Chicago tech wasn’t very active on the funding front last month. The city’s startups pulled in $47 million in new money, the lowest total of the summer. September is shaping up to be a different story, with four startups netting $83 million in fresh funds over the course of just two days. These were the startups contributing to that total.
Raise, $60M, September 19
Raise's Series C was Chicago tech’s third largest round of the year, following Uptake’s $90 million Series B and Outcome Health’s mammoth $500 million raise. Accel led Raise’s round, which also featured previous investors New Enterprise Associates and Bessemer Venture Partners, along with newcomer PayPal.
The mobile payments platform, which was originally founded as a gift card marketplace, plans to use the funds for a major marketing push. Raise will also make improvements to its platform and introduce new features, such as shareable cards and wallets. The company has raised a total of $147 million.
Clearcover, $11.5 million, September 19
Clearcover hadn’t revealed much about what it was working on over the past year, but that all changed on Tuesday. The company shared its plans to disrupt the auto insurance industry along with news of an $11.5 million initial funding round. Clearcover uses data analytics to find consumers who actually need insurance, such as those shopping for a new car. It also gleans information from external sources to streamline the application process.
Clearcover’s first market will be California, where it will launch before the end of 2017. The company plans to make a few hires before launching in the Golden State, and will increase hiring efforts in the new year as it enters new markets.
ThinkCERCA, $10.1M, September 20
ThinkCERCA, a Chicago edtech startup, announced a $10.1 million Series B round Wednesday. Intuit founder Scott Cook and his wife Signe Ostby led the round, and were joined by several individual tech investors as well as China’s TAL Education Group and New York’s Plum Alley Investments.
The company’s software lets teachers create personalized lessons to teach argumentative writing and close reading. ThinkCERCA will use the round to launch thousands of new lessons and to hire salespeople.
Packback, $1.5M, September 20
On Tuesday, Packback announced it has raised $1.5 million from University Ventures and ICG Ventures LLC. The startup also touted Packback Questions, a college discussion board that uses AI to measure a student’s ability to analyze and apply course concepts in unique ways. The company still rents textbooks, but its focus going forward will be on scaling its software product. Packback should be back in the news soon, as it’s preparing to raise a Series A round.
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