SKUxchange has kicked off a funding round to raise $3 million.
The St. Petersburg-based company, which uses blockchain technology to eliminate fraud and create more transparency and faster payments for businesses that deal with promotional offers, has gotten “tremendous interest,” said Bobby Tinsley, co-founder and executive vice president.
Both financial and strategic investors are interested, Tinsley said.
“It’s not just about raising money, but it’s about the right money coming in that can add value,” he said.
SKUxchange already has raised about $360,000 from five investors, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The company hopes to close the funding round in the next month or so, Tinsley said.
The new funding will be used to add employees and support technology enhancements.
Tinsley also is looking to collaborate with BlockSpaces, a blockchain innovation studio in Tampa.
Traditionally, offers have been hand-counted for reconciliation and settlement, a manual process that slows payments and can introduce fraud into the system.
SKUx, SKUxchange’s core product, uses blockchain, a digital platform for recording and verifying transactions, to disrupt that historic way of doing business.
Digital offers are run though SKUx’ patent-pending protocol, where they are given an individualized identification number for tracking. The offer content is pushed to the blockchain-based SKUx warehouse for distribution to retail and platform partners. Once a consumer redeems the offer, the warehouse is updated. Brand and platform partners have access to the redemption information. Settlement happens in near real-time and consumer data is available through proprietary analytics.
One brand partnership that has been publicly announced is between SKUxchange and Jack Link’s Protein Snacks.
“SKUxchange understands what brands today are facing in an ever-evolving and complex digital world,” Tom “TD” Dixon, chief marketing officer at Jack Link’s, said in a news release. “As marketers, metrics matter and ROI is critical now more than ever before. I’m excited to be working with SKUxchange and to see the impact this technology can deliver long-term for Jack Link’s.”
In October, SKUxchange partnered with Drop Tank, a Chicago company specializing in gas station loyalty and technology solutions. The relationship will allow consumer packaged goods brands to deliver secure digital offers to thousands of participating convenience store locations throughout the U.S., a news release said.
SKUxchange currently has a staff of 17, including some technology contractors. One recent new hire is Kip Marler, vice president of operations. Marler spent 13 years at Valpak, a St. Petersburg-based direct marketing company, where he worked with Jim Sampey, co-founder and CEO of SKUxchange.
SKUxchange also is building an advisory board with well-known industry executives.
In addition to Deb Henretta, a former group president at Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG), advisors include John Najarian, a CNBC contributor, market analyst investor and entrepreneur; Peter Ingram, president of RapidRMS, which provides convenience store retail management technology; and Phillipa Greenberg, CEO and founder of NextMachine, an artificial intelligence/big data platform.