All posts in “Recent Funding”

Chowly is raising $5.8 million to help restaurants manage on-demand delivery orders

Chowly, a point-of-sale system for restaurants, has raised nearly $4.7 million, according to an SEC filing. The company is targeting a total raise of $5.8 million.

Chowly aims to help restaurants better manage the influx of delivery orders they receive from a variety of services, such as Grubhub, Delivery.com and Chownow.

In May, Square launched a point-of-sale system for restaurants that integrates on-demand delivery platform Caviar. Down the road, Square said it envisions third-party applications from companies like Postmates, UberEats and DoorDash.

Chowly had previously raised just $700,000 from MATH Venture Partners, Domenick Montanile and others. I’ve reached out to Chowly and will update this story if I hear back.

As product development incorporates more feedback, development toolkit productboard raises $8M

Since its debut on the TechCrunch Disrupt stage in September 2016, demand for a service like productboard, which gives companies a holistic view of product development and encourages input from across an organization, has only gotten more acute, according to company chief executive Hubert Palan.

Now, with an $8 million commitment from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, with participation from Index Ventures, Credo Ventures, Reflex Capital and Rockaway Capital, alongside a host of angel investors, the company is looking to expand its sales and marketing and product development efforts to bring the benefits of its toolkit to more companies.

In the two years since TechCrunch last saw productboard, the company’s user base has grown significantly, from 100 customers in 2016 to more than 1,200 companies today, spanning a broad range of industries.

For Palan, the company’s growing user base (which now includes medical device companies, academic publishers and news organizations in addition to traditional digital product developers) is proof of a new demand in the market for more inputs around product design and development.

“Every company is now a digital company,” Palan said. “So every company needs to worry about digital product design.”

The company’s toolkit still includes features that allow it to hoover up information from customer support tickets, emails, input from sales teams and user research, to organize and prioritize features that need to be built.

But now, the company’s services allow anyone in an organization (with the proper access) to provide feedback and track the process of product development.

“Product Excellence is no longer optional,” said Palan in a statement. “These days competitors arise in a matter of months, not years. Customer loyalty is declining and users will happily switch to a competing solution that offers a better product experience. It’s more critical than ever to get the right products to market faster.”

As part of the financing, Kleiner Perkins’ new general partner, Ilya Fushman, will join the company’s board of directors. Fushman, who was integral in locking down productboard’s seed financing when he was at Index Ventures, has a long product history from his time at Dropbox, and is a welcome addition to the company’s board, Palan said.

While Fushman’s imprimatur is one sign of the company’s viability, the investment from strategic angel investors like Intercom co-founders Eoghan McCabe and Des Traynor; Clark Valberg, the co-founder of InVision; and Larry Gadea, the founder of Envoy, is still another.

“Product management is a core function in every technology organization, but few dedicated tools exist for it,” said Fushman, in a statement. 

Nurx raises $36 million and adds Chelsea Clinton to its board of directors

Telemedicine startup Nurx recently closed a $36 million funding round led by Kleiner Perkins. As part of the investment, Kleiner Perkins General Partner Noah Knauf is joining the startup’s board of directors, along with and Chelsea Clinton .

With this new funding, CEO and co-founder Hans Gangeskar told TechCrunch that the startup plans to scale its clinical teams, pharmacies and geographic reach in the coming year.

“We have a new site in Miami where we have a team of nurses being on-boarded, [we’re] building out our engineering and design teams and really just [working to] increase the pace of everything that we’re doing” Gangeskar said.

The startup launched in 2014 with the goal to make reliable access to contraceptives as easy as opening your web browser. After plugging your information into its online app, users are connected with physicians, given a prescription and Nurx prepares their product for delivery.

Since its launch, this California-based startup now operates in 17 states, and has expanded its products to include not only contraceptives (such as pills, patches, injectables and products like Nuva Ring) but the anti-HIV medication PrEP as well. Gangesker says the company is also preparing to launch an at-home lab kit soon for HIV testing.

For Gangeskar, creating affordable access to contraceptives is a first step to changing how patients interact and receive medication from their physicians.

“Birth control is one of the fundamental functions of any health care system [so] for us its a natural place to start,” said Gangeskar.

To help advance its plans to redefine this space, Gangeskar says Nurx is excited to welcome public health veteran Chelsea Clinton to its board.

“Her experience in public health and global health from the Clinton Global Initiative has been really valuable, [particularly learning about] rolling out preventative services in large scales, because really that’s the potential of our platform — [to reach] populations that can’t be reached by the conventional medical system.”

While Washington looks to make cuts to American’s health care access, startups like Nurx offer a fresh perspective on this critical space.

Dirt Protocol raises $3M for a decentralized, blockchain-based approach to information vetting

The team at Dirt Protocol is using blockchain technology to create a new approach to verify information.

The startup doesn’t plan to launch its platform until later this year, but it announced today that it has raised $3 million in seed funding from General Catalyst, Greylock, Lightspeed, Pantera Capital, Digital Currency Group, SV Angel, Avichal Garg, Elad Gil, Fred Ehrsam Linda Xi and others.

Founder Yin Wu previously created lockscreen startup Echo (acquired by Microsoft in 2015) and laundry startup Prim. She told me that after becoming interested in the cryptocurrency industry, she was concerned about the fear, uncertainty and doubt around coin offerings — after all, we’ve covered several ICOs where companies appear to have disappeared with people’s money.

“The market today is still unregulated, with high incentive for people to spread misinformation for personal gain,” Wu said.

Her solution? Build databases where anyone can contribute information, but where they have “skin in the game,” so there’s a financial penalty if they’re not truthful.

Dirt Protocol isn’t trying to create a single, definitive data repository, but rather to provide the tools for developers to build their own databases. Those databases might focus on things like ICOs (providing information like the team, the investors and the number of tokens in circulation), or online publishers (to help advertisers avoid bots), or professional listings and membership lists.

dirt protocol

There will be a single token that works across the Dirt platform. Users will need to stake tokens to add new information to databases, to challenge an entry or to vote in disputes — you’ll be penalized (by losing tokens) for adding misinformation and rewarded for weeding out misinformation.

While that should create an economic incentive for people to not just avoid inaccuracies but also to actively remove them, it doesn’t fully address the question of determining the truth — who, ultimately, gets to decide whether an entry is accurate? Wu said Dirt will support a variety of different “governance structures,” whether that’s centralized moderation, free-for-all voting or a system where votes are weighted by reputation.

Wu also suggested that the system is designed in a way to discourage concerted misinformation campaigns. For one thing, hoaxers will probably want to target the more popular databases, but those are also the ones that should attract more active moderation. Plus, she said, “The more valuable the network, the more people are contributing information, the more expensive [it becomes to contribute].”

A recurring theme in our conversation is the advantage of a “decentralized” approach to data verification. Wu said that isn’t always the right way to go, but she said it makes sense when there’s a big platform with the centralized vetting that works too slowly, or in situations where “you can’t trust the curator” of information, or with data sets that are just proprietary and expensive to access — while you have to buy tokens to contribute information, Wu said that Dirt Protocol data sets should be freely accessible, and “no single party owns that information and can shut off access.”

In a similar vein, she said Dirt Protocol isn’t currently focused on making money. Ultimately, the business model will probably involve some combination of giving the software away for free and charging for additional services.

“We’re focused on creating this open data set that anyone can use,” Wu said. “If we achieve that goal, I’m confident that some monetization will arise.”

Real estate platform Nestio raises $4.5 million

Real estate platform Nestio is getting new funding as it continues to expand its footprint beyond New York City into other large U.S. markets. The startup’s software gives real estate owners and managers a hub to handle things like leasing and marketing.

The round, which they announced today, was led by Camber Creek and Trinity Ventures, with participation from other real estate firms, including Rudin Ventures, Currency M, The Durst Organization, LeFrak Ventures and Torch Venture Capital. The startup has raised around $16 million to date.

Nestio is building up its unit count in new markets, including Boston, Chicago, Houston and Dallas, and is seeking to expand operations with existing customers in NYC. The startup says that it’s grown the amount of units on its platform by 250 percent in the past 12 months.

“We now have hundreds of thousands of listings on the platform that people are now managing,” Nestio CEO Caren Maio told TechCrunch. “Part of that growth is net new logos, but also expansion. So we’ve seen a lot of growth — particularly in New York — although I think the same behavior will replicate itself once we have some longevity in some of those other cities.”

The company says they will use this new capital and strategic partnerships to “deliver advanced leasing and marketing solutions even faster.”