Music matchmaker: Plano startup that connects brands and bands raises $6 million

Music matchmaker: Plano startup that connects brands and bands raises $6 million

A Plano startup that matches up big brands with musicians for ad campaigns has raised $6 million in a round led by two Chicago-based venture firms.

Music Audience Exchange, or MAX for short, uses a database of more than 2.4 million artists, 765 music genres and 200 consumer attributes, from political affiliation to hobbies to alcohol preference, to find the ideal match. The brands work with an artist who's featured in music-driven ads on Pandora, YouTube, Facebook and other streaming sites or social media apps.

The Acorns Investing App Actually Encourages You to Splurge On That Starbucks Latte

The Acorns Investing App Actually Encourages You to Splurge On That Starbucks Latte

Acorns is part of a trendy and growing industry of so-called robo-advisors, online-only financial advisors that steer clients’ money into low-cost investments. Yet while many financial advisors recommend skipping your morning latte and other inessential indulgences in order to save more for retirement, Acorns actually encourages you to keep swiping your credit card in pursuit of that same goal.

Jiobit finds $3 million for kid trackers that work indoors, not just at the park

This article was originally published on TechCrunch here, and written by Lora Kolodny.

Chicago startup Jiobit wants to use wireless technology to bring parents peace of mind whenever and wherever their kids may roam. Its flagship product is a location tracker that can stand up to the rough and tumble activities of a toddler or a tween, with a long battery life, and mobile app that sends alerts to parents when a kid has gone outside an expected range.

Jiobit  CEO and founder John Renaldi, formerly a VP at Motorola Mobility, said he knows GPS kid trackers are nothing new. But most don’t work precisely enough, and aren’t effective both indoors and outside, he realized, after a scare when his own kid wandered away at Chicago’s famous Millennium Park and they were separated for 20 stress-inducing minutes. When you think about all the sprawling indoor venues where families may take their kids¬–museums, grocery stores, hotels and hospitals for example– that’s a serious product limitation.

The tracker is a small white square with corners rounded off that clips to a kid’s belt loop, jacket or backpack quite easily. It is made from a soft silicone material that doesn’t irritate kids’ sensitive skin. It weighs about the same as a AA battery and depending on active use, only needs to be charged once every couple of weeks, on average.

The Jiobit mobile app lets parents or authorized guardians get notifications when their kids aren’t where they are expected to be. It employs machine learning to understand a kid’s normal daily routes and routines, so users don’t have to set up “rules” and maps to get started. (Although they still can manually do that.) It also gives parents summaries about the child’s daily activities. Because kids’ privacy is of special concern, the company’s app and device encrypt all data in transmission. (The device and app are COPPA compliant, the startup says.)

Jiobit has just closed $3 million in seed funding from investors who know a little something about location-based services. They include Lior Ron, the cofounder of Otto (now owned by Uber) which is developing autonomous trucks, Chicago-based MATH Venture Partners and Inflection Equity.

Lior Ron told TechCrunch he invested in Jiobit in part because he knows Renalidi’s talents well. The two worked together at Motorola where Ron led the creation of the Moto 360 and other wearable and mobile devices. But he also believes a durable, well-designed and accurate kid tracker can change the world by keeping kids safer, and parents calmer.

He said, “There’s so much opportunity to create smart everyday objects that help us live better, or artificial intelligence that helps us to be smarter. The next wave of innovation, whether it’s in transportation, health or at home, will come from great teams at the intersection of both. Those are the handful of teams I invest in nowadays. I’m pretty selective because I’m heads down with Otto and Uber’s self-driving efforts.”

Renaldi said Jiobit plans to use the funding for hiring as-needed, and to get the device and app ready for its market debut. The company plans to make the Jiobit available via a pre-sales campaign this year, but declined to give a specific date.

EMV Advances Beyond Compliance

This article was originally published on The Green Sheet here.

Retailers may be moving past the critical first phase of EMV (Europay, Mastercard and Visa) adoption, according to recent studies. A new report published in July 2016 by New York-based CardFlight Inc. used aggregated data to evaluate adoption levels among end users of the company's mobile payments app. The results were better than expected, the company reported.

"Since we were one of the first companies to bring an EMV mobile payment solution to the U.S. market, we feel it's important to collect data and share it with the rest of the industry," said Derek Webster, CardFlight founder and Chief Executive Officer.

The CardFlight EMV Migration Tracker assessed the impact of EMV chip card migration on individual businesses and the retail community. Following are some highlights from the report:

  • Chip cards represented more than 70 percent of consumer credit cards processed by CardFlight merchants.

  • 94 percent of American Express Co. cards were chip cards, the highest percentage of all payment card brands processed by CardFlight merchants.

  • More than 64 percent of CardFlight merchants use EMV-compliant payment card readers, more than three times the national average.

  • 78 percent of CardFlight merchants with average tickets of $200 and higher were EMV-enabled.

  • 48 percent of merchants with average ticket sizes of $10 and below have upgraded.

The company derived its data from hundreds of thousands of transactions processed through its payment gateway across all 50 states between October 2015 and June 2016. A full copy of the report can be found at .

EMV integral to payments

The recent renaming of the EMV Migration Forum to the U.S. Payments Forum may be another indication that U.S. EMV adoption has progressed beyond an early implementation phase. The Princeton, N.J.-based forum led the industry-wide chip migration, providing expanded support to payments stakeholders while broadening its focus to other emerging payment technologies.

"For any emerging payments technology to take hold in the United States, there needs to be a forum for all payments stakeholders to build relationships, understand each other's unique requirements, build best implementation practices and work out issues together," said Randy Vanderhoof, Director of the U.S. Payments Forum. "We've seen the tremendous amount of progress that can be made using this model of forum with the U.S. EMV chip migration, and so we are now expanding our charter and becoming the U.S. Payments Forum, so the payments industry can continue to work closely together to effectively address the implementation of additional technologies such as mobile payments, card-not-present security solutions and tokenization."

Vanderhoof called the migration to chip payments "the biggest and most complex implementation by the U.S. payments ecosystem," and he expects it to remain a top priority for the forum. In addition to continued support of chip migration and updates to payment specifications and standards, forum members will provide guidance on industry best practices, technical issues and emerging payment schemes. They will also work with merchants, acquirers and service providers to facilitate consumer adoption and improve the overall consumer shopping journey.

Diversified members, projects

Member organizations of the U.S. Payments Forum include global and domestic payment networks, financial card issuers, payment processors, merchants, acquirers, vendors and industry associations. Its new constituent groups representing emerging payment segments include mobile payment, ecommerce and cloud technology service providers.

The forum has produced an array of educational resources since it was established in 2012. In addition to its library of resources, white papers, webinars and educational video recordings, its contributions include:

  • Outlining technical requirements for implementing Durbin-compliant EMV debit card solutions in the U.S. market

  • Establishing the website and educational resources for consumers, merchants and issuers

  • Publishing a minimum requirement document designed to demystify EMV implementation and transaction processing for merchants and service providers

  • Hosting meetings and working committees to facilitate discussion of EMV implementation across multiple stakeholders

Among many new projects planned, the forum will explore tokenization, card-not-present transactions, point-to-point encryption and mobile and contactless payments. Its diversified membership and ambitious agenda provide a voice to all payments industry stakeholders who have a stake in the industry's future, the organization stated.

More CardFlight Merchants Are Now Accepting Chip Cards

This article was originally published on Business Insider here.

Mobile point-of-sale (mPOS) provider CardFlight announcedthat half of its merchants are now actively accepting chip card payments.

That's a 13 percentage-point increase from the 37% that were enabled in February 2016.

The firm also announced that its terminals are now certified to accept EMV payments from Global Payments, a major US processor. The firm holds certifications from First Data, Stripe, and TSYS.

That means that any CardFlight merchants working with these processors can now begin accepting EMV payments. CardFlight is now certified by several major processors, which could boost acceptance moving forward.

That puts CardFlight well ahead of industry averages.

  • Other merchants are seeing much lower penetration. Roughly 20% of Visa merchants were EMV-capable as of April. And Square, whose client base is likely similar to CardFlight, has onboarded an estimated 25% of its merchants to its EMV reader.

  • CardFlight's progress indicates that small businesses may be beginning to embrace EMV. As an mPOS provider, CardFlight likely serves a high number of small business clients — a population that had been initially reluctant to upgrade to EMV terminals but is becoming increasingly attuned to the service. CardFlight's strong EMV penetration could reflect that shift among small business owners.

EMV adoption is becoming increasingly important, as fraud cost U.S. retailers approximately $32 billion in 2014, up from $23 billion just one year earlier. To solve the card fraud problem across in-store, online, and mobile payments, payment companies and merchants are implementing new payment protocols that could finally help mitigate fraud.

John Heggestuen, senior research analyst for BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, has compiled a detailed report on payment security that looks at how the dynamics of fraud are shifting across in-store and online channels and explains the top new types of security that are gaining traction across each of these channels, including on Apple Pay.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

  • EMV cards are being rolled out with an embedded microchip for added security. The microchip carries out real-time risk assessments on a person's card purchase activity based on the card user's profile. The chip also generates dynamic cryptograms when the card is inserted into a payment terminal. Because these cryptograms change with every purchase, it makes it difficult for fraudsters to make counterfeit cards that can be used for in-store transactions.

  • To bolster security throughout the payments chain encryption of payments data is being widely implemented. Encryption degrades valuable data by using an algorithm to translate card numbers into new values. This makes it difficult for fraudsters to harvest the payments data for use in future transactions.

  • Point-to-point encryption is the most tightly defined form of payments encryption. In this scheme, sensitive payment data is encrypted from the point of capture at the payments terminal all the way through to the gateway or acquirer. This makes it much more difficult for fraudsters to harvest usable data from transactions in stores and online.

  • Tokenization increases the security of transactions made online and in stores. Tokenization schemes assign a random value to payment data, making it effectively impossible for hackers to access the sensitive data from the token itself. Tokens are often "multiuse," meaning merchants don't have to force consumers to re-enter their payment details. Apple Pay uses an emerging form of tokenization.

  • 3D Secure is an imperfect answer to user authentication online. One difficulty in fighting online fraud is that it is hard to tell whether the person using card data is actually the cardholder. 3D Secure adds a level of user authentication by requiring the customer to enter a passcode or biometric data in addition to payment data to complete a transaction online. Merchants who implement 3D Secure risk higher shopping-cart abandonment.

In full, the report:

  • Assesses the fraud cost to US retailers and how that fraud is expected to shift in coming years

  • Provides 5 high-level explanations of the top payment security protocols

  • Includes 7 infographics illustrating what the transaction flow looks like when each type of security is implemented.

  • Analyzes the strengths and weakness of each payment security protocol and the reasons why particular protocols are being put in place at different types of merchants.


RedSeal Honored as the Most Innovative Network Security Solution in the 4th Annual 2016 Cyber Defense Magazine Infosec Awards

SUNNYVALE, CA--(Marketwired - Feb 29, 2016) - RedSeal (, the cybersecurity analytics company, announced today that Cyber Defense Magazine, the industry's leading electronic information security magazine and media partner of the RSA® Conference 2016, has named RedSeal's cybersecurity analytics platform winner of the Most Innovative in the Network Security category.

After many months of review and judged by leading independent information security experts, Cyber Defense Magazine is pleased to have selected RedSeal as a winner for their cybersecurity analytics platform.

"We're thrilled to recognize next-generation innovation in the information security marketplace and that's why RedSeal has earned this award from Cyber Defense Magazine. Some of the best Infosec defenses come from these kinds of forward thinking players who think outside of the box," said Pierluigi Paganini, Editor-in-Chief, Cyber Defense Magazine.

RedSeal's advanced analytics platform helps build digitally resilient organizations. With RedSeal, decision makers can understand the state of their networks, measure resilience, verify compliance, and accelerate response to vulnerabilities and incidents. RedSeal's Digital Resilience Score, modeled after a creditworthiness score like FICO®, provides management with a metric for measuring resilience and benchmarking progress.

"CDM's recognition of RedSeal further validates our company as an innovator in the network security space," said Ray Rothrock, chairman and CEO of RedSeal. "I'm particularly proud of our Digital Resilience Score, since it gives management and corporate boards something that's been missing -- a key metric to measure and manage security. This industry honor is a great endorsement that RedSeal is ahead of the curve when it comes to helping build digitally resilient organizations."

About Cyber Defense Magazine
Cyber Defense Magazine is the premier source of IT Security information. We are managed and published by and for ethical, honest, passionate information security professionals. Our mission is to share cutting edge knowledge, real world stories and awards on the best ideas, products and services in the information technology industry. We deliver electronic magazines every month online for free and limited print editions exclusively for the RSA Conferences and our paid subscribers. Learn more about us at

About RedSeal
RedSeal is an essential step in building digitally resilient organizations people can trust. RedSeal's security analytics platform builds an accurate, up-to-date model of an organization's entire, as-built network to visualize access paths, prioritize what to fix, and target existing cybersecurity resources on the most valuable assets. With RedSeal's Digital Resilience Score, decision makers can see their security status and benchmark progress toward digital resilience to the inevitable attack. RedSeal's customers are Global 2000 corporations and government agencies that depend on the most sophisticated security. Founded in 2004, RedSeal is headquartered in Sunnyvale, California and serves customers in North America, Europe and Asia.

Visit or call 1-888.845.8169 for more information.

EatStreet, An Online Food Ordering Platform For Smaller Cities And College Towns, Picks Up $15MM

This article was originally published on TechCrunch here, and written by Ingrid Lunden.

While Amazon expands Prime Now restaurant ordering and delivery to more places, a startup has picked up funding to go head to head with it and the many others in the crowded food-on-demand category. EatStreet, a platform for restaurants mainly located in smaller cities to take orders online or by mobile, has picked up $15 million in a Series C investment.

The investment was co-led by local VC 4490 Ventures  and Lumia Capital,  backer of another startup in the on-demand food category, the health-conscious Sprig. Others in the round included GCI Capital, MATH Venture Partners, and the State of Wisconsin Investment Board.

EatStreet  has made some impressive headway since first starting out in 2010 and running essentially bootstrapped for two years while its three founders — Matt Howard (CEO), Eric Martell (CIO), and Alex Wyler (CTO) — finished college.

It currently works with 15,000 restaurants across 250 cities serving “millions” of customers. As a point of comparison, publicly-traded GrubHub, the biggest in the U.S. post its merger with Seamless, currently works with around 35,000 restaurants. Howard tells me that his company has seen triple-digit revenue growth in the last several years (but doesn’t disclose what those revenues are, or any other metrics).

Today we have a veritable smorgasbord of startups and others offering on-demand food ordering and delivery services, enough to make you feel full just looking at them all.

In the U.S. they include GrubHub, Yelp, Groupon’s OrderUp, Square’s Caviar, Munchery; those like Postmates or Uber, which focus on delivery. And most recently Amazon — which today expanded its Prime Now restaurant delivery to Baltimore, its third city and the first on the East Coast (perhaps intentionally: Baltimore happens to be the home base of Groupon’s OrderUp).

Outside the U.S., Rocket Internet has built up a massively capitalised network of businesses, and there are also Just Eat, Delivery Hero, Deliveroo and many more.

EatStreet’s unique selling point is that while many of its would-be competitors are focused on both delivery and capturing restaurants more dense and larger cities, it has built its business out specifically in smaller towns, starting in its very own tier-two home market of Madison, Wisconsin.

On top of this, it focuses only on ordering, not delivery, leaving this instead to restaurants themselves or local delivery providers.

Part of that has to do with the fact that the markets that EatStreet serves tend to be very spread out. “The density in the cities where we operate is not the same as in tier-one markets, where you can batch orders together,” Howard says, “so it’s harder to promote delivery. We’re not a logistics company. We know our strong suit is to drive orders to our restaurants.”

That ‘strong suit’ is based around a platform that it presents to restaurants, who use it free of charge — including a tablet to receive orders. EatStreet makes revenues by charging a 12% fee on all orders and by selling ads: those who use EatStreet’s mobile apps can search for particular types of food and a paid ad will put a restaurant higher in the search results. Howard says that EatStreet takes in all the revenues processed through its apps and pays out the restaurants’ 88% share at the end of each week. 

The fact that EatStreet is essentially a software play and not a large logistics operation could be another reason why the company has managed to grow so big on a relatively small amount of funding. While delivery-based and transportation startups have raised hundreds of millions of dollars over the last couple of years, including this round, EatStreet has raised only around $30 million. “We didn’t need to raise $100 million,” Howard noted.

As some have started to draw attention to some of the risk and cost around building food delivery startups, EatStreet’s product focus and specifically staying away from delivery was also what attracted the investment, according to Lumia partner Martin Gedalin.

“Not being about logistics makes EatStreet a more pure marketplace and allows them and their margin profile to look considerably different,” he said. “We like that focus. It’s still to be proven how some of those other models will work out.”

EatStreet is not disclosing its valuation.

CardFlight Announces $4.2 Million Investment from Leading Payment Industry Executives and Venture Capital Funds

This article was originally published on Cision PR Newswire here.

NEW YORK, Oct. 8, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- CardFlight, a leader in mobile point of sale (POS) technology, announced today that it has raised $4.2 million in Series A funding.  The round was co-led by an investor group assembled by Dan Henry and MATH Venture Partners.  The financing will enable CardFlight to continue to grow its engineering team and accelerate the rollout of their EMV-approved mobile payment acceptance solutions in the United States.

CardFlight is a leading provider of tools and technology to help merchants accept in-person credit card payments on iOS and Android devices.

Dan Henry is an experienced and successful payments entrepreneur who has built and operated multiple payments companies. From 2008 to 2014, he was CEO of NetSpend, a leading provider of reloadable prepaid cards and related financial services that was acquired by TSYS for $1.4 billion. "The team at CardFlight has a deep understanding of the opportunities and challenges in deploying payment solutions on mobile devices," said Henry.  "I'm excited to help them continue to expand their business."

MATH Venture Partners is a Chicago-based early to growth-stage fund managed by a seasoned team of hands-on investors and operators.  "Mobile point of sale is one of the fastest growing segments of the payments industry," said Troy Henikoff, Managing Director at MATH.  "CardFlight has already built an impressive customer base and we're excited to help their team grow from here."

A number of seasoned payments executives have invested, including Stuart Harvey, formerly CEO of payment processor Elavon, and Mark O'Connell, chairman of Multi Service.  The round of financing also included Silicon Valley Bank and strong participation from current investors, including ff Venture Capital, Great Oaks Venture Capital, Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator, Plug & Play Ventures, and Apostolos Apostolakis.

CardFlight will use the funds to continue to bring best-in-class mobile payment solutions to market.  The company has already established leadership in mobile EMV chip card acceptance, announcing last month that it was certified by First Data and the major payment card associations to accept EMV transactions.  This makes CardFlight one of the first and only mobile solution providers to process EMV chip card payments in the United States.  These capabilities are particularly timely, as beginning October 1, merchants who have not upgraded to accept EMV transactions can become liable for counterfeit card fraud losses that occur at their stores with chip-enabled cards.

"We're excited to be adding investors with such deep experience growing and scaling startups in the payments industry," said Derek Webster, Founder and CEO of CardFlight.  "This round of funding further validates CardFlight's leadership in mobile payments and will enable us to roll out even more advanced solutions in the months and years ahead."