New age of retail sees multiple start-ups raise funding

1 Jun 2017

Retail is forever changing. Image: Danil Khasianov/Shutterstock

In a busy month of funding rounds, May finished with a plethora of start-ups catching the eye of VCs. The future of retail is near.

Despite a flurry of recent activity, SoftBank has had a quiet few days. That’s only natural after hundreds of millions of dollars went into healthcare, transport and VR in the space of a few weeks.

However, in the Japanese tech giant’s absence, plenty of VCs proved active as May came to a close.

128 Technology

A networking start-up based in Massachusetts, 128 Technology more-than doubled its total money raised, thanks to $21.5m Series C funding.

Rather than meet-ups, 128 Technology’s networking is more to do with the nuts and bolts that help the internet to truly function.

The company claims to represent “a fundamentally new approach to networking”, with its wide area network hosted by what it calls ‘secure vector routing’.

“The only reason we have networks is to deliver applications and services,” said Andy Ory, co-founder and CEO of 128 Technology. “Today’s networks weren’t created with that in mind, and certainly weren’t designed to address the demands of cloud computing, mobile devices or the near-infinite number of applications created each day.”

128 Technology, according to Ory, is aiming to address that. Investors in the round include executive management and current employees of the company, as well as G20 Ventures and individual investors.


TouchBistro, essentially a provider of tablets to restaurants, recently raised $16.3m, with the Canadian company bagging investment from Napier Park Global Capital and Recruit Holdings Ltd in the latest round.

Delivering iPads is perhaps selling TouchBistro a tad short, as the company loads the tablets with proprietary technology to improve standard point-of-sale procedures in the hospitality industry.

Already working with 9,000 restaurants, TouchBistro turns over around $10m annually, claiming to process $5bn worth of payments throughout the year.

It is the latter that is of interest, with the data generated by such transactions providing for interesting opportunities.

“When we look at the data that runs through our system, it’s immense,” said CEO and founder Alex Barrotti. “We’re getting a lot of requests from our own customers.”

Perhaps going down the route of iZettle and providing short-term loans is an option, though Barrotti has not yet revealed what use the company will make of all that data.


Not all start-ups represent obvious sectors, and Magicpin is one such example. The Indian start-up, which just raised $7m, is a ‘local discovery’ start-up.

This means it wants to allow customers to find products and services easier, providing outlets with the opportunity to reach out with rewards and offers that would otherwise go unnoticed.

“Over the last 12 months, we have invested in building a product that delivers strong user retention and purchase frequency, and validating unit economics at a neighbourhood level,” said Anshoo Sharma, co-founder and COO of Magicpin.

The company claims to have more than 1m users, each spending an average of 30 minutes per visit on Magicpin. “This infusion of funds will help us scale across cities and categories,” said Sharma.


In a similar vein, London-based Yoobic claimed $5.3m in series A funding this week, as it continues to build a platform to let retailers monitor and improve in-store operations.

The money will go towards a doubling of its team and a bid to break the US, with all funding coming from Felix Capital.

Yoobic has created a mobile app that enables retailers to monitor the upkeep of standards (brands, promotions, merchandising) across multiple stores. Instructions can be delivered through the app to stores, allowing owners of multiple outlets greater influence over the daily operation.

“This fundraising from Felix Capital is an exceptional opportunity for Yoobic,” said Fabrice Haïat, CEO and co-founder of Yoobic.

“Frédéric Court is one of the most successful investors in Europe, with true retail expertise. In addition to the funds raised, we wanted to surround ourselves with a team able to support us in our fast growth.”


It wouldn’t be a funding round without fintech making an appearance, with Delhi-based SimpliLend raising an undisclosed sum of angel funding.

According to VCCircle, SimpliLend’s as-yet-unreleased lending platform will use the funding to get the product to market.

Individuals from Singapore and India are said to be the investors, with Puneet Gupta, founder of SimpliLend, confirming the fundraising but refusing to divulge further details.

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic