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Southern Startup News | April 7 – April 21:
New Orleans, LA – Lucid Raises $60M in One of New Orleans’ Single Largest Tech Funding Rounds – I can’t immediately corroborate Lucid’s announcement that this is the largest funding event Louisiana has seen in a decade, but I’m inclined to believe it. Lucid’s monster round is unprecedented for a New Orleans tech company – we’ve seen healthcare startups soar to similar heights (Renaissance RX raised $50M from TPG Growth at one point), but this still represents an entirely new stratum of investment. It’s especially a shock given Lucid’s relatively modest $2.8 series A round, their largest early investment. Since then Lucid’s suite of market-testing software products have powered the company through three years of 70% year-over-year revenue growth.
Lucid CEO Patrick Comer isn’t being shy about what the money’s for. While the company has spent years focusing on product over growth, but times are a’ changing – Lucid’s new stated goal is to become the primary name in market research at a global level.
Now, what does this mean for Louisiana? First, it’s a massive surge in what has already been a strong year of funding for the state, with companies including Waitr, Advano, and RDnote picking up rounds. Second, it marks new attention from national firms. Lucid’s round was led by North Bridge Growth Equity, an enormous VC with offices in California and Massachusetts. North Bridge’s most recently announced fund was a $580M Growth Equity; more attention from players at that scale could be gasoline on the fire for growing Louisiana startups.
Dania, FL – Petsmart Acquires Chewy for $3.35B – Speaking of monster deals. The largest e-commerce sale of all time has just happened, with Petsmartbuying Chewy, a quiet, but highly successful online pet supply store operating out of Dania, FL. Chewy’s $3.35B price tag outstrips a previous high-water mark for e-commerce exits: Jet’s $3B sale to Walmart last August.
The sale came as a shock for most because, as mentioned, Chewy often flew well under the radar, despite rapid growth in revenue and market share. The company could claim $880M in yearly revenue in 2016, as well as an impressive 43% of the pet food and litter e-commerce market (just trailing Amazon’s 48%).
I’ll close this out by giving you a heads-up on another major acquisition of a Florida company. Alcohol delivery startup Klink‘s sale to Delivery.com was largely overshadowed by Chewy, but it’s still something to keep an eye on. No terms were disclosed by the Boca Raton company, but we’ll hopefully see more details in the coming weeks.
South Carolina – SCRA Finalizes $600K in Investments in Three Companies – A new round of investments from the South Carolina Research Authority have been announced. Three companies have received an investment of $200K each: P2OPs, a manufacturer of protective carrying cases for TVs; PEC360, a CRM platform with customers across several Southeastern states; and Good Done Great, a donation platform with offices in South Carolina, Washington, and Florida, also a previous recipient of SCRA funds.
Atlanta, GA – Accelerant Venture Capital and BIP Capital Announce Merge – One of Atlanta’s most active investment firms has just confirmed a major new partnership. BIP Capital is an immediately recognizable name in Southern VC – they’ve invested a reported 80% of $200M in capital directly into Georgia companies. Their merger with Accelerant Capital will see Accelerant’s personnel and $25M fund folded into the BIP organization.
Fayetteville, AR – Family Donates $600K to Create New Entrepreneur Hub– Finally, we’ll head over to Arkansas. The University of Arkansas has received two major donations from the Brewer family. Totalling $600K, the funds will be put toward the construction of the new Brewer Family Entrepreneurship Hub, a gathering point for entrepreneurial activity on campus and the first facility of its kind at U of A. The new hub will be strategically positioned close to existing entrepreneurial hotspots, including startup builder Hayseed Ventures and Chamber of Commerce-supported North Arkansas Fab Lab. We’ll see what fruit the new hub bears, but for now it’s worth noting that U of A’s entrance into the Fayetteville startup scene represents a step forward for the city’s crucial public/private/academic cluster.
Charleston, SC – BedKin – $560K
Miami, FL – DadeSystems – $2M
Miami, FL – Gridics – $1.1M Seed
New Orleans, LA – Lucid – $60M
Orlando, FL – Luminar Technologies – $36M
April 25 – Charleston, SC – DIG SOUTH ICON
April 26 – Atlanta, GA – Flashpoint Batch 8 Interest Session
April 29 – Oak Ridge, TN – Techgirlz: Computer Simulations for Science
May 2 – New Orleans, LA – Collision
May 5 – Knoxville, TN – Codestock