News Article | May 9, 2017
It’s a Friday afternoon, and Andrew Hull, the founder and president of marketing consulting firm Elixiter, is still hard at work in his Bozeman, Montana, office. But soon–insanely soon–he’ll be setting up camp with a troop of local Boy Scouts. When he finally ducks out of the office at 4 p.m., he, the scouts, and four other chaperones are at a trailhead within the hour, ready to backpack three miles. Camp is set before nightfall. “You can get anywhere in Bozeman in 15 minutes,” says Hull, whose 40-employee company’s clients include Fitbit and Aetna. “Where Elixiter is, we have access to trailheads within 15 minutes. Skiing is 25 minutes.” Bozeman (pop. 43,405) has long been a magnet for outdoor enthusiasts; count Hull, an avid cyclist, among those ranks. But the small city has also earned another reputation as a boomtown for entrepreneurs, many in high technology. Thanks in part to its natural amenities, the presence of a university, and an embrace of the digital economy, Bozeman is turning into a startup hub in the middle of nowhere. The place is incomprehensibly scenic, even by Montana standards, situated in a spot where four mountain ranges decide enough is enough and relax into a fertile valley. Yellowstone National Park is a 90-minute drive. A River Runs Through It was filmed on the nearby Gallatin River, so trout fishing is a given. Like many places in the state, the local economies were driven for years by tourism and agriculture. But unlike many, this city in the southwestern corner of Montana started to diversify its economy in the 1980s when photonics companies started to build lasers, and manufacturing and outdoor-gear firms also settled in. A conservationist might bump into a think-tank economist at one of the local breweries. Montana State University (MSU) provides both thousands of jobs and an annual batch of new employees. The real major transformation in the town’s economy began in 1997, when Greg Gianforte founded RightNow Technologies, a customer relationship management firm. Gianforte had previously started a company in New Jersey, and after selling that one to McAfee, he set his sights toward Bozeman to raise a family. “We had this idea that the internet removed geography as a constraint,” Gianforte says. “When we started, that was a theory; it wasn’t a fact.” RightNow eventually grew to 1,100 employees, and Oracle bought it for $1.5 billion. Some 500 RightNow employees worked in Bozeman, and the Oracle acquisition seeded a new class of entrepreneurs. Gianforte founded a startup incubator and entered politics; the Republican is following an unsuccessful 2016 run for governor with a bid for the House of Representatives seat vacated by Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. Sixteen other RightNow alumni have since started companies in Montana, many in Bozeman. In the five years since the Oracle deal closed, this wave of founders is reshaping the state economy. According to a University of Montana survey, the state’s high-tech sector in 2016 paid 14,500 employees a median wage of around $60,000. Both are sums a single West Coast company could top, but those are significant totals in a state with barely more than 1 million people where the median household income is about $50,000. “One problem we’ve had is that, historically, graduates from Montana colleges have been told to leave the state,” says Christina Quick Henderson, executive director of the Montana High Tech Business Alliance. “With the growth of the industry, that’s no longer true.” Among the 25 least-populated states, Montana has topped the Kauffman Foundation’s rankings of startup activity for four years running. Indeed, the 138 members of Quick Henderson’s trade organization added more than 900 jobs in 2016, and nearly 1,000 are expected to be added to payrolls in 2017. Odds are that those employees will remain in those jobs, too. Montana employers enjoy preposterously high retention rates compared with their counterparts in larger metros. “They don’t want to leave,” says Hull. “We have a 75% lifetime retention rate. That’s pretty crazy in the tech and marketing industry.” It’s not a phenomenon exclusive to Elixiter. The Kauffman Foundation recently studied the startup scenes in Bozeman and Missoula, home of the University of Montana, and found a similar result. “It’s a big contrast: People in Silicon Valley are always looking for better job opportunities . . . [but] people in Montana are a lot more laid back,” says Yasuyuki Motoyama, the Kauffman Foundation’s former director of research, now incoming assistant professor at the University of Kansas. “They don’t constantly seek other opportunities or counteroffers. They are happy with the company where they are working.” One reason for the high retention rates is that work-life balance, the subject of many a Silicon Valley manifesto, is manifest in Bozeman. Single-minded careerism isn’t really a thing in Bozeman–folks come to work and participate in the area’s copious outdoor activities. That notion is baked into company cultures. “When we do our team-building activities, if we can incorporate river rafting or hiking or doing something outside, that’s one of our big goals,” says Daren Nordhagen, president of Foundant Technologies. Keeping employees in Bozeman may be easy, but finding them is a challenge. Instead of competing with other companies amid a large talent pool, Montana firms for years had to fill the pool themselves. Gianforte’s bait of choice was home-state pride. Twice a year, RightNow would send postcards to MSU computer science grads who had left the state, and the company erected billboards on highways leading to Big Sky ski resort and Yellowstone. He says 80% of his employees in Bozeman were born in Montana, and the rest were “hunting and fishing fools” who wanted the Montana lifestyle and a good wage. Subsequent entrepreneurs have followed suit, though they aren’t having to work quite as hard as RightNow did to lure folks to Bozeman. MSU is churning out more graduates–it is now the largest college in the state–and Bozeman’s growth has made it more palatable for many incoming residents. The downtown is densifying and adding amenities. Some remain astonished that the town is now home to a wine bar. “Most of [our employees] had already made the choice to live in Bozeman,” Nordhagen says. “There are people that move here because they want the outdoor lifestyle, or they want to get out of the big city and have a more rural area to raise their families, yet still have access to decent jobs, decent restaurants, and an airport. There are tons of people who are moving to Montana, and then figuring out the rest once they get here.” That’s not to say workforce development isn’t a critical element of business. MSU is not MIT, and the Bozeman metro area holds 100,000 people, not 1 million. Thus, extensive employee training programs are in order. Elixiter, for its part, runs one akin to a vocational apprenticeship. All new employees undergo three months of classroom-style training–homework included–taught by fellow employees, followed by three more months of shadowing a coworker. The pace of training fits with the overall growth model of most Bozeman companies. This is a population of founders comfortable with 20% growth and the addition of just a handful of staffers each year. (Not that there aren’t fast growers–five Bozeman firms, including Elixiter and Foundant, made the Inc. 5000 list in 2016.) One reason for this is a lack of venture capital. Aside from Next Frontier Capital, a local VC firm with a $21.5 million fund, substantial funding is virtually nonexistent in Montana. Most company founders bootstrap, so growth is curtailed by the available resources. Entrepreneurs in town feel the fiscal reality suits the rancher-and-miner culture of the state and helps yield resilient companies. “There’s this attitude of, ‘We’re going to figure this out.’ If you grow up on a farm or ranch, if something breaks, you have to fix it. There’s nobody else to do it for you,” says Hull. “So, there’s this spirit of ingenuity, of figuring things out, and that translates well to the tech world.” A reliance on hiring and training locals has its drawbacks. An obvious one is a lack of diversity. Hiring from the state workforce essentially means hiring white–87% of Montanans are Caucasian–and few founders are actively broadening their recruiting pipelines. Multiple executives labeled their applicants a “self-selecting” group, meaning folks turned off by the Montana lifestyle don’t bother applying. There are perks to this approach. A lifelong New Yorker would find Bozeman severely lacking in cultural amenities, while someone already living in Bozeman likely values fly fishing more than access to, say, international eateries. The latter person is more likely to fit in with these companies. It’s also more likely that person is white. It’s not just racial diversity that’s affected. Montana lacks statewide nondiscrimination policies based on sexual orientation or gender. When Bozeman passed its own nondiscrimination policy in 2014, a major opponent was the town’s tech figurehead–Gianforte. Buzzfeed reported in 2016 that Gianforte lobbied against an LGBT nondiscrimination ordinance, and his family trust has given $1.1 million to groups that fight against reproductive rights and LGBT equality. The lack of diversity could affect the bottom line as companies’ ambitions shift. “Some companies want to hire dozens of people a year, and that means you have to recruit people from the outside,” says Motoyama. “In IT-related jobs, you may need to find people from India, people from China. You don’t find those kinds of software engineers in Montana.” The job-hoppers some Montana entrepreneurs dread often are some of the most talented employees, are diverse, and sometimes come from far-off places. Matt Fulton would like some of those folks to find their way to Montana. During a five-year stint with Palo Alto-based Medallia, Fulton worked remotely from Bozeman for an 18-month period. After briefly returning to Palo Alto, he and wife Abby Schlatter moved back to Bozeman and started a company called commonFont in 2013. Fulton enjoys the familiar Bozeman perk: His employees love the town, and they want to stick around. But if he interviews a candidate whose primary motivation is to live in or move to Bozeman, rather than work at commonFont, he won’t extend an offer. “That’s one of the things that I like least about Bozeman. I wish there was more moving around, more competition for top talent,” Fulton says. “Retention is high because there’s not enough choice, and not enough competition. . . . If there was more of a culture of people looking around and evaluating other opportunities, I think that would be helpful and healthy. It would help us attract and retain a higher caliber of workforce.” If that lack of competition is simply a volume problem, then it could be solved by a continued surge in startup activity. Marty Ostermiller was RightNow’s director of finance until he left town in 2012, after the Oracle acquisition; he now works in Salt Lake City. “That’s the peril in Bozeman–your options are limited, and they were especially limited then,” he says. “But I think that’s part of why Bozeman became an entrepreneurial place. People wanted to stay there, and it wasn’t completely obvious where to work.” Founders who have stuck around share a considerable collective accomplishment: Few Western towns as small as Bozeman provide so many middle-class jobs for locals. Professionals from Idaho or Wyoming or New Mexico often face dichotomous choices: Either flee your home state for better-paying jobs in a coastal metro, or stick around and weather the boom-bust cycles of extraction-based economies and commodity agriculture. Someone entering the Bozeman job market today won’t face such polarizing choices. Intelligent planning and a bit of luck have stoked the boom. Proximity to Yellowstone is the reason its airport exists, but adding direct flights to spots such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, and Dallas gave entrepreneurs and a contingent of remote workers better access to coastal markets; Bozeman’s is now the busiest airport in the state. The city has zoned areas of downtown for multistory, mixed-use development–a rarity in many scenic Western towns–and it laid the first phase of a fiber-optic network last October. Chris Mehl is a Bozeman city commissioner and works for Headwaters Economics, which researches the economies of the rural West. His firm has documented a trend in Western urbanization that exacerbates the economic gap between small cities–think Bozeman and Bend, Oregon–and the truly rural places surrounding them. A major determinant is infrastructure. If a town has access to transportation and high-speed internet, then it is easier for new companies to locate there. Remote employees, of which there are many in Bozeman, typically command high wages and can settle in any burg with internet access. “Why rural communities aren’t demanding broadband, I don’t know,” Mehl says. Bozeman’s growth has its downfalls. A robust startup scene, well-paid remote workers, and scenic beauty are a recipe for swelling housing costs. According to Zillow, the median list price of a house in Bozeman is north of $420,000 compared with $250,000 in Billings, the state’s largest city. But if wages and job numbers continue to flourish, it’s a problem numerous Western towns envy.
News Article | May 18, 2017
ST. PAUL, MN--(Marketwired - May 18, 2017) - OppSource, a leading SaaS-based software provider, today announced the company has secured $1.22 million in funding to support growing sales, marketing and product development efforts. The round was led by Bozeman, Montana-based Next Frontier Capital; a fund backed by investors from the world's top technology and venture capital firms that seek investment opportunities primarily in industries dominated by high intellectual property values. "OppSource is at the forefront of a huge market opportunity," said Next Frontier Capital Founder and General Partner Will Price. "Companies of every shape and industry are reengineering their sales processes to align with today's modern buyer. OppSource offers a solution that is perfectly timed to help B2B companies modernize their sales engagement and we are happy to be a part of it." Added Pat LaPoint of Frontier Angels, "The sales automation technology market is growing at a rapid pace, and I know OppSource is well-suited to attack this high-growth market opportunity head on." The OppSource Sales Development platform is designed to help companies that are re-engineering their sales processes and breaking away from today's all-in-one salesperson model in favor of a revenue supply chain approach. The solution helps today's sales prospecting teams organize their day, engage with prospects in their moments-of-interest, and automate the delivery and execution of multiple touch points necessary to reach today's sales prospects. "OppSource is leading the charge in helping B2B sales teams manage the shift in re-engineering their revenue supply chains," said OppSource President Mark Galloway. "Our long-standing industry experience and ability to be nimble when it comes to managing the latest trends puts us in the perfect position to take advantage of market opportunities. This round of funding is a testament to our vision and will help us accelerate our growth in leading this market." Next Frontier Capital is a venture capital firm primarily focused on investing in industries with high intellectual property values. The company partners with mission-driven, talented entrepreneurs who build companies of impact, utility, and value. The Fund's partners, investors, and advisors bring experience and expertise in venture capital and in starting and growing successful companies. The Fund, backed by investors from the world's top technology and venture capital firms, is seeking Montana technology investment opportunities primarily in industries dominated by high intellectual property values. St. Paul, Minnesota-based OppSource is leading the market in providing a fully integrated sales development software platform that automates the orchestration, delivery, and tracking of multiple channels of sales outreach. Used by industry-leading B2B companies that have or are investing in dedicated sales prospecting teams, OppSource's sales development software provides specialized functionality to help sales teams be up to three times more effective at prospecting and developing sales-ready opportunities. More information about the company may be found at http://www.oppsource.com or by calling 877-742-8880.
News Article | May 16, 2017
"Bob Evans opened his restaurants based on the belief that travelers wanted a hospitable restaurant with high quality food and a friendly face to greet them while they were on the road. Bob's mantra was 'Treat strangers like friends and friends like family', which is why partnering with Dinova's network of business travelers and corporate diners is such a good fit for Bob Evans restaurants", said Sara Bittorf, Chief Marketing Officer Bob Evans restaurants. "Every business traveler craves the comforts of a home cooked meal at some point in their travels and Bob Evans is thrilled to be able to welcome them." Founded in 1982 in Austin, Texas, Chuy's serves authentic Tex-Mex food in an eclectic atmosphere full of color and personality. The menu includes family recipes from South Texas, New Mexico and Mexican border towns, all made to order using only the freshest ingredients. They've built a cult-like following for their famous hand-rolled tortillas, margaritas made with freshly-squeezed lime juice, and signature sauces like the beloved Creamy Jalapeño. Chuy's has the reputation as the most fun and friendly spot to eat real Tex-Mex, and at a great price. "Over the past 35 years, Chuy's has grown from a few restaurants in our hometown of Austin, TX to 83 locations across 16 states. We've done that by serving the freshest and most authentic Tex-Mex on the planet," said Ashley Ingle, Vice President of Marketing for Chuy's. "We are excited about our new partnership with Dinova, bringing corporate diners to experience Chuy's unique style of made-from-scratch Tex-Mex in a fun and quirky atmosphere." With the recent announcement of the $40 million investment from Frontier Capital and last month's Atlanta Business Chronicle Pacesetter award win, Dinova continues to add increasingly diverse restaurant concepts to its more than 14,000 locations nationwide. The additions of Bob Evans and Chuy's are just one indicator of the substantial growth Dinova continues to achieve in 2017. Dinova (www.dinova.com) is the only company providing an innovative, proprietary marketplace exclusively focused on connecting expense account diners to quality restaurants nationwide. Dinova influences more than $6 billion annually in business meals and entertainment expenses. Participating companies range from millions of small to medium sized businesses to hundreds of Fortune 500 enterprises, and its 14,000+ restaurant network includes local independents as well as national full-service and limited-service restaurant brands, encompassing all price levels and cuisines. To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/bob-evans-and-chuys-join-the-dinova-marketplace-300458234.html
News Article | May 25, 2017
CHARLOTTE, N.C.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Electronic Commerce Inc. (ECI), a leading SaaS payroll and HR provider, today announced it has acquired cfactor Works Inc. and its award-winning product suite Vibe HCM in a move that will create an end-to-end human capital management solution to serve its primary client base of mid-market employers as well as a growing roster of enterprise-level customers. The acquisition combines the expertise ECI has developed over more than 20 years in serving the core payroll, transactional and compliance needs of its clients with Vibe’s unique focus on the employee experience. Vibe HCM is currently being used to recruit, manage, connect and inspire employees in multiple languages across 29 different countries. The combined organization will be known as Vibe HCM Inc. Todd Tyler, chief executive officer of ECI, will become CEO of Vibe HCM Inc. and Cary Schuler, founder and CEO of cfactor Works Inc., will serve in the role of senior vice president of marketing. “Combining ECI and cfactor Works is exciting news for the HCM marketplace because Vibe HCM will be able to offer one unified platform that delivers on employers’ HR transactional needs as well as their strategic employee engagement initiatives,” said Tyler. “We look forward to working with Cary and the talented cfactor Works team to leverage the complementary strengths of our organizations.” “With Vibe products, cfactor has approached the HCM space from the perspective of developing easy-to-use HR technology designed to uniquely engage, enhance productivity and deliver value to each and every employee,” said Schuler. “We are excited about the opportunity joining forces with ECI presents to set a new standard with a highly differentiated technology solution for the HCM marketplace.” Vibe HCM Inc. will retain ECI’s Elkhart, Indiana headquarters and Dallas office, and add all of cfactor’s operational locations. The acquisition was completed with the support and financial backing of Frontier Capital, a Charlotte, North Carolina-based growth equity firm that is ECI’s principal investor. As a leading HCM technology and services provider, Vibe HCM Inc. is redefining HR software expectations for hundreds of thousands of employees. Vibe HCM’s unique focus on delivering both transactions and engagement in one unified platform sets a new standard for HR technology.
News Article | March 2, 2017
SANTA MONICA, Calif. & LEHI, Utah--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Clearlake Capital Group, L.P. (together with its affiliates, “Clearlake”) today announced that it has reached a definitive agreement in partnership with management to acquire NetDocuments (the “Company”), the leading provider of secure cloud-based document management, email management, and collaboration solutions to law firms and corporate legal and compliance departments. The Company will continue to be led by Matt Duncan, CEO, and Alvin Tedjamulia, CTO, who will both join the Board of Directors alongside Clearlake. Financial terms were not disclosed. Founded in 1999, NetDocuments is the only cloud-first and cloud-native content management solution purpose-built for the legal industry and focused on meeting customer needs around security and compliance. Today, the Company’s innovative end-to-end platform combines robust security, encryption and compliance features with easy-to-use functionality that addresses the evolving needs of today’s professionals. NetDocuments is currently used in more than 140 countries and by over 20 percent of Am Law 200 law firms, as well as numerous leading corporations and legal departments. This platform growth investment from Clearlake will enable NetDocuments to accelerate growth organically by continuing to build on a successful product development and sales strategy, and also inorganically through acquisitions. “We are excited to partner with the talented NetDocuments management team as we make a significant growth investment in the Company,” said Behdad Eghbali, Managing Partner of Clearlake. “Our partnership will facilitate further investment in development and go to market for the Company’s leading document management, email management, and collaboration solutions, and accelerate the legal and compliance industry’s transition to software-as-a-service solutions.” “We are thrilled to partner with Clearlake to accelerate growing the company, both organically and through acquisitions,” said Matt Duncan, CEO NetDocuments. “Clearlake’s substantial resources and deep software investing experience will help us to continue delivering best-in-class cloud-based content management and email management solutions to our customers both at law firms and in corporate legal and compliance departments.” “Our customers expect to be able to easily access and work with their business content on any device at any time while maintaining the highest levels of security and privacy. We are eager to begin our partnership with Clearlake and continue building our next generation cloud platform to address complex customer needs” added Alvin Tedjamulia, CTO NetDocuments. “NetDocuments has long been recognized by its customers for providing law firms and enterprises with the highest levels of security, and we are excited to partner with Matt, Alvin and the entire NetDocuments team to continue building on the Company’s heritage,” added Prashant Mehrotra and Paul Huber of Clearlake. “Legal professionals today must manage ever-growing volumes of sensitive, extremely valuable documents, and both legacy on-premises solutions and single tenant hosted ‘cloud’ offerings are ill-equipped to meet these customer demands. NetDocuments’ true multi-tenant cloud offering provides the scale and capabilities that enterprises require for their content and email management needs.” William Blair & Company LLC acted as the exclusive financial advisor to NetDocuments and selling shareholders including Frontier Capital. AB Private Credit Investors is providing a fully underwritten facility to help finance the transaction and will be acting as lead arranger and administrative agent. The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions. Clearlake Capital Group, L.P. is a leading private investment firm founded in 2006. With a sector-focused approach, the firm seeks to partner with world-class management teams by providing patient, long-term capital to dynamic businesses that can benefit from Clearlake’s operational improvement approach, O.P.S.SM The firm’s core target sectors are software and technology-enabled services; industrials and energy; and consumer. Clearlake currently has over $3 billion of assets under management and its senior investment principals have led or co-led over 90 investments. More information is available at www.clearlake.com. Founded in 1999, and with offices in the US, UK, and Australia, NetDocuments is the leader in cloud-based document and email management. With hundreds of thousands of users across 140 countries, organizations enjoy the power and simplicity of NetDocuments trusted cloud platform, complete with built-in security, compliance, disaster recovery, matter centricity, enterprise search, mobility, records management, and collaboration. More information is available at www.netdocuments.com
News Article | February 15, 2017
Frontier Capital, a Charlotte-based growth equity firm focused exclusively on software and tech-enabled business services companies, has named Seth Harward and Scott Hoch partners in the firm. Harward and Hoch previously both held the position of principal. They join co-founders and managing partners Richard Maclean and Andrew Lindner and partners Joel Lanik and Michael Ramich in the partnership. “We are delighted to welcome Seth and Scott as partners at Frontier, both of whom have made major contributions to the growth and success of Frontier over the past nine years,” said Lindner. “Our greatest asset is our people, and we are proud to have them as partners in our firm.” Hoch joined Frontier Capital in 2007. His primary responsibilities include executing new investments with a focus in healthcare information and human resources technology, as well as working with the management teams of companies that Frontier invests in to identify strategies that build long-term value. He currently serves on the board of Frontier portfolio companies Aviacode, ECI, e-Verifile, WilsonHCG and Zephyr, and was a board member of Healthx prior to the sale of Frontier’s interest last month. Prior to joining Frontier, Hoch held investment banking positions with Edgeview Partners and Bank of America. He is a graduate of Furman University. Harward joined the Frontier team in 2008 and leads the firm’s business development and sourcing strategy. In this role, he works directly with CEOs of high-growth software companies as well as trusted advisors to these businesses to identify opportunities for productive partnerships. Prior to joining Frontier, Seth led fundraising efforts for the Research Triangle’s Council for Entrepreneurial Development and sales for an entrepreneurial tech startup. He is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. About Frontier Capital Frontier Capital is a Charlotte-based growth equity firm focused exclusively on software and technology-enabled business services companies. Founded in 1999, Frontier partners with management teams that can benefit from capital to accelerate growth, fund acquisitions or generate shareholder liquidity. The firm makes minority and majority equity investments in high growth companies and has built an excellent track record of delivering returns to both investors and management partners. For more information, please visit frontiercapital.com.
News Article | December 12, 2016
A Bozeman, Montana startup called Blackmore Sensors and Analytics Inc. has raised $3.5 million to build lidar systems that can help vehicles see more details about what’s in front of them than existing sensors do today. The company spun out of a research and development firm called Bridger Photonics that developed lidar systems for micron-precise laser cutting and welding, originally, and then for military surveillance. Generally lidar systems “see” by emitting beams of light every nanosecond. When the light bounces back, based on how long it takes to return, lidar determines how far away an object is. Blackmore’s lidar systems are distinct from others on the market because they employ what’s known as frequency modulation, rather than amplitude modulation. So the light beams that Blackmore’s systems transmit will vary in color. When those colored light beams bounce back off a person, object or structure, they give Blackmore’s lidar system enough data to understand not just how far away a thing is, and how big it is, but also how it is moving. Blackmore President and co-founder Randy Reibel said, “Because we simultaneously get range to target, and how fast a target is moving, we can get a lot of information without having to do a lot of extra computation. This is important for autonomous vehicles because you can quickly tell if there’s someone walking with a velocity signature that is normal, or slow, in a crosswalk. Or you can tell if there’s a person riding a bicycle.” Reibel said the company’s existing lidar system is about the size of a soda can. The company will use its funding, in part, to create new systems that are miniaturized, and won’t require mechanical parts within, namely rotating mirrors to move beams of light around. Next Frontier Capital led the Series A investment in Blackmore, joined by Millennium Technology Value Partners. According to Next Frontier General Partner Richard Harjes, his firm sees Blackmore as “seriously ahead on the tech” that could make self-driving cars safe and a mainstream reality sooner rather than later. The investor said he expects the company to use its funding for ongoing research and development, but also to strike strategic relationships in 2017 with original equipment manufacturers, startups working on autonomous vehicles and tier 1 suppliers to the automotive industry. “We already have a working system, now we need to get it dialed in on a vehicle,” Harjes said. One reason his firm backed Blackmore, the investor noted, was because of its dual-pronged approach to the market: “Blackmore has a serious lead using lidar for security applications given its defense background and this strength will drive the non-automotive aspect of the firm. This sets Blackmore apart from most others.” The startup, which employs 22 full-time today, competes with well-funded lidar makers like Quanergy and Velodyne.
News Article | December 12, 2016
BOZEMAN, Mont., Dec. 12, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Blackmore Sensors and Analytics, Inc., a leading developer of frequency-modulated continuous-wave (FMCW) lidar, announced today that it has raised $3.5 million in a Series A funding round led by Next Frontier Capital and Millennium Technology...
News Article | July 14, 2015
The company intends to use the funds to maintain and accelerate growth, continue to enhance its platform, expand sales and marketing efforts Founded in 2008 by Pranav Tyagi, CEO, Tango provides large retail and restaurant companies with software solutions and consulting services to plan, develop and manage their real estate and store development activities. The company has served more than 120 retail brands, and its intelligent store lifecycle management solution is used by leading retail and restaurant enterprises, including Yum! Brands, Inc., Dunkin’ Brands Group, Inc., Big Lots, Lane Bryant and Tractor Supply Company.
News Article | August 9, 2015
Vietnam’s stocks will extend Southeast Asia’s best rally as plans to ease share-ownership limits and a strengthening economy lure foreign inflows, according to Asia Frontier Capital and Coeli Asset Management. The benchmark VN Index has climbed 11 percent in 2015 through Friday’s close to the highest in five years relative to the MSCI Southeast Asia Index, which has tumbled 12 percent. Even after the gains, the Vietnamese gauge is valued at an 18 percent discount to the MSCI regional measure. Foreigners have bought $223.1 million of the nation’s stocks this year through Aug. 6, heading for the 10th straight annual purchase. While plunging commodity prices and the prospect of higher U.S. interest rates hammer shares from Indonesia to Thailand, frontier fund managers are more optimistic about the outlook for Vietnam, where the economy is growing at the fastest pace in two years and the ruling Communist Party is preparing to allow foreigners to increase stakes in certain industries. “We are generally very positive for the market,” said Thomas Hugger, chief executive officer at Hong Kong-based Asia Frontier Capital. “We continue to buy Vietnamese stocks, since we see good economic figures coming out from Vietnam and at the same time the stock market is trading at a discount.” The Vietnamese government is targeting economic growth of 6.2 percent in 2015, up from about 6 percent last year. Inflation has stayed below 1 percent in the first five months of the year, down from a peak of more than 28 percent in August 2008. The VN Index trades at 12 times reported earnings, versus the MSCI Southeast Asia’s 14.7 multiple. The Vietnamese gauge rose 1.8 percent on Monday, its biggest gain in almost three weeks. Regulators see foreign investment as one of the keys to growing the country’s stock market, where average daily trading volume on the main Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange is about one-10th that of Singapore, the region’s largest bourse. Vietnam is building a case for an upgrade to emerging-market status from frontier classification by MSCI Inc., the State Securities Commission said in October. “The liberalisation of the foreign ownership limits is a hugely significant event for the development of Vietnamese capital markets,” said James Bannan, who runs the $130 million Frontier Markets Fund at Coeli in Sweden. “The next critical step in opening up the markets is for the government to sell down its ownership interest in a large number of listed companies. Governments are rarely good owners of companies.” Bannan said he is continuing to add Vietnam stocks and prefers companies reliant on consumer spending. The government issued a decree on June 26 to allow overseas investors to increase holdings in certain industries to 100 percent from a current cap of 49 percent. For Project Asia Research & Consulting Pte., foreign investors may be deterred by the drawn-out process involved in companies getting approval to raise overseas ownership limits, while the continuing existence of state stakes or cross-shareholdings means minority investor rights will be limited. “Reforms are done at a slow pace and there is still a fear that they can get reversed if there is a downturn in the economy or the stock market,” said Attila Vajda, managing director at Project Asia Research, a Singapore-based advisory firm. The ownership-reform plan has been delayed since it was first proposed in 2013. Across the border in China, the ruling Communist Party has gone to extreme lengths to stop a $3.4 trillion equity rout from spilling into the wider economy, including banning selling by major shareholders and curbing short sales. Under Vietnam’s decree, to take effect in September, foreign holdings in sectors such as banks that are governed by separate ownership regulations will remain limited to 30 percent. A cap of 49 percent will apply to unspecified sectors. All other equities would have no limits, unless restricted by companies themselves. Guidelines will be issued this month, Vu Bang, chairman of the State Securities Commission said Aug. 6. The government’s steps to open up its corporate sector, coupled with youthful demographics and cheap labor, makes the nation one of the most compelling frontier markets in the region, says Shamoon Tariq, a Stockholm-based money manager at Tundra Fonder, which has $225 million in assets under management. The relaxation of ownership limits “is one step closer to an open-market mechanism foreigners like,” said Tariq, who said he’s continuing to buy the nation’s stocks. “It should attract international investors to a considerable degree.”