WI Harper Group | January 12, 2022 | Source: TechCrunch
Merit (originally called Sigma), an online achievement verification platform, raised a $50 million Series B round led by Rose Park Advisors. There was also participation from prior investors: a16z, Bow Capital and Govtech Fund, along with new investors: Experian Ventures, Spike Ventures, InState Capital, Collier Fund, and Metaplanet Holdings. WI Harper Group originally invested into Merit’s Series Seed Round in December 2016. Merit has now raised a total of $80 million.
Merit’s focus is to help governments issue digital credentials that link back to a government license database with the goal of bringing an end to flimsy paper cards. Company co-founder and CEO Tomer Kagan said that idea is to create a verifiable online digital identity. A driver’s license is proof that the state gives you the right to drive, but one that is delivered in the analog form of a plastic card. Merit wants to change that by moving these credentials into the digital realm and linking them to government database.
“You need to be empowered to share information about yourself with a third party that is programmatically verifiable, meaning it is just known to be true because I am passing along something that was given to me by an organization that you can verify came from that organization. So what we did is we built a platform over the last five years that actually handles this by allowing organizations to connect to other databases,” Kagan explained.
The company spent the last five years working with various governments to build connectors to these licensing databases to allow third parties to access the data and have it update automatically. If you are a plumbing company, you can display your employees’ plumbing credentials on the company website and have them update automatically when the license is renewed (or show that it wasn’t).
One of the higher-profile examples of this was a project Merit put in place last summer after the tragic collapse of a building in Miami. In just one month, the company built a system for verifying which vendors and personnel were allowed onto the site, a project that involved verifying the identities of more than 16,000 people. For now, the company has to work directly with each government entity that it makes a deal with. Each project requires its own workflow and connectors, but each project also builds on the next, so they do no start from scratch with each new customer.
Today, the company has around 70 employees with plans to get to around 100 by the end of the year.
| About WI Harper Group
WI Harper is a pioneer and leading cross-border venture capital firm investing in early and expansion stage companies globally. With offices in San Francisco, Beijing, and Taipei, the firm actively oversees more than $1 billion in assets under management. Since inception nearly three decades ago, WI Harper has invested in over 400 startups and has successfully experienced more than 100 IPO and M&A exits.
We look for innovative companies and visionary founders in healthcare, technology and sustainability fields where there are high synergies and meaningful value added cross selling opportunities. While our healthcare team is presently honing on bioinformatics and digital biology, our technology team is focused blockchain, big data, analytics, artificial intelligence, AR/VR, IoT, robotics, drones, autonomous driving, as well as digital media and green energy projects.