On a Sunday: Boston's Two-Week Startup Financings Report - 24 Startups Raised $290M+
Trying out a Sunday release! Sneak peak: stealth mode startup by execs of the woolly mammoth revival company, a new Pickleball company in Boston, and an MGB-spinout reversing the course of fibrosis 🤯
If you’re new here, I’m Abigail! A mechanical-engineer-turned-investor at Hyperplane, an AI/ML-focused seed-stage venture capital firm in Boston. Every two weeks, this newsletter lists Boston’s latest financings and highlights local and macro news. Got events or fundings for me? Respond directly to this email!
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🍂 🍃 Happy Sunday! We’re trying out a new release date this week to shake things up a bit.
Boston this time of year — right between Thanksgiving and Mariah Carey’s annual unthawing — is my favorite season to fully embrace the festivities in the city. Between the Seaport’s Snowport market, SoWa’s Vintage Market, ice skating at Fenway and the Frog Pond, or Zoolights at the Stone Zoo, we will have plenty of things to do to get in the spirit. And I guess startups are feeling the buzz too — 24 Boston-based startups collectively raised $290M across equity and debt financings. Plus, some extras I wasn’t quite sure what to do with so I added an Extras section for those financings/acquisitions/privatization transactions.
I’m incessantly adding things to my “To Google” list. So I’m listing some stuff I’m looking into this week, please reach out if interested in chatting about any of it! Check out the bottom of this email to see findings from last week’s topics.
Interests this week (all of the random stuff I’m Googling and thinking about):
🚼 Why are maternal mortality rates in the U.S. at their highest level since 1965? 🚢 Checking in generally on the state of the supply chain issues in the US and abroad. 🌐 While still an extremely fresh topic for research, what are the hypotheses about the postwar plan for Gaza (i.e. what happens globally if Hamas is removed as a political/military power)?
Boston news: Last weekend, a beloved Boston community legend and founding partner at Underscore VC, John Pearce unexpectedly passed away. His contribution to the startup community in Boston will not be forgotten.
C10 Labs, a new MIT Media Lab venture studio together with a venture fund, had their launch event on Thursday with a select number of the 15 startups in their first cohort. The Massachusetts House and Senate surpassed a Wednesday deadline to pass a $2.8B spending bill that included raises for state employees, farmer assistance programs, and funding for the emergency family shelter system. An internal analysis of the MBTA shows the system needs $24.5B to repair the system's problems, not inclusive of required upgrades, which are separate from repairs. And finally, the YMCA of Greater Boston has launched an apprenticeship program to train 45 aspiring teachers and pay them while they're learning, in an effort to address the nationwide childcare shortage also hitting MA.
Other stuff: Plenty of stuff to cover in the Headlines section below. The rest — stories like OpenAI’s surprise oust of CEO Sam Altman — you’ve definitely already seen.🙄
And so, with that, let’s get into it.
Boston Financings of 10/24-11/6
Financings are listed from smallest to largest. Biotech financings over $80M+ are usually not covered.
The total amount of disclosed funding over the last two weeks hit over $290M+
Soundboard | $120K | Education Tech
Developer of a client management and billing platform for independent educational consultants (IECs), Soundboard has closed $120K in options or other securities from 3 investors towards a $900K offering. Founded this year by MIT MBA ‘23 students Nahel Rifai and Aaron Lewin and part of the ‘23 delta v Accelerator at MIT, Soundboard is the “everything app”" for educational consultants and coaches.
General Prognostics | $610K debt | Medical Devices
Developing the first bloodless blood tests from biomarkers and predictive algorithms, General Prognostics (GPx), has closed $610K in debt from 8 investors towards a $3.25M filing. Using a large proprietary database of biomarkers, GPx’s first product, CardioID, enables patients with non-invasive Fitbit-like devices that allow doctors to remotely monitor NT-proBNP for heart failure (HF) patients. They raised a $3.3M Seed round led by D4V, a fund in partnership with design firm IDEO, in late 2022.
Hopara | $842K | Business Intelligence
MIT CSAIL-spinout developing digital twin technology for preventive maintenance and asset utilization for operations managers, Hopara, has closed $842K from 8 investors towards a $1M filing. Founded in 2020 by Turing Prize winner and MIT CSAIL Professor Mike Stonebraker, Hopara creates digital representations of spaces and buildings and connects to the equipment within those spaces to simulate the ecosystem in real-time. They last raised a $4.4M Seed round from Glasswing Ventures and Koa Labs in May of 2021.
Zeta Surgical | $1.1M | Healthcare / VR
A virtual-reality and surgical navigation platform enabling surgeons to operate at the point-of-care on fully awake patients, Zeta Surgical, has closed $1.1M from 14 total investors towards a $2M offering. Founded by a team out of Harvard and focusing first on neurosurgery — because that one’s easy, obviously — Zeta’s Cranial Navigation System is a mixed-reality navigation system providing neurosurgeons with "GPS-like" guidance in real time and was cleared by the FDA in September. They came out of stealth mode in March of 2022 with $5.2M in Seed funding from Innospark Ventures and Y Combinator.
KAID Health | $1.7M debt | Healthcare IT
KAID Health, a startup that aggregates medical claims, electronic medical records (EMR) data and medical notes, has closed $1.7M in a combination of debt and other non-equity securities from 12 total investors towards a total offering amount filed for $2.5M. KAID’s software platform allows healthcare providers to analyze the entire medical record while providing insights from their analysis. They last raised a $4.25M Series A led by Activate Venture Partners in 2022.
Cloud Dentistry | $1.9M | Healthcare IT / HR Tech
Dental workforce management company, Cloud Dentistry has raised $1.9M towards an offering amount reported to be the company’s Series B raise led by Dental Innovation Alliance, filed for $4.5M. Founded by Trey Tepichin, Cloud Dentistry’s digital marketplace connects dental professionals with offices looking to hire without placement fees or markups. They last raised $1.5M in November of 2022 according to a separate Form D filing.
AeroShield Materials | 2.3M debt | Materials
Developer of super-insulating, transparent inserts for windows, AeroShield Materials has raised $2.3M in debt. AeroShield aims to more efficiently bring thermal comfort and energy savings into buildings at an affordable price with a super-insulating glass sheet based on silica aerogel technology developed at MIT. They last raised a $4M Seed round from MassVentures and Mass Clean Energy Center in November of 2022.
Busy Beauty | $2.8M debt | CPG
Maker of the world’s first-ever zero-waste wipes, Busy Beauty has raised $2.8M in debt. Founded in 2018 by two former Babson undergrads while classmates, Busy’s line of upcycled, unbleached cotton wipes is biodegrade without harmful ingredients and has been made for deodorant, female hygiene, body, face, and sanitizing uses. They raised a $500K angel round in 2018 and a $3.9M round in late 2021.
BinStar | $2.8M | Retail
Brick-and-mortar retail store in Avon, MA that offers shoppers an experience picking from bins filled with returned items and overstocks from retailers and brands at discounted prices, BinStar has raised $2.8M from 25 total investors. BinStar allows shoppers to dig up deals from actual bins around their stores (“items that range from AirPods to Ziploc bags”) and aims to address the 10 billion pounds of high-quality returned merchandise tossed to landfills every year. They last raised $918K earlier this year.
Trove Health | $3.1M | Healthcare IT
Trove Health, a startup that allows you to connect your medical records from all sources into one dashboard for use as a patient and for medical researchers to use if you chose to share it with them (and even pays you for it), has raised $3.1M from 19 investors. Trove recently merged with interoperability startup Oprable, and gathers health records instantly with a single integration and aims to build the largest proprietary, compliant database of identified patients who have consented to share their data with researchers. Read more about their recent capabilities here.
Integration.app | $3.5M | DevOps
Launched out of stealth mode as an integration stack for SaaS products, Integration.app has raised a $3.5M Seed round co-led by Crew Capital and Cortical Ventures with additional participation from Accel Starters, DataRobot, and others. Founded by one of the first employees at DataRobot, Daniil Bratchenko, Integration aims to help engineering teams more easily integrate their company’s products with third-party apps by providing an integration platform as a service (iPaaS), offering a set of tools to connect both apps and data.
Boston Pickle Club | $4M | Sports
Found on their website as Boston’s premier pickleball community targeting an opening day in February of 2024, Boston Pickle Club has raised $4M from 6 investors including the conversion of SAFE notes. Boston Pickle Club offers a brand new facility in Dedham, while providing expert instruction from their pros to a community of all ages. Mobile app booking up to 7 days in advance, skill-based camps, leagues and tournament hosting, and a pro shop, lounge, and hitting wall are all part of the new pickleball company’s offerings.
Layer Health | $4M | Healthcare IT
MIT spinout and the developer of a suite of healthcare data management and task automation tools, Layer Health, has raised $4M from Google Ventures, General Catalyst, and Inception Health. Layer’s first product, Distill, helps healthcare workforces with clinical, administrative, and research tasks that require chart review from unstructured data without the need for labeled data, reducing development time from months to as little as a day. The founding team includes MIT professors, Harvard Med School physicians, and startup veterans.
Linq Labs (formerly Wecover Platforms) | $6M | Generative AI Infra
Recently relaunched and formerly Wecover Platforms, a conversational AI chatbot for customer service functions, and now a multimodal vector database for LLMs, Linq Labs has raised $6M including the conversion of SAFE notes from 6 investors. Founded by Chanyeol Choi, Linq Labs is a multimodal vector database management solution for LLMs and a member of current Boston Techstars Accelerator cohort.
Ediphi | $6.5M | Construction Tech
Recently out of stealth mode and a developer of estimating software for contractors, Ediphi has raised $6.5M in seed funding from Suffolk’s venture arm, also the company’s first customer. Ediphi’s platform aims to streamline the construction estimating process by allowing contractors to collaborate with design teams, transition to cost estimates from quantity take-offs, compare cost models with past projects, level bids against budgets, award subcontractors, and execute contracts. The company is founded by construction veterans and serial entrepreneurs, Dustin DeVan and Michael Navarro.
Mercury | $8.6M | Sports / Marketing Tech
Provider of end-to-end fan engagement solutions for brands and colleges, Mercury has raised $8.6M from 14 investors. Previously, Mercury operated in the blockchain and NFT spaces, and is now leveraging the recent NCAA ruling allowing college athletes to monetize their Name, Image and Likeness (NIL), partnering with colleges and athletes to create experiences for fans. The company has partnerships with Penn State, Kansas, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and Clemson and 100+ athletes signed to NIL deals.
Oncoheroes Biosciences | $8.9M debt | Biotech
Oncoheroes Biosciences, a biotech focused on the discovery and development of better drugs for children and adolescent with cancer, has raised $8.9M in debt from 40 investors. Co-founded by two parents touched by childhood cancer, Oncoheroes announced that FDA has granted Orphan Drug Designation (ODD) to one of these drugs for its use in treating osteosarcoma, which allows Oncoheroes various development incentives.
AppMap | $10M | DevOps
Developer of code visualization and runtime code review analysis technology, AppMap has raised $10M from Work-Bench Ventures, Venture Guides, and Unusual Ventures, among others. Founded by Elizabeth Lawler, previously the founder of DevOps security startup Conjur, acquired by CyberArk in 2017, AppMap provides software design observability and runtime code analysis for developers to improve code before pushing to production settings, and has seen over one million downloads globally.
Project Samri | $10.5M | Stealth
Stealth mode biotech startup with strong Harvard affiliations (at least according to the Form D filing), Project Samri has raised $10.5M from 18 investors. Nothing found online, but some of the listed folks on the Form D are the two founders of Colossal Biosciences, the startup with plans to bring back from extinction the woolly mammoth, Tasmanian tiger and the dodo. The other listed people are James Kim, a Professor of Education at Harvard, and two PhD students at the Wyss Institute and in George Church’s lab at Harvard Medical School, Vaskar Gnyawali and Sukanya Punthambaker, jointly working to genetically engineer novel microbes and enzymes to break down plastic more efficiently. My hunch? Project Samri has something to do with that project. 👀
Hemanext | $11.3M | MedTech
Hemanext, a company focused on developing blood processing, storage, and transfusion technology, has raised $11.25M from 20 investors. I’m speculating (based on certain Form D details) that it’s likely the close of a strategic investment by the Vitalant Innovation Center announced earlier this year in June. This strategic partnership includes an initial investment by Vitalant, a nonprofit blood and biotherapies organization, as well as research collaboration through Vitalant’s new facility. They last raised $13.25M in February of this year.
OfferFit | $25M | DevOps
Offering automated marketing solutions using reinforcement learning methods to replace A/B testing across several markets, OfferFit has raised a $25M Series B round led by Menlo Ventures. Led by PhD mathematician George Khachatryan, the company’s approach identifies the right messages to send at the right times on the right channels with userbases up to the millions, claiming up to a 120% increase in revenue per user. They last raised a $14M Series A led by Canvas Ventures in late 2021.
AM Batteries | $27M | Manufacturing
Developing a lower-carbon footprint and lower cost dry-electrode manufacturing technology for lithium-ion batteries, AM Batteries (AMB) has raised $27M from 15 total investors, after raising a $25M Series A led by Anzu Partners in October of 2022. AMB’s dry-electrode manufacturing technology eliminates the need for any harmful solvents or energy-intensive evaporation and offers a path to additional benefits such as faster-charging and higher energy density. The company also announced a new CEO and Chief Manufacturing Officer last week.
Mediar Therapeutics | $60.6M | Biotech
Founded out of research at MGH and Brigham and Women's Hospitals in partnership with MGB Ventures developing a suite of therapies that halt and even reverse the course of fibrosis (a disease making up 45% of deaths in the industrialized world), Mediar Therapeutics has closed $60.6M towards an $85M Series A round announced in March of this year co-led by Novartis Venture Fund and Sofinnova Partners with participation from Pfizer Ventures, Bristol Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly & Company, and Mass General Brigham Ventures, among others. Mediar's drug portfolio consists of three targets readily detectible in the blood that ultimately correlate to disease severity, with two programs advancing into human studies in 2024.
Elucid | $80M | Health Tech
Provider of AI-powered imaging analysis software to assess cardiovascular disease, Elucid has raised an $80M Series C round led by Elevage Medical Technologies. Elucid’s CTA-based arterial software is the only FDA-cleared non-invasive tool that provides physicians non-invasive diagnostic methods that characterize plaque and its potential effects, based on the microscopic structure of tissues. They last raised a $23M Series B in May of 2022 led by Philips’ Venture Fund and IAG Capital Partners.
Avid Technology, provider of a suite of media tools and video editing software, was taken private by STG for $1.4 billion.
Chase Corporation, manufacturer of industrial coatings and adhesives was taken private by KKR for $127.50 per share.
Plum Voice, provider of AI-powered customer service technology, was acquired by Sharpen Technologies. Financial terms not disclosed.
Aileron Therapeutics announced a share purchase agreement of $16.4M in the form of 4,707 shares of series X convertible preferred stock and warrants. The transaction will include participation from new investors, Nantahala Capital Management and Bios Clinical Opportunities Fund.
Material Impact, a pre-seed deep tech VC firm, raised a $352M Fund III.
The Engine, an early-stage Tough Tech VC firm, promoted Michael Kearney to general partner.
Pillar VC, an early-stage VC fund, hired John Casey as a venture partner.
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:
🗓 This week, Flash PMI data for the major developed economies including the US will be released across Thursday and Friday. Minutes from the latest FOMC meeting will be released on Wednesday to explain the reasoning behind the Fed *not* raising interest rates.
What this means: Flash PMI data is an economic indicator measuring the output and performance of a country's manufacturing sector, and is a leading indicator, meaning it gives an early indication of economic trends. This release is especially relevant as the US saw output not only rise in October but growth also accelerated, so we’ll be looking to see if this was an outlier point. The post-meeting Fed rhetoric suggested a wait-and-see approach to their decision to halt interest rates, but we’ll get this detailed on Wednesday from their minutes.
🌎 Global number releases: Europe and other developed economies’ flash PMI data released on Thursday and Friday, Q3 GDP numbers from Germany on Friday and Thailand on Monday, inflation numbers from Japan on Friday and Canada on Tuesaday, and central bank meetings that will determine interest rate decisions for Turkey and Indonesia on Thursday, both countries that have seen surging inflation recently.
Translation: While the US saw pretty good looking manufacturing output and growth from the last PMI, the eurozone’s activity was concerning, in contrast, as their manufacturing output declined for the 5th straight month, dropping at a higher rate relative to their GDP, and the UK saw output fall for a 3rd straight month.
🔙 Economy watch last two weeks:
Last week’s number releases at-a-glance: According to the latest S&P Global Investment Manager Index (IMI), market sentiment improved significantly, probably with hopes we’re in the home stretch with peak interest rates. The Consumer Price Index (CPI), the broadest measure of inflation, rose 3.2% annually in October, down from 3.7% in September. To put this into context, the Fed targets a 2% inflation rate, so we’re not there yet, but this decrease in inflation is more than most expected to see.
💼 Jobs: The most concerning news from the October jobs report was that the labor force shrunk by 201,000. A smaller labor force makes it difficult for businesses to find the workers they need.
🛍 Consumer activity: Consumers keep spending. According to consumer spending data released last week, we increased spending by 0.7% in September — 0.3% higher than inflation. Notably were grocery prices, which rose 0.3% in October and are up 2.1% annually.
🏡 Real Estate: Housing prices were up 6.7% annually, according to the CPI release. Separately, over the last week, mortgage interest rates experienced their most significant weekly decline over a year, and mortgage applications responded with the first increase in volume in over a month.
⚡️ Energy: Energy prices fell 4.5% annually in response to the 5.3% drop in gas prices, and electricity prices rose 2.4%.
🤖 A sneaky closure: Meta’s Responsible AI division has been dissolved without reason. Most of this team was reportedly reassigned to the Generative AI team focusing on a product similar to ChatGPT.
🇺🇦 Ukraine update: Ukraine's counter offensive has now been under way for more than four months, and the concerns are starting to increase as they head into the second harsh winter of this war.
Meanwhile, Russia has been focusing its efforts on eastern Ukraine with fighting continuing around Bakhmut and near Donetsk regions.
👨💼 Ever-evolving leadership? Sam Altman reportedly might return to OpenAI amid pressure from investors Microsoft, Thrive Capital, and Tiger Global to reverse his surprise ousting by OpenAI’s board last week.
📲 Is this the end of green texts? Apple has finally agreed to adopt Rich Communication Services (RCS), a technological integration that Google has been urging them to adopt that will enhance texting facilitation between iPhone and Android users.
📉 A not-so-hot prequel: The Hunger Games is back in theaters with a prequel that takes place 64 years the first film, and it’s expected to see rake in just $55M for opening weekend (the previous films each topped $100M).
❌ Amazon, the new Wall St: Amazon corporate has threatened not to promote those who don’t comply with their return-to-office mandate that requires 3 days a week in-person.
🚗 Amazon moves into auto sales: Amazon will now allow customers to buy cars and SUVs online in partnership with Hyundai as long as they go pick it up from the Hyundai dealership. Delivery won’t be available.
🏪 An expensive choice: Alibaba won’t move forward with their Cloud Intelligence Group (competitor to AWS and Azure) amidst chip export restrictions, and their market cap took a $20B hit.
🧑💼 Tech and Biz
Monday, November 27th 11:45AM: Happiness Hacks with Dr. Laurie Santos, Host of The Happiness Lab Podcast.
Thursday, November 30th 5:30PM: Circular Economy in the Buildings Sector hosted by Greentown Labs in Somerville.
Sunday, December 3rd 8AM-6PM: 2023 Health Care Club Conference at Harvard Business School.
Tuesday, December 5th 2-3PM: Geospatial Data Science at Scale with Esri and AWS hosted by Data Science Connect.
Friday-Sunday: Adding to the Seaport’s seasonal addition of the Snowport this year is curling on Harbor Way, back for public use on the weekends.
November 17th through January 7th: Zoolights at Stone Zoo.
Findings: Things I’m Googling
💪What is the impact of blood flow restriction (BFR) training on muscle hypertrophy and strength gains in athletes?
What I found: BFR training creates the same muscle environment that regular strength training does without as much weight or intensity. For perhaps helpful context, muscle growth happens in one of a few ways: by lifting heavy weights to break muscle fibers so that they can rebuild stronger than before they were broken, or through oxygen depletion so that your body creates lactic acid to stimulate muscle hypertrophy, or through cellular swelling via increases to your blood flow. The restriction of normal blood flow by BFR training allows your muscles to experience swelling, fatigue and oxygen depletion more quickly, and therefore building those muscle fibers back larger, and in less time.
TLDR: you’ll probably get looks at the gym wearing tourniquet-type resistance bands around your arms while working out, but hey — oxygen depletion may be the name of the gains (get it 😄).
🌍 What has been the role of digital warfare strategies/cybersecurity threats in modern conflicts?
What I found: The Russia-Ukraine war has marked one of the first times that cyber operations have played a prominent role in a world conflict. These operations have been primarily displayed by Russia’s overt state-backed media to covert platforms and accounts and shape public perception of the war. Google has stepped in with Project Shield, a protection initiative against Russian-attributed distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS). Separate from Russia-Ukraine, a timeline of major cyber attacks since 2006 can be found here.
🧑🤝🧑 Has there been research done on the growth of remote-based versus in-person startup growth? Has enough time passed to even analyze this with a large enough sample size?
What I found: From a sample size of 37 companies from the Reach Capital portfolio, it was found that in-person startups grew 3.5x as fast as remote startups. Caveat here - Reach’s portfolio consists of mainly EdTech and Future of Work startups, and so it’s a concentrated sample size of pretty specific verticals that may skew one way or the other. Could these results be different in other markets? Possibly.