A new Dallas unicorn gets 2023′s venture funding cycle off to a fast start

Money flowing to Dallas-area startups is starting to pick up steam in 2023, a trend that showed last year before investment support dropped sharply amid year-end economic uncertainty.

Since Jan. 1, at least five North Texas-based companies have made significant investments, including a $300 million investment that crowns the region’s newest “Unique Horn” — a label given to startups valued at $1 billion. .

Investment deals so far include:

  • $300 million to Dallas-based ShiftKey, a technology company that connects licensed professionals with healthcare companies looking to fill open shifts. Investors include Lorient Capital, Ares Management, Pantheon, Clearlake Capital and Health Velocity Capital.
  • $40 million to Dallas-based Inbenta, a conversational AI platform that automates customer service interactions. Tritium Partners led the investment round.
  • $35 million to Addison-based Medix Infusion, a company that provides personalized care to improve access to infusion therapy for chronically ill people in rural, suburban and underserved areas. Investors include Echo Health Ventures, Pittco Direct Investments II and Noro-Moseley Partners.
  • $21.2 million to Dallas-based Worlds Enterprises, a technology platform that brings AI-powered automation to the ground-floor operations of large industrial companies.
  • Up to $15 million to Dallas-based ReCode Therapeutics to develop a genetic platform that can deliver drugs to select organs in the human body. Its inhaled messenger RNA therapy could eventually be used to treat cystic fibrosis. Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is the investor.
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In addition, lottery betting app and website Jackpot.com expanded in Texas this month with $42 million in sponsorships for some of the state’s biggest sports franchises — the Dallas Cowboys, Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs.

Fall 2022

Investment support for North Texas innovators has been on the rise during the pandemic recovery, surpassing the $1 billion investment mark in consecutive quarters in late 2021 and early 2022, according to data from research firm CB Insights. has done.

Total investment in Dallas-Fort Worth startups eclipsed $3 billion in both years, with $3.65 billion in 2021 representing a nearly three-fold increase from $1.36 billion before the 2019 pandemic.

Fears of a recession caused investors to tighten their wallets until 2022 closes, and funding in the region fell to its lowest level in three years – or $190 million in the last three months.

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Globally, venture capital fell 35 percent year-over-year to $415 billion last year. In the United States, the total was $198.4 billion at the end of the year, down 37 percent.

Capital rounds of $100 million or more fell 50 percent — a 10-quarter low.

Meet the new “Dual Unicorn”.

Leading the way this year is ShiftKey’s massive investment round, which values ​​the company founded by Tom Ellis in 2016 at $2 billion.

ShiftKey created a dedicated scheduling platform for the healthcare industry to connect licensed professionals with facilities looking to fill shifts. The company said its platform is used by more than 10,000 healthcare facilities nationwide.

Tom Ellis, Founder and CEO of ShiftKey.
Tom Ellis, Founder and CEO of ShiftKey. (Shift Key)

“ShiftKey is changing the future of work by empowering licensed professionals to have the freedom and flexibility to choose when, where and how they work,” David Berman, managing partner of Lorient Capital, said in a statement.

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Its mobile app allows nurses, radiology technicians, respiratory therapists and other healthcare workers to work nearby shifts and cover for absent employees.

Ellis and his company earned several accolades last year, including No. 1 on the Southern Methodist University Dallas 100. The program recognizes the region’s fastest-growing companies with revenues between $500,000 and $100 million.

ShiftKey’s revenue grew 2,000 percent over a three-year period, according to SMU, which does not disclose revenue figures for the companies it ranks.

“During the height of the Covid outbreak, health care facilities were struggling for 24-hour shifts,” said Simon Mack, executive director of the Caruth Entrepreneurship Institute at SMU’s Cox School of Business. The platform that ShiftKey provided was literally a lifesaver.

It joins other prominent North Texas unicorns, Caris Life Sciences, o9 Solutions, LTK, Island and Mavenir. Tracking site Crunchbase lists 1,432 companies as unicorns.

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