Indy Roundup: Pelican BioThermal, Pattern89, Perceivant Make Moves
As 2018 comes to a close, Indiana startups and tech entrepreneurs are as busy as ever. Here are some recent headlines from the Hoosier State’s innovation community:
—Pattern89, a startup using artificial intelligence to improve paid advertising results on social media, has raised a $3.5 million funding round. The investment was led by F&M Investments, with participation from High Alpha Capital, Break Trail Ventures, Elevate Ventures, IrishAngels, and individual investors like Chris Baggott, co-founder of ExactTarget and ClusterTruck.
“Our platform was built to analyze every dimension of paid social ads—2,500 different dimensions, including tone, characters, and words,” says R.J. Talyor, Pattern89’s founder and CEO. “These dimensions can have a huge impact on market performance. Ours predicts what pieces will resonate.”
Talyor says most of the company’s customers are e-commerce retailers, including Lids, Boots, and Finish Line. “Bigger brands are using Pattern89 to innovate, and smaller brands are using it to compete with larger brands,” he adds.
The 18-person company has raised more than $5 million since launching in 2017. Talyor says diversity and inclusion is a priority for Pattern89. “We wanted to build a company that represents the country, with 50 percent women and people of color,” he explains. “It’s one of the ways we’re different from a culture perspective.”
In 2019, Pattern89 plans to hire more engineers, data scientists, and salespeople. Talyor says he expects the company’s head count to grow to 30 by the end of 2019.
—Pelican BioThermal, a company focused on temperature-controlled packaging and logistics has opened a new U.S. service center in Plainfield, a suburb of Indianapolis. Pelican plans to use the 50,000-square-foot facility to refurbish, condition, and repair the company’s reusable Credo shipping containers. According to the Minnesota-based company, the Indiana service center will increase Pelican’s global footprint to more than 100 stations by early 2019.
Dominic Hyde, vice president of Pelican’s Credo on-demand business, says the company’s Indiana location was selected due to its proximity to the city’s airport, a centrally located logistics hub for the entire country.
“We look for clusters of manufacturing operations and build out our network stations,” Hyde explains. “We want to deliver clean containers extremely locally.”
Pelican also chose Indiana to be closer to some of its customers, including those in the pharmaceutical industry.
“There’s a trend in pharma: a lot more new products are temperature-sensitive,” Hyde says, noting that the industry has regulations requiring an “unbroken cold chain” (or chain of custody) for temperature-controlled medicine. “[Temperature-sensitive] has been a segment of pharmaceuticals for many years—insulin and vaccines, for example—but more and more products are becoming temperature-sensitive in ever tighter ranges.”
Hyde says Pelican uses “phase-change materials” to achieve temperature control, enabling the shipping of chilled and frozen products in the same container by adjusting the material contained in the container’s cold packs. He says the company’s on-demand business model is similar to a car rental operation in which customers can pick up and drop off containers as needed.
Pelican BioThermal has fewer than 10 people working at its Indiana service center, but plans to increase that number to 25 people as the operation grows. “We have a lot of capacity,” Hyde adds. “We picked Indianapolis to grow into.”
— Perceivant, an Indianapolis-based educational technology startup that aims to replace traditional textbooks with interactive, data-driven digital courses, recently shared some of its accomplishments in the past year. The company also announced the launch of 15 new classes and a mobile app.
Georgia’s Kennesaw State University, a Perceivant customer, reported a 50 percent decrease in the number of students failing its Foundation for Healthy Living class after the university switched from textbooks to the company’s “interactive guided learning experience,” says Brian Rowe, Perceivant’s founder and CEO.
“We looked and said, can we use analytics and course design to give instructors the best tools possible and have a positive impact?” Rowe continues. “We start with a base amount of material developed over time and work with schools to develop custom courses. We try to make the technology as effective as possible without letting it get in the way.”
Perceivant’s new general education class offerings are now available to faculty to review before they’re implemented during the upcoming spring semester. The company’s new mobile app, called BearTracks, allows students to access classes from their iOS and Android devices and submit self-assessments, watch instructional videos, get assignment reminders, and track coursework history.
“The new courses expand our general education curriculum needs,” Rowe says. The classes help universities onboard students and raise retention rates, which he describes as “horrific.”