EyeLights has announced the completion of its €20 million Series A. We’re delighted to welcome this company to the Aster Family, an investment we made with other news investors, Shift4Good, BPI France and EIC – Innovation Fund, as well as with other key existing shareholders.

After an initial seed round back in 2018, this Series A will help the talented duo Romain Duflot and Patrice Nagtegaele, to strengthen their capabilities to scale their head-up display (HUD) technology in the motorcycle sector and accelerate its deployment in the automotive space.

We have seen several attempts to turn augmented reality (AR) technologies into industrial or more specifically automotive applications, but all have had a hard time to successfully scale in such conservative environments. In general, these attempts have failed due to two major issues: lack of technology and product readiness on the one hand, and lack of compelling business/use cases on the other.

With EyeLights and its HUD technology, we believe that AR applications are getting one decisive step closer to reality, as the performance of early prototypes has impressed several industry leaders. Additionally, the business case is very clear: by revolutionizing car cockpits, there is a dual benefit of avoiding several plastic components and increasing driver safety.

Mixed and Augmented Reality find compelling applications in cars

As it has become increasingly evident from the amount of innovative applications that car OEMs brought to the latest CES in Las Vegas (Jan 2023), the in-cabin experience for both drivers and passengers is expected to make leap frogs in the next few years.

We believe that some of the most convincing visual applications are those around the concept of mixed reality. The BMW iVision Dee concept presented at the last CES is a great example. On this concept car, one of the main applications presented was the BMW’s new head-up display, where the key selling proposition is functionality. To put it with the words of Oliver Zipse, President and CEO of BMW, this represents the “perfect blend between virtual and real worlds” and, according to BMW, it’s not an abstract concept, but a system that will be in series production as early as 2025 under the name of “BMW Panoramic Vision”.

Time and time again, we have seen BMW being the early adopter of successful key technologies, such as the i3 model back in 2013, when an all-electric car was still just a concept for most of car OEMs. The technology standard picked by BMW to showcase the new windscreen display is the one adopted by Eyelights, which is based on pure polarization of nanomaterials. EyeLights brings the capabilities of this standard to a new level by using a custom picture generative unit (PGU) as a light source to increase brightness.

We believe that new head-up display technologies, such as the one shown at CES, have the potential to provide car drivers with much safer[1] functionality than current human/machine interfaces. On top of that, with the windscreen becoming a single large display, we can expect completely new possibilities for the design of future vehicles.

Impact driven company

While many market observers see in-car displays getting too big, worsening the carbon footprint of cars and increasing potential distraction elements for drivers, Eyelights’ technology can remedy these shortcomings by turning windshields into displays, making all sorts of new gen entertainment features possible, while reducing the use of plastic, and hence contributing to a better car carbon footprint. The elimination of large dedicated display/pads inside cars will lead to a substantial reduction of CO2 emissions: on average, an iPhone screen accounts for about 100kg of CO2 and a large car display can account for up to 500kg of CO2 just for its production. Indirect advantages will also come from weight reduction (from removing screens and plastic cockpits) and reduction of plastic use (removal/reduction of cockpits).

While the automotive market will be the primary focus of the company’s product development efforts, Eyelights will also address the motorbike head-up display market to increase rider safety by helping them focus entirely on road trajectory, as opposed to current navigation features.

Joining forces with a high-potential founding team that is undertaking a long journey to crack the automotive interface space.

While several attempts have been underway for years by Car OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers, the tech and price challenges associated have massively reduced any opportunity for HUD wide market adoption so far. We believe that technological advances in optics, coupled with convincing entertainment and in car applications, make this the perfect moment to invest in a promising startup addressing such a market opportunity.

We are proud to back the two co-founders of EyeLights and, while this is their first startup founded and led together, we believe their previous experience is very relevant to what they are trying to achieve.

Romain worked at Dassault  Aviation, and later at Airbus Flight Test to improve the certification process of new aircraft versions.

Patrice spent a few years at the Ecole Normal Sup Paris-Saclay after graduation to complete his PhD in optics. He then joined Carduan Technologies, the French specialist in advanced solutions for the characterization of nanoparticles and nanomaterials, where he stayed for about 8 years. He later joined Savimex, a French player specialized in the design and production of optical polymers. This is where Patrice met Romain in 2017 and later joined him at EyeLights.

[1] https://ntrs.nasa.gov/api/citations/20000021488/downloads/20000021488.pdf

Their first-hand experience in highly demanding industrial environments, solid engineering and physics background as well as their strong commitment to becoming the mobility interface category leader, makes us even more excited to join forces now, at the beginning of the journey to conquest. 🚀

Warehousing1 has announced the completion of its €10 million Series A funding round, co-led by Wille Finance and Aster, with participation from DB Schenker and existing investors HV Capital and Base 10.

With this additional money, the company, led by the talented trio Nils Aschmann, Fabian Sedlmayr and Nico Szeli, will focus on doubling down on its product development and international expansion. Their medium-term goal is to become the player of choice for European merchants that want to have logistics services that meet the high standards set by Amazon without being dependent on  the US tech giant.

At Aster, we have been diving deep into the logistics space as a whole for some time and were particularly convinced about the opportunity to join forces with Warehousing1 for several reasons.

Covid-19 has accelerated an already growing trend for e-commerce in Europe

Warehouses and fulfillment centers have been the nervous system of the global economy since the Covid-19 pandemic stroke in early 2020. As consumption shifted massively online, brands and retailers understood that the new battleground for winning customer satisfaction and retention was the delivery experience. Covid-19 was not solely responsible for this. Since its inception, Amazon has been raising the bar in terms of customer expectations, with next-day delivery for Prime-labelled products now the norm in most urban agglomerates. Even before Covid-19, e-commerce revenue in Europe had been growing strongly, sustaining a 9% CAGR for the last 5 years. Covid-19 provided a great 20% YoY growth boost, as direct consequence of country lockdowns. Storing and fulfillment operations, a key link in the delivery value chain, started to come under pressure: this has created a great momentum for innovation (and startups) in this space.

Thus, we started to investigate how e-commerce brands and retailers have been facing the surge of orders behind the scenes, and here’s what we found out:

Scaling digital interfaces takes months, while scaling physical operations take years.

Today, online retailers can scale their e-commerce business in months with modern digital tools spanning from sales (Shopify, Amazon), marketing (Google Ads, Mailchimp), payment (Stripe, Klarna) and customer experience (Zendesk, Zenloop). However, when it comes to scaling logistics, retailers still need to go through months of logistics service provider (LSP) evaluation and IT onboarding and repeat the entire process each time they reach maximum warehouse capacity or want to enter new geographies and/or markets.

Alternatively, brands and retailers can also rely on e-commerce giant marketplaces, such as Amazon, and their logistics infrastructure. However, this is not the preferred option for growing D2C brands, which wouldn’t be able to fully communicate their brand by selling on Amazon. Furthermore, Amazon turns down accounts that do not generate sufficient volumes – thus retailers need alternatives. For merchants that do not want to rely on e-commerce giants for their logistics operations, independent platforms such as Berlin-based startup Warehousing1 are the most attractive option.

Warehousing1 offers one of the most complete product suites on the market

Warehousing1 has created a marketplace that connects fast-growing online merchants within dependent LSPs. Warehousing1’s clients can access all LSPs on the platform and scale their warehousing and fulfillment capacity instantly, with no upfront costs and without the hassle of sourcing, evaluating, and negotiating with LSPs themselves. Thus, they can focus on what they love most: creating outstanding products for their customers.

But Warehousing1 is far from being  a mere broker of logistics services. Nils, Fabian and Nico, along with their great team, built the software infrastructure to seamlessly connect IT systems of merchants and logistics providers. This gives merchants real-time visibility of orders and inventory, enables automated change and cancellation workflows and the updating of fulfilment rules.

Likewise, Warehousing1 has a compelling value proposition for LSPs, as it makes them instantly visible to a myriad of online merchants who are striving to scale their logistics and bring new business to them without any additional overhead costs.

Joining forces with a high-potential founding team that is undertaking a long journey to crack the e-commerce logistics space.

While several startups in the e-commerce logistics space have already received strong VC attention, we believe there is still a long way to go. Specifically, we are interested in the warehousing and fulfillment-as-a-Servicespace”, which offers all the benefits of decentralized warehousing, without its major drawbacks (higher operating and inventory costs). Specifically, through a network of geographically distributed warehouses, shippers can:

  • Reduce shipping costs and delivery times by storing their products closer to their customers;
  • Expand storage capacity without having to build or lease new infrastructure, simply by upgrading their subscription;
  • Mitigate the risk of labor shortage by spreading inventory across different locations.

We are very proud to back the three co-founders of Warehousing1 and, while this is their first startup founded and led together, we believe that their previous experience is very relevant to what they are trying to achieve.

Neil worked in supply chain management at DSM and as a consultant at Porsche where he learned about contract logistics and the challenges faced by fast growing e-commerce players.

Fabian worked at an LSP and later as a consultant at PwC and McKinsey & Co. He met Nico, the third co-founder, at the Barcelona-based startup studio HS3,, who previously worked in market strategy and planning for Procter & Gamble.

Their first-hand experience of the logistics challenges, for both industrial and e-commerce players, as well as their strong commitment to becoming the reference e-commerce fulfillment and logistics service platform European fast-growing European merchants, make us even more excited to join forces now, at the beginning of the journey to the conquest. 🚀

Congrats to Nils Aschmann and their team for what you have been accomplishing so far and quite exciting to joining forces along the route to make of Warehousing1 the best alternative to e-commerce giants for #fulfillment and #logistics services across Europe

The softwarization of the car is on the way

The ACES (Autonomous, Connected, Electric, Shared) trend in automotive has accelerated the ‘softwarization’ of the car. In particular, Electric Vehicles, now an accelerating trend embraced recently by most OEMs, is paving the way for software-defined vehicles to become the norm due to batteries showing that good software management can actually bring more performance or life-time than costly hardware innovation.  

This move towards both electrification and software-defined is a fundamentally challenging shift for OEMs, having to fight two fronts at the same time, each of them being difficult and requiring a completely different set of skillsets. Most traditional OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers today do not have the resources and know-how in-house to develop every feature needed to compete in a market that is being rapidly disrupted by players such as Tesla and challenger OEMs such as NIO. Electrified and autonomous cars require significantly more software than traditional ICE vehicles – when looking at EVs for instance, a key component is the battery (it directly impacts the TCO, environmental impact and competitiveness of the car), and the BMS can hence be a critical component of differentiation for OEMs. 

Given their lack of expertise in these new and complex technologies, OEMs will look to have a more collaborative approach towards sourcing hardware and software for upcoming vehicle models. There is space in the market, therefore, for software players that can help OEMs along the value chain improve the competitiveness of their cars and components via a fast route to market. Consequently, we can imagine a future where automotive software applications deployed on the cloud and on the edge are provided as standard, hardware agnostic offerings while OEMs maintain their competitive advantage on the hardware side.  

However, this new opportunity for software-driven entrants comes with a caveat – automotive software has stringent regulatory, security and safety requirements, which is why several software-driven startups in the market struggle to move to the production phase with OEMs despite having unique and promising approaches. 


Eatron is deploying automotive grade BMS and ADAS 

Eatron’s software modules enable modular, hardware independent electrification and autonomy for anything that moves and is battery powered’.  

Eatron’s core products have strong synergies in the back end as they were built on the same building blocks with AI models layered on top of physic-based deterministic models, allowing them to leverage explainability (critical to become automotive grade), high performance especially on edge cases and strong data network effects. This has enabled Eatron to show promising traction with OEMs and system integrators. For the OEM, Eatron’s modular platform offers greater flexibility, lower costs, faster time to market and continuous improvements over the lifetime of the vehicle. 

We believe that Eatron’s pragmatic approach, marked by concrete commercial and production milestones that they are expected to achieve in the short-term, positions them well to capture significant early market share within the BMS and ADAS (for premium automotive OEMs, logistics and micro-mobility) segments.  


Eatron is led by a stellar team focused on quality and execution  

We are very proud to back the three co-founders of Eatron and have been impressed by their vast experience within the field and their ability to execute rapidly since day one.  

Umut was the founder and managing director of AVL Turkey where he built, grew and managed two R&D centers – his extensive experience in engineering spans 20 years in the field of controls, software, calibration and e-drive development for automotive critical systems. Can has 15+ years of experience in controls and estimation systems development, and software development in automotive and aerospace. He also has 10+ years of experience in battery and BMS serial production programs. Amedeo has a mixed skillset of business development, management and engineering developed across roles at AVL, Ford, Fiat Group and Ducati which reflect in Eatron’s stellar commercial performance to date. 

With their razor-sharp focus and vision to disrupt the BMS and ADAS for automotive markets, the team has a great opportunity in front of them: to be the go-to supplier for electrified and autonomous system software. 

Otoqi has announced the completion of its €6 million Series A funding round, co-led by Seventure Partners and Aster. With its AI-powered software and its community of freelance drivers, Otoqi is on a mission to help OEMs, dealers, rental companies or car-sharing specialists manage the relocation and charging of vehicles. This first round of Venture Capital funding will help the team to expand its mobility platform across Europe.

At Aster, we were particularly convinced about Otoqi for several reasons: the growing market opportunity, the unique approach and the team’s execution capabilities.

Enabling the automotive revolution…

In recent years, the traditional car ownership model has been challenged by the emergence of carsharing and new digital offerings aiming to provide better rental, leasing and/or purchase experiences. We believe that Otoqi’s solution will help all kinds of mobility players build a profitable operational model and brick-and-mortar car dealerships attract new digital customers.

Specifically, Otoqi addresses two main markets:

  • OEMs and dealerships: they need help to deliver end-to-end digital offerings to customers. Reinforced by the Covid-19 pandemic, increasingly more consumers expect digital/virtual services before and after a car purchase.
  • Carsharing operators: to make this business model viable, they need help to reduce their operating expenses, increase the quality of service and user experience and ultimately improve the usage rate of their vehicles. In Europe, the number of carsharing users is expected to reach 36 million by 2025, representing a €9.3bn market opportunity.

…by being the operational soul of mobility players…

At a time when margins are being squeezed by increased price competition and the proliferation of alternative services, Otoqi offers a tool to reduce operating costs and facility-related expenses, thereby reducing the break-even point for carsharing operators.

The same ROI-focused approach has been developed for car dealers: Otoqi can help them boost their revenues and generate a much better user experience by offering new digital pre- and post-sales services (such as maintenance pre-packages) to car dealers and garages. The uniqueness of the solution is due to superior technology, flawless deployment and great management of a strong community of freelancers.

… an A-team with outstanding execution skills

When we first met Sébastien and Arthur, we were very impressed by their pragmatism in achieving remarkable milestones with so little. In just a few years and without VC funding, they had managed to generate considerable revenue with a solid operating model.

Sébastien and Arthur have worked together at Air Liquide for several years and complement each other very well. Sébastien’s outstanding skills in complex B2B environments and Arthur’s ability to manage technical operations are what it takes to scale fast in the new mobility B2B landscape.

With their vision and grit to disrupt the market, they have a great opportunity ahead of them: to consolidate their leadership in the automotive retail market and expand across Europe to become the new operational standard for enabling massive expansion of carsharing services. Our goal and mission at Aster is to act as a catalyst through our ecosystem of industrial partners and to support the company in its ambition to become a global leader in strengthening the capacity of automotive players.

Congrats to Sébastien and Arthur for what you have been able to accomplish so far, and we look forward to joining forces to make Otoqi an amazing success story.

A unique positioning in a rusty market

As a consumer, chances are you see the car market as liquid and simplistic: if you want to buy a car, all you have to do is (1) go to a car dealer or (2) use one of the many B2C or C2C digital platforms to browse and purchase a new or used vehicle online. The car purchasing process has become even simpler in recent years with the entrance of many digital players challenging the traditional ownership model with Car-as-a-service offers, providing individuals with flexible solutions to easily rent or lease cars.

While various platforms are facilitating B2C used car transactions, B2B car transactions are lagging behind in terms of digitization. Auction houses (BCA…) and B2B marketplaces (Auto1, which just successfully IPOed), which have always been the reliable middlemen for B2B players to sell/buy and move used cars, generally have a poor UX, are mutually exclusive and rely on cumbersome processes.

In this context, 2trde has emerged as the most effective digital solution to help B2B players sell their used cars through any channel they want, offering greater reach and better prices than any other marketplace. This is made possible thanks to 2trde’s SaaS/mobile platform, which allows customers to (1) collect all the data they need on the cars they want to sell, (2) aggregate marketplaces, auction houses and private sales under a single interface, and (3) set up sales “cascade”, i.e parameters about which cars can be sold to which groups of buyers in which order.

This “umbrella” approach makes 2trde a true ally for vendors, who not only benefit from better prices & better car turnover, but also find it beneficial to use its transparent platform outside of transactions. The opportunity to create a data standard for B2B car transactions through a trusted third-party is exciting and will likely be even-more necessary in an EV-driven world, where we expect every player across the value chain to be able to provide information on the batteries of cars they want to sell/buy.

Network effects everywhere

The B2B used cars market is a real can of worms, made up of several stakeholders (OEMs, rental companies, leasers, affiliate dealers, independent dealers) who all have different expectations in terms of price, timing, logistics and liquidity. As mentioned, B2B marketplaces and auction houses have emerged as solutions to fluidify B2B exchanges, but it is not certain that a “one size fits all” approach will ever emerge to cover all needs, and that multi-tenanting will remain the norm. Rather than trying to fight this, 2trde’s SaaS helps vendors connect to their own networks of buyers to complete a sale. By doing so, buyers will also benefit from the 2trde experience (enriched data on the cars they just bought + amazing UX). When these buyers would like to sell vehicles at some point or even when they will want to find pricing information about the B2B used car market, they are likely to use 2trde to connect to their own buyer networks. This network effect is all the more powerful as it can work for inter-company transactions (e.g., BMW Germany selling cars to its French subsidiary) and brings added value to both vendors and buyers simultaneously, but not only. In our view, it is one of the most interesting ways of creating a shared data standard across a disparate industry.

A team of experts with a proven track record

Carving out a place within the automotive industry is not easy: specific industry knowledge is essential, sales cycles can be long and many parts of the B2B sales process are still done with pen and paper. For these reasons, being credible is not an option. From day one, we have been amazed by 2trde’s maturity as a company and by its CEO Johannes’ vision and ability to surround himself with leaders in the automotive industry who will bring him to push the company to the highest level. We are also glad to invest alongside Israeli-based VC Maniv, whose in-depth knowledge of the automotive industry will contribute to 2trde’s success at an international level.

Herzliche Glückwünsche!

Cracking the MaaS equation…

At Aster, we have been scratching our heads over the Mobility-as-a-Service equation for many years. Understanding how digital solutions can provide individuals with the best options for getting from A to B is an exciting yet complex topic. Over the last decade, proven alternatives have emerged to free a growing part of the population from car ownership. In our opinion, the growing number of mobility offers (in urban areas but not only, hello Karos 👋) combined with increasing environmental awareness is fertile ground for the emergence of new digital leaders aggregating mobility to serve individual needs.

In a nutshell, we now have more options to move than ever before, but this has led to a greater fragmentation of the mobility environment for individuals. This is also true for corporates and governments, as it has never been more complex to understand how employees/citizens move and how they want to be served.

For this reason, we felt there was a missing piece to this giant mobility puzzle. For years, we have been looking for companies that aggregate different mobility services to offer seamless experiences to commuters, without cannibalizing the underlying mobility offers.

And that’s exactly what Betterway is doing. Thanks to its mobility credit card, Betterway helps companies offer their employees flexible and green commuting options and financing schemes. This fintech approach to improving employee mobility is quite unique, and solves many of the common roadblocks typically encountered by traditional MaaS platforms:

  • A seamless UX: Betterway is not just another mobility app. In fact, there is no B2C app at all
  • A comprehensive coverage: Betterway’s credit card can be used to pay for any mobility service, and therefore doesn’t jeopardize any existing providers
  • A robust Business Model: Betterway is free for end users and mobility providers, and instead charges corporates, which benefit from a clear ROI in terms of employee retention, reduced paperwork and positive CO2 impact.

More than that, we believe Betterway has laid the foundations of a mobility bank account for individuals and/or organizations, but let’s not talk too much about this for now 👀

…with an A-team…

It is not easy to build a fintech leader in the Mobility space. Success requires a good mix of vision, grit, management skills, and expertise about mobility ecosystems and tech organizations. We believe the Betterway team blends all of these qualifications together, and much more:

  • Denis is a visionary and persevering entrepreneur with extensive experience at Uber & in the mobility space
  • Alain is a caring tech leader who has scaled the operational teams of TakeEatEasy & Algolia over the last few years
  • Clément is a passionate team player whose growth hacking & marketing skills have already been instrumental in Betterway’s success

In addition to their individual skills, we have been impressed by Denis, Alain & Clément’s listening abilities and willingness to progress together as a team, which has sped up Betterway’s learning curve over the few months.

…executing at the speed of light

As mentioned above, kickstarting a company in the mobility jungle is complex. Embedding your product with a certified physical credit card is also complex. Signing real contracts with large corporations (Allianz, Vinci) and leading tech companies (BackMarket) in the first few months seems crazy. Doing all this in the context of a global pandemic seemed impossible.

Yet Betterway has done all this in just under 9 months, while attending exhausting investor meetings (sorry). It is uncommon to achieve product-market fit so quickly, and although Betterway’s journey has only just begun, we have been truly impressed with the team’s achievements so far.

Congrats again on this funding round, Denis, Alain & Clément; we look forward to helping you to take Betterway to the next level 🚀

The new funding reinforces Swiftly’s ambition to become a global platform that enables smarter public mobility. We are particularly excited about Swiftly for a few reasons: the market opportunity, the team and their approach.

Big problems bring big opportunities

Cities are growing at remarkable rates, with people from all corners of the world rushing to find the opportunities and experiences that can be challenging to find in rural settings. With this in mind, it is no surprise that six out of every 10 people will be city dwellers by 2030.

But what about moving within cities and around city outskirts? The challenges are obvious, as traditional modes of getting from point A to point B, such as cars, are less and less efficient. In a city like Paris for instance, the average traffic speed is less than 15km/h, and in London it is less than 10km/h. As a consequence, although not always evident, there has been a stark reduction in car utilization within cities: in Paris less than 1/9 trips are done by car and yet traffic is perceived as a growing large problem.

The colorful diffusion of last mile and light vehicle solutions that are filling up city sidewalks is an attempt to tackle the problem. They can be a great alternative for rides within the 1-2 km range, but in cities where the average commuter does more than 5km (in Paris for instance we are above 10km), this is not a feasible solution.

Why do we believe the public transportation systems should and will eventually play a pivotal role in the new mobility city landscape? The picture below can probably provide a few hints

Figure 1: space needs when moving the same number of people by bus, bike and car (Source: Deloitte – city mobility index 2019)

Essentially, buses, trams and city transit trains/metros can be a clean (many cities are increasingly converting their fleets into fully electric/hybrid vehicles) and highly efficient solution to solve congestion issues in ever growing cities.

But of course, there is a catch: public transportation is often perceived as unreliable, lacking real-time information, super crowded during peak hours and hence provides a poor user experience for passengers.


Swiftly is the first holistic platform available on the planet to enable the sourcing, the treatment and the intelligence of public transit data. And this essential piece was missing until now simply because what you need to provide an excellent customer experience is good data!

On one hand, good data is essential for the operator to understand how they are performing, what needs to be adjusted and how to go about doing so. On the other hand, data is the backbone of any meaningful transparent communication with the end users.

Swiftly is selling a SaaS platform to more than 100 cities worldwide that helps PTOs and PTAs make optimal decisions, to answer questions like “where is the bus currently? When will it arrive at its destination?” with a precision never achieved before and on real-time. Real-time precision is possible thanks to real-time data, which is fed back to customers on 5-10 second refresh cycles, as opposed to minutes for other solutions that are currently deployed.

The result is improved communication with end users and better capabilities for planning operations, as the solution allows for root cause analysis and provides recommendations to address them.

One of the things we like the most is that Swiftly can finally enable a reinforcing virtuous cycle that we all benefit from: better real-time increases rider satisfaction, pushing up the number of riders, which in turn will augment the budget of PTA/PTO, which eventually will generate better and more reliable service over time.

Mobility plays a key role in a city’s economic prosperity and the general wellbeing of its inhabitants. And if the UN’s prediction holds true, having ca. 70% of world population in urban centers will mean that the role to be played will be even more critical as we embrace the future. We are convinced that Swiftly can help citizens of current and future cities to take better advantage of city and mobility infrastructure.

Three co-founders that each independently had some vision in mind

We met the company for the first time more than 2 years ago and found it interesting, but not yet mature enough. However, what we have liked from the outset has been the right mix of skills, vision and approach that each of the three co-founders brings on the table. The company was originally founded in 2014 by Jonny Simkin (now CEO) and Will Dayton (now CTO), and initially focused on developing a consumer-facing transit app. Jonny coming from a consumer background and Will coming from a strong technical and academic background were bringing the right mix of technical competence and user experience approach that constituted the foundation of Swiftly. However, the enterprise/SaaS aspect essential to convince public transportation Operators (PTO) and Authorities (PTA) was missing. And then Mike Smith (now CIO) joined: he had separately founded another company in 2013 called Transitime, which focused on building a platform for Real-Time Passenger Information (RTPI) and transit data analytics.

Since that first meeting, a few conversations, proof points the team was able to bring to the table and some customer chats reinforced our conviction to start working with the Swiftly team as soon as it became practical. We are grateful for the opportunity to co-lead the Series A round and start riding with them on this journey.

Big opportunity ahead: consolidate their market leadership, especially in regions such as Europe where they are relatively less present. This is where we can help. Our goal and mission are now to act as a catalyst thanks to our ecosystem of industrial partners and to stand by the company to support their ambitions of becoming a global leader in strengthening public transit capabilities. Through our Business Hub organization, we will support Swiftly to generate and finalize commercial opportunities within and beyond our family of Corporate Sponsors.

Congrats to Jonny, Will and Mike for what you have been able to accomplish until now and we look forward to joining forces to make Swiftly an amazing success story.
Our decision to invest in PacketAI was driven by three core factors: the team, the timing and their market approach.

The right team…

We first heard about PacketAI after Abdel and Hardik were awarded the “Digital Start-up Trophy” by IMT Starter, an incubator based in Paris. We then followed their progress and stayed in touch throughout their journey with Entrepreneur First. Although very young, we like that Abdel and Hardik are two complementary founding team members. Abdel brings solid technical expertise and a clear vision on how to deliver performance, while Hardik brings customer and product-centric thinking to the table. In addition to their complementary skills, the two have demonstrated their ability to quickly adapt to complex B2B processes and sales cycles, laying the right agile foundations for success.

At the right time…

We believe that now is the perfect time to start and scale a pioneering company in the IT Operations Management (ITOM) market. The industry already benefits from first generation IT tools such as Splunk or Elastic Stack to monitor and analyze IT data, now giving ground to more sophisticated and powerful AI-based products.

Corporates are in the midst of digital transformation, and their IT teams are under growing pressure to integrate new technologies while reliably operating existing – and highly complex – systems. As a result, market interest for innovative ITOM solutions is at its highest.

PacketAI’s solution accurately predicts IT incidents and helps IT teams anticipate them before they occur, separating PacketAI from any other existing tool’s purely reactive nature. We believe that PacketAI will give IT teams the resources they need to accelerate their digital transformation processes and enable them to move from constant firefighting to prevention.

With the right market approach!

PacketAI’s traction confirms the current market appetite for such a solution. In a market traditionally plagued by long sales cycles, the team has already aroused a strong interest from first prospects. By the time we closed the round, we even saw the team sign its first contracts, putting the company in a very different position than when we first met.

Moving forward

For now, we believe that the team has everything it takes to succeed. Yet many challenges lie ahead.

We don’t intend to invest in an opportunity that requires waiting for a team to build a technical product to start thinking about the selling – a mistake most of the Deep Tech startups we come across make. Instead, we view UX design and product-market fit as the crucial next steps to increase PacketAI’s stickiness.

On the short term, we believe PacketAI’s unique technology stack will gauge market interest and that it is differentiated and critical enough to become the backbone for IT teams. However, the company’s long-term success rests on achieving a perfect product-market fit and creating a solid marketing strategy.

Congratulations Hardik and Abdel for what you have been able to accomplish so far. We look forward to joining forces to make PacketAI an incredible success!