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Constructor finds $55M for tech that powers search and discovery for e-commerce businesses

One of the biggest problems in the world of e-commerce is the predicament of shopping cart abandonment: when shoppers aren’t getting to what they want fast enough — whether it’s finding the right item, or paying for it in a quick and easy way — they bounce. That singular problem is driving a wave of technology development to make the experience ever more seamless, and today one of the companies closely involved in that space is announcing some funding on the back of healthy growth.

Constructor, which has built technology that powers search and product discovery tools for e-commerce businesses, has picked up $55 million in a Series A round of funding. Constructor says that it powers “billions” of queries every month, with revenues growing 233% in the last year. Customers it works with include Sephora, Walmart’s Bonobos, Backcountry and many other big names.

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MHP works together with SAP on cloud-based digital mobility solutions

MHP Management- und IT-Beratung GmbH (MHP) announced that it plans to expand its partnership with SAP. The aim is to accelerate the introduction of new digital mobility solutions based on SAP’s Industry Cloud. As part of the initiative, MHP and SAP are planning to explore co-innovations and joint go-to-market solutions based on SAP’s Industry Cloud for all aspects of mobility in a green field approach.

The intended partnership is intended to support customers in orienting themselves towards the megatrends connected mobility, autonomous driving, shared / serviced mobility and e-mobility – especially since these are still fundamentally changing and developing rapidly. In a first step, both partners want to discuss solutions for Fleet Management, Load Management, Battery Lifecycle Management and Mobility-as-a-Service. Co-innovation customers who can participate in the initiative include OEMs, utilities, and startups. MHP is therefore planning to support the SAP.iO Mobility Cohort in order to identify interesting start-ups in this technology and business area.

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Love checkout-free stores? This S.F. company just landed $30M to compete with Amazon Go’s technology

San Francisco startup Zippin, which develops technology powering checkout-free retail stores in the style of Amazon Go, has tripled its funding with a new $30 million round to scale its platform across “tens of thousands of stores” by 2025.

The Series B trough — courtesy of new and existing investors OurCrowd, Maven Venture, Evolv Ventures and SAP — brings its total backing to more than $45 million. The company said the new money will fund further development of maintenance functions and time-to-deployment.

Zippin’s technology facilitates entry and purchases for customers via a smartphone app and utilizes overhead cameras and shelf sensors to monitor goods.

It is used by retailer clients such as Lawson, Japan’s ubiquitous and third-largest convenience store chain, Aramark Corp., Compass Group, and Brazil’s largest retailer, Americanas. The platform was operational in 29 stores in the U.S. and around the world as of June, per its website, and CEO and co-founder Krishna Motukuri said demand has increased during the pandemic as retail stores sought to limit physical touch points.

Investors said in a statement they were impressed by the technology’s performance in high-traffic settings such as sports venues, which might see 500 customers in one hour.

“Zippin’s continued growth in such challenging environments is evidence of their superior technology,” said Jon Medved, CEO and founder of OurCrowd, a Jerusalem-based platform for investments in early-stage startups. “(It’s) also a competitive advantage, allowing their AI to train on some of the richest datasets provided by those challenging environments.”

Zippin opened its own check-out free store and showcase for its technology in SoMa in 2018 but shuttered it in June after opting not to renew its lease June 30, the company said in a blog post this summer.

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Cashierless checkout company Zippin raises $30M

The cashierless technology shift continues apace with today’s news that Zippin has raised $30 million in a series B round of funding. The San Francisco-based company is one of several players in the space to gain traction for a technology that seeks to not only make supermarket queues obsolete, but also generate big data insights for retailers.

Founded in 2018, Zippin leverages AI, cameras, and smart shelf sensors to enable shoppers to place items in their cart and walk out without waiting. The company opened its first checkout-free store in San Francisco back in 2018, and it has since entered into partnerships with the likes of Aramark, Sberbank, and the Sacramento Kings’ Golden 1 Center to power cashierless stores globally.

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3i’s AI technology creates digital twins using smartphone photos

Innovating industrial plants is often a difficult decision-making process for companies because changing a single piece of equipment requires a thorough on-site inspection from a team of experts in electricity, network, pipes, machines and structure.

But South Korea-based startup 3i Inc. helps remove such roadblocks through its digital twin solutions. The company operates Beamo, an artificial intelligence technology-based service that creates a 3D digital twin for companies.

A digital twin is a virtual representation of a physical object or a service that shares real-time data with its counterpart.

“Maps and street views were used to digitalize outdoor space, which wasn’t the case for indoor space. But now an easy and speedy creation of a digital twin for indoor space is achievable via 3i’s AI technology,” said Ken Kim, the chief executive of 3i, in an interview with The Korea Economic Daily on Aug. 24.

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On-Demand Coaching Platform Bravely Announces $15M Series A Funding Round

Brilliant Hire’s Smart Job Matching

Bravely, the technology platform connecting people to on-demand professional coaching and development, announced a $15 million funding round led by Telescope Partners. This funding round will further Bravely’s rapid growth and advance its mission to transform the way companies support inclusive, high-performing teams by providing universal access to coaching.

“The world of work is undergoing the biggest change we’ve seen in our lifetimes,” says Sarah Sheehan, Co-Founder and President of Bravely. “The competition for talent right now is unprecedented, and there’s more attention than ever on the tools companies offer to support their employees’ growth and development. The choice is: rise to meet the new standards, or lose your most valuable asset, which is your people.”

Bravely is the first coaching platform designed to scale whole-population support for companies of all sizes, and boasts the most highly-vetted coaching network in the industry. With this funding round, Bravely will both expand its global reach and develop powerful new data capabilities, allowing for an even deeper understanding of, and capacity to serve, diverse individual employee needs. In addition to new automation and personalization, this capital will also power research informing Bravely’s ethical, inclusion-focused use of data, as well as developing a People Science function at the company.

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How CPG Brands Are Keeping Up With Retail’s Fastest-Moving Consumer Demands

Nobody understands the frustration of consumers who can’t find the products they’re looking for more than the experts at Teamcore, an AI-based startup with operations in Latin America and the United States. Teamcore’s cloud-based software platform uses machine learning to power intelligent workflow automation that tells CPG companies and retailers why products aren’t selling and what they can do about it fast.

“We help CPG companies and retailers make sure products are available when their customers are ready to buy,” said Sergio Della Maggiora, founder and CEO of Teamcore. “Whether someone is shopping online or in a physical store, our retail execution platform based on intelligent workflows helps connect data across the supply chain from warehouse to shelf virtually or in-store, so companies don’t miss out on sales opportunities.”

Based on sales data analytics, Della Maggiora said that Teamcore’s machine learning algorithm detects when products aren’t selling as planned, and in over 94 percent of cases, finds the root cause of the problem before assigning a task. Unlike garden variety alerts, Teamcore’s intelligent workflow notifications keep going until they reach the people who solve the problem. If someone in replenishment can’t find the product in the warehouse to restock virtual or in-store shelves, the workflow automatically routes that task to the appropriate store sales representatives, all the way up to regional store and supply chain managers.

“Teamcore connects the whole CPG and retail team for opportunity detection sales, and doesn’t stop until someone actually fixes the problem,” said Della Maggiora. “Over time, the collected data trains the model, improving its accuracy and ability to make predictions about potential issues.”

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SAP Startup Spotlight: GrainChain

SAP invests in a lot of promising startups, and it’s sometimes hard to keep track of all of them. E-3 Magazine has selected the most interesting companies to showcase in our SAP Startup Spotlight Series. In this article, we will take a look at GrainChain.

Luis Macias, CEO of GrainChain, is an innovator and entrepreneur that has nearly 20 years of experience designing, inventing, and implementing technological solutions in the government, agriculture and insurance sectors. Since 2013, when he founded and implemented SiloSys and developed GrainChain’s transaction platform using smart contracts, he has been focused on viable agricultural solutions. In this interview, he explains his vision for GrainChain, how it is connected to SAP, and what’s next for the startup.

E-3 Magazine: What does GrainChain offer?

Luis Macias: GrainChain has developed a platform that is leveling the playing field for producers, buyers, storage operators, lenders, and all other participants on the global agricultural supply chain.

How does your solution work?

Macias: Our solution combines blockchain and IoT-driven technology to verify and auto-execute smart contracts, creating fully automated and digitized workflows at every stage. The GrainChain platform provides a central, single point of truth that brings all participants on the supply chain together with transparency, efficiency, and reliability of data.

Why do customers use your solution?

Macias: GrainChain has worked with customers using limited to no digital technologies all the way up to global conglomerates with the latest technology. Our products are customized based on our client’s requirements and their existing tools, which can be easily integrated with our platform. Our clients use these solutions to gain business efficiencies, reduce operating costs, reduce business risks, and to become more attractive to lenders. Customers also use our solution to meet traceability and transparency requirements for all participants along the supply chain.

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SAP Startup Spotlight: Streamwise D.I.

SAP invests in a lot of promising startups, and it’s sometimes hard to keep track of all of them. E-3 Magazine has selected the most interesting companies to showcase in our SAP Startup Spotlight Series. In this article, we will take a look at Streamwise D.I.

Paul Hatten, CEO of Streamwise D.I., has over 25 years of experience driving corporate strategic international business management roles within the global water and wastewater sectors in high value Australian and U.S. companies. The companies he has managed include BioGill Group and Anue Water Technologies. He holds an Associate of Engineering Applied Science Construction Hydraulics from Technical and Further Education Queensland and is currently completing his Master of Business Administration from La Trobe University Melbourne. In this interview, Paul Hatten will talk about what Streamwise D.I. has to offer, how it is connected to SAP, and what’s next for the startup.

E-3 Magazine: What does Streamwise D.I. offer?

Paul Hatten: Streamwise D.I. is an enterprise-grade artificial intelligence (AI) software solution to drive digital transformation in industrial applications through data automation and decision intelligence. Our target market is the wastewater management of industrial operators across multiple verticals including food and beverage (F&B), mining, chemical distributors, and water authorities. Streamwise D.I. delivers value to enterprise customers by lowering operational costs, improving compliance, reducing operational risk, and increasing data transparency. On average, our solution reduces the operating expenses of wastewater operations by 60 percent through significant savings on chemical, asset management, compliance and energy costs.

How does your solution work?

Hatten: An industrial operator, such as a food and beverage manufacturer, with complex wastewater operations may have high operating costs, overuse of chemicals, and be out of compliance. They engage Streamwise D.I. to improve their operational efficiency and lower costs. The first step is to install sensors and probes on site at the wastewater treatment facility and install the ‘Monitor & Learn’ capability at the client site. The second step is an online analysis and deep dive into the operations data in order to identify inefficiencies and calculate the expected savings across asset management, energy, chemical use, and compliance. The third step is to fully utilize the power of Streamwise D.I.’s artificial intelligence capability to unlock decision intelligence and set optimization targets. The fourth step is reducing operating costs, often by around 60 percent, and to calculate the value-share pricing.

Why was Streamwise D.I. founded?

Hatten: Our founder and Chief Technology Officer, Alastair Lockey, has over 30 years of experience in technology innovation in wastewater management globally, with previous roles at global water giant Ecolab. Alastair saw opportunities to significantly improve data transparency and data analytics in wastewater operations through new software solutions with artificial intelligence capabilities to automate decision-making and reduce operating costs.

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Paradox acquires Baltimore-based Traitify to simplify recruiting process

Paradox, a recruiting software designed to make the process more conversational and personalized, has announced its acquisition of Traitify, a mobile-first digital assessment platform based in Baltimore, to simplify the recruiting process.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Paradox founder and CEO Aaron Matos expects the Traitify platform to further enable Paradox’s mission to “simplify hiring through automation with a human touch.”

“They share our passion for recruiting and our philosophy that software should make things simpler, faster and easier — not add more work,” Matos said in a statement.

Scottsdale-based Paradox was founded in 2016 after Matos observed recruiters spending way too much time managing their application tracking system (ATS), following up on emails and scheduling interviews.

Matos saw an opportunity to automate much of these tasks. This idea plagued him like a “pebble in his shoe,” which is what drove him to start Paradox. He believed software should be doing the work for us, not the other way around. He wanted to build software to help recruiters spend less time with software and more time with people. Olivia, the company’s conversational AI assistant, has been developed to make that happen.

Since then, Paradox has experienced rapid growth and has been recently ranked in the top 5% of the Inc. 5000 list of America’s fastest-growing private companies. Some of Paradox’s major clients include Unilever and McDonald’s.

The company’s acquisition of Traitify is the next step in its growth strategy.

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UK experienced largest peak season parcel growth in Europe, finds report

Parcel Monitor, the sister site of cloud-based e-commerce delivery platform Parcel Perform, has published a study outlining the e-commerce logistics performance of different regions including the UK, Germany, France and Poland. According to Parcel Monitor, Europe’s e-commerce revenue is projected to exceed US$450bn by 2021, with e-commerce users surpassing the 500 million mark – the equivalent of nearly 60% of the region’s population shopping online.

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Unity Acquires OTO to Foster Safer Gaming Environments

Unity announced the acquisition of OTO, an AI-driven acoustic intelligence platform that can be leveraged to build and foster safer gaming environments with voice and text chat environments. OTO will be integrated into Unity’s industry leading Vivox platform as a cornerstone for solving one of gaming’s global challenges: the rise of toxic behavior that leads to poor player experience, and ultimately, lost revenue for game creators.

“Over the past year, we saw how people all over the world found respite in gaming, due to the desire to connect with friends and family,” said Felix Thé, VP of Product Management, Operate Solutions, Unity. “The findings of our survey being released today also illustrate that with the rise in cross platform, multiplayer gaming, most players also felt there was a surge in toxic behavior. With OTO’s integration into our portfolio of gaming services, we aim to empower creators with a simple, scalable solution to design safe virtual environments that promote friendly experiences and detect problematic social behaviors.”

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The Future of Shopping – Insights From Elias Guerra

Raydiant’s new series, the Future of Shopping, interviews experts and thought leaders with a goal of better understanding what organizations can do to prepare themselves for what lies ahead.

The following is an interview we recently had with  Elias Guerra, Founder and CEO of Popwallet.

HOW HAS CONSUMER SHOPPING BEHAVIOR EVOLVED OVER THE PAST 5 YEARS?

Consumer behavior has changed a lot in recent years, but those changes have never compared to what we’ve seen over the past year.

Largely due to safety reasons, over the past 16 months, the shift to online shopping has dramatically increased. This shift extends beyond eCommerce into shopping experiences found on mobile devices–especially through mobile apps.

However, while eCommerce has resolved many consumer demands, it’s not a one size fits all approach. In fact, there are various aspects of the in-store experience that cannot be replaced.

For example, while online shopping experiences have been amplified over the past year through personalization tools to boost buyer purchasing decisions, online shopping still bars consumers from physically examining products before making the purchase, can call for extended wait times, and can lead to additional shipping and handling fees at checkout.

That said, with ever-evolving consumer demands, brands and retailers have been forced to rethink the in-store experiences they provide, with safety and convenience at top of mind. Over the past year alone, services such as buy online pick up in-store (BOPIS) and digital coupons, gift cards, and loyalty programs have all witnessed an uptick in demand.

Over the past 16 months, brands and retailers that never considered or were slow to adopting such offerings, are doing it now. And the ones that fast-tracked their experiences to consumers were the ones that thrived during the pandemic.

Take it from retailers like David’s Bridal who looked to create a mobile-first loyalty program around a category that is more or less known for one-time purchases. Not only was the timing of their solution impeccable, but it was also brilliant in the sense that it encouraged brides and their bridal parties to share promotions and perks while accumulating rewards points.

Then there was MARS, who got crafty and rewarded front-line healthcare workers during the height of the pandemic with a free SNICKERS® bar through a mobile wallet gift card. The offering was innovative in that not only was it timely, but it also created more awareness around the brand and created increased foot traffic for Walmart, in which they partnered with so consumers could redeem their free Snickers.

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