Consumer Data Company Retina Scores $2.5 million
Rachel Uranga covers the intersection of business, technology and culture. She is a former Mexico-based market correspondent at Reuters and has worked for several Southern California news outlets, including the Los Angeles Business Journal and the Los Angeles Daily News. She has covered everything from IPOs to immigration. Uranga is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism and California State University Northridge. A Los Angeles native, she lives with her husband, son and their felines.
Retina, a Santa Monica startup that provides e-commerce companies like Dollar Shave Club and Madison Reed predictions of consumer behavior based on algorithms, announced on Wednesday that it has raised $2.5 million in funding led by Crosscut Ventures.
The backend platform helps business predict shopping habits by using what it says is "next-gen algorithms" and will use the funds to grow its reach and expand products. Since its inception, the company has pulled in $5 million in venture capital.
Data on shoppers and their long-term buying habits are especially vaunted in the e-commerce world where there's an intense fight for repeat customers as the retail industry sees radical change. Brick-and-mortar stores like Macy's, which announced on Tuesday it would close 125 stores in low-tier malls, are struggling to compete as shoppers migrate online.
Retina's founder Michael Greenberg also created fundraising tool ScaleFunder.
The changes in the retail industry nearly toppled Forever 21. The company, known for fast fashion, was pummeled by online rivals like Revolve and others. After filing for bankruptcy, the company this week entered a tentative $81 million deal to sell its assets to a consortium including mall owners.
But even as malls, the traditional hub for commerce, have emptied out, the high-price of acquiring and keeping customers online has been a challenge for retailers. Smaller companies that aren't as well funded are at a disadvantage when competing with giants like Amazon.
Retina hopes to fill in those gaps. It recently launched an app on Shopify, the e-commerce platform used by many online sellers. The three-year old company was founded by Michael Greenberg, who also created fundraising tool ScaleFunder.
"There's a cataclysm happening at the intersection of e-commerce and retail," Greenberg said. "Companies like mine are trying to help other businesses trying to compete with the sort of data science and technical prowess of Amazon."
Greenberg said customers are willing to provide companies data "if they get more personalized experience with less friction" in the transaction.
"Not all customers are created equal and, in fact, a majority of them are poison for the business," Greenberg said in an announcement. "Retina determines which customers will spend more as soon as they make their first purchase, not six months from now."
Crosscut Ventures managing partner Rick Smith said in a statement that technology's return on investment was "unmatched in the industry."
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When Christine Outram, founder and CEO of Everydae, a digital tutoring app, met with investors last year to try to raise a seed round she kept being told to come back in six months.
"I guess you can say we were turned down," she said.
Outram decided to try a different route, turning to equity crowdfunding, which allows mom and pop investors to dabble in something that until recently was solely the domain of professional investors. Her campaign proved successful – she raised $1.2 million from 1,586 people who wrote checks between $250 and $50,000.
Christine Outram, founder and CEO of Everydae, a digital tutoring platform.
Barbara Chandler believes she contracted COVID-19 in March at her job, working in an Amazon warehouse in New York where she experienced "a culture of workplace fear reinforced by constant technological supervision, retaliation against those who speak out, and the threat of automatic and immediate job loss in a job market where it may be impossible to find work elsewhere," according to a lawsuit filed in federal court in New York this week.
Less than a month after contracting the virus, Chandler says she woke up to find her cousin, whom she lived with, dead after experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
At a virtual town hall held Thursday by dot.LA and PledgeLA to identify actions leaders in the L.A. tech and startup community can take now to break down racial barriers to jobs and capital, and to democratize economic opportunity for the region -- there were ultimately a robust number of questions asked and interest expressed around the issue, though tangible actions remain to be seen.
Nearly 30 years after the 1992 riots in Los Angeles, protesters across the U.S. gathered this time to march against systemic racism and violence faced by the black community after George Floyd was killed while in police custody in Minneapolis.
Across social media, tech companies in L.A. and beyond have posted and tweeted their support for #blacklivesmatter, muted their feeds, and opened their pocketbooks, while music companies took part in a blackout. Companies have also donated to various diversity, equity and inclusion causes, but it remains an open question as to what impact those efforts will have.
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