When it comes to tech news, we saw a little bit of everything last week here in the D.C. metro area. Fresh funding was raised, a new social impact-focused VC firm was formed, and popular grocery store chain Whole Foods made a decidedly techie move. Want to learn more? Keep on reading. This is the Built In DC weekly refresh.
Whole Foods opened a cashierless store in Northwest D.C. Following in the footsteps of the buzzy Amazon Go Grocery store that launched in 2020, Whole Foods has opened its first cashier-free store at 2323 Wisconsin Avenue. Thanks to the store’s “Just Walk Out” tech, patrons can simply scan in and out of the store instead of going through the traditional check-out process. Otherwise, the store has all the familiar goodies at a normal Whole Foods, plus a seating area. The store began inviting some Amazon Prime members to visit back in January, but it is now fully open to the public. Whole Foods plans to open a second location kitted out with the “Just Walk Out” technology in Los Angeles later this year. [NBC Washington]
Federated Wireless scored $58M. The Arlington, Virginia-based startup specializes in spectrum software development, providing major companies like Comcast, Verizon and the U.S. Department of Defense with the tools they need to deliver fast, wireless connectivity. As the world continues to digitize at breakneck speeds, Federated Wireless will use this fresh Series D funding to scale its platform’s capabilities, focusing mainly on automating how wireless networks are purchased, deployed, provisioned and managed. The company is also looking to grow its sales, marketing and customer success teams, which are mainly based in Arlington and the greater D.C. metro area. [Built In DC]
D.C. Tech Quote of the Week
This local entrepreneur started a new VC firm to help ‘historically excluded’ startups. Melanie Akwule is the founder of Minwo, a Woodbridge-based tech startup that helps Black-owned businesses grow and succeed. After pitching the idea for the company to Mark Hubbard, a general partner with Atlanta’s Renew Venture Capital, she was inspired to shift into VC work, and is now one of seven general partners at Renew. The firm is in the midst of raising a $50 million fund, called the Renew VC Impact Fund LP, and has plans to deploy investments of between $250,000 to $3 million in social impact startups led by historically underrepresented founders. Entrepreneurs can apply here. [Washington Business Journal]
Apkudo raised another $14.4M. The Baltimore-based startup is on a mission to help businesses assess and manage their inventory of smartphones and other connected devices across their supply chain network. Businesses like wholesalers, mobile phone carriers and traders can use Apkudo to figure out what condition certain devices are in and how many devices they have, which then helps them decide whether it’s best to repair, resell or recycle them. This fresh funding comes less than two years after Apkudo raised another $14 million round, and was led by Closed Loop Partners — an NYC-based VC firm that focuses on the “circular economy.” [Maryland Inno]