Austin-Based Autonomous Perception Systems Company Pensa Raises $5 Million

By Dan Anderson ● January 18, 2019

Pensa Systems, an Austin, Texas-based autonomous perception systems company, has raised $5 million in additional funding. This brings Pensa’s total funding raised to $7.2 million.

With this round of funding, Pensa Systems is going to accelerate deployment of its system for retail inventory visibility. And the funding will be used for fueling the adoption of Pensa’s retail inventory visibility system and accelerate store trials with large retailers and CPG brands across North America and beyond.

Signia Venture Partners led this round of funding. New investor Commerce Ventures participated in this round along with existing investors ZX Ventures, ATX Seed Ventures, Capital Factory, Revtech Ventures, and others.

Pensa is considered the first company to deliver a broadly scalable system that can automatically and systematically track in-store inventory using advanced computer vision, artificial intelligence, and autonomous drones to see what is on store shelves.

“Lack of inventory visibility is an age-old problem for brand and retailers,” said Pensa Systems president and CEO Richard Schwartz in a statement. “Retailers and manufacturers go blind staring at products on the shelf to see what is missing or has been misplaced. Advanced artificial intelligence can borrow the best of how people perceive shelf conditions and automate it at scale to continuously read out what is on a shelf at any point in time. This is a win-win proposition for everyone – consumers, retailers and brands. We are thrilled to have Signia and Commerce Ventures on board, along with top advisors, to help us scale the business and accelerate our market entry.”

This funding announcement comes on the heels of Pensa’s successful live trials with several consumer brands and retailers. For example, a trial worked out with beverage leader Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev). And so the beverage company became a strategic investor through the ZX Ventures growth unit. ZX Ventures VP of Explore Patrick O’Riordan said that out-of-stock products are a significant challenge for CPG companies and retail partners, which can have hundreds of millions of dollars in potential sales impact.

In conjunction with this funding round, Ed Cluss of Signia Venture Partners is joining Pensa’s board of directors. “Pensa is doing breakthrough work with AI and drones, bringing data to bear on a significant and costly problem for retail – the lack of consistent on-shelf inventory visibility,” added Cluss. “We were impressed by the team’s prior accomplishments, and by the traction the company has already achieved with major retailers and consumer brand manufacturers. Data and technology are critical to retail’s future, and we are excited to help Pensa bring their vision to reality.”

Pensa also has a strong advisory board team including Tom Gruen (category management analytics pioneer and professor of marketing) and Mick Mountz (Kiva Systems founder and CEO).