to market in Asia first in 2020.

“This investment aligns closely with the direction of Ingka Group, where we want to be a partner in life at home for our customers by offering affordable, convenient and more sustainable small-space solutions — especially as more and more people move toward big cities,” noted Krister Mattsson, managing director at Ingka Investments. “In addition, we see potential opportunities to explore, together with Ori, new ways of building more flexible and responsive spaces that may allow us to create innovative meeting places and inspirational retail experiences for our customers in the future.”

By way of example, IKEA’s new Rognan range include a product that merges a sofa, bed, and wardrobe into a single unit, which slides and shifts in accordance with the space in which it’s installed.

Above: Ori partnered with IKEA to develop this Rognan robotic furniture range

Elsewhere, Ori has a range of moving and sliding robotic furniture, including closets that move out from the wall, beds that rise from the ground into the ceiling, and desks.

These can be controlled manually with a button on a wall, through the Ori mobile app, or even vocally via integrations with smart speakers such as Google Home and Amazon Echo.

Above: Ori: Shape-shifting

The story so far

Ori’s technology is built on research emanating from a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) project called CityHome, which ran from 2011 until 2016, that sought to demonstrate how a modern home with a small footprint “can function as an apartment two to three times that size.”

Ori’s first production units didn’t go to market until 2018, and today it said that its products are installed in “more than 30 projects” across major U.S. cities.

Nabbing Sidewalk Labs as a lead investor is a notable development for Ori. Google’s sister company has garnered headlines recently for its audacious plans to transform Toronto’s waterfront into a smart city, but the Alphabet subsidiary has made a few direct investments in startups over the past couple of years, most recently leading a $5 million seed investment into a community marketplace for elderly people.

“Flexibility and efficiency make dense urban living not only more enjoyable, but also more affordable,” added Sidewalk Labs chairman and CEO Dan Doctoroff. “Ori’s technology and new way of conceiving flexible and responsive interior spaces unlocks the potential to provide city residents with access to a premier urban living experience at a reasonable price.”

Ori also fits into a wider trend that has seen startups and investors drive forward a sustainable agenda for cities, covering cleaner transport and finding new ways to cut waste. A few months back, Atomico and Northzone led a $25 million investment into a Norwegian company called Spacemaker, which has created AI-powered software that optimizes the layouts of residential developments in building projects. Ori is tackling the same problem as Spacemaker but from a different perspective — it’s looking at interior design rather than exterior construction.

“At Ori we see interior space differently; we’re challenging the centuries-old view that the functionality is linearly related to the amount of available physical space,” said Ori founder and CEO Hasier Larrea. “It is so energizing for us to have the opportunity to partner and collaborate with investors who similarly are rethinking how urban centers should be built and who are working at the building, neighborhood and city scale.”

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MassRobotics startup Ori raises $20M for robotic furniture

The investors who participated in the Series B include Geolo Capital, Ingka Group, Khosla Ventures, and Sidewalk Labs, which is an Alphabet …
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Ori, the MassRobotics resident The Robot Report profiled just yesterday, raised $20 million in Series B funding for its robotic furniture. Ori said the funding will allow it to partner with “architects and builders on designing urban housing and spaces that are flexible, intelligent, sustainable and affordable.”

The investors who participated in the Series B include Geolo Capital, Ingka Group, Khosla Ventures, and Sidewalk Labs, which is an Alphabet company. The Ingka Group is one of 11 different groups of companies that own and operate IKEA retail under franchise agreements. Ori collaborated with IKEA, the world’s largest furniture retailer since 2008, on its ROGNAN line of robotic furniture.

Ori has raised $26 million since it was founded in 2015 by a team of engineers from MIT. It raised a $6 million Series A from Khosla Ventures in Sept. 2017.

“At Ori we see interior space differently; we’re challenging the centuries-old view that the functionality is linearly related to the amount of available physical space,” said Hasier Larrea, Ori Co-Founder and CEO. “It is so energizing for us to have the opportunity to partner and collaborate with investors who similarly are rethinking how urban centers should be built and who are working at the building, neighborhood and city scale.”

Ori has two products on the market. Its flagship product, Ori Studio Suite, that features a bed, an entertainment center, storage space, a 50-inch TV nook and more. And the Pocket Closet that has one or two shelving walls that move to reveal a walk-in closet.

Ori Studio Suite robotic furniture

Ori Studio Suite. | Credit: Ori

“In addressing the global housing crisis, Ori is taking on a challenge so large that breakthrough technology, and a genuinely different perspective, needs to be an integral part of the solution,” said Vinod Khosla, Founder, Khosla Ventures. “But it is a problem that also needs a very human solution. So we are excited that Ori has assembled an investor group that represents some of the best thinking on all aspects of the future of urban living.”

Ori is the latest success story for MassRobotics’ startups. WatchTower Robotics, which is developing robots to help cities maintain water pipes, was of three startups to win the Imagine H2O’s Urban Water Challenge in Stockholm, Sweden. The competition attracted 226 startups from 38 countries. WatchTower won funding to deploy its robots in Da Nang, Vietnam.

Pison was recently awarded an AFWERX (US Air Force) phase 2 grant for autonomous drone control for $2.7M. It comprised of $1.2M from AFWERX and $1.5M from SOCOM (United States Special Operations Command). ThayerMahan was awarded a $19.4 million contract to develop autonomous marine systems for Navy and Marine Corps missions.

MassRobotics has also seen several startups outgrow and graduate from its startup space, including American Robotics, Autonodyne, Realtime Robotics, Square Robot and more.

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