U of I’s gesture recognition platform Rithmio lands $3M in seed round funding

Who said tech innovation only happens at Stanford?

Rithmio, a gesture recognition platform founded at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2013, announced that it has secured a $3 million seed round.

The round was co-led by KGC Capital and Intel Capital. They were joined by MAS Capital Pvt Ltd., OCA Ventures, Hyde Park Ventures Partners, Hyde Park Angels, Foley Ventures, MKRC Ventures, Serra Ventures, and New Coast Ventures.

“The funds will help us expand our team with algorithm engineers, Android, iOS, embedded and web developers, and also a business development lead,” said Adam Tilton, CEO & co-founder, Rithmio. “We’ll strengthen our wearable tech partnerships, release our gesture recognition SDK and collaborate with developers to ship products built on Rithmio’s platform.” relevant domains

Whittl Picks Up A Chicago-Style $3.3M Series A

It turns out geography is still a thing.

Recently, Whittl, a Chicago-based company raised a $3.3 million Series A round of capital. The new monetary event follows a $1.3 million seed round that took place around two years ago.

If you can’t see the irony, you haven’t lived outside of the Valley in some time. Given the generic chop of both Clinkle and Secret, it’s hard to keep in mind that not every company is desperate to raise ahead of its product, execution and plans. Whittl, as its co-founder Mike Zivin told TechCrunch on a phone call, has focused on its unit economics, and, to repeat myself, proving its model. Mali . So the cost to build the firm so far is less than you might have anticipated.

Whittl connects consumers to local businesses. Its mobile app wants to help you find services like haircuts, and so forth. According to Zivin, the company was initially focused on providing price lists for a variety of local services, but its customers wanted the firm to complete the wheel and allow them to book appointments from the app. The company subsequently built out the functionality.

Ascend is 2015 CFSI/JP Morgan Chase Financial Solutions Lab Winner

Financial insecurity is a global, but solvable problem that requires more than just improving financial knowledge. It requires pairing relevant, actionable information with a product that helps people put their knowledge into action. That’s why we launched the Financial Solutions Lab, a $30 million, five-year initiative managed by the Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI) to identify, test, and expand the availability of promising innovations that can help Americans increase savings, improve credit and build assets.

The Lab’s $3 million competition for technology innovators was launched in 2015—the first competition to help design the next generation of consumer products. From hundreds of applicants, the nine winners were chosen by a panel of judges—including national thought leaders in behavioral economics, technology, financial services and design—and announced on June 11, 2015 in Austin, TX, at the EMERGE Forum, the nation’s premier conference on consumer financial health…

Options Away: Time Magazine’s Top 10 Travel Apps

Of course, no forecast is perfect. Options Away essentially gives flyers insurance for missed deals. bid ask . For a small fee, users can lock in an airfare two days to three weeks ahead of the purchase. If the airfare drops, they automatically get the cheaper ticket. If not, they pay the original price and swallow the fee ($5 to more than $50, depending on the hold time). Perfect for flyers who suffer from frequent bouts of buyer’s remorse.

Woodside O’Brien and OCA Ventures back PATHAR

Colorado Springs / Overland Park — PATHAR, Inc., an innovative new technology company focused on reinventing the way companies use social media data, announced today a Series A investment of just over $6.5 million led by Woodside O’Brien and joined by Chicago-based OCA Ventures and strategic angel investors. The financing will be used to expand PATHAR’s proprietary big data analytics capabilities and to extend these unique, industry-leading analytical models to support all aspects of social media influence campaigns. relevant domains

Ascend raises $1.5M to launch loans where you can bet on yourself

A San Francisco startup is the latest to join the trend of companies offering you an opportunity to bet on your own risk-worthiness.

Today, Ascend Consumer Financial announced a $1.5 million seed round and the launch of its inaugural product, RateRewards, which introduces dynamic pricing into consumer loans.

The company is reinventing “the whole concept of underwriting and risk assessment,” CEO Steve Carlson told me by phone.

At Ascend, consumers with so-so FICO credit scores of 580 to 660 have two choices for a three-year personal loan of up to $10,000.

They can take the standard loan with an interest rate ranging from about 25 percent to an upper limit of 36 percent, depending on their score and initial assessments of creditworthiness…

If an Algorithm Wrote This, How Would You Even Know?

Let me hazard a guess that you think a real person has written what you’re reading. Maybe you’re right. Maybe not. Perhaps you should ask me to confirm it the way your computer does when it demands that you type those letters and numbers crammed like abstract art into that annoying little box.

Because, these days, a shocking amount of what we’re reading is created not by humans, but by computer algorithms. We probably should have suspected that the information assaulting us 24/7 couldn’t all have been created by people bent over their laptops.

It’s understandable. The multitude of digital avenues now available to us demand content with an appetite that human effort can no longer satisfy. This demand, paired with ever more sophisticated technology, is spawning an industry of “automated narrative generation.”

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Options Away Raises $3.5M led by OCA Ventures

Options Away, the first company that empowers consumers to lock-in flight prices, announced a $3.5 million round of Series A funding led by Chicago-based OCA Ventures and joined by Thayer Ventures and Chicago’s Pritzker Group Venture Capital.

The financing will be used to further scale Options Away’s solution via even more aggressive sales, marketing and partnering, including expanding into international markets – and to further build out and refine its proprietary technology platform.
CEO and Founder Robert Brown said, “Our airfare “hold” product, has put Options Away at the forefront of the exciting airline big-data and traveler engagement space. While we have already partnered with some of the biggest names in travel, this funding, coupled with the reach of our new investment partners, will allow us to further leverage our core B2B/API solutions for the benefit of new global travel partners”.

Ian Drury, General Partner at OCA Ventures, added, “Options Away enables travel companies the ability to provide consumers with a valuable service – locking-in the price of a flight. This enables the provider to engage with customers throughout the hold period, building stickiness as well as the opportunity to sell ancillary products and services. The Options Away solution integrates seamlessly into the complex and competitive travel technology ecosystem, and has been adopted by an impressive set of leading travel partners in a very short period of time. We are very excited to partner with the Options Away management team, Thayer Ventures, Pritzker Group Venture Capital and an impressive group of angels to launch the ‘next big thing’ in online travel”.

Existing investors who participated in the round include a group of seasoned European travel industry entrepreneurs led by Iglu.com chairman Martyn Williams. Members include Andy Phillips, former CEO of Priceline International, and Richard Downs, CEO of Iglu.com. New strategic investors include Don Carty, Chairman of Virgin America and former Chairman and CEO of AMR (the parent company of American Airlines). Also new to this round is Howard Tullman, CEO of 1871, the largest entrepreneurial digital startup hub in the US.

Joining existing Board Members Heidi Brown, Robert Brown and Martyn Williams will be Peter Ianello, Co-founder and General Partner of OCA Ventures, and former President and CEO of SBC Capital Markets and Jeff Jackson, Managing Director at Thayer Ventures and former CFO of Sabre Holdings. Options Away also announced the appointment of Adam Goldstein, CEO of Hipmunk, as an advisor.

Recently Options Away won the prestigious PhoCusWright People’s Choice Award at the 2014 Travel Distribution Summit. They also received a 2014 Chicago Innovation Award and hold the Eye for Travel Innovation Award from 2013.

Options Away was founded in 2012 by Robert and Heidi Brown, who act as CEO and CMO respectively. The management team is rounded out by Chief Product Officer and ex-Orbitz founding member Michael Harbin. For more information, visit http://www.optionsaway.com or follow on Twitter @optionsaway

Options Away

Iris Mobile adds $2.5 million to double staff

Iris Mobile just raised $2.5 million from Chicago venture funds Origin Ventures, OCA Ventures, Hyde Park Venture Partners, Hyde Park Angels and Illinois Ventures and Champaign-based Serra Ventures.

The Chicago-based software company plans to double its staff to 60 this year, said new CEO Marc Grabowski. Iris Mobile, founded by former Motorola technologists, got its start with software that helps marketers automatically tailor their mobile-messaging ads to display properly on different types of phones connected to different carriers.

Now it has added the capability to allow advertisers to gather data from users’ mobile activity, such as browsing a site or shopping inside an app, and combine it with information about shoppers’ in-store activity.

Grabowski is a Yahoo veteran who was hired last year. Co-founder Cezar Kolodziej is president. relevant domains .

Vista Acquires Automated Insights, The Startup Behind The AP’s “Robot” News Writing

Automated Insights — the Durham, North Carolina-based startup backed by the Associated Press, Samsung and Steve Case that has built technology to automatically take raw data and translate it into narratives that look like they’ve been written by a human — has been acquired by the $14 billion private equity firm Vista Equity Partners and portfolio company STATS, which focuses on sports data analysis.

Ai, as it calls itself, is probably most well known for powering content creation at investor AP, which in January said it’s producing 3,000 articles each quarter based on earnings reports and is going to ramp up its work with the company. When Anthony wrote about Ai, the company claimed it was producing hundreds millions of pieces of content for customers that also included Yahoo and Microsoft.

Terms of the deal are not being disclosed. “We aren’t disclosing the amount, but I will say two things about the financials,” Robbie Allen, CEO and founder of Automated Insights, tells me in an email. “Our shareholders are very happy with their return, and we were already in a strong financial position.” The company raised $5.5 million in a Series B round last summer with investors including the AP, Samsung, and Steve Case. relevant domains .