Turnkey, TrustRadius, Homeward, Geekdom, Ion, GasMob, & More TX Tech
Let’s catch up with the latest innovation news in Texas.
—Turnkey Vacation Rentals, an Austin-based company founded in 2013, has raised $48 million to expand to new markets and further develop its technology. The round was led by Altos Ventures, with participation from existing investors including Adams Street Partners, Greenspring Associates, and Harmony Partners. Turnkey has now raised more than $100 million, the company said in a news release. Turnkey integrates smart locks, decibel monitors, a system to schedule housekeeping, and uses tablets to automate property management for vacation rental owners, the company says. The company has had one million people stay at the homes it books for, which now has surpassed more than 5,000, the company says. It was founded by CEO and chairman John Banczak and president and chief development officer TJ Clark.
—TrustRadius, which makes a business-to-business software review program, has raised $12.5 million in a Series C round led by Next Coast Ventures. Returning investors Mayfield Fund and LiveOak Ventures also participated in the investment. The new funding brings the total raised by the Austin startup to $25 million. TrustRadius plans to double its current headcount of 59 in the coming year, according to a blog post from Next Coast Ventures.
—Homeword, an Austin-based real estate startup that works to help people make all-cash offers when buying a new home, has received $4 million in equity funding led by LiveOak Venture Partners and another $21 million of debt financing from Genesis Capital and Keystone Bank. Individuals who founded other real estate-tech businesses, including Opcity and Apartment List, also participated, according to Homeword. Homeward offers to give a person who is selling a home a credit for the value of their home equity, and uses that to purchase a new home for the buyer, letting the individual close on the new home even if the old one hasn’t yet sold. Homeward will lease the new home back to the buyer for up to six months and, once the old home sells, the startup will sell the new home to the buyer at the original price. The company charges 1.9 percent of the purchase price. If the customer can’t sell his or her old home, Homeward offers to buy the home at a pre-agreed, “fair market price,” the company says.
—Holt Ventures, the $25 million venture arm of Caterpillar tractor dealer Holt Cat, participated in a $5.2 million funding round for Irvine, CA-based Augmentir, which makes augmented reality and machine learning software that aims to improve productivity of industrial workers. Pritzker Group Venture Capital led the round, and Lerer Hippeau and other existing investors also participated.
—Geekdom Fund, a San Antonio investment firm founded in 2014, has raised $40 million for its latest pooled investment fund, according to a securities filing. Geekdom may raise $10 million more, too, the filing says. The San Antonio Business Journal first reported the news. Geekdom Fund invests in IT startups around the country. Just last week, a startup it invested in called Bitfusion, which has offices in Austin and Silicon Valley, was acquired by VMWare. Terms weren’t disclosed. Geekdom Fund raised a $20 million fund in 2017.
—Houston civic and technology leaders broke ground on the Ion, the city’s planned innovation hub (photo above). “We want to create a dynamic destination, where startups want to be and where people come to Houston and say, ‘That’s our first stop to find out what’s happening in innovation,’” Rice University president David Leebron told me in an interview in April. The university is a partner in the project that aims to repurpose a now-closed Sears store in the city’s Midtown neighborhood. The site and the surrounding area’s potential as a tech hub was originally part of Houston’s proposal to attract Amazon’s so-called HQ2 project.
—Texas Medical Center employees can now fill up their tanks at the parking lot. Houston-based GasMob, which has a fleet of refueling vehicles, will now operate on three parking lots on the medical campus, including that of the TMC Innovation Institute. Customers download the GasMob app and arrange for gasoline delivery, thereby avoiding the need to find a gas station. GasMob buys the fuel at wholesale and sells it to customers for what it says are competitive retail prices.
Xconomy national correspondent David Holley contributed to this report.