Navigine, a Skolkovo resident startup that makes indoor navigation and tracking systems, has raised $900,000 in funding from an international syndicate of investors led by the Innovestor co-investment service.
Navigine’s technology can be used to analyse shoppers’ movements within a store and to target advertising accordingly. Photo: U.S. Air Force.
The investors providing equity funding include private backers from Finland and Russia, as well as the U.S. angel investor John Ason, who was Navigine’s mentor on the Starta Accelerator programme in New York last year. Both Ason and Innovestor, which invests in the Nordic countries and Russia, already invested in Navigine last year as part of a syndicate deal worth $400,000.
“We are impressed by the results Navigine’s founders and team have demonstrated over the last year,” Wilhelm Lindholm, a partner and chief investment officer at Innovestor, was quoted as saying in a statement published on Innovestor’s website.
“The company has developed a competitive technology, and displayed consistent progress in its commercialization,” he said.
Navigine, a resident of the Skolkovo Foundation’s IT cluster, creates systems for indoor tracking and navigation that work regardless of the external environment. Its products can be used in industry, such as to track goods in warehouses and factories, as well as in transport hubs, malls and museums to track and analyse visitor behaviour and allow targeted marketing and advertisements, including via push notifications.
The market for indoor positioning systems and location-based services related to advertising is developing rapidly, the Innovestor statement said.
“Navigine is the market leader in Russia, and has a growing international customer base. The funding round will enable the company to further accelerate its ambitious growth initiatives, primarily in U.S. and European markets,” said Innovestor, which has offices in Helsinki, Stockholm and Moscow.
Navigine’s solutions are in use in 20 countries. The company’s latest product is an online to offline marketing and analytics tool that enable marketers to target advertising based on highly precise customer location data.
“In just a few years, with the support of the Skolkovo Foundation, Navigine has become an outstanding combination of perfectly honed mathematical algorithms, a strong team and clear development strategy,” said Sergei Voinov, head of IoT, electronics and data storage and transmission systems within the Skolkovo Foundation’s IT cluster.
“These assets make Navigine an excellent company for raising venture capital, which has already been confirmed by a consortium of international investors. The fact that Innovestor is investing in this company again is particularly important,” he told Sk.ru.
Navigine is headquartered in New York, with its R&D centre located in Moscow and a sales office in Berlin.
Hot on the heels of other major French retailers scouring the Skolkovo innovation city for new technologies, a team of talent scouts from the Decathlon Group chain of sports stores met with a range of Skolkovo startups on Monday with a view to adopting their solutions.
Innovation is a key strategy at Decathlon. The French giant, which designs and produces its own products, as well as selling major sports brands, has research and development centres and laboratories across the world devoted to imagining “the product of the future.”
Alexander Berenov, CEO and founder of Inspector Cloud, presents his company to representatives of Decathlon at the Skolkovo Technopark on Monday. Photo: Sk.ru.
“You represent the future, and the future is really important for us to go where we want to,” Fabrice Beschu, CEO of Decathlon Russia and the CIS, told Skolkovo entrepreneurs at the start of a day of pitch sessions, demonstrations and meetings at the Skolkovo Technopark on Monday.
As a designer, producer, supplier and retailer of sporting goods, Decathlon is one of the biggest sports companies in the world, said Beschu, outlining the potential for cooperation with Skolkovo startups offering retail tech solutions.
“Some of the time you just see the tip of the iceberg [the company’s stores], but the iceberg is very big,” he said. “We have more than 2,000 engineers working on product development alone.”
Decathlon, which was founded near Lille, France in 1976 and now operates retail stores in 30 countries, including nearly 50 in Russia, is currently working on giving its users, as it prefers to call customers, a “new store experience,” said Beschu.
Fabrice Beschu, CEO of Decathlon Russia and the CIS. Photo: Sk.ru.
“We expect to open between 10 and 15 new stores per year out of the new concept, and what’s interesting for us is that every year now we will have a new laboratory, which means that we begin from scratch. We try to be open to a lot of new experiences,” he said, encouraging the 21 Skolkovo startups present to test their products in the laboratory that Decathlon plans to open next spring for its planned store in the Moscow region city of Odintsovo, just a few kilometres from Skolkovo.
One of the focus areas of Decathlon’s “new store experience” is automation, and the first Skolkovo startup presented to the Decathlon team on Monday was right on trend: Inspector Cloud is an automated stocktaking system that uses computer vision to detect when shelves are depleted of stock.
The other Skolkovo resident startups pitching their products to Decathlon on Monday included:
Promobot, a friendly talking robot that can be used as a sales consultant to provide shoppers with information in stores
Try Fit, which enables people to try on shoes virtually
Tardis, the maker of a 3D body scanner that helps shoppers find the right size for them
7 seconds, a system that devises repayment schemes for individual customers in just seven seconds
RoboCV, which makes autopilot systems for the transportation of pallets around warehouses
VisionLabs, whose face recognition technology can be used in stores to determine a person’s age and gender, recognise individual loyal customers, and make tailored offers to shoppers
Navitek, an analytics system that can monitor numbers of shoppers and how long they spend looking at individual displays
CardsMobile, the maker of Koshelek – an app that allows users to store all their discount, bank and transport cards in their smartphone.
Decathlon Group had a turnover of 10 billion euros last year, according to the company’s website. It is not the only major French company looking to Skolkovo for innovative solutions for its business: other interested companies that have visited the innovation city in recent months include the pharmaceutical company Servier, the tyre-maker Michelin and the hypermarket chain Auchan.