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Billion Dollar Unicorns: In Uptake, Groupon Founder Shows He Has Learnt His Lesson

Posted on Friday, Apr 7th 2017

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A recent Zion Market Research report estimates the global predictive analytics market to be worth $10.95 billion by the year 2022, growing at 21% annually over the next five-year-period from $3.49 billion in 2016. There aren’t many companies from the Midwest that have made it to the Billion Dollar Unicorn club. Chicago’s Uptake is one such rare company that has fast tracked its way into the club.

Uptake’s Offerings

Groupon’s co-founder Brad Keywell and his investment partner Eric Lefkofsky joined hands to set up Uptake in 2014. Uptake’s solutions perform Big Data analysis at the industrial level. Its platform helps customers gather data from various IT systems and sensors in factories or on equipment and uses analytic tools to build computer models that can forecast upcoming needs. Organizations can use the data from the solution to optimize performance, reduce asset failures, and enhance safety. The platform makes nearly 50,000 predictions an hour.

Uptake has entered into tie-ups with heavy equipment companies like Caterpillar to utilize data collected from their machinery and integrate it with data from operations and other third party sources. The integration has led to a repository of meaningful information that is actionable and can allow the right people to take right actions at the right time. The solution helps companies like Caterpillar deploy machines that are more suited to the task at hand, secure better hours, improved efficiency, and better life expectancy for heavy machines.

Uptake may have started out within the construction sector, but it has since expanded into mining, rail, aviation, and retail. More recently, as part of its Energy segment, it has ventured into Wind energy. Uptake Wind allows engineers and wind energy operators to identify high-priority problems that could impact downtime and help them address these issues in time. Its software can detect and resolve under-performance issues, and give machine learning recommendations to improve production. The wind-focused solution helps in reducing non-technical loss in transmission and distribution, predicting equipment failure for generation, and improve the customer experience by offering integrated distributed energy resources. The service has already signed up Berkshire Hathaway Energy as its client.

Uptake’s Financials

Uptake is privately held and does not disclose financials. It has, however, revealed that it has been profitable and is “generating significant revenue”. Another report estimates that its annual revenue run-rate now exceeds $100 million.

It is venture funded and has raised $126 million in three rounds so far. The investor list includes GreatPoint Ventures, Lightbank, New Enterprise Associates, and Revolution Growth. Its latest funding was announced in February this year when it raised $40 million in a round led by Revolution Growth. The investment valued Uptake at $2 billion. In October 2015, Uptake had been valued at $1.1 billion.

It’s great to see that one of Groupon’s founding team members has learnt a thorough lesson and has built a business that actually boasts profitability, not just growth. Groupon focused on relentless growth financed by ridiculous amounts of venture capital until the funds started drying up.

Uptake, it seems, has entirely different values.

More investigation and analysis of Unicorn companies can be found in my latest Entrepreneur Journeys book, Billion Dollar Unicorns. The term Unicorn was coined in a TechCrunch article by Aileen Lee of Cowboy Ventures.

Photo Credit: Tony Webster/Flickr.com

This segment is a part in the series : Billion Dollar Unicorns


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