$2.5M Raise Preps MATI Energy for National Expansion

MATI continues to make progress in the healthy beverage scene, reaching $6 million in outside equity funding and expanding geographically this year.

As is evident through years of growth in sales, revenue and brand awareness, MATI Energy continues to live up to its reputation here in the Triangle community as a model of startup accomplishment.

In January, founder Tatiana Birgisson expressed 2017 would be a year of significant scaling with national expansion, additional team headcount and new product development. Just four months later, those goals are being met with a fresh $2.5 million in funding led by local investment funds Duke Angel Network, DUMAC and first-time MATI investor IDEA Fund Partners. With the cash in hand, MATI will accelerate growth of its tea-based energy beverage brand.

Click through the timeline below to learn about the major milestones leading up to the latest news from MATI.

How a WedPics “Hail Mary” Led to a New App & Plan to Dominate the Wedding Industry

By taking a pause after five years in business, WedPics positioned its team to move aggressively toward innovation and revenue.

WedPics CEO Justin Miller was in quite a predicament last fall—the startup needed a path to profitability and he needed some new motivation to make it happen.

The dilemma might not make sense considering the facts. Four years of hustle had made WedPics a darling of the Triangle tech community, and a company to watch in the lucrative wedding industry, with acquisition offers and impressive partnerships.

Miller’s small team had mastered user acquisition and content marketing on the cheap—with hundreds of thousands of brides all over the world using the app each year to capture and collect moments from their big day.

Reveal Mobile Launches Platform That Leverages Location-Based Audience Data

Reveal Mobile, a leading innovator in monetizing location-based audience data, announced the launch of Social Direct, a platform that enables advertising agencies, retailers and brands to leverage location-based audience data for highly targeted social media campaigns.

According to a press release, Social Direct enables advertisers to find the audiences who have visited their own locations, competing locations or who match broad, interest-based categories. Advertisers can then easily target these audiences on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, as well as Google AdWords to reach relevant consumers.

The Social Direct platform draws first-party data from Reveal Mobile’s nationwide database of 40 million location-sharing mobile consumers, which can then be targeted via their social media platforms for retargeting and user acquisition campaigns.

“Social Direct is the first solution that turns mobile audiences into social audiences, enabling advertisers to reach social media users based on previous, real-world location history,” said Brian Handly, CEO of Reveal Mobile. “Not only does it allow companies to find new users to download their apps, Social Direct dramatically boosts advertising performance and reduces campaign costs. It is a major leap forward in mobile marketing.”

Banks Get Personal in Their Marketing

Banks know more about their customers than ever, and increasingly are trying to get more use out of that information.

The results can be convenient, or just creepy.

Banks can look at customers’ debit-card and credit-card transactions, online-bill payments and account activity to see what they’re buying, who they’re working for and other information. Now, from the largest Wall Street behemoths to small community lenders, the banks are looking to use that data in new ways, investing in more-advanced technology to better target prospective customers and sell more services to existing ones.

RTP’s Spiffy adds to its cash haul, round swells to $7.5M

Spiffy, the Research Triangle Park-based brainchild of Carolina Auto Spa owner Karl Murphy and ChannelAdvisor co-founder Scot Wingo, has inked $7.5 million in financing.

A securities filing disclosed late Friday shows 13 investors participated in the equity raise.

The funder includes the $5 million the company disclosed in February, led by Bull City Venture Partners, a Durham investment company managed by Jason Caplain and David Jones, who previously backed ChannelAdvisor. Wingo says that, while the initial plan was to stop at the $5 million, interest from investors surpassed expectations, leading to the over-subscribed round.

This Harvard Alum Wants To Disrupt The College Savings Industry

If you speak with Marcos Cordero, the co-founder & CEO of Miami-based Gradvisor, he’ll share with you two troubling statistics about college savings.

First, 80% of parents dont know what a 529 plan is, and second, 60% of those saving for college dont use a 529 plan.

That didn’t sit well with the former engineer and MIT and Harvard Business School alum.

So, he started Gradvisor to help more people save for college and encourage employers to become more active participants in the college savings process.

A 529 plan, or qualified tuition plan, is a tax-advantaged vehicle to help save for college costs and is sponsored by states, state agencies or educational institutions in accordance with Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code.

How the Funding Decline is Helping the On-Demand Economy

Buzzwords come and go quickly in business, but so do the trends they describe. Big data has been replaced by smart data, which is quickly being overshadowed by artificial intelligence and machine learning. Businesses have “pivoted”, created Chief Revenue Officers, and tried a variety of modern business models.

But most trends eventually fizzle out, replaced by something newer and better. What survives are the pieces that worked; the ideas and structures that have lasting value. The on-demand economy, spearheaded by companies like Uber and Airbnb, is hitting a rough patch as well, and that is good for everyone.

“Rough patch” might be a charitable way to describe the graveyard of on-demand companies that closed their doors in 2016 and the 50% cut in funding given to on-demand startups. From food service to lawn service, the “Uber of something” ideas are falling like dominos.

How the On-Demand Economy is Quietly Demolishing a DIY Culture

Readily available software for mobile devices has created a form of trade that brings products and services directly to the customer, as soon as possible or when requested. The economy this has created is known as the ‘on-demand’ economy. Growing in size in tandem with the smartphone, a substantial portion of society now utilizes these services.

By 2020, Cisco’s Visual Networking Index predicts 4.1 billion people will be online, and there will be 26 billion networked devices. As devices and connectivity increase, so will the desire for instant gratification. The Harvard Business Review reports that the on-demand economy is attracting more than 22.4 million consumers annually and $57.6 billion in spending. And it’s not just for the wealth, a majority of on-demand users are millennials, and 46% of all users make less than $50,000 annually.

On-demand services include housekeeping, health and beauty services, grocery delivery, and more. This new economy is demanding rapid innovation from its participants, and I wanted to discover what it takes to survive. One service I was recently introduced to, Spiffy, is an on-demand car detailing service for businesses. Scot Wingo, founder and CEO, recently shared his expertise on the trend with me:

Uber of X: Spiffy is The Uber of Car Washing

Taking the time out of a busy schedule to go get a car wash is usually a low item on people’s priority list.

With so many activities on a daily basis, making sure vehicles are clean can seem like a hassle. From working a full eight-hour workday to going to the gym and cleaning where you live, there’s not much time for extra things like making a trip out to the car wash. As a result, many people’s cars can sit for months and months at a time without a wash or vacuum, which can end up in a less than lovely smelling situation.

One company that’s looking to help move the ball for people in terms of getting vehicles clean is Spiffy. The startup company is looking to revolutionize the car washing industry with its on-demand service. Through the use of the company’s app, its technicians are sent out to wherever the user is to wash the car. We sat down with Spiffy’s CEO Scot Wingo to learn more about how the business was founded and where it plans to go within the next few years.

PYMNTS: What’s the story behind how Spiffy started?

SW: We have had two physical ‘old school’ car washes since 2003. I have an eCommerce background and had my first Uber experience in 2011. That was a big ‘aha’ moment for me because in eCommerce we saw ‘goods’ go digital — and to me, Uber was a watershed moment that all ‘services’ could go digital. So in 2014, we did a test by putting out a MVP (minimum viable product) and it really exceeded our expectations. From there, we have taken what we discovered and continued to learn and tweak and iterate to where we are today. We are 100 percent focused on taking all friction out of the car wash experience for our customers, and while we’ve come a long way, we still have a long way to go.

The Pain And Promise Of Beacons In Retail

Beacons entered the marketing landscape a few years ago with splashy headlines touting large national retail deployments and the ability to engage with customers in real time.

While recent headlines have been fewer, the pace of beacon deployments has evolved but hasn’t slowed. Nowhere is this more evident than in retail, where beacons bring both pain and promise for retailers’ marketing and customer service teams.