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

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

Cash flow for Dallas-area startups is off to a fast start in 2023, a trend mirroring the past year before business support plummeted amid year-end economic uncertainty.

Since Jan. 1, at least five North Texas-founded companies have made sizable investments, including a $300 million round that capped the region’s newest “unicorn,” the label given to startups. reaching a valuation of $1 billion.

Investment deals so far include:

  • $300 million for ShiftKey, a Dallas-based technology firm 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 artificial intelligence 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 patients in rural, suburban and underserved areas. Investors include Echo Health Ventures, Pittco Direct Investments II and Noro-Moseley Partners.
  • $21.2 million for 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 for the development of a genetic platform that can deliver drugs to targeted organs in the human body. His inhaled mRNA therapy could eventually be used to treat cystic fibrosis. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is the investor.

Additionally, lottery betting app and website Jackpot.com expanded into Texas this month with $42 million in backing from some of the state’s biggest sports franchises: the Dallas Cowboys, Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs.

fall 2022

Venture backing for North Texas innovators had been on the rise during the pandemic recovery, surpassing the $1 billion mark in investment in successive quarters in late 2021 and early 2022, according to data from the private equity firm. CB Insights research.

Total investment flowing into Dallas-Fort Worth startups exceeded $3 billion in both years, with $3.65 billion in 2021 representing a nearly triple increase from $1.36 billion in 2019 earlier of the pandemic.

Recession fears caused investors to tighten their wallets to close out 2022, and funding in the region fell to the lowest level in three years, or $190 million in the past three months.

Globally, venture funding fell 35% year-over-year to $415 billion last year. In the US, the year-end total of $198.4 billion was down 37%.

Funding rounds of $100 million or more were down 50%, marking a 10-quarter low.

Meet the new ‘double unicorn’

Leading the way this year is ShiftKey’s crowdfunding round that gives a $2 billion value to the company founded by Tom Ellis in 2016.

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

Tom Ellis, co-founder and CEO of ShiftKey. (Shift key)

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

Its mobile app allows nurses, radiologic technologists, respiratory therapists, and other healthcare workers to search and bid to work nearby shifts to cover for absent employees.

Ellis and his company earned multiple honors last year, including being ranked #1 in the Dallas 100 by Southern Methodist University. That program recognizes the fastest growing companies in the region with revenues of $500,000 to $100 million.

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

“During the peak of COVID, healthcare facilities had trouble staffing their shifts 24/7,” said Simon Mak, executive director of the Caruth Institute for Entrepreneurship at the Cox School. of Business at SMU. “The platform that ShiftKey provided was literally a lifesaver.”

It joins other notable 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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