Sam’s Club, Sunroom, and Funds for Revtech and Kony in TX Tech News
Let’s get caught up with the latest innovation news from Xconomy Texas.
—Sam’s Club, the bulk retailer owned by Walmart (NYSE: WMT), has brought on about 100 tech employees to work at a new office in Dallas, according to The Dallas Morning News. The newspaper reported that the new office is working on a new concept store—one that will have a “technology-driven shopping experience”—the retailing giant plans to open this fall. The Bentonville, AR-based company has taken a number of steps in the last year to use technology to better reach customers, whether they shop in the store, online, or a combination of both. Walmart’s tech incubator, called Store No 8, has purchased startups developing technologies such as virtual reality that might have applications in retail. The store chain is also working with Bossa Nova Robotics to use robots to help maintain more accurate inventory, and it’s working on an “intelligent food” system to keep produce fresh.
—Officials with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) were in Houston Friday at the Texas Medical Center’s (TMC) Innovation Institute to speak about a partnership between the two organizations seeking innovative uses of technology to deal with emerging security threats related to healthcare. The collaboration is focused on two challenges: the “pre-symptomatic” detection of illness and addressing sepsis, a life-threatening reaction to infection that kills 150,000 to 300,000 people a year, according to the National Institutes of General Medical Sciences. The effort is led by a new HHS unit called DRIVe, which is part of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA. The TMC, which received a $96,000 grant from the federal agency, is one of eight accelerator programs in the partnership.
—MassChallenge announced the top 16 startups in its first Texas-based venture accelerator program, which began with 84 companies in the cohort. The finalists will now compete for shares of $500,000 in equity-free cash prizes to be awarded Aug. 15. Click here for a full list of MassChallenge Texas companies.
—Two founders of delivery service Favor have announced a new startup: Sunroom, which aims to improve how people rent an apartment or house, the Austin American-Statesman reported. Ben Doherty and Zac Maurais were two of the founders that sold Favor to grocery store chain H-E-B earlier this year. After renters fill out a detailed questionnaire, Sunroom will provide them with “tour guides,” agents that will show available properties during convenient windows of time, the newspaper reported. Sunroom also said it has raised $1.5 million in seed funding from investors such as Founders Fund Angel, Tim Draper of Draper Associates, Capital Factory founder Joshua Baer, Active Capital, and Boost VC.
Lastly, several companies announced new funding:
—Brightpearl, a retail software company based in Bristol, England, and Austin, announced it raised $15 million. The funding round was led by Cipio Partners, which was joined by existing investors MMC Ventures and Notion Capital. The company also announced it has appointed Maurice Helfgott, a former board member of British retailer Marks & Spencer, as its chairman.
—Revtech, a Dallas-based startup accelerator program focused on retail and hospitality innovation, announced the close of a $10 million fund, its largest fund to date. Revtech said in a press release that it plans to use the funds to make investments ranging from the “pre-seed” to Series A stages. The accelerator also announced that Mike Barnes, a co-founder of Fossil (NASDAQ: FOSL), former CEO of Signet Jewelers (NYSE: SIG), and former chairman, CEO, and president of Francesca’s Holdings (NASDAQ: FRAN), has joined the Revtech board and investment committee.
—Kony, an Austin-based app development company, has raised $26.3 million in new equity funding, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
—RF Code, an Austin-based data center management company, has raised $6.6 million in new equity funding, according to a filing with the SEC. The company was founded in 1997 and makes real-time data sensors and connected device software instead, according to Built In Austin.