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Three international startups eye U.S. expansion amid a tough market

Founders globally are coming up against a capital-raising plateau. However, some international startups have spotted an opportunity in the U.S. during the market downturn.

Venture funding for the first quarter of 2024 was the second-lowest period since early 2018, according to Crunchbase. Nevertheless, these international startup outliers are bullish about their prospects for expansion in the U.S. 

Robovision: Labor shortages as an opportunity

In early April, Belgian AI computer vision startup Robovision raised $42 million to accelerate its U.S. expansion. The founders believe that labor shortages in America’s manufacturing, agriculture, and other sectors present a growth opportunity.

The Series A round was co-led by European venture funds Target Global, Astanor Ventures, and Red River West.

Robovision helps integrate AI-powered computer vision and smart data with robots, and the company already serves customers in 45 countries. For example, Hitachi in Japan uses the platform to produce semiconductor wafers.

“We’re looking to build a robust local presence to address the increasing demand for automated solutions in American factories,” says Florian Hendrickx, Robovision’s chief growth officer.

One of the platform’s successes is a partnership with ISO Group, helping to plant 1 billion tulips annually – which is half of the world’s total – by automating the process with 2D and 3D image recognition algorithms.

Onum: Why data is the new gold

Madrid-based cloud analytics and security startup Onum also announced plans for U.S. expansion. In April, the company raised $28 million, coming just less than a year after its launch in 2023. The startup’s investors said its quick product-market fit is driving the growth.

The Series A funding round was led by Dawn Capital, one of Europe’s top B2B software investors, and with participation from Kibo Ventures and Insight Partners.

Onum seeks to accelerate U.S. expansion, hiring top talent and investing in product development.

According to the startup’s co-founder and CEO Pedro Castillio, “the size of the funding round reflects the product’s value and the problem it’s solving.”

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Onum helps businesses to make sense of their data in real time. The platform sifts through all the data a company generates, separating valuable insights from the noise. It’s easy to integrate with existing tools, thanks to its compatibility with data analytics platforms.

Lazo: Betting on international founders

An all-in-one SaaS platform, Lazo streamlines various operations for startups, such as tax, payroll, accounting, and fundraising. The platform allows entrepreneurs to focus on product development and traction by handling everything from incorporation to financial modeling. 

Launched by Argentine entrepreneur Juan Manuel Barrero, Lazo achieved threefold growth in 2023. The startup now plans to expand to New York, Texas, and San Francisco out of its current home base in Miami. 

According to Barrero, the majority of his company clients are international founders relocating to the U.S.

“International founders have to be VC-ready when they launch in the U.S.,” Barrero said. “With Lazo, they have all their financial documents in place and can focus on adding value.”

Despite a decline in VC funding and the challenges that startups face in raising capital, it’s crucial to sustain their operations and foster connections with investors, Barrero said.

This necessity is driving Lazo’s rapid growth, along with the interconnected community of founders and VCs. In large part, the growth has been organic, through events and word-of-mouth.

“We plan to launch Lazo houses in various cities,” Barrero said. “Our main target is New York because of its robust and growing ecosystem.”

In 2023, Lazo secured an undisclosed grant from AWS Impact Accelerator, and $150,000 from Google for Startups Latino Founders Fund.

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