Women Who Code in Houston, Sam’s Club, Springdale & More TX Tech

Let’s catch up with the latest innovation news in Texas.

Sam’s Club Now, the Dallas-based innovation center where Walmart’s bulk buying business is located, says it has a new scanning technology that can reduce checkout times. The technology, which uses computer vision and machine learning, will be piloted at the Sam’s Club Now store this spring, according blog post by Eddie Garcia, vice president of product and member experience at Sam’s Club. “Rather than having to locate the barcode and scan it just right, the camera in the app will identify the product with a simple hover and add it to the member’s shopping list,” he wrote.

—Two national tech organizations have announced new branches based in Houston. Women Who Code, a large nonprofit dedicated to supporting women in technology, said it has partnered with insurer American International Group to launch a Houston network. The San Francisco organization says it has chapters in 20 countries and a membership of more than 167,000.

Also, on Monday, the Silicon Valley-based pre-seed accelerator Founder Institute said it is starting a Houston branch. The Houston effort is actually a reboot of one nine years ago when FI tried to host a virtual accelerator program in the city. Founder Institute focuses on entrepreneurs who are at the earliest stages of commercialization or employees who have an idea and are considering starting a company.

Digital Retail Apps, a Toronto-based startup, has sued HEB , a San Antonio-based grocery chain, for patent infringement, according to the San Antonio Business Journal. The Canadian company sells software and hardware used for self-checkout in retail stores and it claims that HEB was reportedly courting the startup for a potential white-label deal but backed out. “We worked with HEB in good faith, but their interest in our product was dishonest,” Wendy MacKinnon, founder and CEO of Digital Retail Apps, said in a news release. “They took our ideas for themselves, violating our patents and their contractual obligations to us.” Julie Bedingfield, an HEB spokeswoman, said Monday the grocery does not comment on ongoing legal matters.

Springdale Ventures is a new venture fund for consumer packaged goods startups with plans to raise $20 million, Austin Inno reported. One of the Austin-based fund’s two co-founders is Dan Graham, whose past efforts include founding Notley and BuildaSign.com. The other is Genevieve Gilbreath, the former managing director of SKU, the consumer goods accelerator in Austin. Springdale is expected to back about 25 early-stage companies and has reportedly already invested in Mosie, a home fertility insemination syringe; Literati, a children’s book club company; and Veggie Noodle Co.

Exten Technologies, which makes data center storage software, has raised more than $5.3 million in funding from six investors, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

—Austin is among the 18 cities that will get new locations of Kitchen United, a virtual kitchen for restaurants looking to expand or food startups needing space and equipment at a lower price than building their own facilities. In October, GV (formerly Google Ventures) led a $10 million round of funding in the Pasadena, CA-based company.

 

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