China VC Weekly: Coffee and AI
In last week’s VC news, two prominent Chinese coffee chains Seesaw and M Stand both raised considerable rounds that will go towards expansion, while prominent local AI firm 4Paradigm bagged over $230 million for R&D and ecosystem improvement.
HeyTea invests in coffee shop upstart Seesaw
Up-and-coming Chinese coffee shop chain Seesaw Coffee announced it completed its A + round of financing, raking in over 100 million yuan, with a prominent cheese tea brand HeyTea as a new investor, followed by Hongyi Baifu, an old shareholder. This is the first time HeyTea, one of the leaders of China’s milk tea market, has invested in a coffee brand.
HeyTea said that this capital cooperation was the first out of many more to come, as the brand is laying the groundwork for its expansion, and it would try its best to learn from and support Seesaw in the future. Investing in Seesaw is also expected to help the milk tea brand stabilize its competitiveness in the middle and high-end tea fields.
Seesaw said this round of funds would be used for setting new stores, expanding the supply chain, and improving at a digital level nationwide.
Seesaw currently operates 35 stores in China, mainly located in Shanghai, followed by Beijing and Hangzhou. Roughly 25 kinds of products are sold in each location, with a price range of 28 to 48 yuan.
About Seesaw Coffee
Founded in Shanghai in 2012, Seesaw is a Chinese boutique coffee brand, and the first local coffee brand to build its own supply chain. At present, Seesaw’s management team includes former senior managers from top F&B companies such as Starbucks and McDonald’s, as well as a stable of post-90s young talent managing new-style tea, brand marketing and new retail.
SEE ALSO: HeyTea Invests in Seesaw Coffee
One of China AI leaders 4Paradigm bags $230 million on Series C round
Chinese AI technology and service powerhouse 4Paradigm announced on Thursday that it raised a total of $230 million in its latest Series C and C+ funding rounds, introducing new strategic investors such as Cisco, Lenovo and China CITIC Bank.
The post-money valuation of the company now nears $2 billion. The new capital will be used to improve its Al-based enterprise-level service ecosystem, more research and development (R&D) investment and market expansions.
According to the company’s website, 4Paradigm expanded its business to Europe and Southeast Asia in 2019, according to its website.
Founded in 2014, 4Paradigm has successfully developed and deployed cutting-edge AI solutions such as “4Paradigm Sage EE”, a whole-process AI platform with capabilities such as data processing, application building and model research, and “4Paradigm Sage HyperCycle ML”, a decision-making tool which can be used in sales forecasting, intelligent banking and anti-money laundering.
Coffee Chain M Stand raises $77.3 million in hopes of taking on Starbucks in China
M Stand, an emerging Chinese coffee chain, has raised over 500 million yuan ($77.3 million) in a Series B round of financing. The round was jointly led by BA Capital and GeneBridge Capital, both of which specialize in investments in the consumer sector.
Venture capital (VC) firm Gaorong Capital, as well as existing investors CMC Capital Group and Challenjers Capital also participated in the round, Chinese investment bank CEC Capital, the chief financial advisor in the deal, announced in a WeChat post on Friday.
M Stand did not disclose its post-money valuation after the new investment. But the startup had announced in January that it had reached a valuation of 700 million yuan ($108.1 million) after the completion of a CMC Capital-led, 100-million-yuan ($15.4 million) Series A round, according to DealStreetAsia.
About M Stand
Founded in Shanghai and positioning itself as China’s Starbucks focusing on the younger generation of consumers, M Stand is an up-and-coming player in the country’s increasingly competitive coffee market.