Avathon’s Shoshana Vernick, RiverVest’s Nancy Hong and Consuelo Valverde’s SV Latam make new investments

From our Women's PE Briefs - week commencing August 9, 2021

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Terah Crews joins Sarah Horn and Nitzan Pelman’s ReUp Education as CEO

Terah Crews is joining ReUp Education as CEO after Avathon Capital’s Shoshana Vernick brings her firm into the Austin, Texas company which was co-founded by Sarah Horn and Nitzan Pelman and which is focused on helping colleges re-enroll students who have stopped attending. The amount invested by Avathon in ReUp was not disclosed. ReUp has previously raised capital from TDM Partners, Heritas Capital, Serious Change, Strada Education Network, Michelson Runway, Bisk Ventures and Impact Engine, whose CEO is Jessica Droste Yagan.

ReUp is seeking to solve a significant issue, given that over the past two decades, more than 36 million Americans have left college without a credential. This, in turn, causes colleges to lose billions of dollars in tuition revenue annually. ReUp utilizes data, technology and coaching to support “stopout” students in returning to school. Since 2015, the company has helped bring back more than 16,000 students.

Terah, who will start on Monday, takes over for Sarah, who is moving to the newly created role of chief impact officer. Terah, who herself is a stopout, returned to college as a working adult in her mid-20s and earned degrees from UNC-Chapel Hill, Brown and Harvard. She most recently was at Guild Education and also spent time at a consulting group and at Arizona State University.

In a statement, Shoshana said, “we believe deeply in the mission and see an incredible opportunity for ReUp and Avathon to radically change the way adult learners consider and gain access to educational options, support services, and career navigation pathways. The platform that ReUp has built is scalable and unique, and we’re looking forward to working closely with the incredible team to take the company to the next level of impact and growth.”

Shoshana is co-founder and managing director of Avathon Capital, which was previously Sterling Partners’ Education Opportunity Fund. She is on the boards of EdCast, SusieCakes, Shorelight and Academic Programs International, a provider of education abroad programs and services founded by Jennifer Attal Allen, Sharon Foerster, Julie Leitman and Brittany Norman.

RiverVest Venture Partners’ Nancy Hong backs Dr. Ellen Sheets-led SeQure Dx

RiverVest Venture PartnersNancy Hong backs a gene-editing diagnostics company whose CEO is Dr. Ellen Sheets. RiverVest and Mass General Brigham Ventures led SeQure Dx’s $17.5 million Series A round that also included Digitalis Ventures, Casdin Capital, KdT Ventures, Bold Capital Partners and Alexandria Venture Investments.

Based in Waltham, Mass., SeQure Dx will use the capital toward establishing a full-service laboratory providing off-target gene-editing analysis for use in drug development, clinical trials and ultimately patient evaluation prior to therapy. The company emerged from work done at the Mass General Hospital Department of Pathology.

In a statement, Nancy said RiverVest “is thrilled to participate in this transformative technology arena. SeQure Dx is uniquely positioned to aid gene-editing innovators in providing safe patient access to novel treatments.”

Nancy’s investments include Xilio Therapeutics, which is developing cancer therapies and whose CEO is René Russo, and Scout Bio, which is seeking to revolutionize pet medicine. She will speak at the upcoming Women’s Private Equity Summit.

Consuelo Valverde’s SV Latam Capital invests in Crystal Nyitray’s Encellin

SV Latam Capital, whose founder and managing partner is Consuelo Valverde, invests in a company co-founded by Crystal Nyitray that is developing regenerative materials using cell transplant therapy. SV Latam and Khosla Ventures co-led Encellin’s $5.9 million seed round, which also included participation from Sand Hill Angels and Y Combinator.

Based in San Francisco, Encellin is a personalized regenerative medicine company developing novel cell-based approaches to deliver sustained therapies with a single implant. The financing will be used to expand the team and prepare its soft cell encapsulation device for clinical trials in hypoglycemia and hypocalcemia.

In a statement, Crystal said, “this seed financing round led by leading investors, enables us to advance development of our Cell Encapsulation Device in a variety of different indications beginning with chronic endocrine disorders. Our team converges the advanced technologies in nano-technology and bioengineering to develop our proprietary Encellin platform which utilizes known biocompatible materials fabricated into nanoporous, soft pouches to support cell function. We look forward to advancing our pipeline focused on endocrine disorders to leverage the power of cells to deliver sustained therapies for patients with a single implant.”

SV Latam closed its second fund earlier this year at $22 million. It seeks to invest in entrepreneurs who are committed to solving massive challenges such as mitigating climate change, reducing world hunger, discovering new treatments to chronic and age-related diseases, boosting financial inclusion and strengthening SMBs in emerging markets.

DBC Creative’s Dana Cowin pours capital into Emily Elyse Miller’s OffLimits

DBC Creative’s Dana Cowin pours capital into a plant-based cereal start-up founded by Emily Elyse Miller that aims to make healthy breakfasts more fun. According to TechCrunch, OffLimits gained $2.3 million in funding from a group that also included Science, Inc., Crosslink, Canaan, Marc Lotenberg, Nick Tran and Moksha Fitzgibbons.

OffLimits, a New York-based cereal company, uses whole ingredients with flavors that are organic, vegan, gluten-free and lightly sweetened with organic cane sugar. In a statement to TechCrunch, Emily said, “unfortunately, ‘fun cereal’ is associated with being unhealthy, and I wanted people to have fun with their food again, but in a healthy way.” With this funding, the company plans to offer mini boxes, where the milk can be poured directly in, as well as optimize the supply chain for future growth.

Anu Duggal-led Female Founders Fund re-invests in Krista Berlincourt’s Kenshō Health 

Female Founders Fund, which is led by Anu Duggal, re-invests in a care navigation and provider discovery platform for holistic medicine co-founded by Krista Berlincourt. Kenshō Health received a $3.5 million seed investment from investors that in addition to Female Founder Fund included KB Partners, Company Ventures, Gaingels, Alex Bitoun and such prior investors as Crosscut, Alumni Ventures Group and Evolve Foundation.

Los Angeles-based Kenshō makes it possible for patients to find providers across holistic medicine, mental health and integrative therapies through its health care platform. In a statement, Krista said, “everything we do at Kenshō is with the aim to make health care more human. We believe that means bringing science-backed, evidence-based care to holistic medicine, which is proven to decrease payor costs by 10 percent while improving patient outcomes. To put it simply, holistic medicine is our best bet in making America healthy again.”

Deer & Co. agrees to acquire a portfolio company of Trucks Venture Capital’s Kathryn Schox 

Deer & Co. has agreed to acquire a company co-founded by Aubrey Donnellan and one that Trucks Venture Capital’s Kathryn Schox brought her firm into. Deer & Co., better known as John Deere, will pay $250 million for Bear Flag Robotics.

Based in Newark, Calif., Bear Flag makes autonomous tractors. Bear Flag, according to Crunchbase, raised $11.4 million. In addition to Trucks, other investors include True Ventures, Graphene Ventures, D20 Capital and Valley Oak Investments. Deer & Co. said the acquisition will enable for the acceleration of autonomous technology on the farm. Aubrey founded Bear Flag in 2017 with Igiano Cafiero, who is CEO.

Trucks, a transportation-focused venture firm, closed its second early-stage fund at $52 million earlier this year. Kathryn is one of three general partners at the firm. In addition to Bear Flag, she also led the firm into Wise Systems, Gatik and ChargerHelp!, which was co-founded by Kameale C. Terry and Evette Ellis to provide repair services to electric vehicle charging stations.

Raiven Capital’s Anna Shen and angel Joanne Bradford take part in Scopio’s fundraising round

Raiven Capital’s Anna Shen and angel investor Joanne Bradford draw up checks for a Canadian platform founded by Christina Hawatmeh that allows artists to sell their photography, art and illustrations online. Raiven led the investment round in Scopio, which also included participation from Lightspeed Venture Partners, DV Collective, Gaingels and Andrew Ogawa. The amount invested was not disclosed.

Scopio’s goal is to support rising artists and photographers across the world so they can pursue capturing and sharing authentic moments and get paid by creatives. In a statement, Christina said, “Scopio is thrilled to have Raiven as a strategic investor. We share a common DNA and philosophy that innovation is global. Raiven has instantly brought significant value, expertise, and a network of relationships.”

Raiven Capital is a Canadian cross-border early-stage venture capital firm. 

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