AUSTIN, Texas (PRWEB) January 14, 2019
Pensa Systems, a leading innovator in autonomous perception systems, today announced it has raised $5 million in additional funding to accelerate deployment of its breakthrough system for retail inventory visibility. The company has now raised a total of $7.2 million. The new round was led by Signia Venture Partners, with participation from new investor Commerce Ventures, as well as existing investors ZX Ventures, ATX Seed Ventures, Capital Factory, Revtech Ventures and others. Ed Cluss, partner at Signia Venture Partners, will join Pensa’s board of directors.
The new funds will be used to fuel adoption of Pensa’s retail inventory visibility system and accelerate store trials with large retailers and CPG brands in North America and abroad. Aimed at eliminating a trillion-dollar(1) blind spot for the retail industry, Pensa is the first company to deliver a broadly scalable system that automatically and systematically tracks in-store inventory, using advanced computer vision, patent-pending artificial intelligence and autonomous drones to see and understand what is on store shelves. This unique approach can help brands and retailers minimize stockouts, optimize product planning and increase revenue.
"Pensa is doing breakthrough work with AI and drones, bringing data to bear on a significant and costly problem for retail – the lack of consistent on-shelf inventory visibility," said Cluss. "We were impressed by the team’s prior accomplishments, and by the traction the company has already achieved with major retailers and consumer brand manufacturers. Data and technology are critical to retail’s future, and we are excited to help Pensa bring their vision to reality."
This Series Seed funding announcement comes on the heels of $2.2 million in seed funding announced in 2018, as well as the completion of multiple successful live trials with major consumer brands and retailers, including worldwide beverage leader Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev), which became a strategic investor through its ZX Ventures growth and innovation unit.
“Out-of-stock products are a significant challenge for CPG companies and retail partners, with hundreds of millions of dollars in potential sales impact,” said Patrick O’Riordan, vice president of Explore at ZX Ventures. “While we’ve explored various solutions to the problem, Pensa’s approach is truly novel. Its unique combination of expertise and technology tools — including scalable AI and advanced computer vision — provides an opportunity to make both timely and significant impacts to inventory visibility throughout the industry.”
Past attempts to address retail inventory visibility have fallen short. Store employees can only spot-check with limited frequency. Fixed cameras and ground robots come with accuracy, scalability, cost and complexity issues. Pensa is the first company to deliver a low-friction, low-cost, highly accurate retail inventory visibility solution that can quickly scale to enable supply chain optimization across stores, locations and products.
“Lack of inventory visibility is an age-old problem for brand and retailers,” said Richard Schwartz, president and CEO of Pensa Systems. “Retailers and manufacturers go blind staring at products on the shelf to see what is missing or has been misplaced. Advanced artificial intelligence can borrow the best of how people perceive shelf conditions and automate it at scale to continuously read out what is on a shelf at any point in time. This is a win-win proposition for everyone – consumers, retailers and brands. We are thrilled to have Signia and Commerce Ventures on board, along with top advisors, to help us scale the business and accelerate our market entry.”
Pensa’s advisory board includes several of the world’s top authorities in retail inventory, robotics technology, and AI/machine learning. These include Tom Gruen, a pioneer in out-of-stock and category management analytics, Mick Mountz, founder and CEO of Kiva Systems, which pioneered the use of mobile robots for warehouse automation and was acquired by Amazon, and leading researchers in robotics and machine learning from Carnegie Mellon University and University of Texas at Austin.
“Retailers today continue to have an inventory problem, with billions of dollars in lost sales due to items being out of stock,” said Gruen. “Pensa’s technology comes at a critical time, when there is enormous pressure on retailers and brands to improve retail performance, manage inventory across channels and adapt to changing customer behavior. Their cloud AI-plus-drone approach has the potential to make a big impact on the retail industry.”
Pensa is demonstrating for the first time its retail inventory visibility system this week in Intel’s booth (#3437) at the NRF 2019: Retail’s Big Show, with participation from AB InBev.
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