Business Startups Venture

Alright, Alright, Alright – It’s Hot Outside In Texas But Funding Is Lukewarm

It’s hot here and everyone is over it, but that’s not going to keep me from bringing you the third edition of our Texas-focused column, a monthly roundup of deals that went down in the Lone Star State over the previous month.

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Despite the scorching temperatures, funding activity was well, kind of lukewarm in July. As you can see below, the largest known deal was a $48 million Series E raised by TurnKey Vacation Rentals, which markets and manages vacation rental homes.

No shock that most fundings were raised by startups in Austin, where the majority of startup activity is taking place. Are you reading from Houston, Dallas, San Antonio or somewhere else in the state and sick of the hipster capital getting all the hype? If so, shoot me an email, I’d love to know why your hometown isn’t keeping up (sorry, just saying) despite larger populations and lots of cash.

What’s Playing In Theaters

In July, I reported on how Austin-based Lance Armstrong’s Next Ventures LP raised $24.5 million of a planned $75 million fund. He liked my tweet apparently so that was fun. I also did a Q&A with dating site Bumble (which is profitable, so that’s cool). I wanted to hear more about its fund, which is focused on investing in underrepresented founders. They only wanted to be interviewed via email which was not ideal, but it’s a free country and Bumble is a private company, so there you go.

I also talked to Austin-based real estate startup Homeward,which raised $4 million in equity funding and $21 million in debt funding to help people buy homes faster. Since I specialize a bit in real estate technology, I got to geekily analyze how this company fits into the overall space a bit. I also got to interview HR tech startup TalentGuard about what it plans to do with its recent $4 million capital infusion that was led by Live Oak Venture Partners. Pretty sweet bit of cash for a small startup.

And finally, I reported on Motorola Solutions Inc.’s acquisition of WatchGuard Inc., an Allen, Texas-based mobile video solutions provider, for an undisclosed amount. The company was previously eyeing an IPO, according to the Dallas Business Journal. For non-Texans, Allen is suburb of Dallas so that was a sweet win for Big-D.

The New Stuff

Y’all know I crank every day but there were still some deals I just didn’t have the juice to cover at the time. So here will go.

“Designed by technicians, for technicians” startup Mobile Tech RX raised $4.2 million in a round led by Silverton Partners (also based in Austin). Austin-based Mobile Tech RX is a developer of software for mobile auto repair businesses (talk about specific).

Recently-rebranded Spruce, a mobile-first concierge platform for apartments, raised $3 million in a round led by New Jersey-based Fitz Gate Ventures that also included participation from Houston-based Mercury Fund, the Houston Angel Network and Austin-based Capital Factory. According to InnovationMap, the Houston company recently changed its name from “Apartment Butler.” Seems like a good idea. It wants to expand (Denver will be its first stop outside of Texas).

Austin-based TrustRadius, a customer review platform for B2B technology, announced a $12.5 million Series C funding led by Next Coast Ventures (also based in Austin) with continued participation by returning investors Silicon Valley-based Mayfield Fund and local VC firm LiveOak Venture Partners. The company said it plans to grow ARR by 223 percent and its customer base by three times through 2020.

And let’s not forget the energy sector. Innowatts, a Houston-based AI energy analytics company, concluded its Series B funding round with a new $1.8 million investment from Veronorte, a Colombian venture capital firm backed by one of the largest utilities in South America. The company previously announced in May the initial close of its $18 million Series B, led by Energy Impact Partners. Innowatts says its AI-driven technology helps customers such as utilities, energy retailers and smart energy communities reduce their energy bills.

In San Antonio, Geekdom Fund launched its third fund, raising $10 million toward a planned $50 million offering, according to the San Antonio Business Journal. “Geekdom Fund III is expected to be substantially larger than Geekdom Fund I, which raised $3.4 million, and Geekdom Fund II, which raised $20 million,” wrote the Journal. Per its Crunchbase profile, the firm “ invests in early stage IT startups in San Antonio, South Texas and beyond.”

And finally, check out our recently published quarterly report (which found that Texas funding in Q2 barely surpassed Q1 2019 totals, and the state’s venture market underperformed year-over-year). Don’t miss it, it’s good. Thanks for reading and until next time, stay cool and hydrated!

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

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