Funding Announcements:

  • Two Promus Ventures-backed companies have received funding from Microsoft Ventures: Layer, a messaging platform, and CrowdFlower, a machine learning, human-in-the-loop platform for data science teams. 


Highlights:

 

Funding Announcements:

 

Peggy Johnson, Microsoft’s executive vice president of business development, discussed Microsoft Ventures' 13 investments publicly for the first time at a Seattle technology summit in October. Microsoft’s investments in three of those companies including the Promus Ventures-backed Layer messaging technology company hadn't been previously announced. In addition, Microsoft Ventures also invested in Promus Ventures-backed CrowdFlower, an artificial intelligence and machine learning platform.

 

Highlights:

 
Navdy announced it is now shipping the world's first Augmented Driving device that leverages augmented reality (AR) technology to project information directly in the driver's line of sight, for an all new driving experience. Click here to purchase now

Navdy projects a transparent image on the road ahead, incorporates hand gestures to accept calls, and lets users control their phone hands-free. With maps, calls, messages, notifications, music and car information projected directly in front of the user, drivers can look forward while staying connected, and enjoy seamless integration of their phone into the driving experience. 

CNET's review: "With a brighter, more crisp projection than that found built in to even luxury cars, the Navdy head-up display (HUD) begins with a clear, visual advantage. But add the fact that its capabilities go beyond the combined infotainment and HUD capabilities in most cars, and Navdy looks like a sure win."

Engaget's review: "Navdy is a solid product that adds functionality I didn't even realize I wanted. On a few occasions I jumped into the car and started driving without placing it on the dash and instantly missed it."
 
Spire builds nanosatellites, about the size of a wine bottle. Each costs less than $1 million to build and deploy, versus $500 million dollars for the latest government-grade spy satellites. Spire's satellites listen to radio signals and light waves from earth and measures temperature and humidity in the atmosphere with astonishing accuracy. Spire's customers are in multiple markets including tracking passenger and cargo ships (90 percent of global trade is seafaring), hedge funds, commodities traders, secretive anti-pirate security companies, various government agencies and NGOs. 

The June Intelligent Oven aims to make things simple. It uses a camera, sensors and machine learning to bake, roast and reheat food automatically. The first iteration of the oven knows how to automatically cook 60 foods. Click here to reserve your June Oven.

The appliance constantly learns how to cook specific recipes better. The ovens improve over time as June collects data from users. For example, once enough people cook pumpkin pies all of the June ovens will know how to cook pumpkin pies better. Think of it as the Tesla of ovens, in that it self-drives the cooking process and continually learns from itself.
CrowdFlower, is a human-in-the-loop platform for data science teams. CrowdFlower announced its AI product is built using Microsoft's Cortana through its Azure Machine Learning cloud service. This new platform puts the adoption of AI for business processes, such as support ticket classification or sentiment analysis, within the realm of possibility for any company with a digital presence. With AI, CrowdFlower customers can now create machine learning models easily using human-labeled training data from within the platform. 
Kensho can generate original answers by analyzing relationships between events, including natural disasters, political developments, corporate earnings announcements, product launches and FDA drug approvals. Answers that might have previously taken 40 man-hours of research can be generated by Kensho in seconds, complete with graphs and charts.
AngelList, the online platform that matches startups with early-stage investors, has grown by leaps and bounds and so have its ambitions. The company, which already bills itself as both the biggest seed-stage firm in the world and the world’s largest hiring platform for startups, also aims to become the biggest venture fund in the world. 
Gigster offers a platform where companies hire heavily screened freelance software developers, designers and project managers. Customers include IBM and Mastercard.
According to a 2015 study by the Retail Equation and National Retail Federation, total merchandise returns accounted for more than $260.5 billion in lost sales for U.S. retailers last year, which means that if merchandise returns were a corporation, it would rank No. 3 on the Fortune 500 list.

True Fit analyzes apparel and footwear consumer data for retail and brand partners. True Fit has been mapping “attribute-rich fit and style data” using customer- and brand-supplied information to help connect all levels of the retail chain, from customers, brands and merchants. The company has aggregated data from almost 10,000 brands including Nordstrom, Adidas and Kate Spade, and approximately 100 million consumers worldwide. 
True Fit adds over 700,000 new SKUs each month, so the amount of data it’s collecting is growing exponentially.
 
Swift Navigation builds centimeter-accurate GPS technology that will power a world of autonomous vehicles. Swift Navigation  announced its newest product, Piksi Multi, a multi-band, multi-constellation high-precision GNSS receiver. The new Piksi Multi represents a revolution in advanced precision GNSS capabilities for the mass market. Autonomous devices require precision navigation - especially those that perform critical functions. Swift Navigation solutions use real-time kinematics (RTK) technology and provide location solutions that are 100 times more accurate than traditional GPS.
NBC and AltspaceVR streamed the U.S. Presidential Debates in VR for the first time in history. Viewers were able to enter a virtual version of NBC’s Democracy Plaza and watch the candidates debate, chat with friends and participate in live question and answer segments with political experts. Future NBC Election Virtual Reality events like Election Night on Democracy Plaza can be found on NBC News: Virtual Democracy Plaza's Calendar of Events.

AltspaceVR has previously hosted successful live music and comedy events in its virtual universe.
Mapbox offers a mapping platform for developers that designs and publishes custom maps for mobile and Web applications. Mapbox serves a variety of industries including autonomous vehicles, real estate, social, weather and traffic. Clients include IBM, CNN, Weather Channel, National Geographic, Master Card, Deloitte, Pinterest, Instacart, Airbnb, Github and Etsy.

The new Human team will work on Mapbox’s mobile software design kit and real-time maps. Human used its anonymized data to learn more about cities such as this beautiful visualization of people riding bikes around New York.
Statmuse is used by fans and professional sports analysts in NFL, MLB, and NBA and uses a type of artificial intelligence called Natural Language Processing (NLP) to field stats queries. Instead of relying on normal search terminology, it’s able to process searches formed in traditional sentence structure. For instance, a Google search of, “highest passer rating in a season by a player with at least 8 starts after 2010” triggers a multitude of results, none of which lead concisely to the answer. But a StatMuse query worded the same way brings up over a dozen of the highest season-long passer ratings displayed in a bar chart.
CB Insights looked at four startups addressing the "last-mile problem" including Promus Ventures-backed Marble. The “last-mile problem” has long been a thorn in the side of logistics providers. Compared to the main legs of bulk shipping, the final leg (or last mile) from logistics hubs to individual homes and offices has traditionally incurred the highest cost and complexity.
Shoppers Know More than Sales Associates - Here’s How to Fix That

The Store Of The Future: 133 Startups Transforming Brick-And-Mortar Retail

Retail experts say the lack of in-store customer service is a swelling problem that arming associates with technology could go a long way toward fixing. Tulip Retail fixes that for companies like Saks Fith Avenue, Kate Spade, Coach, Frye, Bonobos, Frank + Oak, Toys"R"Us and more.

Behavox won the Capital Markets Startup of the Year at Financial News annual Awards for Excellence in Trading and Technology in Europe. Behavox provides compliance teams at large banks, asset managers and other trading firms with software tools to better carry out surveillance of their capital markets activity.
 
TerrAvion, which helps farms take a high-tech approach to improving yield and revenue, announced the first aerial imaging solution specifically designed for rangeland. The service provides current images and data that help cattle ranchers spot early-warning signs on invasive species, plant or vegetation health issues, irrigation problems, and overgrazed areas so they can take action before emerging problems become larger issues.

Kevin Watt, Integrated Land & Livestock Manager at TomKat Ranch said, "TerrAvion's affordable and accurate imagery has also helped our team identify and address issues so much faster than before. It's saving us a lot of time, and we expect it will save us a lot of money as well by helping us grow the health and productivity of our land and herds."
In order to better integrate planning for and analysis of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) flights on jobsites, Airware, which develops a comprehensive operating system for commercial drones, has acquired drone data startup Redbird. George Taylor, Vice President of marketing and digital at Caterpillar says, “Airware’s acquisition of Redbird increases Caterpillar dealers’ solutions offerings by enhancing their ability to provide an end-to-end enterprise drone solution globally, helping our customers maximize productivity, work smarter, and optimize operations."

Gauss Surgical has developed a FDA approved blood loss tracking app for surgeons, which uses computer vision and artificial intelligence. The company was highlighted on CB Insight's Artificial Intelligence Startups in Healthcare and Companies Reinventing Medicine.
 
YourMechanic, the leading national on-demand car repair service, launched the auto industry's first chatbot to help car owners easily check the price of a repair, book an appointment, or look up negotiation tips while shopping for a car.
 
Sameer Patel has been named CEO of Kahuna. The former SAP SVP will lead the next phase of growth.
PC Magazine reviewed Bellabeat's Leaf Urban, the next generation women's fitness tracker that "balances simplicity and style extremely well, making it an activity, sleep, and health tracker that handles all the basics competently, while also being versatile as a piece of wearable tech. Bellabeat's Leaf Urban is a good-looking fitness tracker that lets women monitor some of their most important health information, which almost all other trackers ignore."
One of the MedCity judges, Dr. Fred Rachman, CEO of Alliance of Chicago Community Health Services, said “Childhood obesity is a serious problem in the United States - with overall prevalence over 17 percent, highest in older children and adolescents - and health care providers struggle to find and implement effective interventions. Kurbo has taken an evidence-based intervention and made it accessible to children via mobile devices.”
 
StayWell has partnered with Kurbo to offer a health coaching and weight-loss program that’s made for children, teens and families as part of the workplace health programs it delivers to employers across the country.
 
Prism Skylabs' technology uses security camera images to generate a heat map of a shop's layout and translate that data onto a dashboard for store managers. By aligning data with sales, managers can see if shoppers lingered in a specific area, showing they were attracted to an item but didn't find it enticing enough to buy. Retailers can then determine whether the issue was missing sizes, pricing, quality or something else. 
WHOOP has been used by elite athletes and tracks more data than ever. NBA champion LeBron James, Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps and about 20 other professional and Olympic athletes have trained using WHOOP. College athletic programs train with the device as well.
Connected home lighting control platform, Deako enables a bluetooth mesh platform of hot-swappable, programable light switches with an "all off" light control functionality. One distinctive feature of the Deako system is that switches can act like regular, old-fashioned light switches. A builder can offer the homebuyer a smart light system as an extra-cost option rather than committing thousands of dollars on a guess that the buyer will want it. 


Promus Ventures News:

Promus Ventures was highlighted on Who Invests in Hardware Startups 2016
Mike Collett, Promus Ventures Managing Partner was interviewed on The Full Ratchet Podcast "Why I Invested"


Promus Ventures Job Board:

The Promus Ventures' Community Job Board currently has over 250 real-time job posts from startups in the PV Community.


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Vice President
 
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