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St. Pete tech startup SKUx raises $1 million

Margie Manning

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SKUx co-founders from left: Robert Zaccardo, Kenneth Douglas, Jim Sampey and Bobby Tinsley

SKUxchange has raised $1 million in equity financing in a new round of funding.

That brings total funding raised by the nearly two-year-old St. Petersburg technology company to more than $6.5 million since it launched, said Bobby Tinsley, co-founder and executive vice president.

Bobby Tinsley

SKUx will use the new money to support growth, new hires, retail infrastructure and for potential strategic acquisitions, Tinsley said.

The company uses blockchain, or distributed ledger technology, as well as artificial intelligence and payment technology to help consumer brands and retailers eliminate fraud and highlight transparency in promotional offers.

SKUx recently created a new and patent-pending category of incentive, called the Smart Incentive. It allows brands to send reward offers directly to consumers who can redeem them online or in-store.

“This is NOT a coupon but a brand new consumer engagement tool, one that combines offer details, serialization (blockchain), funding and settlement to create a risk-free consumer reward with zero percent fraud rate and 100 percent redemption rate,” Tinsley wrote in an email.

The company has adapted to the pandemic through programs such as digital product sampling. Because Covid-19 has put a halt to “taste and try” and other in-store sampling programs, SKUx has developed a digital sampling experience. As an example, a consumer can scan a QR code in the store and get $5 toward the purchase of a product.

Tim Schar

“We recently powered a Coca-Cola/Walmart program and have many more of these type experiences (and others) launching throughout the remainder of this year and into 2021,” Tinsley said.

SKUx also has added some local star power to its board of advisors, bringing on Tim Schar, Tampa Bay market president of Truist Bank and chairman of the board of Synapse. Schar came to Tampa two years ago after a career in Silicon Valley, including a stint as chief financial officer and chief compliance officer for ApplePie Capital Inc., an online alternative lender.

“Tim’s background in diverse technologies and experience in the capital markets will be huge for us as we grow,” Tinsley said.

SKUx disclosed its most recent funding in an Aug. 28 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and said it raised the $1 million in new funding from eight investors.

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