Providence tech startup Swipely, which has grown significantly since it was launched in 2009, says a new infusion of $20 million in venture capital funding will enable it to continue expanding a small spark of Silicon Valley in Rhode Island.
"The intent is to use those funds to continue to aggressively growing the team in all our areas, including our engineering team, our marketing and sales team, and other departments within the company," Swipely founder Angus Davis said during a news conference Thursday morning.
Davis said Swipley has grown to employ more than 100 workers, after starting 2013 with fewer than 30, and expects its workforce to number more than 135 by the end of the year. He says the company's customers in more than 40 states use Swipely to manage more than $2 billion in annual sales -- a growth of four times over, he says, from about a year ago.
Swipely creates online dashboards that enable restaurants and other small businesses to analyze customer data in the hope of generating more sales. The company has attracted a total of more than $40 million dn venture funding since it was established. The Chicago-based Pritzker Group was the major new investor in the $20 million round of funding.
Davis says the biggest challenge facing Swipely is adding members to its team. The company pays for travel by Amtrak for employees who reside near Boston, and has some of the standard Silicon Valley-type perks on its two floors of a Dorrance Street office building, including catered lunches, open work spaces, a ping-pong table, beer fridges, and the like. "We're very excited to be growing a company here in Providence, to be maybe a good news story for a change in Rhode Island," Davis says.
The evolution of a homegrown company started by Bristol native Davis stands in contrast to the state's disastrous experience with 38 Studios, which went bankrupt in 2012 after getting a $75 million state loan guaranty.
Davis says Swipely has not "really sought any specific help from the state. We think we're in the biggest capitalist economy on Earth, and we've got plenty of private sources of capital to help us out."
Here's how he responded when asked how the state could encourage other success stories: "Generally, the number one thing the state can do is to create an environment, an ecosystem, a level playing field that encourages entrepreneurs to take risk and encourages folks with capital to invest in start-up businesses. I think some of the most important things the state leaders and policymakers can do are areas around creating a strong education system and improving our infrastructure and creating a competitive environment that encourages investment in businesses."