Startups Venture

Last Week In Venture: This Week In Fleets And Fancy-Pants Convenience Stores

Hello and welcome back to Last Week In Venture, the weekly roundup of deals which may have flown under your radar.

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There are plenty of companies operating outside the unicorn and public company spotlight, but their stories are worth sharing. In them, we find current trends and get a glimpse of the future.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at some stories from the week that was in venture-land.

Not your average mini mart

If it weren’t for the fact that I had to buy cilantro and green onions for some chicken meatballs I plan to make for dinner tonight, I’d have bopped into the Foxtrot near the Merchandise Mart before starting work today.

Foxtrot is a convenience store company based in Chicago. But it’s not like the kind with hot dogs on greasy rollers and the only sometimes-functional blue raspberry slush machines. It’s a convenience store for the urban brunching class. It’s got taps: for cold beer, cold-brewed coffee and kombucha. It carries good if premium-priced prepared salads and snacks, an absurd array of fancy canned coffees and soft drinks, premium brands of personal care items and, at least at my local store, a small gift and knickknack section in the back corner near all the wines. All that and a couple bags of chips.

It does not, however, carry fresh herbs. Which is why I went to Jewel-Osco in River North. Chicagoans reading this will understand.

Back to the news: besides operating physical locations in Chicago and Dallas, Foxtrot serves those markets with one-hour delivery. And to grow its footprint in its home markets, as well as expand its operations to Washington, D.C., the company raised $17 million in Series B financing co-led by Imaginary Ventures and Wittington Ventures. Participating investors include The University of Chicago, Revolution, M3 Ventures, Lerer Hippeau, Fifth Wall (which led Foxtrot’s Series A round in March 2018) and others.

The company told TechCrunch that it doubled its overall revenue from last year, and that it grew e-commerce revenue by 150 percent year on year. Foxtrot says its revenue is currently split roughly 50-50 between e-commerce and brick-and-mortar.

The company was founded in 2013 and, with the new round announced this week, has raised just under $25 million to date.

This week in fleets

Managing a fleet of vehicles can sometimes feel like herding cats. It’s difficult to imagine a time before modern tracking and telematics. Truckers and logistical workers would have to log everything themselves. By hand. On paper. A lot of folks in the business still do, but that’s changing as software companies seek to automate the monitoring and compliance work around fleet management.

We bring this up because this week saw (at least) two Series A deals raised by companies in the fleet management sector.

We’ll start internationally. Headquartered in Gurugram, India, Fleetx.io is building a suite of tools for logistics companies to manage their fleets. These include tools for asset tracking, operations and financial monitoring, route management, and integrations with India-certified GPS and tolling systems. This week, the company closed $2.8 million in Series A funding led by Singapore venture firm BEENEXT. India Quotient, a couple C-suite executives from Indian e-commerce company Snapdeal investing in an individual capacity, and others participated in the round.

And then, on the U.S. side, there’s Maven Machines. The Pittsburgh-based company also closed a Series A round, which was led by Allos Ventures. (Allos Ventures recently closed $52 million for its third VC fund, as Crunchbase News reported.) Participating investors from the round include Great Oaks Venture Capital, Hearst Ventures and Riverfront Ventures. Similar to Fleetx.io, Maven Machines offers a couple of products, including its main fleet management solution and its own telematics platform, which helps fleet operators monitor the use and location of their assets.

Image Credits: Last Week In Venture graphic created by JD Battles. Photo by Frank McKenna, via Unsplash.

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