WHILL, which manufactures a wheelchair alternative that it hopes will become a mass-market product,, has secured an $11 million Series A. Sun Microsystems co-founder Scott McNealy was joined by Jochu Technology Co., NTT DOCOMO Ventures, 500 Startups, and Innovation Network Corporation of Japan in funding the company. The team is from Japan and works out of San Carlos, Calif. Before seeking venture capital, WHILL launched a Kickstarter campaign in 2012 and received seed funding from 500 Startups while participating in its accelerator program in 2013.
Sao Paulo-based Emprego Ligadohas raised $7 million in Series A funding to enhance its mobile-based platform for Brazil’s blue collar workforce. The free service uses geofencing to identify manual laborers within the area and then matches employers with workers directly through mobile devices. The company is now backed by Qualcomm Ventures and Sao Paolo based venture capital firms e.Bricks Digital and Monashees Capital. Like WHILL, Emprego Ligado is a product of the 500 Startups program.
China’s Chengwei Capital will funnel $20 million into XAircraft, a rotor manufacturing and design company. Founded in 1999 and based in Shanghai, Chengwei Capital has over 20 companies in its portfolio, in industries ranging from manufacturing and oil and gas to consumer goods and education.
Sequoia Capital was joined by ru-Net Holdings (Moscow) and Sofina (Brussels) in funding FreeCharge, a Mumbai-based mobile coupons company. FreeCharge allows users to redeem coupons from major retailers like McDonalds, Dominos, and Puma, when they recharge their prepaid mobile phone plans. An estimated 95% of India’s 700 million mobile phone users are on prepaid plans. According to the company’s own claims, 10 million of them are currently using FreeCharge. With sights on accelerating its growth, in addition to the Series B round, the company has recently acquired two companies, Preburn and Wishberg, and tapped Gokul Rajaram, a Product Engineering Lead at Square, to be an advisor.
DXY, a social media platform for China’s physicians and broader healthcare community, has received a $70 million equity investment from Tencent, one of the country’s largest Internet companies. Tencent plans to integrate DXY and its network of doctors with its most popular platforms, including the messaging app WeChat and the microblogging service Mobile QQ. The Tencent investment is in keeping with the recent trend towards private sector companies taking it upon itself to remedy China’s dated healthcare system. Tencent competitor Alibaba has made a string of healthcare-related investments recently and has stated its intentions to construct a “Future Hospital” system, which would make use of existing Alibaba products like Alipay. DXY is alternately known as Ting Ting Group.