Tech roundup: February funding picks up, benefitexpress to make 100 new hires, and more

by Michael Hines
February 22, 2018
benefitexpress Schaumburg technology company
PHOTO VIA @benefitexpress ON TWITTER 

Schaumburg-based benefitexpress announces major hiring plans

Employee benefit administration software company benefitexpress will make 100 new hires in 2018. The Schaumburg company announced the move on Tuesday, saying in a press release that its product development, process improvement, implementation services, client delivery and call center teams would all be expanding. Score (another one) for the suburbs. [Business Wire]

 

Carlease $3.5 million funding
CARLEASE CEO ANDY O'DOWER. PHOTO VIA CARLEASE

Chicago tech funding picks up the pace

February tech funding got a shot in the arm Tuesday when FourKites announced a $35 million Series B round led by August Capital. The freight tracking and logistics technology company will use the funding to expand into Asia and South America, accelerate technology development and make additional hires. The company's global headcount, which currently sits at 160 people, will double in 2018. A substantial part of that growth will come at the company's Chicago headquarters. [Built In Chicago]

Braviant Holdings also scored fresh funding on Tuesday. The fintech company raised $5 million in common equity from Loom Capital. An unnamed early investor also doubled down on the company, converting a $2 million note to equity. That's $7 million in total, for those keeping score at home. [PR Newswire]

Carlease kept the funding momentum going, announcing on Wednesday that it has locked down $3.5 million in new capital. The startup gives users a single place to shop for car leases, with the platform handling all pricing negotiations. Carlease will use the newfound funds to invest in its tech, particularly its mobile capabilities, and to expand its offerings across the country. [Built In Chicago]

But wait, there’s more! The Graide Network announced early Thursday morning that it raised a $1 million seed round. The startup’s platform pairs teachers with aspiring educators, known as “graiders,” who grade student writing assignments and provide feedback. The Graide Network said the funding will be used to accelerate growth and for platform enhancements. [Press release]

 

WeWork Bunker Labs Veterans In Residence Chicago
PHOTO VIA WEWORK

First “Veterans in Residence” Chicago cohort announced

WeWork and Bunker Labs have announced their first “Veterans in Residence” Chicago cohort. The six-month program gives entrepreneurs, who are all either veterans or spouses of veterans, access to WeWork workspace and member benefits at no extra cost. Of the 10 companies in the cohort, four are local and tech-focused: FanFood, PadScouts, Homegrwn Creative and International Medical Supply, Inc. [Press release]

 

Tyson Foods 1871 partnership
PHOTO VIA TYSON FOODS FACEBOOK

Tyson Foods teams up with 1871

To increase the pace of innovation and become more agile, Tyson Foods announced it is partnering with 1871 and Silicon Valley-based startup incubator Plug and Play. Tyson Foods has already made inroads into the Chicago tech scene. Its venture arm, Tyson Ventures, recently invested an undisclosed sum in smart oven startup Tovala. [Chicago Inno]

 

Chicago tech executives new hires
PHOTO VIA SHUTTERSTOCK

Say hello Chicago tech's newest execs

Ganesh Bell
President

Uptake has a new president, former GE chief digital officer Ganesh Bell. In addition to being the industrial conglomerate’s first-ever chief digital officer, Bell also served as CEO of GE Power and spearheaded the company’s industrial internet business efforts. Fun fact: Bell is the third former GE exec hired by Uptake since October. [PR Newswire]

 

Diana Smith
VP of Sales

Silent IT isn’t in the mood to remain quiet about its newest high-level hire: VP of Sales Diana Smith. Prior to Silent IT, Smith was VP of sales at Novo Group, a Brookfield-based recruitment and management consulting firm. In addition to the hiring news, the company also revealed plans to double its headcount in 2018. [PR Web]

 

DialogTech Conversation Insights Pro
PHOTO VIA DIALOGTECH

DialogTech releases new AI-powered tool

Conversation Insights Pro is a new tool from DialogTech that uses AI to provide insights from inbound calls. Conversation Insights Pro records and transcribes each call, with the transcript then parsed by a machine learning algorithm that creates a report that provides scores for caller intent, sales agent interaction and call outcomes. [Press release]

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