Startup Funding: Who Got the Money in 2019

Regardless of what type of funding it is—seed, venture capital, angel, or corporate—here are 31 North Texas companies that successfully pulled in capital last year to back their ventures.

Scores of startups and established businesses in technology and other sectors are developing products, expanding, and hiring in North Texas.

All those activities require money, and funding rounds—seed, VC, angel, and even corporate—are helping fuel entrepreneurial ventures in Dallas-Fort Worth. To find out more about these transactions, as well as 34 exits and 134 funding deals happening in North Texas, visit our online guide.

Here are some notable reports from 2019.


Alkami Technology
$55M

In June, Plano-based fintech company Alkami Technology, a fast-growing provider of cloud-based digital banking solutions to U.S. credit unions and banks, closed on a $55 million series E round that was led by General Atlantic alongside MissionOG. Other existing investors—S3 Ventures and Argonaut Private Equity—also participated.

“Alkami’s latest funding round will allow us to ramp up our bold investments in our cloud solutions for US banks and credit unions,” Mike Hansen, CEO and Alkami director, told Dallas Innovates at the time. “These institutions face intense and growing competition from the Megabanks and MegaFinTechs. They count on us to collaborate together to drive their digital strategy.”

Stephen Bohanon is the founder of Alkami. [Photo: Michael Samples]


AmplifAI Solutions
$3.9M

Richardson-based AmplifAI Solutions Inc., which provides a performance acceleration platform for enterprise contact centers, announced it received  $3.9 million in a Series A funding round from Naya Ventures, LiveOak Venture Partners, and Capital Factory. The funding was to be used to scale marketing, sales, and customer success, as well as fund further expansion of the platform.

“AmplifAI’s industry leading Performance Acceleration Platform leverages the power of AI to improve sales and service performance,” Minter said at the time. “AmplifAI’s data-driven approach accelerates performance by delivering personalized insights and actions across the enterprise resulting in dramatically improved business outcomes. Example of actual customer outcomes: 44 percent increase in sales, 27 percent increase in NPS, 9 percent increase in productivity.”

Sean Minter, founder and CEO of AmplifAI, poses for a portrait at City Central. [Photo: Rebeca Posadas-Nava]


Baicells Technologies
$99.6M

Plano-based small cell tech firm Baicells Technologies received $85 million in series C funding in November from two Chinese investors, bringing the startup’s total funding to $99.6 million. Earlier in 2019, a reported $14.6 million investment from Qualcomm Ventures was used to further the development of 5G technologies.

Baicells Technologies, a provider of disruptive global LTE/5G solutions, moved its headquarters to Plano in 2018. It was started by a former Huawei fellow 2014, and is privately held.

Baicells 5G

Baicells’ solutions can be used by mobile operators, broadband access operators, governments, cable operators, mobile virtual operators, and enterprise private networks. [Photo: Courtesy Baicells]


CallBox Storage
$15M

The Dallas-based on-demand storage services company CallBox Storage was raising up to $15 million in a funding round in March 2019, according to a filing. At the time, CallBox had raised $3.5 million of that goal. Callbox works like this: customers can schedule movers to pack up their things, barcode the possessions, and put them into storage. Later, if an item is needed, a CallBox crew member will return anything selected from the inventory—for instance, Christmas decorations for when the holidays come around. 

Founded in 2016, Callbox announced in 2018 that it was launching in Phoenix, marking its fifth market. It already operates in Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, and Houston.


Cien Inc.
$3.5M

Plano-based Cien Inc., a provider of AI-powered sales productivity solutions, completed a $3.5 million seed funding round in June to accelerate it’s market presence in North America. The seed round was led by Elaia, a Paris, France-based venture capital and private equity firm, with a $1.2 million investment. There was also participation from the company’s founders and private investors.

Cien’s solution allows B2B companies to improve the effectiveness of their sales teams by applying artificial intelligence to their CRM data. The company’s plug-and-play software calculates more than 100 million predictions a day to reveal tens of millions of dollars in lost sales opportunities.


Critical Start
$40M

Plano-based cybersecurity company Critical Start announced a $40 million minority investment from the private equity firm Bregal Sagemount in June. “The funding will be invested in expanded marketing, training, and support programs for our partners, which will help them to service our Managed Detection and Response (MDR) customers and prospects,” Davis told Dallas Innovates at the time.

The investment came after a period of rapid growth, with Critical Start’s managed detection and response services having grown 300 percent over the past 12 months. It also recently announced strategic partnerships with Microsoft, Alphabet’s Chronicle Backstory, and Palo Alto Networks Cortex.


Door
$5.4M

In February, Dallas-based Door Inc. said in a new filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that it raised nearly $5.4 million of a $10 million funding round. It was an infusion of cash from existing investors, Door said at the time.

Door is a tech-enabled residential real estate brokerage firm that was founded in 2015. It enables homebuyers and sellers to benefit from agent specialization and a lower fee structure. Its services are available for a fixed fee of $5,000 that is paid at closing. CEO Alex Doubet told Dallas Innovates: “Our current investors and board had the desire to increase their investment before we raise a  traditional ‘B’ round.” 

equity

[Photos: Courtesy Door]


Eyevance Pharmaceuticals
$30M

Fort Worth-based Eyevance Pharmaceuticals raised $30 million in an equity funding round announced in October. The funding announcement came after Eyevance said it had acquired TOBRADEX ST and NATACYN from the Swiss pharmaceuticals giant Novartis. TOBRADEX ST is a fixed-dose topical antibiotic and corticosteroid combination.

The acquisition was part of Eyevance’s growth strategy and shows its commitment to developing and commercializing innovative ophthalmic products.


Ikonopedia
$2M

Ikonopedia, the Richardson medtech company that offers a next-generation breast radiology reporting and patient tracking, announced in February that Dallas-based Texas Women Ventures Capital invested in the company as part of its $2 million Series C Preferred Stock funding.

The company said that the funding will help aid in key product development initiatives and propel continued growth of its customer base. Texas Women Venture Capital Managing Director and co-founder Whitney Martin also joined its board of directors.“Driving breast imaging efficiency and patient safety, Ikonopedia helps ensure that women get accurate and timely information about their breast care, which can lead to better outcomes,” Martin said in a statement.

Ikonopedia also said that it began or completed installations across a range of breast imaging practices and large radiology groups last year, including Sinai Health System in Chicago, Diagnostic Clinic of Longview in Texas, Invision Diagnostics in Florida and North Carolina, Breast Cancer Detection Center of Alaska, and Maui Medical in Hawaii.   


Kanarys
$3.75M

Dallas-based Kanarys—a tech platform that fosters collaboration between companies and employees on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace—closed a pre-seed funding round at $1.5 million in November. Earlier in the month, Kanarys reported raising $1 million in a pre-seed round. In February, it also raised $575,000 in pre-seed funding.

Co-founders Mandy Price (Kanarys’ CEO) and Star Carter join the previous 50 black women in the United States who have raised more than $1 million in venture capital funding, according to Inc.

kanarys funding

From left: Kanarys co-founders Mandy Price, Star Carter, and Bennie King. [Image: Courtesy Kanarys]


Linear Labs
$4.5M

Fort Worth-based Linear Labs closed a $4.5 million seed round in March in support of its next-gen electric motor created by father-and-son team Fred and Brad Hunstable. The HET was invented while the Hunstables were working to design a device that could pump clean water and provide power for small communities in underdeveloped regions of the world. A score of discoveries in that endeavor evolved into a revolutionary new electric motor.

The funding was to be used to market its motor, the Hunstable Electric Turbine (HET), across the electric vehicle industry, as well as the micro-mobility (scooters), robotics, wind turbine, and heating, ventilations, and air-conditioning industries. The round was led by Science Inc. and Kindred Ventures with participation from investors Chris and Crystal Sacca, Ryan Graves of Saltwater Ventures, Dynamic Signal CEO Russell Fradin, Masergy Executive Chairman, and ex-CEO Chris MacFarland. 

“This investment showcases the confidence these tech luminaries have in Linear Labs as we go to market with the first major innovation in electric motors in 120 years,” Linear Labs CEO Brad Hunstable said at the time. “Automotive manufacturers are already looking at HET technology as the solution to size, weight and range constraints. With 45 percent of worldwide electricity consumption passing through an electric motor, the number of industries this technology could impact are endless.”

Linear Labs

Linear Labs is behind the Hunstable Electric Turbine. [Photo: Courtesy Linear Labs]


Muzooka
$3.9M

Muzooka, a music technology company headquartered in Southlake, raised more than $3.9 million of a $5 million offering, the company said in a filing in March. Muzooka describes itself as a platform on which artists and their teams manage their own media assets across multiple platforms from one central hub. The company also automates the process for live setlist reporting to Performing Rights Organizations around the world.


Neighborhood Goods
$19.8M

Neighborhood Goods, the Dallas-based next-gen retailer, raised $11 million in series A funding in September, led by Global Founders Capital. Other long-term investors include Forerunner Ventures, tennis star Serena Williams’ Serena Ventures, NextGen Venture Partners, Allen Exploration, and Capital Factory. The new funding brought Neighborhood Goods’ total funding to $25.5 million across its seed and series A rounds. In early 2019, Neighborhood Goods raised $8.8 million in expanded seed funding.

With the new funding, Neighborhood Goods also announced a third location in Austin, joining its flagship store that opened in 2018 in Plano and its second location in New York City. 

nieghborhood goods

Neighborhood Goods’ flagship location is in Plano’s Legacy West. [Photo: Courtesy Neighborhood Goods]


Nimbix
$4M

Nimbix Inc., the Richardson-based high-performance computing and super-computing platform, raised $4 million in debt financing, according to a report in Crunchbase. The funding brings Nimbix’s total to $19.5 million in five funding rounds since 2012.


Novo Labs
$2M

Novo Labs, the Dallas-based provider of conversational artificial intelligence services for large restaurant chains, received $2 million in seed funding in April, led by Austin-based Silverton Partners. Founded in 2017 by Clinton Coleman and Jeff Loukas, Novo Labs last year launched its automated service for taking restaurant orders through high-volume voice channels. The new funding will be used to accelerate client deployments and integrate with additional voice channels. 


OncoNano Medicine
$23.7M

Southlake biotech startup OncoNano Medicine raised $23.7 million in the second portion of series A funding, bringing its total series A round to $35.4 million. The funding round was arranged by Salem Partners and backs its cancer-imaging clinical trials and supports expansion of its tech into candidates for therapeutic applications. OncoNano is a spin-out from UT Southwestern with technology invented by Jinming Gao, professor of pharmacology and otolaryngology, and Baran D. Sumer, associate professor of otolaryngology.


ParkHub
$13M

ParkHub, the Dallas-based B2B parking technology provider, announced in February that it completed its $13 million Series B funding round and acquired a competitor. The money was the first institutional funding raise for the startup—starting in 2014, ParkHub has received funding from high-wealth individuals such as Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones [in 2016], Bruce Williams, John Jaggers, Rugger Burke, Scot Harper, Ryan Osborne, and others.

ParkHub offers subscription-based solutions that help parking professionals improve customer experience and drive revenue with streamlined operations and the abililty to gain real-time analytics, Founder and CEO George Baker Sr. says. ParkHub’s growth and product enhancement will lead it into the future of parking. “We’re at the intersection of where parking is becoming synonymous with mobility,” Baker says.

From left to right, Todd Marshall (CTO), Geoffrey Byers (CXO), George Baker (CEO), Conner Mowles (CFO), Jake Edsell (COO), and Nick Shanbaum (General Council and Chief of Staff) of ParkHub. [Photo: Rebeca Posadas-Nava]


Peloton Therapeutics
$150M

Dallas-based clinical-stage pharmaceutical company Peloton Therapeutics Inc. closed an oversubscribed $150 million Series E financing round in February. Peloton is a drug discovery and development company that is advancing first-in-class oral medicines for cancer and other serious conditions.

The round was led by RA Capital Management and was joined by new investors including Eventide Asset Management, Biotechnology Value Fund, OrbiMed, EcoR1 Capital, Vida Ventures, Curative Ventures, and Driehaus Capital Management LLC. Peloton said its existing investors, including The Column Group, Nextech Invest Ltd, Topspin Fund LP, Tichenor Ventures LLC, and Foresite Capital Management, also participated in the financing.

“Proceeds from this financing will be used to advance Peloton’s research and development pipeline, including our lead drug candidate, PT2977, a potent and selective oral HIF-2α inhibitor,” Peloton CEO John Josey said at the time.


Pieces Technologies 
$5M

Pieces Technologies, a Dallas-based AI and predictive analytics startup, announced last March that it had raised all $5 million in the initial part of a Series B capital raise. A spokeswoman for Pieces told Dallas Innovates that the funding is expected to be used for “general working capital purposes”—such as technology research and development—to address clinical complexity and social vulnerability, and to service existing and newly-acquired clients.

In 2018, Pieces Technologies and Plano-based NTT Data Services launched a joint re-admissions system to combine Pieces’ Decision Sciences platform with NTT Data’s clinical transformation services.


Playful Studios
$23M

McKinney’s Playful Studios, maker of the Lucky’s Tale game series, announced it raised $23 million in September from a range of individual investors, which is a follow-up on a $25 million capital infusion in 2015. The cash is expected to take the gaming company beyond its recent virtual reality game focus to traditional platforms and also expand to make “games enabled for the spectator era.”

To raise the money, Playful CEO Paul Bettner said he used Playful’s network of global supporters, who helped spread the word about its private offering. Bettner met with more than 300 potential investors over the course of nine months, “one living room at a time.” Those talks turned into personal relationships—a different approach than an institutional capital-raise model.

Playful Studios has its home base in McKinney.  [Photo: Courtesy Playful]


Razberi
$5.8M

Razberi Technologies, a Dallas-based provider of simple and secure video surveillance and IoT solutions, has received $5.8 million in a Series B investment round led by LiveOak Venture Partners. Razberi Technologies CEO Doug Dickerson said the financing was intended to grow the business rapidly and rolling out new products this year. It will also help Razberi build out its market coverage and deliver what it calls industry-leading products. 

Razberi Technologies offers intelligent server appliances for video surveillance and IoT, automated cybersecurity, and health monitoring software. Its products are compatible with a wide range of top video management software and network cameras.


Reata Pharmaceuticals
$505M

Plano-headquartered Reata Pharmaceuticals raised $505 million in November via a sale of its shares. The raise came after a successful October for Reata in which it released phase 2 data for omaveloxolone in patients who have Friederich’s ataxia, a neurodegnerative disease that has no FDA-approved treatments. Reata also is developing bardoxolone methyl for a variety of diseases of the kidney and vascular system.


Renibus Therapeutics
$3.37M

Southlake-based Renibus Therapeutics Inc. raised $3.37 million in equity funding, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Privately held Renibus, which currently is operating in stealth mode, is a developer of drugs intended for use in the treatment of acute kidney injury and chronic kidney disease. The company was founded in 2015.


Sanara MedTech
$10M

Fort Worth-based Sanara MedTech has closed a private equity offering worth $10 million in common stock that it plans to use to fund milestones payments under current and future product license agreement, Mass Device reported. It also wants to repay debts from its bank line of credit, as well as operating expenditures such as clinical studies and sales force expansion. The post-IPO offering included more than 1.2 million newly issued shares at $8.30 each. Sanara, formerly known as Wound Management Technologies, markets and distributes wound and skincare products.


Spectral MD
$27M

Dallas-based biotech Spectral MD received $27 million from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority in July for an expanded proof-of-concept clinical trial for its AI-driven DeepView system for wound and burn care. This is the second infusion of funding from BARDA to Spectral MD, and it will go to additional development of DeepView. Spectral MD’s work could benefit the everyday treatment of wounds and burns as well as be a tool in the response to mass burn casualties in a national emergency. 

[Photo: Courtesy SpectralMD]


Stryve Biltong
$16.5M

Plano-based Stryve Biltong received $16.5 million in a series B round that it said will be used for education, awareness, consumer trials, investment in talent, and operations. “We have an aligned strategy for growth and are rapidly moving to put all the pieces in place to achieve it,” co-founder and Chairman Ted Casey said in Meat + Poultry. Stryve Biltong produces meat snacks that include chicken and turkey bites, beef and turkey sticks, and biltong, a dried, cured meat.


Systum
$10.7M

Plano-based Systum, a provider of digital operating software for small- to medium-sized businesses, raised $10.7 million in a round led by Octopus Ventures, a venture capital firm based in London. In 2018, Systum reported raising $7.5 million in a Series A round led by Underscore VC with participation from Hearst Ventures, according to Crunchbase. The new funding was to be used to add new functionality to Systum’s cloud-based software and expand its marketing and sales efforts. Systum is currently the only comprehensive and affordable software solution wholesale distribution SMBs need to run customer-facing operations.

Last year, Systum was placed at the top of a new Best Distribution Software list by FinancesOnline, an independent reviewing platform.The Plano company’s cloud-based, all-in-one inventory management system ranked ahead of 20 other firms, including QuickBooks and Oracle. [Image: Courtesy Systum]


Theatro
$35M

Theatro, the Richardson-based developer of the world’s first voice-controlled mobile platform to connect hourly workers to enterprise resources, secured a $20 million series C investment from Sageview Capital, a growth capital firm focused on investing in leading tech-enabled businesses. The new money comes on the heels of its $15 million series B-1 earlier in 2019, which included strategic investments by Cisco Investments and Honeywell Ventures.

Theatro’s SaaS solution uses speech technology, mobile apps, and free IoT devices to help employees operate more efficiently and stay focused on customers, rather than having to look at a screen for information. Since 2018, Theatro has almost tripled the number of stores its tech has deployments, including a large rollout with Walgreens and its first gaming customer in California’s Coyote Valley Casino.

Theater

Theatro’s voice-driven virtual assistant gives frontline employees “heads-up and hands-free” mobile access to their enterprise systems, leadership teams, and each other. [Photo: Courtesy Theatro]


Traxo
$11.85M

Dallas-based travel tech startup Traxo, which specializes in aggregating data and tracking passenger loyalty and behaviors, received an equity investment of $10 million in November from Virginia-based Airlines Reporting Corp. The deal came about a month after their partnership to enable direct booking data from ARC member airlines to go to providers via Traxo. In July, Traxo raised the final $1.85 million of an earlier $5.2 million series B offering.


VanillaSoft
$4M

Plano-based VanillaSoft, a provider of sales engagement technology, raised $4 million in May to grow its research and development and sales teams and continue expansion. The funding included a repayable contribution of $1 million from the Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions and $3 million from the Fonds Régional de Solidarité Outaouais.

VanillaSoft provides a platform that allows sales development teams to engage over 15,000,000 contacts a month. Used as a standalone product, or combined with traditional CRM systems, VanillaSoft’s system empowers sales reps to respond to new leads, interact with leads consistently across more channels, and generate qualified sales opportunities, according to FinSMEs.


Vinli
$13.5M

Vinli, a Dallas-based mobility startup with a data-intelligence platform built for connected vehicles, closed a $13.5 million series B funding round in February. Participants in the capital raise included both new and existing Vinli investors, such as global electric utility provider E.ON, The Westly Group, Hersh Family Investments, and Hal Brierley. The series B was oversubscribed but was around the amount the company sought.

Vinli’s new Era platform was part of a pivot unveiled in Oct. 2018. At the same time, the company announced a strategic partnership with France-based ALD Automotive, a global mobility solutions company, in a deal that combined ALD’s smart car data service and Vinli’s cloud-connected car and data intelligence program.

In the pivot, Vinli moved away from its direct-to-consumer hardware business model to a strategy of integrating its tech on the back-end of the automotive value-chain. [Photo: Courtesy Vinli]

Additional reporting by Alex Edwards. A version of this story originally ran in Dallas Innovates 2020: The Magazine.


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Dallas Innovates 2020: The Magazine highlights Dallas-Fort Worth as a hub for innovation. Our third annual print publication declares “The Future is Here.” It’s a moment for innovation in Dallas-Fort Worth, one that we’ve been working toward for a long time.

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