Looking to new products, Bev adds strategic investors and redoubles focus on women entrepreneurs

Looking for fellow travelers to join in on its mission to transform the beverage business, the Los Angeles-based startup Bev has taken on fresh capital from a slew of strategic investors. 

The company has added Erin and Sara Foster, creative heads of Bumble BFF and Bumble Biz, to their investor and creative talent pool, along with other notable names like Rich Paul, Simon Tikhman, Keith Sheldon and Chief Zaruk.

The new capital will help support the launch of Bev’s new “Made By Chicks” media platform and podcast, which will be hosted by the Foster sisters in their first official partnership with any brand, according to a statement from the company.

In addition to the new media platform, Bev is also planning to launch two new beverages into its boozy stable of canned wines. Expect two white wines to join the company’s Rosé on store shelves within the year, according to company founder and chief executive, Alix Peabody.

“We’re partnering with Bev because we’re comfortable buying the product ourselves and telling our friends to buy it,” said Sarah Foster in a statement. “Our community trusts us to be authentic to ourselves and our brand, and we strive to do that. Bev’s female-oriented mission and movement align with our personal interests. We’re very inclusive, rather than alienating, and we’re thrilled to be a part of ‘Made By Chicks.’ ”

Peabody is one of several entrepreneurs in Los Angeles and beyond looking to upend the market for beverages worldwide — an industry that’s expected to hit $1.9 trillion, according to data provided by the company. Wine alone is expected to be a roughly $450.5 billion dollar business by 2024, according to Bev.

“Legacy brands tend to sexualize alcohol consumption, and objectify women on TV, billboards, and in print,” said Peabody, in a statement. “That’s what we’re changing. We want women to know that drinking can be fun, inclusive and safe.”

Together with Peabody, the Fosters will develop media like podcasts, videos and events that center on entrepreneurial women. It’s a format similar to the media property Girlboss, founded by Sophia Amoruso and now owned by Attention Capital.

Stories and advice columns from the new platform will range from topics like asking for a raise to managing a company while pregnant.

“When I first met Alix and her team, I immediately gravitated to her incredible founder story, ambition to challenge the alcohol industry’s outdated status quo, and sheer tenacity to spark a movement through an empowering brand like Bev,” shared Simon Tikhman, the CEO and co-founder of The Core Entertainment, a partner of Live Nation, and new Bev brand investor, in a statement. “I also knew by partnering with Bev that I wanted to assemble an unrivaled strategic group with expertise and business acumen in diverse sectors. Erin and Sara Foster, Rich Paul, Keith Sheldon, and Chief Zaruk bring so much to the table.”

Kenyan logistics startup Sendy raises $20M round backed by Toyota

Africa’s logistics startup space has gained another multi-million-dollar round with global backing.

Kenyan company Sendy — with an on-demand platform that connects clients to drivers and vehicles for goods delivery — has raised a $20 million Series B led by Atlantica Ventures.

Toyota Tsusho Corporation, a trade and investment arm of Japanese automotive company Toyota, also joined the round.

Sendy’s raise comes within six months of Nigerian trucking logistics startup Kobo360’s $20 million Series A backed by Goldman Sachs. In November, East African on-demand delivery venture Lori Systems hauled in $30 million supported by Chinese investors.

Those companies have plotted Africa expansions into each other’s markets and broader Africa. With its latest round, Sendy ups its competitive stance in the continent’s startup logistics space. The company plans to expand to West Africa in 2020, CEO Mesh Alloys told TechCrunch on a call.

Alloys co-founded Sendy in 2015 with Kenyans Evanson Biwott and Don Okoth and American Malaika Judd. The startup currently has offices in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, with 5,000 vehicles on its platform that move all sorts of goods, according to Alloys.

Sendy offers services for e-commerce, enterprise, and freight delivery for a client list that includes Unilever, DHL, Maersk, Safaricom and African online retailer Jumia.

The company uses an asset-free model, with an app that coordinates contract drivers who own their own vehicles, while confirming deliveries, creating performance metrics and managing payment.

On Sendy’s business and revenue model, “We take a percentage of each transaction. We also facilitate services for drivers like insurance, health insurance, vehicle financing, vehicle servicing and fuel credits,” said Alloys.

The company plans to use its Series B funding for new hires and to upgrade its tech. “Getting better operational efficiency is super key, so we’ll invest…in engineering teams and data teams…and deploying talent to improve the services that we give our customers,” said Alloys.

Sendy’s $20 million round includes an R&D arrangement with Toyota Tsusho Corporation, whose investment comes from a venture arm the company established for Africa, called Mobility 54.

“We’ll look at optimizing the kind of trucks that perform well in this market… they’ll also look at setting up vehicle services centers in partnership with us,” said Alloys.

Asia Africa Investment, Sunu Capital, Enza Capital, Vested World and Kepple Capital joined lead investor Atlantica Ventures on the $20 million round — which brings Sendy’s total funding to $29 million, according to Alloys.

Formed in 2019, Atlantica Ventures is a relatively new Africa focused VC fund co-founded by Washington, DC based Aniko Szigetvari. She confirmed the fund’s lead on Sendy’s Series B and that Atlantica Ventures will take a board seat and work on strategic planning and execution with the company.

On how Sendy will outpace rivals such as Kobo360 and Lori Systems, Alloys points to the startup’s platform. “Our customer service is superior and that’s driven by our technology… I think we’re miles ahead of our competition today when it comes to tech,” he said.

Whoever surges ahead, Africa’s top business hubs — Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana — stand to gain from the innovation VC spending and startup rivalry bring to the on-demand goods delivery sector.

Though logistics services aren’t included in the World Bank’s ease of doing business country rankings, they’re known to be costlier in Africa than many parts of the world.

In the early days of online commerce development on the continent — due to a lack of viable 3PL options — pioneering e-commerce startups Jumia and Konga were forced to burn capital by forming their own delivery services.

Years later, after Jumia listed on the NYSE and expanded to multiple countries in Africa, fulfillment costs related to delivery remain one of the company’s largest expenses.

Lowering logistics expenses for businesses in Africa is central to Sendy’s mission, according to Alloys.

“We’re organizing a marketplace using technology so companies can efficiently deliver to their customers while reducing overall costs,” he said.