Wednesday, March 21, 2018
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Happy Returns and Paper Source Announce Partnership

Happy Returns, a technology, logistics and service provider of in-person returns for online shoppers, today announced a partnership with Paper Source, Inc., to launch “return bars” inside Paper Source stores.

As part of the pilot program launched this month, shoppers from all of Happy Returns’ retailers can now return products in person at 18 Paper Source stores in Chicago and Los Angeles.

“As an omni-channel retailer, we know shoppers prefer to return online purchases in person,” said Jenica Myszkowski, chief operating officer at Paper Source. “We are happy to expand our best-in-class service to Happy Returns customers, while also offering inspiring locations for shoppers to easily manage their returns.”

Paper Source associates will use Happy Returns technology to facilitate free, easy returns with immediate refunds for shoppers from a range of retailers who offer Happy Returns, including Carbon38, Eloquii, Everlane, Jaanuu, Thursday Boots, Tradesy, UNTUCKit and more.

Mondly Launches AR-Enabled Language Learning Tool

Mondly, a popular language-learning platform with 30 million users, has released MondlyAR — a language-learning app powered by augmented reality and chatbots with speech recognition. According to the company, it has worked in close collaboration with Google to launch MondlyAR as part of the first wave of augmented reality apps available in Google Play.

MondlyAR offers virtual lessons and purposeful conversations in seven languages: French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, German, and both American and British English. In the lessons, a virtual teacher conducts human-like conversations with the user, offering instant feedback and replying with a human voice. To make students more likely to understand and retain what they are taught, Mondly creates virtual planets, animals, musical instruments, and more. For an even more immersive feeling, Mondly allows learners to walk up to, around and even interact with these virtual creations.

V12 Data Appoints Jason Webby as Chief Revenue Officer

V12 Data, which combines rich data assets with robust technology to provide brands with a seamless and connected customer view, announced the appointment of Jason Webby as chief revenue officer. In this role, Webby will be responsible for the direction and management of the company’s sales revenue strategies.

Webby most recently held the position of senior vice president and managing director at Xaxis, one of the industry’s leading programmatic media companies. Prior to Xaxis, he served as SVP of sales for CNBC International, where he managed all commercial activity across EMEA, Asia Pacific and Latin America. Webby also spent nearly 10 years in multiple positions at The Economist Group.  

Yotpo Announces the Launch of A.I.-Powered “Insights”

Yotpo, a leading user-generated content marketing platform, has announced the availability of a new feedback analysis solution, “Insights,” at Shoptalk, the world’s largest conference for retail and ecommerce innovation. Insights seeks to help marketing, customer service, and product teams to understand customer feedback at scale, with real-time business intelligence to improve the overall customer experience, as well as to inform operational, commercial, and product development strategies.

According to the company, Insights will help fast-growing commerce brands such as Adore Me, MVMT, UNTUCKit and GoPro to leverage artificial intelligence to unlock what customers are saying about their products and brands. Insights uses natural language processing to analyze the grammatical structure of the text and uncover topics mentioned in reviews and their related opinions. It also uses “sentiment analysis” to score every opinion on a negative to positive scale, as well as semantic grouping to categorize keywords to maximize the information available on each topic.

The Riveter Announces $4.75 Million in Funding

Coworking space provider The Riveter announced its first round of institutional capital today with a $4.75 million raise led by Madrona Venture Group.

The Riveter, founded by Amy Nelson just 10 months ago, aims to provide women in business the tools and space to succeed. With two membership-driven workspaces in Seattle that serve as work and gathering places for female-managed businesses, The Riveter has quickly established a profile as a fresh take on co-working. It makes collaboration not just a matter of physical proximity by offering a digital collaboration and networking platform for members.

The Riveter will be using the funding to expand locations to Los Angeles and to additional cities across the country in the coming year. The company partners with leaders in business, sports, politics, and journalism to bring its unique formula for unlocking the economic power of women.

Demandbase Appoints Trish Sparks as Chief Customer Officer

Demandbase, provider of an AI-powered account-based marketing solution, announced that Trish Sparks has joined the company as chief customer officer. In her new role, Sparks will lead the company’s customer strategy, scale its customer success function, drive customer outcomes and foster long-term customer growth.

Sparks was most recently the head of global customer success at LinkedIn Sales Solutions. Prior to working at LinkedIn, she led pre-sales at Progress Software and held sales and sales engineering roles at DataDirect Technologies. Sparks began her career as a teacher and then became a technical support engineer. She holds B.S. degrees in education and business administration, as well as an M.B.A. from Meredith College.

Parachute Health Raises $5.5 Million

Healthcare technology platform Parachute Health announced it has raised $5.5 million. The company’s investors include Greater New York Hospital Association Ventures, Loeb Holding Corporation, Anthony Welters (former EVP for United Health Group), Fred Browne (former president of McKesson Extended Care) and leading healthcare innovators.

Parachute works to solve multiple enduring challenges in the healthcare system, among them lowering costs, eliminating fraud, increasing efficiency, and ensuring patients actually receive the medical equipment and services they need, such as oxygen tanks, hospital beds, walkers and wheelchairs.

Since launching in New York CIty in 2017, Parachute has rapidly expanded and currently covers 60 percent of the healthcare market in New York, according to the company. Its service is now available in hundreds of healthcare facilities in more than 20 states serving more than 100,000 patients, including the Hospital for Special Surgery, NYC Health & Hospitals Corporation and Stanford Hospital.

SeamlessDocs Announces $7.5 Million Series B Funding

SeamlessDocs announced the completion of a $7.5 million raise, led by SJF Ventures, with participation from Motorola Solutions, the Entrepreneur Roundtable Accelerator, NY State Innovation Ventures, CapRock, and other private investors.

Although the SaaS model is widespread in the private sector, most governments still rely on paper processes or legacy software hosted on local servers. SeamlessDocs, which is based in New York, has created a forms and esignature engine built specifically for all levels of government — from towns of less than 2,000 people to cities like Boston and Seattle — to help them streamline internal processes and go paperless.

According to the company, more than 27 million citizens have submitted digital forms through the SeamlessGov platform, resulting in tens of millions of dollars saved by governments on processing costs.

Hazel Technologies Closes Series A Financing Round

Hazel Technologies, Inc., a USDA-supported agricultural technology company, announced the closing of a $3.26 million Series A investment led by Chicago-based S2G Ventures. Other participants include previous seed round lead investor Rhapsody Venture Partners, as well as Serra Ventures, Valley Oak Investments, and Climate Impact Capital.

Hazel provides shelf-life extension technologies and services to combat the global food waste problem and to improve profitability for its customers. Its products are packaging inserts with a drop-in solution that can extend the shelf life of produce by as much as three times by preventing fungus and decay. The company has received a total of $700,000 in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture SBIR program to develop and commercialize its  technologies.

Alibaba Hosts Shopping Festival for B2B Buyers, the B2B cross-border online trading platform of Alibaba Group, is hosting an online promotion called the March Expo from March 5 to March 31, 2018, on its website and via its mobile app. With more than 58,000 suppliers — including some of China’s top manufacturers, such as SANY Group and China FAW Group — registered as participants for the online event, the March Expo aims to help both buyers and suppliers worldwide seek new business opportunities through the online platform.

During the expo, Alibaba will provide several limited-time offers for global buyers, including free inspection service for qualifying orders, and a 15 percent discount on the LCL (Less Than Container Load) logistics service for qualifying orders shipped from China to the U.S.

March Expo is similar to the “Singles Day” online shopping festival held annually by, Alibaba’s retail platform. In 2017, the Singles Day sale generated $25.3 billion in sales, doubling 2016 Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales combined.


SambaNova Systems Emerges From Stealth and Secures $56 Million

SambaNova Systems, a Palo-Alto-based company developing computing platforms to power machine learning and data analytics applications, today emerged from stealth and announced $56 million in Series A funding, led by Walden International and GV (formerly Google Ventures). Other participants included Redline Capital and Atlantic Bridge Ventures.

SambaNova Systems was founded in 2017 and is based on technology from Stanford University professors Kunle Olukotun and Chris Ré. It is led by CEO Rodrigo Liang, former senior vice president of processor development at Oracle. The company’s underlying technology is largely based on DARPA-funded research from the two professors on efficient processing for artificial intelligence.

SambaNova will use the investment to expand its team of machine learning software and high-performance hardware engineers.

Spindrift Sparkling Water Closes $20 Million

Soft drinks company Spindrift announced the closing of $20 million in Series B-2 funding led by VMG Partners. Additional investors in the round included Prolog Ventures, KarpReilly, RiverPark Ventures, and other existing investors.

According to the company, Spindrift is the first sparkling water made with real, fresh ingredients and triple-filtered sparkling water. All of its products are free from added sweeteners or natural flavors and are made with fruit that is picked from family farms and then squeezed within a few days from harvest. Spindrift is available at grocery retailers and café-style restaurants nationwide, including Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods Market, Starbucks, Panera, Kroger, Target, as well as online at and

The new capital will aid in launching Spindrift’s first national advertising campaign to educate consumers about ingredient difference.