Meet Trax, Singapore’s newest Unicorn–a private startup that reaches the magic valuation figure of over $1 billion USD. Founded by Israeli-based analytics firm, and now based in Singapore, the startup entered the unicorn ranks after its latest funding round raised a further $100 million USD in series D funding, bringing their total to just under $387 million USD. Trax said they will use the funds to accelerate their innovation and extend their efforts to deliver an outstanding customer experience. 

The rise of a mythical legend

The Singapore-based company produces image recognition tech products for both consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies and retailers. With a breakthrough computer vision platform, Trax uses cameras to track the shelves of retail stores to give manufacturers and retailers of consumer goods access to actionable shelf and store-level insights. 

Lego unicorn toy

The startup has four products to streamline consumer-based retailers operations with in-store execution, market measurement, shelf placement strategy, and store management. With all bases covered, Trax’s technology is revolutionising the way retailers and CPG companies operate, from the production line through to the point of sale. The cutting-edge software means retailers are able to leverage their stock, gain competitive insights, and maximise sales and productivity.   

Gaining traction

The startup was founded by Dror Feldheim and Joel Bar-El, both ex-Israeli’s who first met in Singapore.The two soon joined forces: Feldheim armed with the idea of visualizing physical retail shelves for global manufacturers to enhance business value, and Bar-El with the technological solution. The combination of Bar-El’s data systems and Feldheim’s retail execution backgrounds made for a powerful team.

The original idea for Trax was for an application focused at maximising shoppers retail experiences, but this quickly shifted after a meeting with American multinational consumer goods corporation, Procter and Gamble, who pointed out that shelf and store insights for the retailers would be much more valuable to their company. With a mission to push greater productiveness for consumer goods companies while increasing awareness around the valuable importance of image recognition, Feldheim and Bar-El self-funded the startup and began building Trax with a small development team based in Israel.

From early on, Trax gained the interest of investors though it took them two years and multiple pilots to gain their first repeat client in 2013. Recently selected as one of a Red Herring’s Top 100 Global Winners and ranked in the top 25-fastest-growing companies on Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500 list, it’s fair to say the firm has made tracks since first introducing their technology in 2010.

Galloping to the top

Now operating in over 50 countries with more than 175 client engagements and global brands like Coca-Cola and Nestle SA under their belt, we’re not surprised Trax is the world leader in computer-vision solutions for retailers and CPG companies.

Investec, GIC, and Boyu Capital are among Trax’s current investors, with its largest shareholder to date being Warburg Pincus. In a recent statement, Trax claimed over $350 million USD in equity financing has been raised so far by the newly born unicorn, with the latest $1 million USD investment being led by one of Asia’s primary alternative asset managers, HOPU.

Private equity firm HOPU focuses on the consumer, technology, financial services, and logistics/real estate industries, and has managed more than $10 billion USD of capital for global institutional clients. “Our investment from HOPU will accelerate the development of our footprint in China and globally, and further position our market-ready retailer solutions to be deployed at scale.” Trax co-founder and chief commercial officer Feldheim said in a recent press release.

In the same press release, HOPU’s Gunther Hamm confirmed the China-based firm’s confidence in Trax:  

We are convinced that Trax can grow rapidly in China’s consumer landscape. China’s retail market has digitized rapidly, in both online and new offline retail concepts. Yet the vast majority of China’s brick and mortar stores remain underserved in store management, assortment and optimization. Trax’s global leading technology and CPG experience, coupled with its entrepreneurial management team, should allow it to quickly capture this white space. 

Singapore: a stable beginning for unicorns

Malaysian born unicorn Grab and now Israeli founded Trax; why are startups popping up in Singapore? With government support, funding a dynamic fast-moving startup ecosystem, and business-friendly environment, Singapore offers a number of advantages for startups to build their empire.

In an interview with Techcollective in May last year, Christopher Quek, Managing Partner of Thrive told us:

Singapore’s startup ecosystem has evolved faster than its regional peers. Right now, Singapore-based marketplaces are no longer viable. Rather, Singapore has been pushing into deep technologies of engineering and sciences to be developed.

You have seen our Smart Nation initiatives like the rise of electric transportation (nuTonomy was sold for US$450m), energy solutions, blockchain, AI, cybersecurity, IOT, digital healthcare and life sciences being the focus of development. Singapore has also poured in US$12b into its RIE2020 initiative, which shows the seriousness of where the nation is going in innovation.

Singapore’s newest recruit, Trax, joins Grab and names like Razer, Sea, and Lazada, and with the country revealing over 2,000 start up deals between 68 industries with an average investment of $40 million USD, the potential to grow its list of elite unicorns is high.