Category: Startup

Digs Secures $7 Million in Funding for Its Home Builder Collaboration Platform

Based in Vancouver, Washington, Digs, a platform designed for collaboration, offers homebuilders, vendors, and eventually homeowners, a virtual representation of a house. The company recently announced an expansion of its initial $7 million seed funding from 2023 by an additional $7 million. Leading this new investment round are the Oregon Venture Fund (OVF) and Legacy Capital Ventures, joined by previous investors such as Fuse, Flying Fish, Betaworks, and PSF, as well as a new participant, Deepwater Asset Management.

Digs CEO and co-founder Ryan Fink expressed enthusiasm about the involvement of experienced investors like OVF and Legacy in their seed round, emphasizing their role in guiding the company through rapid growth. He highlighted the importance of their expertise in scaling consumer technology for Digs’ continued efficient growth and market strategy enhancement.

Fink, along with Ty Frackiewicz, also founded Streem, a company focused on creating virtual home replicas using smartphone cameras, which was acquired by Frontdoor in 2019. Currently, Digs adopts a different strategy, emphasizing document sharing among builders, vendors, and homeowners, utilizing AI and computer vision for better document interpretation. This approach is supported by a modern platform for real-time collaboration and document storage.

Gene Munster, managing partner at Deepwater, praised Digs for elevating the home building and ownership experience, recognizing the team’s use of AI to address everyday challenges for builders and homeowners.

Digs has recently transitioned from beta to full availability in the U.S. and Canada. Its clientele includes both boutique and national builders.

To support its growth, Digs has appointed Jef Holove as its chief operating officer. Holove, who previously led Drop and was involved in Streem, Basis (acquired by Intel), and Eye-Fi (acquired by Ricoh), brings a wealth of experience in leading successful ventures.

Holove describes Digs’ digital twin as encompassing all necessary information for home builders and owners, ranging from structural details to appliance specifications, streamlining home management and improvement with easily accessible, personalized insights.

Kiln, a provider of staking technology, secures $17 million in an uncommon cryptocurrency investment round

In 2023, the crypto industry saw a significant decline in venture capital investments compared to the previous year, with a 68% decrease according to PitchBook. Despite this downturn, crypto companies still managed to raise $9.5 billion, although this figure pales in comparison to the $30 billion raised in 2022.

Among the crypto startups, French company Kiln stands out, having successfully completed a $17 million funding round in December 2023. The round was led by 1kx and included participation from, IOSG, Wintermute Ventures, KXVC, LBank, and some returning investors.

Kiln, though not widely known, specializes in white-label, infrastructure-focused products and is a key technology provider for companies like Ledger,, and Coinbase, particularly for pooled staking services in non-custodial wallets.

Staking, a process of locking crypto assets in a blockchain to secure it and its transactions, is incentivized financially as it offers rewards over time. Kiln’s technology plays a pivotal role in this, especially for proof-of-stake blockchains like Ethereum, Polygon, Solana, and Avalanche. Ethereum, which transitioned to proof-of-stake in September 2022, is a notable client.

Kiln’s offerings include a suite of smart contracts that simplify the staking process. Through these contracts, users can easily join Kiln’s staking pools and begin earning rewards. The company also benefits from commissions, processed automatically by the smart contracts. Impressively, Kiln has managed to grow its managed staked assets fivefold over the past year, currently overseeing 1,168,288 staked ETH, equivalent to nearly $3 billion.

Kiln is also a significant player in operating Ethereum validator nodes, being the largest operator with over 4% market share. Their approach emphasizes security and financial performance and is supported by strategic partnerships, like with the Ethereum Foundation, as noted by their head of marketing, Marie Siegrist.

Besides on-chain products, Kiln offers SDKs and APIs for easy integration with its staking pools and operates a significant network of validators. Their services cater to those seeking to incorporate one-click staking into non-custodial wallets, with some clients requesting dedicated validators.

Kiln’s CEO, Laszlo Szabo, expressed enthusiasm about the company’s future, including expansion plans and the establishment of a new office in Singapore. Since its inception, Kiln has raised a total of $35 million, with its revenue growing alongside its total assets under management due to commission on staking rewards.

Oleria, a Cybersecurity Firm Based in Seattle, Secures $33 Million in Funding

Seattle-based startup Oleria, specializing in helping businesses manage employee access to applications and data, recently secured $33.1 million in a Series A funding round. GeekWire had initially reported this development upon discovering an SEC filing. Oleria is now elaborating on its plans for the funds and its growth strategy, which includes expanding its current 20-person team threefold within the next year.

The company, which debuted from stealth mode last year, offers software aimed at assisting businesses in preventing and managing security breaches in a rapidly evolving cybersecurity environment. Oleria’s software focuses on automating various security tasks and simplifying the management of internal access to complex back-end systems, often entangled with outdated software and manual processes.

CEO Jim Alkove of Oleria emphasized the increasing importance and complexity of understanding and managing who has access to what resources within a company. Oleria is primarily focusing on large enterprises with over 1,000 employees and has already started onboarding paying customers. The company anticipates making its product widely available soon.

Alkove, who has a background as the former chief trust officer at Salesforce and an advisor for the World Economic Forum’s Global Center for Cybersecurity, highlighted the dual role of AI in both enhancing access understanding and threat detection and in posing new risks as hackers exploit the technology. He remarked, “We have only seen the tip of the iceberg regarding the potential impact of AI on security.”

Jagadeesh Kunda, co-founder of Oleria and former chief product officer at cloud directory platform JumpCloud, has significant experience from previous engineering leadership roles at Salesforce, Amazon Web Services, and Microsoft.

Oleria has attracted notable investors, including Salesforce Ventures, Evolution Equity Partners (which led the Series A round), Tapestry VC, and Zscaler, bringing its total funding to over $40 million. Taher Elgamal, a partner at Evolution and former CTO of security at Salesforce, praised Oleria for advancing cybersecurity to meet current and future challenges in identity security. Elgamal, along with former Mandiant COO John Watters, will be joining Oleria’s board.

Google Cloud introduces innovative generative AI solutions designed specifically for the retail sector.

Google has recently launched a series of new tools for retailers, harnessing the power of generative artificial intelligence to enhance online shopping experiences and streamline various retail operations, as announced by its cloud business in a recent release.

This array of new offerings includes a generative AI-driven chatbot that retailers can integrate into their websites and mobile applications. These advanced virtual agents are capable of engaging in conversations with consumers, providing personalized product recommendations based on individual shopping preferences.

Carrie Tharp, Google Cloud’s Vice President of Strategic Industries, emphasized the rapid evolution of generative AI in her statement in the release. “In only a year, generative AI has transformed from an emerging concept into one of the most rapidly evolving technologies, becoming a crucial element in the strategies of numerous retailers,” she said.

The introduction of Google Cloud’s tools marks a significant milestone in the increasing influence of generative AI within the retail sector. This trend has been gaining momentum, as evident from Amazon’s introduction of an AI tool for sellers in September and the widespread adoption of this technology by retailers during the latest holiday shopping season, often behind the scenes.

Among the innovations announced by Google is a large language model feature designed to enhance the quality of product searches. This feature is currently accessible to a select group of stores, with plans for broader availability later in the year.

Google’s suite of AI products also includes tools aimed at improving customer service systems for retailers and streamlining their product cataloging processes.

The applications of these AI tools extend beyond online platforms to physical retail stores as well, with enhancements being added to Google Distributed Cloud Edge, an existing combination of hardware and software solutions.

This announcement from Google Cloud, revealing the latest advancements in AI tools for the retail industry, comes just before the National Retail Federation’s annual convention set to take place in New York City.

Seattle-based gaming startup Charmed secures $500K and unveils a novel 3D character design tool.

Seattle’s Charmed is gearing up to release a new AI-driven game design tool this month, aimed at enabling the swift creation of 3D character models from the ground up.

The startup recently secured over $500,000 in fresh funding, with Tacoma Venture Fund leading the round.

Under the leadership of founder Jeremy Tryba, Charmed’s ambitious vision is to develop “the first comprehensive 3D AI platform,” streamlining the game design process from initial concept to a working prototype.

“Charmed is crafting tools that enhance the efficiency of 3D artists, significantly cutting down development time,” Tryba explained in a communication with GeekWire.

Charmed’s latest innovation is a three-part tool: a Geometry Generator, a Texture Generator, and a Character Animator. Combined, these allow users to generate a character model through simple prompts, apply textures for clothing and detailing, and then animate the model with pre-set motions.

These generators add to Charmed’s growing suite of tools, which includes Dream Dungeon for quickly creating isometric mazes with customizable textures, a quest generator for easy mission creation, and an AI texture generator that adds vivid skins to 3D game objects.

In a July interview with GeekWire, Tryba emphasized that Charmed should be seen as a toolkit for rapidly producing game concepts, blueprints, and prototypes, rather than a complete solution for no-code game design.

“If you come with a solid idea and creativity, our tools can help amplify your ability to create more intricate and exciting projects faster than doing it solo,” Tryba noted. “However, the quality of output depends on what you input. If the input is poor, the output will reflect that.”

Tryba launched Charmed last year after it was spun out from Madrona Venture Labs, which also provided the initial funding for the venture.

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