Texas Roundup: New Funds for Phunware, FTL Global; Kudos to Rice

Here is the latest innovation news from Texas.

Phunware, an Austin,TX-based company that makes mobile apps for multinational corporations, announced Monday it has completed a Series E round of $30.72 million, following an investment by Samsung Venture Investment Corporation. The round was opened in March and the close of the Series E brings the total investment raised by Phunware to $48.25 million, the company said Monday.

—FTL Global Solutions, an Austin-based cleantech company, has raised an undisclosed amount in a Series C round of financing. The Austin Business Journal reported that the funding is the first “phase” of a $1 million Series C round of financing. The company makes mobile systems to bring electricity and water purification systems to remote areas, including those in emerging markets in Africa and Asia, the company said. Investors included Terra Firma Capital Group in Austin, the Josh Mailman Foundation, and a family office based in the United Arab Emirates.

—Rice University’s Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship announced this week that a Swedish-based research group, UBI Index, ranked it top among 300 university-affiliated business incubators worldwide. The alliance hosts the annual Rice Business Plan Competition, one of the biggest collegiate-level business plan competitions in the world.

—Your waiter may be waiting for you at the table the next time you dine out. Dallas startup Ziosk has installed tens of thousands of its automated ordering and payment devices at Chili’s Grill & Bar and other casual dining restaurants in recent months. The company says customers using the device are more likely to tip more and provide customer feedback. Managers like them because it frees up waitstaff to provide more tailored customer service.

—Austin fintech company Q2 Holdings is ready for rapid expansion after it went public last March. In one of his first interviews following the IPO quiet period, CEO Matt Flake talked about how the company’s software is able to bring Wall Street-style analytics to smaller community banks and credit unions. In order to reach more of the 13,500 such institutions—Q2 supplies software to about 3 percent currently—Flake says the company will ratchet up headcount from 100 to about 500 employees by year’s end.

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