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Texas Monthly Venture Report: The State’s Most Active Investors And Other Star-Spangled News

Hello and welcome to the second edition of our new Texas-focused column, a monthly roundup of some of the deals that took place in the Lone Star State in June.

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We like to start each column with some relevant data points, and that normally will include a summary of the funding that Texas startups raised during the month. But since we’re going to be publishing our quarterly report next week, we decided to take a look at the most active investors in the state.

Here’s what we found: 83 percent (or ten) of the top 12 active investors in Texas are actually based in Texas. As you can see in the chart below, the two that are out-of-state VCs include: Bay Area incubator Y Combinator and Bessemer Venture Partners. I admit this was a bit of a surprise to me as I thought Austin’s tech scene in particular was maturing and attracting more outside investors. But it’s not to say outside investors aren’t putting money into Texas startups, but maybe not as much as the ecosystem (which is early-stage VC heavy) needs to grow significantly.

Next, we’ll do a highlight reel of our Texas venture coverage over the last month. We reported on how Houston-based Mercury Fund has raised $82 million for its fourth fund, Mercury Fund Ventures IV, for which it aims to raise a total of $125 million. Just add that to the growing list of VC firms raising nine-digit funds in the state. We also reported on Austin-based Arrive Logistics’ $25 million Series B. The Austin-based freight brokerage startup projected that revenue would reach $600 million this year. And just last week, we wrote that Austin-based telehealth startup Remedy had raised a $10 million Series A to provide virtual doctor visits, make house calls when needed and operate a walk-in clinic.

This is just a fraction of what took place, so we’ll now do a quick summary of some deals that we didn’t have time to cover.

On June 25, Austin-based Phlur, a sustainable fragrance company, announced it had completed its $7 million Series A. Germany’s Symrise Inc. led the round, which also included participation from existing investor Next Coast Ventures, and attracted a new strategic investor Peru’s Belcorp, one of South America’s largest beauty companies.

During the month, the Houston Chronicle published a series of stories focused on the city’s startup scene that are worth reading, including this one examining whether Houston could avoid past mistakes as it works to build its tech scene.

Also in June, RV rental and outdoor marketplace Outdoorsy, which relocated its headquarters from Silicon Valley to Austin last August, announced a slew of new executive hires that came from a number of larger companies such as Tesla, Mercedes-Benz, Twitter, eBay, Airbnb, Google and Expedia. The company is aggressively expanding in Europe and is hoping its new hires will accelerate that growth. One example includes the appointment of Christine Porretta as senior director of content. Porretta formerly oversaw content marketing for Airbnb’s LuxuryRetreats.co business. Also, Andrew Cunningham, a former product leader at Twitter, has joined Outdoorsy as director of product. The company, which has raised about $75 million since it was founded in 2014, said it saw 400 percent growth last year.

Not all news was directly related to startups’ raising money or hiring new people. In June, local accelerator Capital Factory announced the launch of The Austinpreneur Podcast, a series highlighting startups, entrepreneurs, and innovators in Texas. Here’s a link to its 40-plus episodes, which include titles such as, “Why Toronto & Austin are More Alike Than You Think,” and “Want to Know what VCs Won’t Tell You?”

Meanwhile, a piece by publication Startups San Antonio revealed that a number of local SaaS and cybersecurity startups made a list of fastest-growing companies in Texas. That SaaS is a growing sector in the city is not entirely shocking considering that Scaleworks, a venture equity firm that acquires and moves SaaS startups poised for growth to San Antonio, is headquartered there. Earlier this year, our EIC Alex Wilhelm wrote about its new $80 million fund.

Austin-based Eterneva, one of the more unusual startups I’ve heard of recently, raised a $1.2 million in its first (oversubscribed) round of funding. The company creates diamonds from cremated ashes of people and pets, and said it raised the money in four weeks. Eterneva launched in the fourth quarter of 2017 and said it “grew 250% YOY.” So apparently, there is demand for this sort of thing. Dan Graham, founder of Build-a-Sign and Notley Ventures is one of the investors who put money into the company. He said Eterneva is an example of a “real B2C renaissance happening in Austin right now.”

Speaking of SaaS, Enboarder, a cloud-based HR technology company, closed an $8 million Series A during the month. Greycroft led the round, which also included participation from Austin-based Next Coast Ventures and Stage 2 Capital. The company’s founding headquarters are in Sydney, Australia, but execs decided to make Austin its U.S. home as part of this new funding.

Last but not least, Plano-based fintech company Alkami Technology closed on a $55 million Series E round. On June 10, Dallas Innovates reported on the deal noting that the round was led by prolific investor General Atlantic and Philadelphia-based MissionOG. Austin-based S3 Ventures and Argonaut Private Equity also participated. The 10-year-old company provides cloud-based digital banking solutions to U.S. credit unions and banks and has raised over $228 million over time, according to its Crunchbase profile

Well, that’s it for this month! Hope you all have a safe and fun Fourth of July and stay tuned next week for our quarterly report on Texas funding. Bye for now!

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

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