SME Spotlight

Tech start-up Trax gets $136m funding

It's 2nd such firm based here to attain unicorn status, or valued above US$1b - after Grab

Tech firm Trax has become the second start-up based here to achieve unicorn status - a valuation that exceeds US$1 billion (S$1.36 billion).

The company, which produces image recognition technology, has just raised US$100 million in its latest funding round.

A source with direct knowledge of the deal told Reuters yesterday that the firm was valued at US$1.3 billion after this financing round.

Ride-hailing firm Grab is the other start-up to have reached unicorn status.

The Trax funding round was led by Hopu Investments, an asset manager in Asia focusing on the consumer and technology sectors.

Trax said in May the fresh capital it was lining up would be used to finance three acquisitions as it expands in China and elsewhere.

It recently purchased Beijing computer-vision start-up LenzTech, and was in advanced talks to buy a European competitor and an American firm, according to Trax chief executive and co-founder Joel Bar-El in the May interview.

Hopu Investments managing director Gunther Hamm said yesterday: "We are convinced that Trax can grow rapidly in China's consumer landscape.

"China's retail market has digitalised rapidly, yet the vast majority of China's brick-and-mortar stores remain underserved in store management, assortment and optimisation."

Trax counts GIC, Boyu Capital and Investec among its existing investors, while Warburg Pincus is its largest shareholder.

The Singapore-based firm is eyeing an initial public offering in the United States within the next 18 to 24 months, but noted in May that it was also in talks with the Singapore Exchange for a potential dual listing.

The start-up provides in-store market measurement and data analytics for manufacturers and retailers of consumer goods. It combines its image recognition and machine learning technology to turn photos of retail shelves into store-level insights.

Trax is also involved in digital transformation projects to give global retailers continuous shelf-tracking through its software and wireless camera system.

It has raised around US$350 million in equity financing and operates in over 50 countries.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 24, 2019, with the headline 'Tech start-up Trax gets $136m funding'. Subscribe