Pensa Lands New Funding, In-Store Deployment, From Circle K

C-store operator participates in $11M funding of drone-based shelf data solution
Photograph courtesy Pensa Systems

Pensa Systems, the Austin, Texas-based tech startup pioneering automated shelf intelligence through the use of computer vision-enabled drones that capture in-stock data as they fly, has gathered $11 million in new funding, including support from a venture fund associated with Alimentation Couche-Tard, whose Circle K convenience stores in central Texas are now deploying the solution.

ATX Venture Partners led the $11 million Series A funding, and Circle K Ventures is also participating, Pensa said. Couche-Tard operates more than 14,000 convenience stores in 26 countries. The latest round brings Pensa’s total funding to $28 million; Pensa’s other supporters include Anheuser-Busch InBev, which is among the brands also utilizing its data, and Food Retail Ventures, a fund led by former Ahold USA CEO James McCann.

Pensa helps brands and retailers attack what Pensa called a $1 trillion stockout issue, addressing the problem by providing syndicated shelf intelligence data that the company collects, analyzes and distributes using a fully automated, end-to-end system that interprets what’s happening on the shelf.

Pensa deploys small self-flying drones and mobile phones to collect data, and a cloud-based automated perception system that utilizes AI and computer vision to analyze it, delivering what it called extremely accurate real-time data and analytics.

The data-as-a-service approach helps retailers and consumer goods partners to continuously monitor performance of store shelves to maximize revenue and improve customer satisfaction. Pensa said its visual processing system today has identified more than 2 billion product images on the retail shelf.

The Pensa solution is now being piloted in a number of Circle K locations in Central Texas. Pensa said it expects to gain valuable insight and support for the convenience-store sector and beyond by working with Circle K.  

“We look forward to working with Pensa as a way to improve the store experience for both our customers and team members,” Mike Bott, head of digital innovation for Circle K, said in a release. “Leveraging advanced technology to continuously improve in-store availability of key products is a top priority. Collaborating with Pensa as a customer and investor presents a promising opportunity for us to optimize store shelves and reduce stockouts.” 

Pensa also announced this week that Jared Schrieber, a data and analytics pioneer and co-founder of InfoScout, has joined Pensa’s advisory board. Prior to InfoScout, Schrieber was with Retail Solutions Inc., which was acquired by IRI.

“We are thrilled to see increased uptake of our approach to detecting stockouts and optimizing the store shelf in the new omni-channel world, and we are excited to leverage our latest funding round to scale our go-to-market efforts to meet rising global demand,” Pensa President and CEO Richard Schwartz said.



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