PreIPO INTELLI™ Weekly Insights | Series 51
Friday, September 28th 2023 | Volume 1 Series 51 | Zapier Launches Canvas, Rayon the Figma for Designers, and more funding updates.
Greetings! It's Friday, which means the workweek is ending, and we have the latest news and updates in the INTELLI™ Newsletter to share with you. This week, we are talking about the latest developments in tech. Zapier has introduced Canvas, a tool for planning and automating business processes, supported by AI. It's in early access, and Tables, their database service, is now available to all users. Rayon is a collaborative design tool for architects and designers, aiming to simplify the design process. Additionally, Apron, a London-based startup, is streamlining invoice processing for small businesses, while Transfr, a VR training and career development startup, is expanding its training simulations and foreign language offerings..
Zapier launches Canvas
Zapier has introduced Canvas, a fresh tool designed to assist users in planning and illustrating their critical business processes, incorporating AI to convert these processes into Zapier-based automations. Canvas is currently in its early access phase. Simultaneously, the company has announced that Tables, its automation-focused database service, is now accessible to all users.
During its virtual ZapConnect user conference today, the eleven-year-old company emphasized its evolution from basic web service connections to complex integrations and workflow automations. Zapier's co-founder and CEO, Wade Foster, shared insights into the challenges associated with users building entire projects and businesses on top of Zapier. Canvas and Tables are two solutions aimed at addressing these challenges.
Foster pointed out that while Zapier's virtual editor can visualize components integrated within Zapier, it falls short for other workflow elements. Canvas aims to provide users with a comprehensive platform to map out their entire workflows, regardless of their connection to Zapier.
Canvas serves a dual purpose: it can serve as a basic flowchart tool for documenting processes and, for connected components, it becomes an editing interface. The tool also boasts an AI component, enabling users to describe their problem, with Canvas generating a corresponding process. Additionally, Canvas offers a template library.
Zapier, like many companies, is exploring the integration of AI into its services, with a focus on generative AI. Foster believes that leveraging AI can simplify complex business challenges.
Aside from the Canvas launch and Tables becoming widely available, Zapier is rolling out several smaller feature updates. These include an interactive editor capable of managing up to 10 paths, enhanced admin controls, and an expanded integration library that now includes over 6,000 options.
Rayon serves as a collaborative design solution for architects and designers
When you consider collaborative design tools, your thoughts likely gravitate towards Figma, the well-known design software that Adobe intends to acquire for a hefty $20 billion (although this acquisition is still awaiting regulatory approval). However, a relatively new French startup named Rayon is looking to apply the Figma model to architecture, engineering, and construction.
Established in 2021, Rayon initially secured $1.9 million in pre-seed funding (€1.75 million). More recently, the startup closed a $4.2 million seed round (€4 million), with co-leadership from Northzone and pre-seed investor Foundamental. Existing investors, including Seedcamp and Norman Foster of Foster + Partners, are also reinvesting in the company through this seed round. Notable angel investors in Rayon include Rasmus Andersson (a renowned designer and early Spotify and Figma employee), Adam Wiggins (co-founder of Heroku), David Basulto (founder and CEO of ArchDaily), and David Apple (early employee at Typeform and Notion).
So, what exactly is Rayon? Rayon is a web-based design tool, eliminating the need for users to install any software on their computers. It offers compatibility with various file formats, including PDF and CAD documents (DWG, DXF), as well as images for surface styling.
Rayon enables users to draw walls, incorporate doors, and add annotations to floor plans. Additionally, it serves as a centralized repository for object libraries, particularly useful for furniture. For example, if you consistently use the same desk when designing office spaces, you can import it into your object library.
Once you've crafted the perfect floor plan, Rayon allows you to generate PDFs for client sharing or printing. The platform can also calculate square meters and create tables based on your floor plans.
What sets Rayon apart from legacy software like Autodesk is its focus on multiplayer functionality. You can share a link with team members who can quickly view and collaborate on your work. Rayon supports annotations, comments, and revisions. Editors pay a monthly subscription fee to access the service, while viewers can examine models without additional subscription costs.
Rayon is still in its early stages, and it will be intriguing to see how it evolves over time with unique features that differentiate it from traditional software. For instance, the startup may consider building a community platform with user-generated content integrated directly into the product. It remains to be seen if Rayon's sharing links will become a common sight in email discussions.
Recent Funding Recap 🤝
Apron - $15 Million Series A
Apron, a London-based startup, has successfully secured $15 million in a Series A funding round, led by Index Ventures and featuring participation from Bessemer Venture Partners and Visionaries Club. The company's primary mission is to assist small businesses in streamlining their invoice processing.
Apron's focus is on small companies that lack dedicated finance departments and often rely on manual methods for handling invoices, such as email chains and online banking portals. The platform serves as a central repository for all invoices and enables users to establish rules and workflows, including CEO review for larger invoices. Utilizing open banking in the UK, Apron allows users to approve payments within the platform, with payments sent directly from their bank accounts.
Apron offers support for payments in 30 currencies at favorable exchange rates with a 0.5% conversion fee, catering to businesses that deal with foreign suppliers. It can also be used to streamline employee payments. Furthermore, the platform integrates seamlessly with accounting software like Xero and Quickbooks, simplifying payment reconciliation with invoices.
Transfr - $40 Million Series C
Transfr, a VR training and career development startup, has raised $40 million in a Series C funding round led by ABS Capital. The company plans to expand its executive team, scale its platform, and create new training simulations. Transfr also intends to enhance its offerings, including foreign language courses in Spanish. The company, installed in over 1,000 U.S. locations, serves government agencies, Fortune 500 firms, schools, and more. It offers hands-on training simulations using VR, targeting middle-skills jobs, and is seen as a cost-effective and accessible tool for workforce training.
Gringo - $30 Million Series C
Brazilian startup Gringo is positioning itself as a super app for the country's 75 million drivers, offering comprehensive support for their automotive and insurance needs. The app consolidates car documentation and services, including fine payments, taxes, licensing, insurance, and loans with the vehicle as collateral. After raising $8 million in 2021 and approximately $35 million in 2022, Gringo has secured an additional $30 million in Series C funding, bringing its total funding to $80 million. This new investment will allow the company to expand its automotive credit and insurance products and introduce new features. Gringo aims to become the go-to platform for drivers, offering services like driver's license renewal, insurance comparisons, and access to bank offers. The startup currently serves 10 million customers and plans to double its revenue from the previous year by the end of this year. Gringo is also eyeing the used car market in Brazil, aiming to simplify the buying and selling process for drivers based on the data it has collected from its customers' vehicles.
As always, stay tuned for more updates and insights from the team at INTELLI™.