🏙 The Last Two Weeks in Boston Startup Financings: Over 20 Startups Raised More Than $250M
Among them are autonomous greenhouses, decarbonized industrial 3D metal printing, a marketplace empowering Zambia's rural farmers, and a bio-absorbable alternative to surgical staples. Let's dive in!
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 Tuesday! We've got some exciting startups to kickstart the week from telemedicine weight loss platforms, biomedical skin closure innovations and geospatial analytics to cutting-edge cloud security and 3D metal printing! As we wait for the November 30th lighting of the Comm Ave Mall after the Boston Common Tree Lighting Ceremony, the esplanade and Acorn Street will offer some incredible fall foliage views this month, among other scenic Boston spots. On Thursday, the Seaport’s Holiday Market at Snowport will open through December 31, and the Spartan Stadion Weekend 2023 at Fenway Park will be on November 11th and 12th this year. Lot’s to do and lot’s to get through today!
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):
💪What is the impact of blood flow restriction (BFR) training on muscle hypertrophy and strength gains in athletes? 🌍 What has been the role of digital warfare strategies/cybersecurity threats in modern conflicts? 🧑🤝🧑 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?
Boston news: The Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H), a new $2.5B government agency tasked with driving healthcare innovation nationally has named Cambridge as one of its three hubs.The price of one beer at a Celtics game is the highest in the NBA at $19.67, compared to the $5.78 it costs at a Cleveland Cavalier’s game, according to Axios Boston. Mass’ Congress has been noodling over new legislation to address our super high healthcare costs (some of which exceed 40% higher than national averages) relative to other states. Sean Marshall, ex-Klayvio, joined early-stage VC Asymmetric Capital as an EIR.
Other stuff: If you didn’t hear — WeWork, the office-sharing company that I’m sure plenty of you are reading this from today, filed for bankruptcy last week. They reported having 770 locations globally and were drowning in $10B of lease obligations, a problem solved by filing Chapter 11, which essentially allows them to contractually break those leases. Softbank put in a total of $16.9B across equity and debt, primarily from their Vision Fund. In other news, the Fed paused interest rate hikes at the latest FOMC meeting and meanwhile, U.S. bankruptcies rose 30% in the past 12 months and the unemployment rate increased to 3.9% vs. 3.8%.
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 $250M+
Xheme | $50K | Materials
Xheme, a company that aims to reduce the amount of single-use plastics through a new programmable material additive that enables new non-toxic plastics and coatings, has raised $50K in equity and debt from 1 investor. Funds will be used for the execution of research projects and the setting up of lab space. A MassChallenge 2021 cohort member, Xheme’s Multifunctional Additive addresses challenges facing the plastics and protective coatings industries—everything from oxidation to photodegradation. Read a case study here.
Opus KSD | $300K | Medical Devices
Opus KSD, the developer of SubQ It, a bio-absorbable skin closure system designed to replace metal staplers for surgical incisions, has raised $300K from 3 total investors. Founded by surgeon Kenneth Danielson, SubQ It’s fastener received FDA 510(k) clearance and was designed to engage relatively far from the cut edge, potentially providing improved healing, lowered risk of infection, and less reparative response of the tissue. The company was founded in 2015.
IC Recovery | $332K | Semiconductors
IC Recovery, a company originally founded in 2007 as Greene Lyon Group that is now applying “recovery-as-a-service” to remove chips from circuit boards so they can be reused amidst a global surge in chip demand, has raised $332K in debt from 7 total investors towards a total offering amount of $500K. IC Recovery’s patented Chip Renew process emits 97% fewer green house gases than newly fabricating chips and gently removes higher-value chips (CPUs and GPUs) from printed circuit boards for customers to then reuse or resell them.
Kalion Inc. | $400K | Materials
Kalion Inc., a synthetic biology company developing alternatives to traditional oil-based molecules used in industrial biotechnology applications has raised $400K in the form of convertible notes from 21 total investors towards a total offering amount filed for $2M. Founded by Prof. Kristala Prather at MIT, Kalion has created high purity compounds through fermentation processes for applications across industrial bioprocesses. They last raised $1.34M in the form of convertible debt from Pimlico Pond Investments, according to PitchBook.
BoolSi | $1.35M | Stealth
A company currently operating in stealth mode, BoolSi, founded by Mihailo Isakov, a 5th year PhD student in the Adapative and Secure Computing Systems Lab at Arizona State University, has raised $1.35M from 4 total investors towards a total offering filed for $1.85M. His PhD thesis explores the reduction of deep neural network (DNN) model sizes through sparsity and quantization ahead of training for hardware applications. Also listed on the filing is Branko Milosavljević, a Professor of Computer Science at the University of Novi Sad in Serbia.
Pure Glow | $1.4M | Consumer Wellness
Pure Glow, a company developing a non-toxic, organic alternative to spray tans, has raised a $1.4M Seed round led by Maripat Pacino, an angel investor and Drybar franchisee. The airbrush tanning concept, according to Pacino, has a simplified operations model with fewer employees, no license requirements, and a service time of less than 15 minutes. The company plans to expand its national footprint through franchising after opening two locations in Massachusetts so far.
Optimize Mind Performance | $1.6M | HealthTech
Optimize Mind Performance, a company that assists individuals and sporting organizations in maximizing their potential through mental skills training, has raised $1.6M from EY Ventures Group, according to Crunchbase. Founded by Australian and finance vet Jack Preddey, OMP offers athletes and teams on-demand content from mental performance coaches and elite athletes along with deep analytics and a customizable and intuitive dashboard and aims to enable users with their peak mental performance.
Stockpress | $1.8M | Productivity
Stockpress, a file management platform for teams, agencies, and freelancers, has raised a $1.8M Seed round led by Argon Ventures with participation from York IE, Two Lanterns VC, and Stage 2 Capital, among others. Stockpress offers a platform for distributed teams to streamline file management and enhance collaboration with features like duplicate file handling, visual search, and advanced reporting, a valuable featureset for media teams in the field.
Certificate Hero | $1.9M | InsurTech
Developer of an insurance certificate management platform, Certificate Hero has raised $1.9M from 11 total investors towards a total offering amount of $2.5M. Founded by serial entrepreneur and former advisor to Boston Seed Capital, Michael Yanoff, Certificate Hero’s platform automates the process of issuing and managing Certificates of Insurance (COIs). They last raised a $4.5M Seed round in 2022 led by RRE Ventures.
Aquyre Biosciences | $3.2M debt | Medical Devices
Developer of an imaging system that enables two-minute lung biopsy adequacy assessments, Aquyre Biosciences, has raised $3.2M in debt from 2 total investors towards a total offering amount of $10M. Aquyre’s product, the CelTivity Biopsy System, presents a heatmap of biopsies by combining high resolution imaging of tissues with Dynamic Cell Imaging (DCI) to provide a biopsy adequacy assessment in operating rooms. They last raised $25M in combined Series A funding from SternAegis Ventures, Ceros Capital Markets, HealthTech Capital.
zeroRISC | $5M | Chip Infra
Delivering commercial OpenTitan-based cloud security for chips, zeroRISC has raised a $5M Seed round led by UK-based Cambridge Angels. Founded in April, ZeroRISC provides fabrication-to-field cloud security services that couple tightly with the collaborative open-source silicon root of trust chip design project, OpenTitan. The company consists of original members of the OpenTitan project team from Google, including founder and CEO Dominic Rizzo.
Form Health | $6.7M | Digital Health
Telemedicine platform for weight loss through individualized expert clinical care teams, Form Health raised $6.7M in “other” securities (options, warrants, etc.) from 3 total investors towards a total offering amount filed for $8M. Patients work 1-on-1 with a FORM care team of board-certified physicians to develop a personalized weight loss plan inclusive of medication, if appropriate. Form was founded in 2019 by Evan Richardson, also a founding member of Grand Rounds Health. They last raised a $12M Series A led by M13 with participation from NextView and SignalFire in 2021.
Good Nature Agro | $8.6M | AgTech
Good Nature Agro, a company that aims to bring Africa’s most rural small-scale farmers up to the middle class from poverty by supplying them with high-quality legume seed and commodities, has raised $8.6M from 4 total investors. Founded in 2014 and based primarily in Zambia, Good Nature’s process combines training farmers to produce the best seed and commodities, enabling access to financing loans, and ensuring inputs to an assured market for all of the produce. They last raised $2.1M Series A from Goodwell Investments.
Axial Therapeutics | $11M debt | Healthcare
Developer of a new class of biotherapeutics that targets the microbiome-gut-brain axis for the treatment of neurological disorders, Axial Therapeutics has raised $11M in the form of convertible debt from 35 investors towards a total offering amount of $24M. Axial leverages research from scientific co-founder, Dr. Sarkis Mazmanian at Caltech in developing a pipeline of Microbial Inspired Therapeutics treating autism, Parkinsons, and more recently, oncology. They last raised a $37.25M Series C round led by OneVentures and UTokyo Innovation Platform in 2021.
Jana Care | $13.1M | Healthcare
Designer and manufacturer of point-of-care and home blood testing technology for chronic disease management, Jana Care has raised $13.1M from 23 investors towards a total filing amount for $14.4M. Jana Care’s products are fingerstick blood tests for the screening and management of heart failure, chronic kidney disease and diabetes to start. Their analytics are delivered alongside lifestyle coaching, all delivered through a smartphone. Founded in 2011, the company recently announced a partnership with Roche, and last raised $575K in debt, and before that, a $13M Series A round led by Sasken Communications in 2019.
PhaseV | $15M | Healthcare IT
Developer of causal machine learning technology for optimizing clinical trial design and analysis, PhaseV has raised $15M in a round co-led by Viola Ventures and Exor Ventures. Based between Boston and Tel Aviv and founded by Israeli engineers, PhaseV utilizes AI to uncover hidden clinical data insights and improve clinical trial efficiency. They offer two key services: one for adaptive trial design and execution, and another for retrospective analysis to redefine trial success. PhaseV aims to revolutionize clinical trials for more precise and efficient treatment delivery.
Zordi | $20M | AgTech
Developer of autonomous greenhouses that use AI and robotics to optimize crop care, Zordi has launched from stealth mode, raising a $20M Seed round led by Khosla Ventures. Founded by MIT alumnus and ML and robotics expert Gilwoo Lee, Zordi’s second autonomous greenhouse is now operational in New Jersey with their flagship product of ultra-sweet strawberries. The AutoGrow system, supported by advanced robots, reduces labor costs by 80% and offers real-time data for precise crop management. More here.
Access Vascular | $22M | Medical Devices
Developer of a suite of medical devices for minimizing vascular access complications leveraging patented biomaterials, Access Vascular has raised $22M Series C round in a combination of equity and debt. Currently holding two FDA cleared devices, their HydroPICC and HydroMID, Access Vascular manufactures intravenous catheters from a hydrophilic material which retains significant amounts of water using patented MIMIX technology. They last raised a $19M Series B in 2021 from TVM Capital and others.
Stellaromics | $25M | Healthcare
Developer of biotech products and spatial technology for accelerating drug development, Stellaromics has raised a $25M Series A round from Plaisance Capital Management, among others. The company appointed former CEO of Cantata Bio, Todd Dickinson as President & CEO and former Principal at Plaisance, Ye Fu as CTO. Stellaromics' STARmap analyzes gene expression for biomedical research and is developing Plexa to help researchers create detailed cellular maps for better disease understanding.
Seurat | $99M | 3D Printing
Developer of 3D metal printing technology, Seurat has raised a $99M Series C round co-led by Nvidia and Capricorn, among plenty of others like Honda, Porsche, and GM’s venture funds. In tandem, they hinted at potentially going public (“12-18 months is the earliest we would consider that ... potentially more like 24 or 36” according to CEO. Area Printing by Seurat offers 3D metal printing designed for high-volume, decarbonized industrial production. They last raised a $62M Series B led by Xerox Ventures in January of 2022. Reuters has more here.
AirWorks | $ Unknown | Data Analysis
Airworks, a company developing AI-powered mapping solutions for geospatial data processing and analytics, has announced a strategic growth investment of undisclosed amount from PSG. AirWorks automates the manual process of geospatial data analysis from sources derived from aircraft, drones, and LiDAR sensors for multiple sectors.
Cogito | $ Unknown | Enterprise AI
Provider of real-time AI coaching and guidance for the enterprise contact centers, Cogito has announced a funding round of undisclosed amount from Goldman Sachs Asset Management, Safar Partners, and Lions Capital, among others. The new funding will reportedly be used to help advance features aimed at better supporting agents in the contact center and improving customer experiences.
Seahawk Media | $ Unknown | Media Tech
Seahawk Media, a WordPress services provider offering white-label WordPress services for small businesses, announced that WPBeginner Growth Fund has invested an undisclosed amount of strategic capital in the company.
Kovalus | Acquired by Sun Capital
Sun Capital acquired Kovalus, a manufacturer of liquid-solid separation technologies. Financials not disclosed.
Century Box | Majority Stake by CORE Industrial Partners
CORE Industrial Partners acquired a majority stake in Century Box, a provider of folding cartons for food and consumer products. Financials not disclosed.
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 (🆕).
Overview: Last week, the Fed decided not to raise interest rates, an explicit acknowledgment of tightening financial conditions by Fed chair Powell, informed by such number releases as those outlined below. University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment survey on Friday will provide additional indication about whether consumer spending will drive economic resilience in Q4.
🔜 Economy watch this week:
📢 Number releases to watch:
🗓 Today, we’ll get US Trade data, the S&P Global Investment Manager Index (IMI) and Global Sector PMI. Tomorrow, we’ll see September’s Wholesale Inventories. Thursday, we’ll get Jobless Claims. Friday, we’ll see University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment survey results.
What this means: The S&P Global Investment Manager Index (IMI), a survey of US investors, gives insights into their thoughts on the markets. Last month’s IMI indicated that investor’s near-term market expectations have become less pessimistic — today’s IMI release will indicate sector preferences among US money managers, which will measured against actual sector performance as measured by the Global Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI).
🌎 Global number releases: Today, we’ll see Canada’s Trade data and German industrial production. Tomorrow, we’ll get Eurozone retail sales and German inflation. Thursday, we’ll get China's inflation and trade data. Friday, we’ll get UK GDP data from Q3.
Translation: Last week, JP Morgan’s PMI data indicated that globally, factories have started Q4 2023 on a weak footing — recent signals of falling global factory employment add a new layer of concern to the economic outlook. And so, this week, we’ll be watching the global services PMI release and more detailed sector PMI data for deeper insights into conditions of individual markets. UK economic growth is indicated to have further weakened going into Q4, encouraging the Bank of England to hold higher interest rates for a second straight month. Consensus expectations for China’s inflation and trade data point to weaker trade performance in October and steady inflation.
🔙 Economy watch last two weeks:
🏛 On the hill: The U.S. Treasury's 10-year rate surpassed 5% for the first time in 15 years. In a worst-case scenario, national debt interest costs could become the second-largest federal spending category within three years, potentially reaching a record share of the economy.
💼 Jobs: In September, job openings increased by 56,000, creating 3.2 million more job openings than available workers. The US Chamber of Commerce discussed a chronic worker shortage for the foreseeable future, as the generations that followed the Baby Boomers are notably smaller. As Baby Boomers retire, the labor force shrinks.
🛍 Consumer activity: In September, retail sales increased by 0.7%, following a strong 0.8% rise in August, indicating continued consumer spending. On the other hand, credit card debt reached an all-time high of $1.29 trillion. However, when compared to disposable income, credit card debt remains below the 20-year average.
⚡️ Industrial Output: U.S. manufacturing had the most significant monthly decline in over a year. This week will hopefully provide some clarity with further data releases.
💰 Earnings snip-its: Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway reported its financial results on Saturday, revealing a 40% surge in operating earnings and cash — a strategic position amid a challenging investment landscape. Other notable earnings were Apple’s, which reported a downward trend in iPhone sales for the fourth straight quarter (reminder here that iPhone sales represent about 50% of Apple’s total sales). We’re not worried about their stock though, which is up 36% YoY.
🤫 Biden's Data Disclosure: The Biden Administration published a nearly 111-page executive order that, among other things, outlines an ask for tech companies to voluntarily submit their AI models and other disclosures.
📉 Fidelity’s tweak for Elon: Fidelity wrote down the value of its shares in Twitter/X by another 8% in September, according to a new disclosure.
🐝 Bumble CEO succession: Bumble CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd is stepping down and will be succeeded by Lidiane Jones, the current Slack chief executive.
🤴 Bain's Guidehouse coup: Bain Capital plans to acquire Guidehouse, a consulting firm specializing in advising government organizations and businesses, for $5.3B.
🏈 DraftKings' jackpot quarter: DraftKings’ revenue, which accounted for over 31% of online gambling revenue in the third quarter, jumped 57% YoY, outperforming expectations with Q3 2023 revenue of $790M, attributed to its expansion into new markets and higher customer engagement.
🗞 More Elon headlines: Elon Musk's xAI Corp. debuted its first AI model, challenging leading tech entities like OpenAI, Google, and Meta. What’s different? Grok uses up-to-the-minute data from Twitter, which he says offers a notable advantage to other AI models that rely on historical data.
🚊 Biden on the track: President Joe Biden said $16.4 billion for rail projects along Amtrak’s busy Northeast Corridor would help replace aging infrastructure in one of the nation’s most important economic regions.
🤑 Self-sustained venture leap: Sheryl Sandberg, former COO of Meta, has officially unveiled Sandberg Bernthal Venture Partners, a venture capital family office established with her husband.
🦄 The unicorn we’re not talking about: In under eight months, a Chinese startup 01.AI, an open-source AI model that outperforms Meta’s Llama 2 on certain metrics, led by computer scientist Kai-Fu Lee achieved unicorn status.
💲Can they get there? Andreessen Horowitz expects to target around $3.4 billion for its next core early-stage and seed-stage funds, representing a slight increase to its prior efforts.
🧑💼 Tech and Biz
Thursday, Nov 9th 11:30AM: Pitch2Match Climate hosted by MIT’s Martin Trust Center.
Tuesday/Wednesday, Nov 14th-15th 9-5PM: MIT Technology Review hosts their flagship event on emerging technology, EmTech 2023.
Wednesday, Nov 15th 5PM: The Founder Institute and WeWork host, Global Entrepreneurship Week.
Thursday, Nov 16th 5:30-8PM: Greentown Labs hosts, The Future of Offshore Wind: Innovation + Startup Showcase in partnership with Vineyard Wind and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center.
Saturday/Sunday, Nov 18th-19th 6PM: HBS’s Energy & Environment Club hosts their annual Climate Symposium 2023.
Thursday, Nov 9th 6-8PM: Park-9 Dog Bar is hosting an adoption event with Great Dog Rescue New England.
Findings: Things I’m Googling
🔬What are quasicrystals and what is their potential impact on semiconducting / superconducting properties?
What I found: This question was prompted by a new discovery at MIT. Quasicrystals are under-explored, yet behave differently than other crystals due to an orderly pentagonal pattern that never repeats itself exactly. They have poor heat conductivity, which makes them good insulators. Combining these with the science of twistronics creates a unique pattern called a moiré superlattice and make the materials exhibit superconductivity.
🎬 What are media execs saying about the future of legacy formats like print and broadcasting?
What I found: It seems like the conversation amongst publishing houses centers around the use of their content for AI training, and not the replacement of the content itself. For example, Penguin Random House, the country’s largest book publisher, said it considers the “unauthorized ingestion” of content to train A.I. models to be a copyright infringement. The Authors Guild recently organized a petition signed by thousands of writers demanding that companies seek their approval before using their work to train A.I. programs. Not too much available on the future of these companies in relation to AI additions to their current strategy.
🪐 What advantages does space offer certain clinical trials?
What I found: This one was cool, and there’s an active ISS study with Samford’s Stem Cell Institute in process. Apparently, "zero gravity" or "microgravity" in space affects certain aspects of cell behavior, such as their growth, gene activity, and how they respond to signals. When it comes to cancer cells, researchers have discovered that microgravity can accelerate their growth, change how they go through their life cycles, and make them more resistant to cell death. In the weightlessness of space, cancer stem cells exhibit accelerated growth, their size tripling three-fold in just 10 days.