🆕 A Sunday Short: The Last Two Weeks in Boston Fundings (plus, an announcement!)
A quick personal announcement, a few stealth mode companies to get excited about, and a few economic points to over in this issue.
If you’re new here, I’m Abigail! A mechanical-engineer-turned-investor who started her investing career at Hyperplane, an early-stage AI/ML venture fund in Boston. Every two weeks, this lists Boston’s latest financings and headlines.
If you were forwarded this email, join the community of thousands of Boston’s best tech and finance folks reading alongside you!
❄️ Happy Sunday and happy 2024! Hope we’re all bracing the cold and cranking the heat. I’m back with some news before we dive in to an abbreviated issue.
After two truly incredible years with the Hyperplane team, I’ll be joining Touchdown Ventures as an investor on their healthcare team to focus more pointedly on digital health and healthcare innovation. I didn’t know exactly through what medium I wanted to scratch the itch, but I knew I wanted to better understand the intricacies of our healthcare system and why it’s so screwed up. And so, with the help of the team at Hyperplane, I spoke with a ton of incredibly knowledgable people and had some really interesting conversations that ultimately led to a hybrid of a few different mediums. A sincere thank you to all of these folks who took a call or offered to help aid in my discovery process.
For those not familiar with Touchdown VC’s model, Touchdown partners with corporates to help stand up their venture arms — almost like venture-capital-as-a-service. They actively have funds like T-Mobile, Scott's Miracle Gro, Masco, Olympus, and many others.. I’ll be sitting within their healthcare vertical, working primarily with the AmerisourceBergen fund (now renamed Cencora).
The future of this newsletter is up in the air, but I’ll be sure to update this audience as the new transition takes full shape. I appreciate the support and flexibility as I figure it out.
🏙 Boston snip-its: If you’re riding an electric scooter or at all a scooter enthusiast, as most Bostonians are nowadays, you’ll be pumped to know there’s a new scooter repair shop, BostonProScooter, located in Central Square open for business. Harvard President, Claudine Gaye, has resigned her position after the infamous subpar congressional hearing alongside UPenn and MIT’s Presidents. The last woman standing of this trio, MIT’s Sally Kornbluth, announced new changes to the school's policies around free speech and misconduct. And finally, a new non-partisan think tank, the Boston Policy Institute, founded by Greg Maynard, will work with subject-matter experts to weigh in on housing, education and transparency. In partnership with Legislata, the think tank plans to publish AI-generated transcripts of public meetings in Boston.
The Green Line MBTA update: The Green Line trains will be suspended through January 28, with the exception of Jan. 12-16, and according to Axios Boston, shuttles between North Station and Babcock Street on the B Line, Kenmore on the C and D Lines and Heath Street on the E Line will try to help mitigate the disruptions.
And so, with that, let’s get into it.
Boston Financings of 12/24-01/07
Financings are listed from smallest to largest. Biotech financings over $80M+ are usually not covered.
Mantel Capture | $700K | Climate Tech
Developer of carbon capture technology and materials that can sit next to industrial equipment and capture its emissions, Mantel Capture has raised $700K from 1 total investor. Spun out of MIT’s Hatton Research Group within the Department of Chemical Engineering, Mantel uses molten salts that operate at the high temperatures found inside industrial boilers, kilns, and furnaces for absorption of CO2 from exhaust. They last raised a $2M Seed round from the Engine.
TireTutor | $1.1M Debt | Mobility
An e-commerce marketplace for tires that aims to make the process of buying tires like the process of booking flights or hotels, TireTutor, has closed $1.1M in debt towards a total offering filed for $2M. Founded in 2017 by a ‘19 MIT Sloan alum, Jason Abrahams, TireTutor provides a marketplace where tired are sold, installed and serviced by a network of small, independent dealers. They last raised a Seed round in 2021 from Contour Venture Partners.
Final Offer | $1.1M | PropTech
A real estate offer and negotiation platform that focuses on consumer-facing workflows but driven by agents, Final Offer, has closed $1.1M from 2 investors towards a total offering amount filed for $3M. Founded by Kevin Caulfield of Caulfield Properties, Final Offer capitalizes on certain agent workflows to drive the idea of transparency across both the buying the selling processes. This is presumed to be part of their $5M Series A announced in November.
Burn Ghost | $1.3M | Web3/Gaming
A play-to-win Web3 gaming platform allowing users to win NFTs, Burn Ghost, has closed $1.3M form 8 investors towards a total offering amount filed for $2M. Founded by Steve Curran, a serial entrepreneur, Burn Ghost’s gamified product roadmap was pretty fun to play around with to find the upcoming games they’re releasing, and their website currently has games you can play in Beta mode. They last raised $3.1M in 2022, and are backed by Pillar VC, Drive by DraftKings, and Bitkraft.
Lucy Therapeutics | $3.5M | Biotech
Lucy Therapeutics, a biotech startup developing small molecule therapies and diagnostic biomarkers for diseases of the central nervous system, has closed $3.5M from 3 investors towards a total offering amount filed for $9M. Founded in 2017 by PhD Amy Ripka, Lucy focuses on diseases caused by dysfunctional mitochondria, examining the ‘nodes’ or intersections of pathways involving the mitochondria. The Engine led their Seed round in 2020, and they’ve since raised a Series A round from undisclosed investors in 2022 and various grants.
Newton Research | $5.1M | Data & Analytics
A pre-launch startup developing an AI-powered virtual assistant that pulls data and analytics across an entire organization to support decision makers, Newton Research, has raised a $5.1M Seed round from Bessemer Venture Partners, Greycroft and LiveRamp Ventures. Newton Research aims to address the underutilization of business data and current struggle for businesses to staff critical analytics functions that leverage corporate data assets, often leading to business users asking for ad hoc work from data science teams. The founder has more here.
Vulcan Elements | $5.2M | Climate Tech
A stealth mode startup focused on decarbonizing and on-shoring the production of rare earth minerals, Vulcan Elements, has raised $5.2M in equity from 11 total investors in a round reportedly including FJ Labs. Founded by John Maslin, a current HBS student and former US Navy Lieutenant, Vulcan Elements uses waste from mines, called mine tailings, to advance the decarbonization of rare earth mineral mining processes. The company was part of Harvard i-Lab’s Lauch Lab’s 2023 Climate Circle Cohort.
OmniPulse Biosciences | $7M | Biotech
OmniPulse Biosciences, has closed $7M from 2 investors towards a total filing amount of $12.5M. Spun out of MIT-affiliated labs and cofounded by Bob Langer, Ana Jaklenec, and Robert Farra, OmniPulse is operating in stealth mode as a drug delivery company with sparse online details.
Topologic Technologies | $7.2M | Stealth
Stealth-mode startup developing design and automation software for textile manufacturing, Topologic Technologies, has raised $7.2M from 10 total investors. Co-founded by Alex Zimmer, a researcher at MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms and previous co-founder of Kniterate that develops a digital knitting machine, Topologic’s slogan is “knit in the future” and is another stealth one with a sparse online presence. They last raised $2.7M in 2022.
Remix Therapeutics | $13.7M | Biotech
Remix Therapeutics, a clinical stage biotech developing small molecule therapies to modulate RNA processing, has closed $13.7M in debt and options from 21 investors towards a total offering amount filed for $90M. This was announced as part of a licensing agreement with Roche for the development of therapeutics using Remix’s REMaster drug discovery platform. Under the agreement, Remix will receive $30 million upfront and is eligible to receive up to $12 million in near-term milestone payments and up to $1 billion in milestone payments and royalties. More on this here.
Sapphiros | $30M | Healthcare
Sapphiros, a company developing point-of-care and home diagnostic tests, specimen collection devices, and microbiome laboratory and analytical services, has raised an undisclosed Series B round, of which OraSure, a strategic investor, has announced it will lead the round, contributing $30M. Sapphiros was founded in 2020 by healthcare executive Namal Nawana and was subsequently launched with investment firm KKR in 2021. They have since entered a distribution agreement with AmerisourceBergen, now renamed Cencora.
Equilibrium Energy | $38.7M | Climate Tech
Equilibrium Energy, a startup that aims to make grid energy easier to finance and build by paying battery owners for the right to bid their storage capacity into the wholesale markets, has raised $38.7M from 5 total investors including Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Global Founders Capital, and NJP Ventures. Founded in 2021, Equilibrium entered its first “tolling agreement,” with Jupiter Power, paying them a monthly fee to operate a 100-megawatt battery system in Texas and dispatch that battery for optimal profit in the wholesale markets via a digital trading platform.
OnPoint Surgical | $ Indefinite | Digital Health
OnPoint Surgical, one of the OnPoint Companies developing Augmented Reality (AR) guidance for multiple orthopedic, neurosurgical, and robotic procedures, has filed for an indefinite amount of funding. Reports presented late last year indicated the system is more accurate than standard navigation and robotic guidance while still allowing surgeons to retain tactile feedback when operating using fine motor control.
Lyndra Therapeutics | $123M | Biotech
Spyre Therapeutics | $180M | Biotech
Elicio Therapeutics | $7M | Biotech
All for now!
Your Macro Briefing + Headlines 📉
Covering the upcoming numbers to watch for (🔜) , the relevant numbers of last week (🔙), and the tech headlines of the last two weeks (🆕).
🔜 Economy watch this week:
📢 Number releases to watch:
Inflation updates from both the US and mainland China, as well as the UK's November GDP figures will be highlights. Uncertainty plagued investors over the last two quarters, and the S&P Global Investment Manager Index might shed light on changes in investor sentiment after the turn of the year. I’ll be watching the US CPI figures for December on Thursday, as it will be part of what the Fed uses to guide upcoming rate decisions (both the headline and core CPI readings are expected to tick up slightly from November.). Also watching US trade and producer price data.
🌎 Global number releases: Globally, we have UK recruitment survey data will be released on Monday, shedding light on their jobs market condition. Also, the Bank of Korea will be convening on Thursday and the market will be watching for various signals here (more about the rhetoric here as nothing is expected to change or be decided). Industrial production updates in Germany, France and Italy and unemployment across the single currency area will also be due this week. Trade data from Canada will be due in the week on Tuesday.
🔙 Economy watch last two weeks:
🏛 On the hill: The December Federal Reserve minutes suggest prolonged high interest rates for sustained inflation reduction, although officials indicate a belief that peak rates have in fact been reached and foresee rate cuts beginning in 2024.
💼 Jobs: Initial jobless claims fell for the last full week of 2023, and hiring in the private sector rose at a faster-than-expected pace in December, closing out a strong 2023 for the resilient U.S. jobs market as reported by ADP.
🏡 Real estate: Thought this was an interesting article by Forbes last week.
🏋️♀️ TikTok’s newly healthy: In an attempt to save their image after declining performance since peak COVID times, Peloton has announced it will partner with TikTok to launch a new fitness section named "#TikTokFitness Powered by Peloton."
🚢 Continuing the Red Sea halt: Maersk will continue to divert its ships from the Red Sea due to persistent safety concerns from Houthi militants in the Middle East. The alternative routes avoid the Suez Canal, opting for the longer Cape of Good Hope passage between Europe and Asia.
👩⚖️ Abortion fight continues: The Supreme Court is allowing Idaho to enforce its strict abortion ban, even in medical emergencies, while a legal fight continues. The justices said they would hear arguments in April.
📢 The latest complaint: OpenAI was sued last week by nonfiction authors who say the company misused their work to train models behind ChatGPT, infringing their copyrights by including several of their books as part of the data used to train the GPT LLM.
💊 Walgreens is turning it around: After two consecutive and concerning quarters of missing earnings last year, Walgreens beat expectations across earnings and revenue and announced a reduction in their dividend to free up cash flow as they continue to work towards deeper healthcare domination.
🏀 An 8-year right to broadcast: ESPN and the NCAA signed a new agreement that runs for eight years and will include the rights to 40 NCAA championships as well as exclusive championship coverage of all rounds for women’s basketball, women’s volleyball, women’s gymnastics, softball, baseball and FCS football.
☕️ Blank Street’s new caffeine conquest: Blank Street Coffee has launched a new subscription program, the Blank Street Regular’s Program, which has about 5,000 members and charges $8.99 or $17.99 weekly for 14 drinks.
🇺🇦 Ukraine update: Approaching day 700 of the war, and a British intelligence report details ground combat has continued to be characterized by either a static frontline or very gradual, local Russian advances.
Russia has started using ballistic missiles supplied by North Korea, the US and Ukraine have claimed, perhaps indicating that Moscow plans to further expand its arms deals in order to sustain its war effort.
US aid to Ukraine is tied by congressional negotiations, as the fate of that money to Kyiv remains tied up over negotiations regarding US immigration.
🧑💼 Tech and Biz
Thursday, January 11th 12PM: MIT Horizon hosts, Weaving Innovation into Textiles Decarbonization Strategy webinar
Wednesday, January 17th 4PM: DigitalHealth InvestorTalk: More Selling to Payers in 2024
Tuesday, January 23rd 5PM: MassChallenge U.S. Early Stage 2024 Application Launch Event
A bit farther out, but February 8th, 4-9PM: MassChallenge’s RESOLVE ‘24 Awards