Abbie Celniker, Theresa Sexton, Ellen Hukkelhoven, Frederique Dame, Julie Lein and Leslie Feinzaig are among those making investments this week
From our Women's PE Briefs - week commencing June 28, 2021
A portfolio company of Chicago Pacific Founders’ Krista Hatcher has been acquired
SAGE Veterinary Centers, which is a portfolio company of Chicago Pacific Founders’ Krista Hatcher and whose CEO is Gina Del Vecchio, has been acquired. Terms of SAGE’s purchase by National Veterinary Associates were not disclosed, but PE Hub reported that SAGE had a valuation of at least $1.25 billion. Chicago Pacific and SAGE’s management team are rolling a portfolio of their investment proceeds into National Veterinary Associates, which operates a network of 1,150 pet hospitals.
SAGE, an emergency and specialty group, operates 16 practices in Alaska, California, Texas and Washington. Chicago Pacific invested in SAGE in 2018. During the past three years, SAGE made several acquisitions, including Veterinary Vision, a veterinary ophthalmology practice that was led by Dr. Cynthia Cook.
Krista, a partner, joined CPF in 2016 and was on SAGE’s board. She is also on the boards of CPF Senior Living Communities, Impact Advisors and Pinnacle Dermatology, which was co-founded by Dr. Paula Lapinski. CPF has approximately $1 billion in assets under management.
Diane Mathis’ Abata Therapeutics raises $95M and Third Rock Ventures’ Abbie Celniker is named executive chairman
Abbie Celniker, a partner with Third Rock Ventures, is executive chairman of a company launched by the venture firm whose founders include Diane Mathis and which will be led by Samantha Singer. Third Rock led Abata Therapeutics’ $95 million Series A round, which also included Lightspeed Venture Partners, Invus, Samsara BioCapital, JDRF T1D Fund and ElevateBio. Third Rock and ElevateBio originally seeded the Boston-based company.
Abata is focused on translating the biology of regulatory T cells into transformational medicines for patients living with progressive multiple sclerosis and other severe autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Diane is the Morton Grove-Rasmussen Professor of Immunohematology at Harvard Medical School.
In a statement, Abbie said, Abata “is the culmination of a three-plus-year effort by the company’s scientific founders and the team at Third Rock Ventures to interrogate the potential for a Treg cell therapy. Identifying our first programs meant fully understanding where disease pathology and Treg biology intersect to make the biggest impact for patients, and the first clear answer is progressive MS. We look forward to the future as the company moves quickly to advance its MS program into the clinic and expand upon the potential of Treg biology in inclusion body myositis, Type 1 Diabetes and beyond.”
Abbie is also serving as interim CEO of another Third Rock-backed company, Flare Therapeutics, which recently raised $82 million in Series A financing.
Claritas Health Ventures’ Theresa Sexton, Perceptive Advisors’ Ellen Hukkelhoven and GV’s Frederique Dame are among those backing Kindbody
Claritas Health Ventures’ Theresa Sexton joins returning investors Perceptive Advisors’ Ellen Hukkelhoven and GV’s Frederique Dame in backing Kindbody, the fertility and family-building company co-founded and led by Gina Bartasi. Claritas led the New York company’s $62 million Series C round, which also included Bramalea Partners, Monashee Investment Management, Eldridge and such existing investors as Perceptive, GV, RRE Ventures and Rock Springs Capital. Kindbody now has raised $122 million and is valued at $612 million. Its past investors also include TMV, which was founded by and is led by Soraya Darabi and Marina Hadjipateras, and Green D Ventures, whose managing partner is Laura Bordewieck Rippy.
Kindbody offers end-to-end fertility and family-building services, serving as both a provider and a network solution, at more than 300 locations across the country. The company’s offerings cover fertility treatments, gynecology and LGBTQ+ services, as well as mental health counseling and wellness coaching, to provide one solution from preconception through postpartum. Kindbody’s approach features direct purchasing and inclusive bundled rates, which allows the company to offer pricing that it says is up to 30 percent less than other fertility platforms. The new funding will help accelerate the company’s growth to meet increasing demand from enterprise employers, enhance its proprietary technology and expand access to its partner, signature and mobile clinics.
Gina, who serves as CEO, previously founded Progyny, Inc., another fertility-focused company that is now publicly traded. She founded Kindbody in 2018 with Joanne Schneider DeMeireles, who left the company last year to become chief experience officer at Oula. The company’s team also includes Annbeth Eschbach, who is president; Dr. Lynn Westphal, who is chief medical officer; and Dr. Fahimeh Sasan, who is the company’s founding physician.
In a statement, Theresa said that “Kindbody’s revolutionary, high-demand model will drive meaningful change to the way fertility care is delivered in the US and abroad.” In conjunction with the financing, Theresa joined Kindbody’s board.
Earlier this year, Theresa led Claritas into emocha Health, which is focused on improving medication adherence amongst patients with chronic and infectious diseases. She joined emocha’s board and is also on the boards of Apcela, Forbes Travel, Genomind, nSight for Travel, Oasis Holdings and TwelveStone Health Partners. Theresa co-founded and is managing partner of Claritas Health Ventures, the dedicated health care investing arm of Claritas Capital.
Rethink Impact’s Jenny Abramson provides capital to Lindsay Jurist-Rosner’s Wellthy
Rethink Impact’s Jenny Abramson provides capital to a digital care concierge platform whose founder and CEO is Lindsay Jurist-Rosner and whose prior backers include Springbank Collective, which was founded by Courtney Leimkuhler. Rethink Impact led Wellthy’s $35 million Series B round, which also included strategic partners and existing investors Hearst Ventures, Polaris Partners and Eldridge.
Based in New York, Wellthy partners with employers to find affordable, high-quality care for employees and their families. The company is currently serving more than 75 enterprise clients, with more than 700,000 people receiving access to its services. The new capital will fund Wellthy’s international expansion, including recent launches in Canada and the United Kingdom.
In a statement, Jenny said that “Wellthy is fulfilling a critical aspect of caregiving, helping thousands of employees stay in the workforce, while saving time and money for families. We believe no one is better positioned to lead the care innovation movement than Lindsay and her team.”
Rethink Impact, which Jenny leads with Heidi Patel, closed its second fund last year at $182 million. Rethink Impact’s investments include CareAcademy, a provider of specialized online training for senior home care professionals which was co-founded by Helen Adeosun and Dr. Madhuri Reddy; Guild Education, the education benefits company co-founded by Rachel Carlson and Brittany Stich; Oncue, a booking service for the moving industry co-founded and led by Kate DeWald; Savonix, a cognitive health company founded by Mylea Charvat; FutureFuel.io, which was founded by Laurel Taylor and is striving make student debt benefits a standard offering in employer-sponsored benefit plans; Ellevest, an investment platform designed for women founded by Sallie Krawcheck; KETOS, a water intelligence company by Meena Sankaran; and Sempre Health, focused on bringing behavior-based, dynamic pricing to health care whose founder is Anurati Mathur. Jenny is a past speaker at the Women’s Alternative Investment Summit.
Elizabeth Weil’s Scribble Ventures takes part in Kaitlyn Knopp’s Pequity’s $19M Series A round
Scribble Ventures, which Elizabeth Weil formed with her husband, Kevin Weil, and Annelies Gamble, invests in Pequity, which was co-founded by Kaitlyn Knopp and focuses on helping companies create fair and competitive compensation programs. Scribble took part in the San Francisco company’s $19 million Series A round, which also included Norwest Venture Partners, First Round Capital and Designer Fund.
Pequity automates HR workflows from offering letters to hirings and promotions. The platform helps HR and compensation leaders centralize their comp workflows, avoid comp problems before they happen, and create competitive compensation programs based on real-world data on industry ranges, market trends and internal peer compensation. Pequity will use the funding to continue investing in product development and expand its hiring.
Scribble closed its debut fund earlier this year at $42 million. Its investments include Whatnot; Certn; BeyondHQ; Nearby, which was founded by April Underwood; and Spokn, a podcasting platform for the enterprise co-founded by Mariel Davis.
Genevieve Gilbreath’s Springdale Ventures takes part in Tiny Organics’ $11M Series A round
Springdale Ventures, which was co-founded by Genevieve Gilbreath, spoons capital into a health-focused baby food company co-founded by Betsy Fore and Sofia Laurell to beat sugar addictions. Tiny Organics received $11 million in Series A funding led by Springdale, according to Food Navigator.
Based in New York, Tiny Organics was built with the mission of positively impacting a generation by shifting away from sugary purees to a whole food, savory-forward, nutrient dense foundation with meals that are both convenient and comprehensive for the modern parent. The funding will help the company expand the reach of its approach to introduce children to their first 100 flavors through frozen meals that can be customized to meet their nutritional needs. Part of the funding will also be used to focus on vegan ingredients and reduce its use of plastic with new containers.
The Urban Innovation Funds’ Julie Lein and Leslie Feinzaig’s Female Founders Alliance lead PairTree’s $2.25M round
The Urban Innovation Funds’ Julie Lein and Female Founders Alliance, which is founded by Leslie Feinzaig, seed an adoption platform co-founded by Erin Quick. Urban Innovation Fund led PairTree’s $2.25 million round, which also included Founder Collective and Techstars.
The Seattle-based adoption platform, PairTree, uses technology and data to increase and accelerate connections between biological moms and adoptive families, modernizing adoption through its use of technology to enable a more ethical, affordable and equitable adoption process. The funding will help further expand the company’s platform to make the adoption journey more efficient, as well as build an app and initiate partnerships with community health care organizations, reproductive clinics and non-governmental organizations who are seeking modern technology.
In a statement, Erin said, “we’re grateful to our expert and diverse group of investors who share our vision that adoption should be a viable path to parenting for more people. Like us, our investors believe in the importance of supporting biological and adopting families along with the adoptees, because adoption is not a single transaction, but a journey they’re taking over the course of a lifetime.”
Julie, also in a statement, said, “The Urban Innovation Fund backs start-ups that have the potential to positively shape the lives of millions of people. By modernizing the adoption process, PairTree is uniquely positioned to do this.”
The Urban Innovation Fund, which Julie leads with Clara Brenner, recently saw portfolio company Electriphi acquired by Ford Motor Co. and codeSpark acquired by BEGiN. The Urban Innovation Fund provides early-stage capital and regulatory support for start-ups that have the potential to transform the lives of those living in cities. The firm grew out of Julia and Clara’s work in starting Tumml, a nonprofit start-up accelerator that also works with companies tackling urban challenges. Its investments include Jeeves, an all-in-one expense management platform for global start-ups; Codi, which was co-founded and led by Christelle Rohaut and offers daytime workspaces in private homes; Grain, which is focused on helping individuals build and repair their credit; Ride Report, which is trying to make it easier for providers of bikes, scooters and small electric vehicles to operate; Ethic, an asset management platform providing sustainable solutions for wealth advisors and institutional investors; Milk Stork, a breast milk shipping company whose co-founder and CEO is Kate Torgersen; Voatz, which is seeking to improve the voting process; and Valor Water Analytics, whose founder is Christine Boyle. Female Founders Alliance recently backed Datacy, which was co-founded by Paroma Indilo and gives individuals financial ownership over their data.
iAngels’ Mor Assia invests in Gali Yarom’s Better Juice
iAngels’ Mor Assia invests in an Israeli company reducing all sugars from natural juices that co-founded by Gali Yarom. Better Juice raised $8 million in a seed round led by iAngels with participation from Maverick Ventures; The Food Tech Lab; The Kitchen – FoodTech Hub as part of the Strauss Group and IIA; NEOME; Schestowitz Group; and Semillero.
Better Juice’s enzymatic technology uses all-natural ingredients to convert fructose, glucose and sucrose into prebiotic dietary fibers and other non-digestible molecules. Reducing up to 80 percent of all sugars, Better Juice’s non-GMO technology is designed to target orange juice’s specific sugar composition to naturally create a low-calorie, reduced-sugar product with a delicate sweetness. Better Juice will use the investment to build its first full-scale manufacturing plant in Israel to serve the growing demand.
In a statement, Mor said, “Better Juice’s know-how and technology is perfectly in-line with our portfolio and vision of future, advanced impact technologies. The company has created exceptional partnerships with leading beverage companies and is paving the way to better-for-you products.” Gali added in a statement, “we are very proud of this achievement, which reflects the investors’ trust in our technology.”
Polaris Partners’ Amy Schulman and Quark Venture’s Zafrira Avnur lead their firms back into Lyndra Therapeutics
Polaris Partners’ Amy Schulman and Quark Venture’s Zafrira Avnur lead their firms back into Lyndra Therapeutics, which was co-founded by Amy and whose CEO is Patricia Hurter. Polaris and Quark took part in the company’s $60.5 million Series C round along with AIG Investments, Yipinhong Pharmaceutical, Ltd., Limitless Ventures and The Catalytic Impact Foundation with participation from other existing investors such as Invus, Mass General Brigham Ventures, HOPU Investments and Gilead Sciences, Inc.
Based in Watertown, Mass., Lyndra is seeking to transform daily pills into weekly or monthly oral treatment options. The new capital will advance its lead product candidate into pivotal trials. Lyndra has developed a long-acting, sustained release, therapeutic oral delivery platform. The system enables linear drug release of small molecules and peptides for seven days or more from each orally administered capital. This, in turn, should reduce the number of people who do not adhere to their prescribed medications as well as the number of avoidable hospitalizations. It also plans to bring other drug candidates, including its own therapies and drugs commercialized with partners, through Phase I, II and III clinical trials.
Patricia replaced Amy as CEO in 2019, with Amy becoming the company’s executive chair. Amy, a partner with Polaris, co-founded the company with MIT Professor Robert Langer. Patricia was formerly senior vice president of pharmaceutical and preclinical sciences at Vertex Pharmaceuticals. Lyndra’s board also includes Zafrira and Catherine B. Reynolds, CEO and chair of the Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation.
Linnea Roberts’ GingerBread Capital takes part in Harness Wealth’s $15M Series A round
Linnea Roberts’ GingerBread Capital invests in a company co-founded by Katie Prentke English that helps individuals with complex financial situations. GingerBread took part in Harness Wealth’s $15 million Series A round, according to TechCrunch. Others participating in the round include Jackson Square Ventures, Bain Capital, Torch Capital, Activant Capital, FJ Labs, I2BF Global Ventures, Firstminute Capital, Liquid 2 Ventures, AlleyCorp and Salesforce Founder Marc Benioff.
Based in New York, Harness seeks to provide clients with services similar to those offered by a family office. This includes pairing users with independent registered investment advisors. Katie founded the company with David Snider. She previously spent time with American Express and Nutmeg, which was just acquired by JPMorgan Chase.
GingerBread’s 2021 investments include Toucan, whose co-founder and CEO is Taylor Nieman and which helps people learn new languages; Pair Eyewear, a direct-to-consumer, customizable eyewear brand co-founded and co-led by Sophia Edelstein; Air Protein, whose co-founder and co-CEO is Lisa Dyson and which is out to change the future of food; and WaitWhat, whose co-founder and CEO is June Cohen and which has created a portfolio of premium content and IP across podcasts and other forms of digital media.