Autonomous Perception Systems Company Pensa Raises $10 Million In Funding

By Annie Baker ● Nov 21, 2019
  • Pensa Systems, a leading innovator in autonomous perception systems, announced it raised $10 million in additional seed funding

Pensa Systems — a leading innovator in autonomous perception systems — announced it has raised $10 million in additional seed funding to accelerate deployment of its breakthrough solution for retail inventory visibility. Including this round of funding, Pensa has raised a total of $17.2 million in funding.

This round of funding was led by existing investors Signia Venture Partners and ATX Venture Partners. And these investors were joined by Commerce Ventures, Capital Factory, and Revtech Ventures alongside new investment from retail industry veterans David Ritter and James McCann. And existing seed investors include ZX Ventures (the investment arm of Anheuser-Busch InBev), and Mick Mountz (founder and CEO of Kiva Systems).

In conjunction with this funding round, ATX managing director Chris Shonk has joined Pensa’s board of directors. And James McCann and David Ritter have joined the company’s advisory board.

With this round of funding, Pensa plans to accelerate delivery and deployment of Pensa’s retail inventory visibility system — which uses advanced computer vision and patent-pending artificial intelligence and autonomous drones to see and understand what’s on store shelves. This system helps brands and retailers minimize stockouts, optimize product planning and increase revenue. And the system’s unique approach detects stockouts with over 98% shelf accuracy and it is scalable across store locations due to its simple, flexible, and low-cost-per-store deployment model.

Currently, retailers lose an estimated $1 trillion in revenue every year due to not having what customers want on the shelves. And the Pensa system represents the one of the industry’s most accurate and broadly scalable solutions to the stockout problem, providing brands and retailers with a significant opportunity to improve store operations, adjust shelf assortments, and optimize the supply chain for increased revenues and better profit margins.

McCann is CEO of McCann Investments & Advisory — which has invested in some of the most exciting startups in grocery tech, food tech, and consumer goods area.

“It is now clear that the combination of AI and vision technology will have an enormous impact on retail store operations,” said McCann. “Having looked at the different start-ups in this area, I believe that Pensa’s combination of industry-leading accuracy and much lower capex requirement will make them the winning options for most retailers.”

Pensa debuted at the National Retail Federation 2019 in January as part of Intel’s booth. The company has completed pilots with major retailers and global brands including Anheuser-Busch InBev.

Ever since Pensa launched, it expanded into multiple commercial deployments where it has validated the system’s effectiveness with multiple brands and retailers across multiple store formats and product categories.

With a unique ability to learn and visually recognize individual items on each shelf, Pensa has demonstrated up to 40% more accuracy in stockout detection over industry best practice of “gunning the holes” looking for gaps on the shelf.

And in actual store deployments, it has also proven the value of higher frequency shelf scans to pinpoint up to several percentage points of profitability shortfall caused by store operations versus supply chain practice or the quantity and variety of items stocked in a given category.

“In my career at McKinsey, I worked closely with the world’s leading retailers on various strategies to improve store operations,” said David Ritter, former Partner and Leader of Retail-Store Operations Practice at McKinsey & Company. “I’ve never seen anything that comes close to Pensa’s shelf inventory approach. Combining AI, computer vision and drones to automate delivery of actionable data – it’s a game-changer for brands and retailers alike.”

“There’s a lot to be excited about with Pensa,” said ATX managing director Shonk. “We have been impressed with the technology and early customer feedback, as well as the focus of the management team. We get really excited when we see artificial intelligence being used to shake up a big, stalwart industry – and deliver the insights needed to help it advance.”

Some of Pensa’s advisory board members include Mountz, Tom Gruen (a pioneer in out-of-stock and category management analytics), and leading researchers in robotics and machine learning from Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Texas at Austin.