31 October 2022
Dealboard: $100M for autonomous stores, $265M cross-border deal
On this week's Dealboard, sustainability startups get a boost from big names, and Perfect Corp. goes public.
On this week's Dealboard, sustainability startups get a boost from big names, and Perfect Corp. goes public.
Welcome to Dealboard. In this weekly feature, The Current is providing a look at the mergers, acquisitions and venture capital deals making waves in ecommerce, CPG and retail.
Elon isn't the only one making deals lately. This week in commerce, sustainability is gaining new venture funding, as startups are raising funding for new products, packaging materials and resale that centers circular practices. Plus, a nine-figure cross-border commerce deal and a beauty tech firm's NYSE debut highlight this week’s M&A news.
Trigo cofounders Michael and Daniel Gabay. (Courtesy photo)
Trigo, a computer vision company that makes technology to power fully autonomous digital stores, raised $100 million to deploy to supermarkets in the US and Europe.
The funding was led by Singapore-based investment firm Temasek and 83North. The round included participation from new investors including SAP SE, who will also help commercialize Trigo’s solution. Existing investors also joined the round, including Hetz Ventures, Red Dot Capital Partners, Vertex Ventures, Viola, and supermarket giant REWE Group.
Trigo’s technology allows stores to set up an environment where customers can pick items, and leave a store without having to go through a physical checkout. The company’s systems analyze feeds from ceiling-mounted cameras and shelf sensors to create a “digital twin” of a store, then use computer vision algorithms to analyze interactions between humans and merchandise.
With the funding, Trigo will expand into full-sized urban supermarket and new geographies. It will also further develop its store and inventory management platform, called StoreOS.
Cruz Foam, a circular materials company developing sustainable packaging materials, raised $18 million in a Series A round.
The financing was led by Helena, with participation from One Small Planet, Regeneration.VC, At One Ventures and SoundWaves. Matthew Saunders of Helena and Will Peterffy of One Small Planet will join the company’s board.
Founded in 2017, Cruz Foam is developing materials that are designed to help supply chains transition away from single-use plastics for packaging. The company’s first product is designed as a replacement for plastic foam.
With the new funding, the company also said it transitioned its structure to a benefit corporation.
mason cofounders Barada Sahu and Kausambi Manjita.(Courtesy photo)
Mason raised $7.5 million to grow a commerce engine that is designed to bring Amazon-like infrastructure to ecommerce stores.
The funding was led by Accel and Ideaspring Capital, with participation from Lightspeed India Partners, as well as Mana VC, Gaingels, Core91 and VH Capital.
Cofounders Barada Sahu and Kausambi Manjita met at Myntra, which is Walmart’s fashion arm in Asia. They built a no-code platform that is designed to bring selling tools to a direct-to-consumer website that bring efficiency that is akin to what is offered by Amazon. The company said it has 1,000 customers, and powers more than 8,000 brands. Now, it will be doubling investment into AI-based playbooks to help brands grow.
“The previous generation of commerce has helped brands set up their stores online and have great systems for storing business information,” Manjita said, in a statement. “What brands now need is a technology layer that helps convert this information in action.”
Kudos Technologies, which makes a smart wallet to manage funds and rewards, raised $7 million in a seed round.
The round was led by Patron, with participation from QED Investors, SciFi VC, SV Angel, Precursor Ventures, Newtype Ventures, Chingona Ventures and over 40 angel investors.
With the financing, Kudos said it launched a mobile and desktop extension to the public. The company’s product supports checkout at more than 1 million websites. The smart wallet autofills card details, and helps users identify rewards, as well as purchase protection and travel insurance.
The funding will help the company further develop a smart wallet that is designed to help simplify checkout and maximize credit card rewards. It will also be allocated toward future initiatives, including the launch of cashback boosts across 12,000 merchant partners.
Loci, a vegan sneaker brand, raised $4.5 million in a seed round, according to Footwear News.
The round was led by actor Leonardo DiCaprio, with participation from former adidas executives Martin Ott and James Carnes.
Founded in 2021 by Emmanuel Eribo and Philippe Homsy, UK-based Loci makes sneakers from recycled, renewable and biodegradable materials. With the investment, it will expand its team and supply chain network.
Nourie, a plant-based braiding hair extensions brand, raised $2.5 million in seed funding to support its launch.
The round was led by Impact America Fund, Better Ventures, and SOSV’s accelerator IndieBio, according to Business Insider.
Founded by Osahon Ojeaga and Mary Ellen Moore, the brand is led by a team of Black women scientists, and developed its hair extension to deliver nutrients to the hair and scalp, BeautyMatter reported.
European fashion retailer Mango invested in Recovo, a recommerce platform that resells textile waste.
Recovo is a participant in the Mango StartUp Studio, which provides an opportunity to learn about Mango’s operation up-close, and receive mentoring from the company. Through the agreement, Recovo will receive a convertible equity loan. Terms were not disclosed.
Founded in 2021, Recovo’s platform is designed to provide companies with an avenue to resell textile, yarn and production material waste. “Recovo presents a business model which contributes to a circular future through technology, traceability and community action,” Mango said in a statement.
Recovo's team at Mango. (Courtesy photo)
MyUS, a shipping company that facilitates orders for international customers shopping from US and UK stores, was acquired by UAE-based courier firm Aramex for approximately $265 million in cash, the companies said.
With the deal, MyUS will integrate into Aramex, while retaining its own brand. Founded in 1982, Aramex offers a variety of services, including express courier delivery, freight forwarding, logistics, supply chain management, ecommerce and record management services.
Florida-based MyUS was founded in 1997. It offers package consolidation services that allow international customers to shop from US stores, and have packages delivered. Going forward, MyUS will be complementary to Aramex’s subscription-based, last-mile ecommerce platform.
"We are ready to take our products and solutions to new markets by leveraging Aramex’s extensive global network, scale, knowledge, and expertise in markets exhibiting very attractive characteristics, such as the MENA region, the UK, and Australia,” said Ramesh Bulusu, CEO of MyUS, in a statement. “Together with Aramex, we will work on developing a joint business plan to unlock revenue and operational cost synergies to help grow the cross-border ecommerce business and bring customers the best solutions and services.”
Omnichannel commerce platform Kibo sold its personalization business to investment firm Centre Lane Partners.
Operating as Monetate, the spinout business will be led by Kibo Chief Operating Officer Brian Wilson. Kibo acquired Monetate in 2019. The business allows organizations to use data for testing and experimentation, recommendations and automated 1-to-1 experiences. With the spinout, Monetate will be able to expand beyond retail into verticals such as financial services, travel and hospitality and telecommunications, the companies said.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Perfect Corp., which provides augmented reality and AI software for beauty and fashion, debuted Monday as a public company on the New York Stock Exchange.
The company completed a merger with Provident Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). Under the deal, the merger of the companies took Perfect Corp. public. It will now be listed under the ticker symbol "PERF."
The merger values Perfect at $1.02 billion. It will provide Perfect with $119 million to fund growth. Investors in the Private Investment in Public Equity (PIPE) that backed the IPO included Chanel, CyberLink, Shiseido and Snap.
"We are thrilled to continue Perfect’s evolution, now as a public company, by reaching this significant milestone," said Alice Chang, the CEO and founder of Perfect Corp. "Leveraging our access to the global capital market, we plan to extend our industry coverage from beauty and fashion to tangential sectors, augment our innovative AR and AI SaaS solutions, and empower more enterprises around the world to deliver transformative virtual product try-on experiences to consumers.”
Perfect works with over 400 beauty brands, powering virtual try-ons in cosmetics, skincare, hair colors and fashion accessories. It also makes the YouCam family of photo editor and selfie camera apps, which integrate AR technology.
Dealboard has the latest from Bundle x Joy, Kering Eyewear, Blank Street Coffee and more.
This week, brands including Leesa Sleep, Bundle x Joy and Khaite raised funding for retail expansion. Plus, there’s new funding for self-serve Amazon advertising, digital fashion and automated ecommerce logistics.
Here’s a look at the latest deals:
DressX, a digital fashion marketplace, raised $15 million in a Series A round.
The round was led by Greenfield Capital, with participation from Slow Ventures, Warner Music Group, Red DAO and other investors.
DressX is a multi-brand retailer of digital fashion items that are used to outfit avatars in gaming, social media and the metaverse. The company will use the funding to make upgrades to its app and NFT marketplace, as well as grow its community and partner with other platforms.
“Fashion has always been a core part of someone‘s identity and a way to express yourself. As we spend more and more time in virtual environments, this will equally translate beyond the physical sphere and NFTs and blockchain technology will enable true digital ownership to elevate one’s identity,” said Jascha Samadi, founding partner at Greenfield, in a statement. “We are very excited to see how this space will evolve over the next 5-10 years and we believe DRESSX will be at the forefront of shaping and driving change."
Autonomous logistics and AI company Nimble Robotics raised $65 million in a Series B round.
Cedar Pine led the financing, with participation from existing investors including DNS Capital, GSR Ventures and Breyer Capital.
Led by a team of former Amazon executives, Nimble Robotics will put the funding toward building a network of autonomous 3PL fulfillment centers. The robotics-filled centers are designed to autonomously pick, pack and ship ecommerce orders. The company said it will be able to reduce warehouse size by 75%, and provide coverage of more than 96% of the U.S. population.
Bundle x Joy, a petcare subscription company, raised $1 million in new seed funding, TechCrunch reported.
The funding round was led by Leap Venture Studio, with additional backing from Mars Petcare Companion Fund, R/GA Ventures, Michelson Found Animals Foundation and Cloyes Ventures.
With the funding, the company plans to double its retail footprint from a current 450 stores. TechCrunch described the company’s digital customer acquisition model this way:
From a nutrition perspective, Bundle x Joy curates its boxes from 15 products and a proprietary “Pup Quiz” for customers to assess what products to offer and the personality of their dog. In fact, the company assigns fun personalities to each pet, including “Golden,” “Vibrant” and “Brave.”
In addition, the quiz enables the company to output the right bundle for the pet, including formulation, size and frequency of food and supplements, based on the specific needs of the pet.
Blank Street Coffee, which provides delivery from automated microcafes, raised $20 million in new funding, Fast Company reports.
The round included participation from Left Lane Capital, HOF Capital, General Catalyst and Tiger Global.
After expanding to more than 40 locations, the company is exploring a subscription program that will provide beverages every two hours, as well as the addition of breakfast.
Tyson Ventures, the VC arm of food giant Tyson, invested in Athian, a carbon credit marketplace focused on the livestock industry.
Participants in the financing also included Elanco Animal Health Incorporate and Newtrient LLC.
This funding will help propel the company toward the launch of a transactional carbon credit inset platform. This is designed to provide financial incentive to livestock farmers who engage in sustainable practices. In particular, the program aggregates, validates and certifies greenhouse gas reductions, then monetizes them through the sale of carbon credits. The idea is that farmers can earn revenue to fund the implementation of more programs.
"Our vision is to be the platform that enables the livestock industry to meet its sustainability goals by empowering producers to implement on-farm practice changes that will move the needle on climate change,” said Athian CEO Paul Myer, in a statement.
Mayan, which makes a platform providing optimization and automation for Amazon sellers, raised $5 million in a Series A funding round.
Bright Pixel led the financing, which comes in addition to a $2 million seed round from Y Combinator, Global Founders Capital, Alumni Ventures Group, ESAS Ventures and Alarko Ventures.
With the financing, Mayan is planning to launch a self-service platform for Amazon advertising, as well as an analytics and forecasting suite. It will also begin work in areas of Amazon selling such as inventory and working capital.
Khaite, a New York fashion brand, raised new funding from private equity firm Stripes. According to Vogue Business, the brand is planning to use the funding to fuel expansion in retail, with an aim of opening 10 stores in the next five years.
Terms of the investment were not disclosed.
Leesa Sleep, a direct-to-consumer bed-in-a-box brand, was acquired by 3Z Brands, a distributor of sleep products.
With the acquisition, Leesa will remain a standalone brand, joining Helix Sleep, Brooklyn Bedding, Birch, Bear Mattress and Nolah.
"Leesa is an exceptional company built on the pillars of delivering better sleep for customers and creating a positive impact in communities,” said 3Z CEO John Merwin, in a statement. “With its advanced design expertise and high-quality products, we're looking forward to supporting Leesa's continued growth with our best-in-class manufacturing expertise and digital capabilities. This addition marks our third acquisition within the last year, demonstrating 3Z's commitment to building a leading DTC platform that meets each customer's tailored sleeping needs.”
Kering Eyewear acquired 100% of UNT, Usinage & Nouvelles Technologies, a French manufacturer of high-precision metal and mechanical components for the luxury eyewear sector.
It’s the latest move by Kering Eyewear to control its own supply chain. UNT is based in the Jura region, which is known historically as the focal point of the French eyewear industry.
"Being a long-term, high-quality supplier of Manufacture Kering Eyewear, this new acquisition represents the opportunity to create an integrated luxury eyewear platform with best-in-class manufacturing capabilities, facilities and talents, in addition to supporting and further elevating the Jura district,” said Kering Eyewear President and CEO Roberto Vedovotto.