Aila Adds $4.5M, Continues Surge of Retail Tech Startups

Every year seems to be the year when brick-and-mortar stores will catch up to their online peers in terms of technology. Now there’s another tech startup on our radar trying to make that happen.

Aila Technologies, formerly known as Padloc, says today it has raised $4.5 million from Romulus Capital, a Boston-based venture firm. That’s an interesting partnership: Romulus has invested in tech startups working in real estate (Placester), healthcare (Cohealo), air travel (Beacon), restaurants (E la Carte), and other traditional-sounding industries.

Natick, MA-based Aila works with companies such as Apple and IBM to develop mobile- and tablet-based kiosks, handheld devices for salespeople, and advertising portals for retail stores. The startup’s customers include Lowe’s, Foot Locker, Whole Foods Market, and Rite Aid.

The five-year-old company is led by CEO and co-founder Jason Gulbinas, who has a background in product design and development. “The shift to mobile devices is happening throughout the store—from the aisle to the check-out to the dressing room,” Gulbinas says in a prepared statement.

Other startup players in retail tech include NewStore, which raised $38 million earlier this year for mobile-shopping software; Swirl Networks, which raised an $18 million round last spring for beacon-based advertising; Celect, which raised $5 million for product-arrangement software; and any number of mobile payment and point-of-sale companies.

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