TX Tech: Luxe Co-Working, Mass Challenge, RVshare, Hypergiant & More
As you get ready for the weekend, let’s take a moment to run down the latest innovation news from Xconomy Texas.
—Since we spend so much of our time working, Work Well Win believes we might as well do it in a healthier fashion. The self-described “wellness” co-working space is based in Greenwich, CT, and plans to open eight new locations across the country this year, including one in Austin, TX, the company announced Thursday in an e-mailed statement. In keeping with its wellness focus, Work Well Win said its locations will have air purification and water filtration systems, local and organic food, meditation spaces, ergonomic desks, and other features. Founded by Frank Bistrian, formerly the head of domestic development at WeWork, the company said Thursday it has raised $22 million in a seed round of funding, the company said.
—Eighty-four startups will participate in MassChallenge’s inaugural accelerator in Austin. The Boston-based program, which does not take equity stakes in portfolio companies, said it chose the companies out of nearly 300 that made pitches. The startups, which are pursuing innovations in health IT, energy, and social impacts, hail from 11 countries and around the US, including 45 from Texas. The program goes for four months and starts in April.
—RVshare announced Tuesday that it has raised $50 million from Tritium Partners in Austin. RVshare said in a press release that Tritium’s managing partners were among those that made the first investment in HomeAway, the vacation rental firm ultimately acquired by Expedia (NASDAQ: EXPE) for $3.9 billion in 2015. RVshare, which has dual headquarters in Austin and Akron, OH, was founded in 2013 as a peer-to-peer RV rental marketplace.
—Everybody seems to be talking about artificial intelligence these days. But very few seem to know what it actually is, and how to use it. Ben Lamm, a Dallas-based serial entrepreneur, on Tuesday told Xconomy that his latest company, Hypergiant, will bring more clarity to executives on how artificial intelligence technologies can affect their operations and impact the bottom line. Already the company is working with restaurant chain TGI Friday’s with Flanagan, an AI-enabled “mixologist” it developed that can collect data on customer’s preferences. “AI is not one magic tool; it’s more of a tapestry of technologies,” he said. According to Hypergiant, investors in the company include Mythic Ventures, Align Capital, and Beringer Capital.
—In other artificial intelligence news, Austin, TX-startup SparkCognition announced Tuesday in a press release that that it has completed a $56.5 million Series B round of funding. The company had said last June that it had raised $32.5 million in the round. Verizon Ventures led the financing round. Other participants included Boeing HorizonX, CME Ventures, Brevan Howard Investment Holdings Limited, Invenergy Future Fund, and John Chambers, the former CEO and executive chairman of Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO).
—Hyliion, which develops electric-hybrid transmission technology for the trucking industry, announced it’s moving to Austin from Pennsylvania. The startup, which was founded in Pittsburgh in 2015, sells transmissions for semi tractors and trailers. The company said its flagship product reduces fuel consumption and emissions by up to 30 percent, compared with a typical transmission. The result is savings of more than 6,000 gallons of diesel fuel annually, according to the company. Also, Hyliion said one semi-tractor trailer using its technology can reduce CO2 emissions equal to removing 13 cars from the road.