Roundup: Funding for Minetta Brook, Yapta, Viableware, Sparq

Another week, another Seattle-area big data startup collects funding. This week it’s Minetta Brook, which is coming out of stealth with a fintech play. Airfare tracker Yapta; restaurant payments technology company Viableware; and mobile marketer Sparq also recently closed funding rounds. And the City of Seattle is trying to make paying for street parking more convenient. Read on for details.

Minetta Brook, a big data startup, is the first to land an investment from the recently formed TiE Angels Group Seattle (TAGS), an angel investing group affiliated with the local chapter of TiE. Minetta Brook has landed $500,000 from TAGS and an additional $750,000 from Naya Ventures in a seed funding round. It raised an additional $750,000 in an earlier convertible note round from the Keiretsu Forum Northwest. The Kirkland, WA-based company says its “Knewsapp” product—still in a private beta test—is designed to give financial traders and analysts “hyper-relevant real-time information” culled from news, market, and reference data that can serve as a “qualitative overlay to your quantitative market data.” The company was co-founded by Microsoft veteran Deepak Bharadwaj and Prabhu Venkatesh, an executive with financial technology development experience.

Yapta, the Seattle company making an airfare price tracker for corporate travelers, has raised $4.2 million in a Series D round led by travel expense management company Concur. A spokesman declined to identify other investors in the round; an SEC filing says eight investors participated in the offering. The investment, through Concur’s Perfect Trip Fund, includes an option to tack on $2 million more in the next three months. Yapta has raised $18.3 million to date, including a $1.2 million bridge financing in January to continue operations while another funding round was completed. Investors in that round included Concur, Voyager Capital, and Bay Partners. Yapta says its software, FareIQ, has saved customers more than $1 million in airfare by alerting them when prices improve, allowing them to re-book travel at better rates. The latest funding will be used to speed sales and implementation of FareIQ, and “pursue other opportunities in corporate price tracking,” says Yapta CEO James Filsinger in a statement. Here’s a profile of Filsinger from last summer.

Viableware will be able to market its RAIL at-table payment technology to restaurants nationally with a $6.5 million Series B funding round led by angel investors and Swiftsure Capital. The Kirkland, WA-based company earlier this year landed a pilot deployment of the technology—which looks like a standard bill folder, but contains a device that can accept a credit card swipe—with two Ethan Stowell restaurants in Seattle. The RAIL is also in use at restaurants including Dickie Brennan’s and P.F. Chang’s. The company has raised $7.45 million to date.

—Seattle mobile marketer SPARQ (formerly known as SPARQCode) has raised $651,000 in a Series A round, adding to a $550,000 seed round raised in 2010. Angel investors participating in the Series A include Rudy Gadre, former general counsel of Facebook; Chris Ackerley of Ackerley Partners; and Mike Galgon, co-founder of aQuantive. The company helps customers including Expedia and Big Fish Games manage customer marketing across the Web, mobile devices, and mobile apps.

—Find a parking spot. Find a pay station. Futz with the credit card. Walk back to the car. Futz with the parking sticker. And just like that you’re on your way. Paying for street parking in Seattle is not exactly convenient. But it could be a little easier with a new pay-by-phone option the city is rolling out now in the downtown core. It, too, requires a few steps, at least at first. You’ll have to download an app and set up an account with Vancouver, B.C.-based PayByPhone, formerly known as Verrus, and a unit of PayPoint. Input your location and vehicle license plate in the PayByPhone app or by dialing an 800-number displayed on parking pay stations, choose how much time to buy, and the payment is automatically made. Parking enforcement officers monitor payments in real time, so you shouldn’t get a ticket, even though you don’t have a parking sticker displayed. Each transaction costs drivers an additional 35 cents. PayByPhone can send text messages when time is running short, and allows drivers to purchase more time, within maximum limits for given parking zones, from their phones. Seattle plans to make this payment option available in the rest of the city by the end of the year.


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