chefThe culinary industry, like the tech world, is dominated by men. However both industries are making significant strides towards more equitable gender distribution and women in both sectors are rising to the top. For any of you that follow Top Chef, tonight is the Seattle season finale. This marks the first season where the final showdown is between two women. Before then, get your daily plate of funding news here, served up by a woman, but significantly less delicious than, say, freshly poached sockeye salmon with dill sourdough.

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StellaService raises $15M for ruthlessly judging online retailers

Today, StellaService has just taken a huge $15 million dollar check to the bank, and all for its capability to track and rate the online shopping experience. StellaService uses analysts, accountants, and mystery shoppers to “stress test” all the many points of contact between customers and brands online, such as processing returns and engaging in Twitter conversations. This round of funding is the New York City-based startup’s second institutional financing. Norwest Venture Partners led today’s funding; NVP general partner Josh Goldman will take a board seat. Read more on VentureBeat.

Kickboard’s education platform uses big data to make kids smarter, nabs $2M

Kickboard, a web-based school analytics platform, has closed a $2 million funding deal, the startup announced today. The end result is hopefully a better picture of what each student needs in terms of teaching and nurturing.Kickboard allows teachers to collect, analyze, and share student information in one centralized place. New Markets Venture Partners and Two Sigma Ventures led the funding round. Read more on VentureBeat.

Nexenta pulls in $24M to realize its vision for a software-defined data center

A software-defined storage startup called Nexenta has closed a $24 million funding round, proving that storage is increasingly an area of focus for IT. Nexenta executives say the funding will help them educate the market so that potential customers view it as a trusted storage partner rather than a disruptive startup. Nexenta’s fourth round of financing is led by new investor Four Rivers Group, with participation by existing Nexenta investors Menlo Ventures, TransLink Capital, Javelin Ventures, Sierra Ventures, Razor’s Edge Ventures, and West Summit Capital. In addition to Four Rivers, Presidio Ventures and UMC Capital participated in the funding. Read more on VentureBeat.

Armor5 grabs $2M for its novel approach to the BYOD problem

A stealthy startup called Armor5 has a new way for mobile workers to access their company’s applications without sensitive data hitting their handset. The technology connects to a company network via an existing VPN, virtualizes Intranet data and cloud apps, and generates a URL for mobile workers to access content safely from a personal or company-issued device. The startup has emerged from stealth mode today with $2 million in funding from Trinity Ventures, Citrix Systems, and Nexus Venture Partners. Read more on VentureBeat.

Clearwire takes $80M from Sprint even as it’s flirting with Dish for a buyout

Clearwire’s fate is beginning to resemble a daytime soap opera. The troubled company has grabbed $80 million in financing from Sprint —  its longtime partner and majority stakeholder — potentially killing Dish’s buyout offer, reports Reuters. Sprint offered to buy out Clearwire for $2.2 billion back in December, but Dish shot back with its own $5.5 billion offer earlier this year. By accepting Sprint’s $80 million, it seems like Clearwire has made up its mind to forgo Dish’s higher offer. Read more on VentureBeat. 

GlobeIn connects local artisans to the global economy

GlobeIn launched an online marketplace of artisanal and handmade goods from around the world today, and announced that it is backed by $1.1 million in seed funding.  The site focuses on ethnically diverse, one-of-a-kind goods ranging from jewelry to beauty products. Using an offline network of representatives and volunteer, GlobeIn features nearly one hundred artists and a thousand available products. Investors include former MCI Chairman Bert Roberts, AnchorFree CEO David Gorodyansky, and former CEO of Ogilvy Action Rick Roth.

JethroData reckons $4.5M is better than nuttin’, yes m’am

JethroData secured $4.5 million in funding for its analytics database based on Hadoop. The company, based in Israeli, helps companies store and quickly make sense of vast amounts of raw data. Pitango Venture Capital led this round. JethroData plans to release its product in the coming months.

LocalResponse reacts to $1.5M from sparkly VCs

LocalResponse’s social ad platform helps marketers respond to consumer “intent” in real-time. The technology looks at hundreds of public posts on social media networks for “intent” to help brands and agencies target their content to interested users. Clients include Coca-COla, General Motors, and Walgreens. This round was led by Cava Capital (hence the sparkly reference) as well as Extreme Venture Partners, Verizon, WIN, and Advancit Capital. This brings the company’s total funding to $8 million.

Photo Credit: avlxyz/Flickr

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