Stories of serendipitous encounters during the Mira Awards that lead to new tech successes are becoming a hallmark of TechPoint’s annual “best of tech in Indiana” program. Best known is the origin of ClusterTruck: Chris Baggott and his ride-share driver that night, Rob Greene, chatted about harnessing the gig economy to fix food delivery, which led to the fast-growing disruptor we now know as ClusterTruck. In the case of the much-publicized acquisition of Vemity by Rover180, a competitive encounter has led to a prosperous acquisition.
Indianapolis-based FreightRover’s CEOs met artificial intelligence automation and machine learning company Vemity’s staff while they were both nominees presenting to the judging panel for the 2018 Best New Tech Startup Mira Award. Last month, the two companies shared their big news.
Rover180, an affiliate partner of FreightRover, says its acquisition of Vemity would enable Rover180’s affiliate partners to leverage Vemity’s technology to cut costs associated with invoicing and accelerated payments. In this deal, Vemity will retain its name and operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Rover180. Vemity founders Brandon Boynton (CEO) and Zachary Balda (CTO) will retain their titles and work out of the Rover180 offices in downtown Indy.
“The power of artificial intelligence is still widely untapped and undervalued, but the possibilities are limitless. We are thrilled to join Rover180 to become a leader in machine learning within the finance and transportation sectors,” Boynton said in a written statement. “From day one we can bring efficiencies to millions of dollars in payables to benefit businesses across the United States. Opportunities like this are why we created Vemity.”
When we last talked with Vemity in January 2018, the company’s “AI-as-a-service” platform was just opening up to customers. Vemity’s users can create learning models based on data sets optimized by AI, resulting in analyses and automation for human tasks at a low monthly cost. The company moved through several phases of adaptation in 2018, while seeking where they fit in the marketplace from a marketing perspective. Enter Rover180. “Vemity lacked a specific vertical and marketing strategy,” Balda explained. “The initial strategy was selling the platform as a developer tool, but not to specific industries. Aligning with Rover180 and FreightRover provides a sector of focus with experts in the area.”
FreightRover, the company eventually recognized as the 2018 Best New Tech Startup Mira Award winner, is geared toward transportation logistics. At the time of its Mira win, the company was growing quickly, securing a $9 million round of funding and scaling up with 27 employees, and it had bold plans for the future. FreightRover soon figured out, however, that it’d be prohibitive to fund both the technology and bear the burden of the capital required to fund the finance programs the technology supports for companies and their suppliers—an amount that could climb into the billions of dollars annually.
To better enable future growth, Rover180 was launched in September 2018 with a $500 million investment from Crayhill Capital. FreightRover provides the technology, and Rover180 provides the capital funding for customers, allowing both to scale independently while supporting each other.
FreightRover had already been unlocking successes after their Mira Award win, like growing its staff 36 percent, expanding its office space and adding two new product lines. Thanks to Rover180, the Vemity acquisition continues that streak of Mira-connected successes.
“We pride ourselves on being at the forefront of innovation in the finance industry. By capitalizing on the advances happening with artificial intelligence, we can add smarts around accelerated payments for our clients,” said Eric Meek, FreightRover CEO and Rover180 board member, in a written statement. “This move aligns so well with the ‘better, faster, more’ mentality of today’s consumers.”
Rover180 sees Vemity making a significant difference in three major areas: data management, task automation and sales conversations. FreightRover has already officially signed on as an affiliate partner to offer Vemity’s AI platform to clients in its supply chain management technology suite.
Even though Vemity only officially began operating in 2016, Rover180’s leadership understands they are unlocking a lot of potential through the young company. “I don’t believe age of a company determines the value of a company,” Meek said. “We are a young company as well. We’re focused on bringing in top talent, top technology, and top ideas. We’ve done that with Vemity.”