Experiment Engine Closes $1M Seed Round

Experiment Engine, an Austin-based SaaS start-up, proudly announces the close of a $1 million seed round. Founder Collective, based in NY and Boston, joined the seed stage round with other notable support from Texas-based Mercury Fund. Two former E&Y Entrepreneur of the Year award recipients also participated: Dan Graham, CEO of BuildASign, and Rony Kahan, Co-founder of Indeed.com.

Experiment Engine offers a SaaS web and mobile optimization platform that allows enterprises to conduct A/B tests through a marketplace of conversion experts. By providing on-demand access to skilled conversion rate optimizers, Experiment Engine has helped early customers triple tests run per month and drive conversion gains averaging 20 percent. Experiment Engine will use the funds to expand the conversation optimization platform and drive sales/marketing initiatives.

According to Claire Vo, Experiment Engine’s CEO and Founder, “Having run hundreds of A/B tests over our careers, my co-founder and I have a first-hand appreciation of the true impact continuous optimization delivers. By closing this seed round, we have the resources to accelerate our business and deliver our optimization solution to marketers who want to truly ‘Always Be Testing.’”

Eric Paley, Managing Partner of Founder Collective adds, “Across our portfolio and across the web, we see companies driving huge gains in results thanks to site optimization. Unfortunately, finding the talent and development resources to iterate quickly is a huge obstacle for most companies. We see Experiment Engine as a turnkey way for online businesses to take optimization to scale without taxing limited internal resources.”

Furthermore, according to Aziz Gilani, Mercury Fund Partner, “We met the Experiment Engine founders through TechStars Austin and during the course of the program fell in love with the founding team. Experiment Engine hits the sweet spot of our portfolio, great founders going after a large target market with quick adoption by early customers.”

Experiment Engine Closes $1M Seed Round

Infocyte Raises $500K for Assessment Platform that Determines If a Network Has Been Hacked

Infocyte, Inc., a San Antonio-based cyber security startup, has secured $500k in additional seed funding to accelerate development of its’ assessment platform, Pulse. Led by Austin-based LiveOak Venture Partners, the funding will be used to expand Infocyte’s development team ahead of their planned 1st Quarter 2015 product launch.

“The Infocyte team has a storied history and deep domain knowledge gained from their time in national defense,” said Venu Shamapant, General Partner, LiveOak Venture Partners. “We are excited to partner with them in their ambitions to bring advanced threat detection to a wider audience.” Pulse is an on-premises appliance that scans all workstations and servers in a network to find indications of compromise, unauthorized activity, and malicious code. The platform is unique in the assessment industry because it doesn’t stop at finding vulnerabilities; it goes further by discovering attackers who have actually breached the network. The product allows organizations to audit their networks to find out if any attackers have evaded in-place security measures and discover breaches before they end up in

With major hacks constantly in the news, enterprises are installing new security monitoring equipment and hardening their networks. But “hardening the front door won’t help if you already have an attacker entrenched inside your network, said Chris Gerritz, CEO & co-founder of Infocyte. “This is where an assessment capability that identifies post-intrusion activity comes into play.”

Infocyte has been performing assessments on financial institutions with an earlier version of the platform since August. Upon product launch, Infocyte will be licensing the platform to enterprise customers and security service providers.

Infocyte Raises $500K for Assessment Platform that Determines If a Network Has Been Hacked

Bigcommerce Raises $50 Million in Growth Equity; Investors Include SoftBank Capital and Telstra Corporation

BigCommerce_Logo01Bigcommerce, the ecommerce platform of choice for fast-growing brands, today announced it has raised $50 million in Series D funding. The company will use the funds to invest in product development, aggressively grow sales and marketing, and expand its business to new markets. The financing was led by SoftBank Capital, a venture firm affiliated with SoftBank Corp., and included Telstra Ventures and American Express, as well as existing investors General Catalyst and Revolution Growth. Steve Murray, a partner at SoftBank Capital, will join the Bigcommerce board.

“Bigcommerce’s easy to use, cloud-based platform allows businesses of all sizes to rapidly build and deploy full-service ecommerce and m-commerce tools to grow revenues,” said Murray. “We are thrilled to partner with Eddie and this outstanding leadership team as the business achieves scale and accelerates its growth both in the U.S. and internationally.”

Ecommerce as a segment of the total retail market is growing at 30 percent per year and is expected to reach $2 trillion in sales worldwide in 2015, according to Bigcommerce research. The company has seen significant year-over-year revenue growth and is approaching $5 billion in total online sales across merchants. Clients on the Bigcommerce platform experience 24 percent higher gross merchandise volume (GMV) over competitive platforms.

Over the past year, Bigcommerce signed several new agreements to provide clients with next-generation ecommerce functionality:

    • Bigcommerce recently announced the industry’s first open mPOS platform with Lightspeed POS and NCR Silver joining as launch partners to provide merchants with best-in-class, omni-channel solutions for businesses selling both online and in-store.
    • Also this month, Bigcommerce launched as a founding developer partner with Poynt — the world’s first smart payment terminal targeting the 16M merchants that will be upgrading ahead of the 2015 EMV mandate.
    • In October, Bigcommerce announced a new partnership with Alibaba.com to streamline product sourcing for merchants. SoftBank Corp. is a one-third owner of Alibaba.
    • In July, Magento, an eBay Enterprise company, selected Bigcommerce as a SaaS ecommerce migration provider for its ProStores and Magento Go platform discontinuation.
    • Earlier this year, Bigcommerce partnered with Endurance International Group’s Homestead brand to re-launch 6,700 of their merchants’ online stores.

Bigcommerce recently added several new features to the platform, including Bigcommerce Analytics, an enterprise-grade real-time reporting tool; the Single Click App Store, an easy way for merchants to integrate their store with the other software they use to run their business; one-click payments setup, where merchants can set up popular payment options like PayPal and Stripe; and a new theme store packed with dozens of new free and premium themes.

“American Express is committed to helping small merchants, and our investment in Bigcommerce is one of the many ways we are working to equip these businesses with resources that can enable them to grow,” said Tyler Vaughey, Vice President, U.S. Small Merchants at American Express. “With the convergence of online and offline, many small merchants are looking for ways to strengthen customer engagement, and Bigcommerce has created a platform that enables merchants to address this key business objective.”

“Partnering with SoftBank Capital gives us access to the growing Asian market and opportunities within SoftBank Group companies, including Alibaba, while American Express and Telstra share our passion for helping businesses in the U.S. and Australia respectively,” said Eddie Machaalani, co-founder and CEO of Bigcommerce. “With this new round of funding, we will continue to level the commerce playing field so that every merchant has the opportunity to build a compelling brand and scalable business to effectively compete with the largest players in their industry.”

Bigcommerce Raises $50 Million in Growth Equity; Investors Include SoftBank Capital and Telstra Corporation

Ambiq Micro Announces $15 Million Funding Round Led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

Ambiq Micro LogoAustin-based Ambiq Micro, a leader in ultra-low power integrated circuits for power-sensitive applications, today announced that is has closed a $15 million Series C funding round to accelerate the development and marketing of its SPOT™ (Subthreshold Power Optimized Technology) platform. The funding round was led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) and was supported by existing investors including Austin Ventures, Mercury Fund, and ARM Holdings. KPCB partner Wen Hsieh will be joining Ambiq Micro’s board.

Ambiq Micro’s proprietary SPOT platform dramatically reduces the energy consumption of semiconductors by reducing the voltage level at which switching occurs inside the chips. The company already manufactures and markets real-time clocks (RTCs) using this technology and a microcontroller (MCU) family, manufactured using the same standard CMOS process, will be announced within the next few weeks. The MCUs will target Internet of Things (IoT) applications, particularly wearable electronic devices, where energy savings will translate into much longer battery life.

Battery life in many applications, especially those in the wearable and IoT markets, fall well short of what is desired and have hindered widespread deployment of these products. Ambiq Micro’s devices solve this problem, enabling the development of products with much longer battery life than is currently possible. Some will run for months or even years between battery charges. Other products will benefit from the addition of new features that would not otherwise be achievable within restrictive power budgets. The potential to use significantly smaller batteries will also provide more creative freedom for products designers too, allowing them to explore form factors that were not previously possible and to make smaller, lighter devices.

Ambiq Micro’s CEO and President Mark Foley commented: “We’re very privileged to welcome KPCB as both an investor and partner for growth. The firm is widely recognized as one of the most insightful and successful in the world. We’re also delighted that our earlier investors decided to participate in the new funding round, reinforcing our firm belief that our revolutionary SPOT platform is going to redefine the meaning of ‘ultra-low power’ in the electronics industry at a time when there is a global explosion in demand for small, battery-powered products.”

KPCB partner, Wen Hsieh, adds, “KPCB’s Low Power Everywhere initiative believes that in a world where consumers and businesses are always on, there’s an increasing need for devices with improved energy efficiency and battery life. Ambiq Micro has developed a 10X lower power MCU for mobile, wearables and IoT devices. We’re excited to back an exceptional team and to help them quickly scale this opportunity.” Mr. Hsieh joins the board of Ambiq Micro.

Ambiq Micro Announces $15 Million Funding Round Led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

Gravitant Announces $25M Round of Funding

Gravitant LogoGravitant, the leading software company in the enterprise cloud brokerage and management market, today announced it has expanded its Series B funding round by an additional $25M led by new investor Cielo Private Equity and existing investor S3 Ventures.

The latest financing will be used to expand the company’s sales and marketing to address growing customer demand. In addition, the new investment will be used to extend the capabilities of Gravitant’s award-winning cloud brokerage and multi-cloud management platform to target new customer segments.

Lisa Harris, Managing Partner of Cielo Private Equity, will join the Company’s Board of Directors. Cielo Private Equity, an investor in high quality private companies, sees Gravitant as successfully extending its leadership position in IT services brokerage, one of the fastest growing spaces in the cloud computing market.

“We hear consistently from CIOs that the value of cloud is clear, with most business units using it,” Harris said. “But at the same time, there is concern that almost two out of three of these business units are bypassing their IT departments. Gravitant provides an enterprise SaaS software suite that enables CIOs to deliver the agility demanded by business units but with the safeguards IT needs to maintain. Bottom line, Gravitant will enable organizations of all sizes to transform to the Cloud.”

“CIO and solution provider interest in cloud brokerage has accelerated over the past year, and this funding will help us take advantage of this growing demand,” said Mohammed Farooq, co-founder and CEO of Gravitant. “We are very pleased to see the increased support from additional Austin-based venture capitalists as well as the continued commitment from our existing investors to help us build the next major enterprise software company in Austin.”

“We are excited about the growth at Gravitant and its increasing potential,” said Brian R. Smith, member of Gravitant’s Board of Directors and Managing Director at S3 Ventures. “Cloud computing is driving a fundamental shift in IT and Gravitant has a proven platform that provides the optimal way to consume cloud services.”

Gravitant Announces $25M Round of Funding

Clarify Lands $1M Financing

clarifyClarify, an Austin-based startup offering a platform for audio and video search and analytics announced today that it has closed a $1 million seed financing with enthusiastic participation from Projector Ventures and Silverton Partners, and additional notable support from Austin-based Blake Chandlee together with several other early Facebook executives; Michael Rauchman, a pioneer in electronic trading; Brett Hurt, the founder of Coremetrics and Bazaarvoice; and Sam Decker, a founder of Mass Relevance (now Spredfast) and now a Clarify Board Member. The primary use of funds will be to continue to engineer the core platform, support early customers, and grow in key markets.

See also; 2014 Innotech Beta Summit Companies

The Clarify platform allows developers to embed audio and video search directly into their mobile and web applications with a few lines of code. The platform ingests media files, extracts their contents, and then indexes both the spoken words and any metadata associated with the media. A powerful search interface allows developers to discover when particular words were spoken. This capability is critical in a wide range of applications in fields such as telecom, financial services and education.

According to Paul Murphy, Clarify’s co-founder and CEO, “The Clarify team is thrilled to secure this funding so that we can continue to expand our platform and introduce new capabilities to developers and businesses throughout the United States. We are especially proud that Austin has embraced Clarify with open arms. Two-thirds of our funding is from Austin, with additional funds coming from Chicago, Silicon Valley, New York, and London.”

Kip McClanahan, Partner at Silverton further elaborated, “When we invest, we look for two things: exciting technology and a massive market opportunity. Clarify delivers on both.”

“Clarify has an opportunity to become a high-value API platform for extracting insights from audio and video content,” said Leonid Sagalovsky, Ph.D., Managing Partner at Projector. “We are pleased to support this team of seasoned entrepreneurs, world-class scientists and talented engineers with our investment. Also, we are happy that the vibrant hi-tech Austin ecosystem gets another cool, well-funded startup in its midst.”

The Clarify platform launched in September 2014. To date, over 400 companies have signed up to build on the Clarify API.

Clarify Lands $1M Financing

6Qube Secures $100k in Financing From Lighter Capital in Just 19 Days

6cube logo6Qube, a leading provider of internet marketing software and services, today announced that it has secured $100,000 in growth funding from Lighter Capital in Seattle. 6Qube will use the funding to fuel its sales and marketing efforts, and make key upgrades to its suite of technology products.

“This was the first outside funding raised by 6Qube, so it was important that we get it right,” said Jon Aguilar, President and Founder of 6Qube. “We had several funding paths we were moving toward until we found Lighter Capital. The revenue-based loan model was a perfect fit for our business – and the process was extremely fast compared to other business financing options we had explored.”

Since 2009, 6Qube has been developing, testing, and scaling a solution designed to help all businesses increase online visibility, leads, and follow-up through its proprietary inbound marketing automation software. The company’s cloud-based software combines marketing automation and inbound marketing into a simplified application, built to support a breath of solutions outside of traditional inbound marketing efforts. Features such as Multi Site CMS, Multi Site Blogger, Multi Site Marketing Automation, and Multi Site Social Engine allow companies to deploy multi-city or metro-centric inbound marketing strategies that can support multiple locations, dealer channels, franchises or nationwide products or services. In addition to its Multi-Site technology, 6Qube’s software stack includes an easy to use Website Management CMS, Business Blogs, Landing Pages, Microsites, Lead Forms, Email Marketing, Call Tracking, SERP Rankings, Analytics and more.

The debt funding from Lighter Capital – which was secured in a total of 19 days – will enable 6Qube to grow without adversely impacting the company’s cash flow. Lighter Capital’s revenue-based financing model is uniquely structured to match the ebb and flow of small business. Loan payments adjust in proportion to revenue, and there’s no loss of control or restrictive financial covenants.

“One of the beautiful things about Capital-as-a-Service is that we’ve automated the due diligence process, allowing us to utilize digital assets – like CRM data – to get a more robust picture of the companies we’re looking to fund,” said BJ Lackland, CEO of Lighter Capital. “It tells you things that a company’s balance sheet won’t – like customer sentiment. 6Qube shined in this regard as they had extremely strong customer references. Their customers absolutely love them – which speaks volumes.”

6Qube Secures $100k in Financing From Lighter Capital in Just 19 Days

Pivot3 Raises $12M from S3 Ventures and Others

PIvot3 LogoPivot3, a leading supplier of hyper-converged infrastructure, announced today that it has closed a $12-million funding round that will drive additional product development and accelerate the company’s growth. The round, led by new investor S3 Ventures of Austin, also included participation by current investors, InterWest Partners and Mesirow Financial.

“Pivot3 products leverage innovative technology to solve important business problems in large markets. The company’s growth is impressive, their customer references are excellent and their potential is unlimited,” said Brian R. Smith, Managing Director, S3 Ventures, who has also joined the Pivot3 Board of Directors.

A leader in purpose-built, hyper-converged infrastructure appliances for the video surveillance, VDI and data center markets, Pivot3 pioneered the innovation of converging shared storage, networking and servers through patented software. The new funding round follows the recent release of Pivot3 vSTAC OS 6.5, a comprehensive update to the operating system of its vSTAC suite of technologies that further improves performance and enhances operational simplicity. Overall, the Pivot3 vSTAC family of purpose-built, hyper-converged storage and processing appliances deliver scalability and savings to huge, petabyte-sized video surveillance solutions and to VMware-based Horizon virtual desktop deployments. Pivot3’s hyper-converged infrastructure is installed in more than 1,000 customer locations around the world.

“We are excited that S3 Ventures has joined us and that Brian has joined our board. He is an experienced and successful operations executive, and his advice will be critical as we scale our company. This financing is a testament to the great momentum we have established with our innovative hyper-converged infrastructure in the VDI, surveillance and data center sectors,” said Ron Nash, CEO, Pivot3. “We have had significant sales growth and this funding round puts us in a position to pursue more opportunities to accelerate new levels of revenue and earnings.”

Pivot3’s customers continue to show the value of hyper-converged infrastructure solutions in business applications that require high reliability, smooth scalability and fail-safe operations. More than 8,000 Pivot3 hyper-converged appliances are in operation today. The ease of installation and the dependability of operation allow customers to utilize the appliances for a variety of applications.

A new supply chain process installed in May that allows customers to see drastically reduced order-to-delivery times also had a hand in the company’s ability to deliver products efficiently, enhancing customer service and support. In June alone, the company shipped more than $5 million in appliances to customers, validating this new supply chain’s ability to fulfill customer demand for Pivot3’s products quickly and in high volumes.

“It is exciting to see the demand for our hyper-converged infrastructure systems accelerating and with this new supply chain process, we are easily able to handle the increased growth,” said George Scholhamer, Vice President of Customer Delivery, Pivot3.

Pivot3 also announced that Mike Dansby has joined the company as Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. In his new role, Dansby reports to Nash and is responsible for all financial, legal, human resources and facilities functions. Dansby is an experienced business executive who has successfully led multiple companies as a key financial leader. Prior to joining Pivot3, he served as CFO at Digby, a technology start-up company in Austin that was recently acquired. He has served in senior-level financial roles at technology-focused companies such as MPC Computers, hire.com, Pavilion Technologies, CovaSoft and Question Technologies. Dansby holds an MBA from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and a BA from the University of California at Santa Barbara.

“Mike has deep experience in growing companies and in scaling organizations,” Nash said. “He has also successfully taken smaller companies that were not fully automated and helped develop the management systems necessary to operate and quickly scale their business. He has performed well in fast-growing companies, so we are pleased that he will lead our financial functions as part of our leadership team.”

Pivot3 Raises $12M from S3 Ventures and Others

SpareFoot Raises $10M More

SparefootSpareFoot, which operates the country’s largest online marketplace for self-storage, has raised $10 million in venture capital from Insight Venture Partners. Austin-based SpareFoot has raised a total of $26 million in venture capital since it was founded in 2008. Of that amount, $22 million came from New York-based Insight Venture Partners — $10 million this year and $12 million last year. SpareFoot’s other major investors are Capital Factory, FLOODGATE and Silverton Partners.

“SpareFoot will use this latest investment to double down on engineering and product development,” said Chuck Gordon, co-founder and CEO of SpareFoot. “We believe there is a big opportunity to expand our offerings in the market, and that’s what we’re going to do. Our goal is to make renting a storage unit easier than booking a hotel room, and this new investment will help us make that happen.”

SpareFoot employs nearly 120 people at its headquarters in downtown Austin. By the end of the year, the startup aims to employ nearly 160 people, Gordon said. Most of the new hires will be in customer service, engineering and product development.

Richard Wells, managing director of Insight Venture Partners and a member of SpareFoot’s board, said: “We’re thrilled about our latest investment in SpareFoot. SpareFoot has done a great job of bringing together a highly fragmented market of small self-storage storage operators and is doing an even better job helping them compete with the large players.”

Disclosure: I am an investor in SpareFoot.

SpareFoot Raises $10M More

Spiceworks Closes $57 Million Funding Round

Spiceworks_logoSpiceworks, the professional network for IT, today announced it has closed a $57 million Series E round of funding led by Goldman Sachs with participation from existing investors. The Series E funding will help Spiceworks expand its global network of IT professionals and technology brands while transforming how IT products are marketed, sold and managed in the $3 trillion IT industry. Spiceworks has raised a total of $111 million through five rounds of funding, and the company has named David Campbell, managing director in Goldman Sachs’ Merchant Banking Division, to its board of directors.

“Spiceworks has reached the tipping point all high-growth, successful social and professional networks experience as they evolve to reshape how we do business,” said Scott Abel, co-founder and CEO of Spiceworks. “As the professional network for IT, we have a unique opportunity to connect IT professionals and technology companies in entirely new ways. By coupling the best professional networks have to offer with tools and resources IT professionals and marketers need to do their jobs, we’re excited to reinvent a multi-trillion dollar industry.

More than 5 million IT professionals and over 3,000 of the world’s leading technology brands use Spiceworks to connect with one another, learn about the latest technologies, and do their jobs more efficiently. Spiceworks is used by IT professionals in more than 200 countries to manage 170 million hardware devices and more than 10 billion traditional and cloud-based application installations. Collectively, IT professionals in Spiceworks spend more than $525 billion on technology products and services each year.

The latest funding round will help Spiceworks accelerate the growth of the professional network for IT by:

  • Introducing a new technology platform and app store to give IT professionals the tools they need to manage their entire technology environment from Spiceworks. By coupling the platform with new APIs, Spiceworks will simplify how technology brands, independent developers and even Spiceworks users integrate new free and for-fee applications into a single pane of glass.
  • Developing new applications, content, and the engaged community IT professionals need to be successful in their jobs. Spiceworks will also introduce new resources IT professionals can use to advance their careers or find their next opportunity.
  • Reinventing the IT marketing and sales process by using Spiceworks’ unique insight into how IT professionals research, buy and manage technology solutions. Spiceworks will develop new tools to help IT professionals and technology brands stay connected through the entire purchase process and as new technologies are bought, deployed and managed. As these tools are rolled out, Spiceworks will continue to help brands adapt and reach their customers and prospects in new, more engaging ways.

“The emergence of professional networks like Spiceworks represents the next wave of social innovation,” said David Campbell of Goldman Sachs. “Spiceworks has a unique platform for technology brands to directly access a rapidly-growing, critical, and underserved market of IT professionals that commands over $525 billion of spend today.”

Spiceworks Closes $57 Million Funding Round