SoFi Raising New Cash To Help Ease Students’ $1 Trillion Debt Burden

Editor’s note: This is a repost of a TechCrunch article written by Jon Shieber.

Student lending service Social Finance is close to securing a new round of as much as $75 million, according to two investors familiar with the company’s plans.

The San Francisco-based company is one of a new generation of lending and consulting services backed by venture investors that are looking to help debtors better manage the almost $1.2 trillion in student loan obligations currently breaking the financial backs of America’s graduates.

Social Finance, which does business as SoFi, has already raised $77 million in its last round of venture funding back in 2012 from investors, including the Chinese social networking service Renren, Baseline Ventures, and DCM. The company’s public relations firm did not respond to a request for comment for this article.

Continue reading

Education Technology Startups Raised Over Half A Billion Dollars In Q1

Editor’s note: This is a repost of a TechCrunch article written by Jon Shieber.

Education technology-focused startups raised over $500 million already in the first quarter of 2014, marking the single biggest quarter for capital committed to the sector in the past five years.

What began as a trickle in 2009, with 20 companies raising over $64 million at the beginning of the year, is now a flood as funding leapt to $500 million in 99 venture-backed startups, according to CrunchBase data.

“It’s interesting because public education hasn’t changed that much in 150 to 200 years and there had been almost no technology going into it,” said Don Burton, managing director of the Techstars Kaplan Edtech Accelerator program. “It’s not only that there’s this huge behemoth sector of the economy that spends $1.2 trillion on educating kids, but that it’s old, it’s long in the tooth and it’s bound to get disrupted.”

Continue reading

Opening Consumer Products To Crowdsourced Investment, CircleUp Raises $14 Million

Editor’s note: This is a repost of a TechCrunch article written by Jon Shieber.

Technology’s ability to harness the wisdom of crowds has created massive new businesses that support entrepreneurship around arts, craftsmanship, and technology while simultaneously re-shaping the market for personal lending.

With its new $14 million financing, CircleUp wants to change the development of consumer products with equity crowdfunding.

The Series B round was led by Canaan Partners, with commitments from previous investors Google Ventures, Union Square Ventures, Maveron and Rose Park Advisors.

Continue reading

Startup Calendar for March 25th

Five events are featured in this week’s Startup Calendar:

And three accelerator programs are currently accepting applications:

Read the weekly newsletter for more… To take part in this program as an organization that hosts startup events, visit the Startup Calendar page for guidelines and send us an email at events@crunchbase.com. We look forward to hearing from you!

Noesis Raises $30 Million Finance Fund For Energy Efficiency

Editor’s note: This is a repost of a TechCrunch article written by Jon Shieber.

Taking a page from the SolarCity playbook, the hosted energy efficiency software and services company Noesis Energy has raised a new $30 million fund to help finance the energy efficiency projects of its customers.

The projects Noesis will fund will range from $300,000 to $1 million. Harmon would not disclose the name of the lender behind the debt vehicle, but said that the company would announce its involvement once it had crossed a certain lending threshold. Meanwhile, financing small-scale projects can offer big returns when rolled out across the nation’s service providers, according to Harmon.

Austin-based Noesis, which is backed by Austin Ventures and Black Coral Capital, has itself raised $20.5 million in two rounds of funding since its launch in 2011.

Noesis estimates that in the U.S. commercial and industrial organizations spend over $350 billion on energy each year, but at least $70 billion of that is wasted because of energy inefficient buildings, outdated lighting, and other issues.

Continue reading

Startup Financial Services Companies Come Of Age

Editor’s note: This is a repost of a TechCrunch article written by Jon Shieber.

With one eye on businesses abandoned in the wake of the financial crisis and the other on a new generation of investors, startup companies are now raising significant sums to challenge the hegemony of big banks and investment firms.

Since the beginning of 2013, venture investors committed over $800 million in new funding to develop businesses providing new investment, lending, mortgage and real estate, and wealth management services in the U.S. These startups have had their best quarter so far in 2014, when 13 companies raised $238.2 million in later stage funding — with at least $162 million committed in March alone.

Meyer “Mickey” Malka, the founder of the venture investment firm Ribbit Capital, raised $100 million at the beginning of 2013 to invest behind this thesis. Continue reading

Bitcoin Gains Ballast As Investors Continue To Pile In

Editor’s note: This is a repost of a story written on TechCrunch by Jon Shieber.

The demise of Mt.Gox has been met with the launch of Bitcoin’s Ft. Knox and the establishment of new proprietary exchanges from institutional investment trading platforms as investors attempt to right the ship of the stateless currency.

Having large institutional investors like Fortress Investments and Benchmark certainly helps the beleaguered currency (or is it a commodity?) platform.

Continue reading

Startup Calendar for March 18th

Seven events are featured in this week’s Startup Calendar:

And three accelerator programs are currently accepting applications:

Read the weekly newsletter for more… To take part in this program as an organization that hosts startup events, visit the Startup Calendar page for guidelines and send us an email at events@crunchbase.com. We look forward to hearing from you!

For Tech Investors, The Midwest Is Flyover Country No More

These days, Midwestern entrepreneurs and investors are seeding more than just fields.

A resurgent U.S. technology industry, propelled by strong initial public offerings and a healthy M&A market, as well as the launch of technology infrastructure services from companies like Amazon and Microsoft, has meant that entrepreneurs across the Rust Belt and Farm Belt are starting new technology companies in addition to more traditional manufacturing.

Continue reading

Startup Calendar for March 11th

Five events are featured in this week’s Startup Calendar:

And one accelerator program is currently accepting applications:

Read the weekly newsletter for more… To take part in this program as an organization that hosts startup events, visit the Startup Calendar page for guidelines and send us an email at events@crunchbase.com. We look forward to hearing from you!