Why 9 Innovators Just Got Venture Capital Rounds

The Sturm und Drang that dominates many conversations about the economy at the end of 2022 may give the impression that difficult times are dampening the spirit of innovation, especially in the technology industry.

Nothing could be further from the truth. There is still a healthy flow of venture capital investment into startups, based on innovative ideas coming from those startups.

For readers of Acceleration Economy, it’s essential to understand where innovation is happening, where the venture capital community is placing its bets, and which companies have strong potential to help you reinvent your business to dazzle customers.

In this second monthly report, I review nine timely investment rounds, the technology that’s appealing to investors, and the plans these companies hope will help them win customers. Some infusions place startups in or near this rarefied unicorn class of $1 billion valuations. There are also smaller rounds aimed at companies tackling a diverse set of business challenges.

Fast: retail technology that builds loyalty

Based in Seattle Rapidly secured $100 million in a round led by BRV Capital Management, bringing total funding to $210 million and its valuation to over $1 billion. Swiftly’s omnichannel retail technology is designed for physical stores to build strong digital relationships with customers. Clients include Family Dollar.

Swiftly says its tools give customers a more personalized and connected shopping experience, along with exclusive personalized discounts and simple mobile payment. Swiftly also offers a retail media network so customers can develop advertising revenue streams.

“Our mission is to enable brick-and-mortar retailers to move from analog to algorithmic, as the winners of this new era of commerce will be determined by how quickly they can reinvent their business to capture shoppers digitally and monetize those digital relationships” , said Henry Kim, co-founder and CEO of Swiftly, in announcing the funding round.

Datamaran: ESG risk management

Developer of ESG risk management software platform, Datamaran secured around $13.3m (£11.7m) led by two clients who were listed companies: Fortive and American Electric Power.

The Datamaran platform provides factual information and near real-time assessment of ESG risks that can be tailored to a client’s industry, geography or stakeholder context.

Datamaran identifies and monitors over 400 external risk factors – including environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) issues, innovation and technology, and geopolitical issues – through continuous analysis of regulatory environments, media and corporate disclosure. The company says the C-suite audience now accounts for over 40% of revenue and continues to grow rapidly.

TrueFoundry: democratizing AI

There is no shortage of companies or research pointing to the need to democratize AI in order to improve the success rate of AI projects. TrueFoundryfounded by Facebook alumni, raised a $2.3 million funding round led by Sequoia India and Surge in Southeast Asia to support its mission to democratize AI.

Business leaders say nearly 90% of machine learning (ML) models don’t end up in production and 50% fail. While large companies can deploy large teams to overcome such outcomes, small companies cannot.

“TrueFoundry was born from the idea that no company, large or small, should miss the opportunities of machine learning. With our automated platform, data scientists and engineers are able to deploy models machine learning at the speed and maturity of big tech, reducing their lead times from weeks to hours,” they said in a blog post announcing their funding.

Skitty: Collaboration + Avatars and Metavers

Place, which has developed an avatar-based Metaverse experience as well as team chat and video conferencing tools to improve the employee experience and productivity, has secured $5.5 million in seed funding led by Freestyle. The company positions its software as a more complete platform than Slack or Teams.

Customers communicate within its platform using virtual avatars in a branded desktop environment. Organizations can create their own customizable virtual workspace that reflects company branding and culture. Team members can host meetings, share screens, collaborate instantly, or start a conversation simply by interacting with avatars in the space.

TractionAg: better farm management

An Indianapolis-based developer of cloud-based farm management software that manages accounting and operations, TractionAg raised $3 million in seed funding. The Indianapolis startup plays in the same market we recently profiled, Cropin, which introduced industry cloud software Cropin Cloud for agriculture, though the latter’s products and ambitions are broader. – suitable for a company that has existed for more than 10 years.

TractionAg offers a suite of farm-specific features, including accounting, operations, and a fully digital payroll system that automatically files and pays producer federal and state payroll taxes. The company claims that 60% of farmers use accounting systems that are not specific to agriculture and therefore lack information on farm management.

The muse: job search and career development

The New York-based company start said it received $8 million in new investments led by MBM Capital.

The company says its platform is already used by 75 million people every year, with a high concentration among Gen Z and millennial job seekers. It’s also used by 10% of Fortune 500 companies seeking to attract and hire the best talent. The company claims that candidates applying through its platform are three times more likely to be hired than candidates applying through other platforms.

With additional resources, the company said it plans to seek out and acquire other quality brands that appeal to high-demand job seekers.

Afresh: AI for healthy and profitable products

Based in San Francisco Again develops AI-based software that tracks demand and manages fresh produce orders in grocery stores. The company secured $115 million in a round led by Spark Capital, bringing total funding to $148 million.

The company seeks to have a social impact by eliminating the waste of fresh food; he cites studies indicating that 40% of all food in the United States is thrown away.

According to Afresh, customers (including Albertsons and SaveMart) are reducing food waste by 25% and seeing a 2-4% increase in revenue and a 40% increase in operating margin for their products.

“Food, more than anything else, shapes the health of people and our planet. We founded Afresh with the goal of eliminating food waste and making nutritious food more accessible,” said CEO and co-founder Matthew Schwartz, noting that the company aims to serve thousands more stores across the United States and in Europe, and expand to support new fresh produce categories. like meat and bakery.

Pie Insurance: disruptive for small businesses

A Denver-based small business workers’ compensation technology provider Pie insurance raised a $315 million investment round led by Centerbridge Partners and Allianz X. This round brings total capital raised to over $615 million. The company says it is disrupting a fragmented market by more accurately pricing and underwriting insurance risk.

The company intends to invest more in innovating its proprietary pricing algorithms, as well as delivering experiences directly to small businesses and the agent partners who serve them.

OpenStore: buy Shopify merchants

Open Store, a year-long venture that acquires Shopify businesses to enable entrepreneurs to make quick exits, closed at $32 million in a funding round led by Lux Capital that values ​​OpenStore at $970 million. Total equity financing now exceeds $150 million

Over the past 18 months, OpenStore has acquired dozens of companies generating tens of millions in revenue. It represents a pathway to liquidity for traders.

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