Backbone Angels, Roberts’ GingerBread, Hartnett-led Human Ventures, Versant’s Ozawa and Westlake Village’s Seidenberg involved in deals this week
From our Women's PE Briefs - week commencing May 3, 2021
Roberts’ GingerBread Capital and Hartnett-led Human Ventures invest in Toucan
Linnea Roberts’ GingerBread Capital and Human Ventures, which is led by Heather Hartnett, invest in a company co-founded and led by Taylor Nieman that helps people learn new languages – a company that has previously received backing from GSV Ventures, which is led by Deborah Quazzo; Amplifyher Ventures, which is led by Meghan Cross and Tricia Black; and VitalizeVC, which was founded by Gale Wilkinson. Toucan raised $4.5 million in seed funding from a group which, in addition to GingerBread and Human, included LightShed Ventures, Next Play Ventures, Concrete Rose Capital, Form Capital, Goodwater Capital, Hampton VC, Spacecadet Ventures, GTMFund, Baron Davis Enterprises and existing investors GSV, Amplifyher and Vitalize.
Based in Santa Monica, Calif., Toucan has created a Chrome extension that is able to translate select words on websites into the language that a person is trying to learn. It currently supports seven languages: Spanish, Korean, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Japanese.
Human and Amplifyher recently took part in seeding Realworld, which was founded by Genevieve Ryan Bellaire to simplify adulthood.
GingerBread’s investments in 2021 also included Pair Eyewear, a direct-to-consumer, customizable eyewear brand co-founded and co-led by Sophia Edelstein, and Air Protein, whose co-founder and co-CEO is Lisa Dyson and which is out to change the future of food.
Nadivi leads Triventures into Grin’s $10M round
Triventures’ General Partner Netalie Nadivi directs capital straight into a digital orthodontic platform co-founded by Pamela Oren-Artzi. Triventures led Grin’s $10 million round that also included Procter & Gamble Oral Care and SpringRock Ventures.
Based in New York, Grin has developed a digital platform that provides orthodontic solutions for all types of teeth straightening needs. The company’s technology enables patients to access professional care from the convenience of their smart device. Doctors can remotely monitor patients via a virtual check-in, thus reducing chair time, increasing patient volume and ensuring safety. Grin has been deployed at hundreds of orthodontic practices. Pamela founded Grin with Adam Schulhof and Alon Lipnik.
In a statement, Netalie said Grin “has the expertise, understanding, and talent to fundamentally reimagine how dentistry should be practiced. With this oversubscribed financing, the company has the capital to scale its vision and accelerate traction.”
Earlier this year, Netalie led Triventures into PayGround, which is simplifying the way patients pay their health care bills. Netalie is on the boards of portfolio companies Colospan, Day Zero Diagnostics, Genoox, HealthReveal, Lynx.MD and TailorMed. She joined Triventures after holding various roles at Philips, including director of business development and M&A.
Triventures is an early-stage venture capital firm that focuses on data-driven health care solutions and opportunities that land on the intersection of health with other verticals. Its strategic investors include Medtronic, Philips, Boston Scientific, Abiomed, Intermountain Healthcare, Cardinal Health, Johnson and Johnson, Samsung and Nikon.
New Wave’s d’Iribarne, 2050’s Ekeland and La Famiglia VC lead Sweep’s $5M round
A platform co-founded and led by Rachel Delacour that allows companies to democratize carbon reduction by mobilizing their employees and external partners lands capital from New Wave’s Pia d’Iribarne, 2050’s Marie Ekeland and La Famiglia VC, which is led by Jeannette zu Fürstenberg and Judith Dada. The three firms led Sweep’s $5 million round.
Based in Paris, Sweep enables companies for the first time to manage and reduce carbon emissions by uniting employees and external partners at every level via an easy-to-use platform. The technology allows the tracking of thousands of employees, suppliers and distributors located anywhere in the world. Rachel founded Sweep with Nicolas Raspal. The two previously founded BIME Analytics, a business intelligence software company that was acquired Zendesk.
In a statement, Pia said that New Wave invested in Sweep “because of their world-class expertise in sustainability and their success in developing state-of-the-art, end-to-end SaaS platforms. It’s the right team and the right product at the right time.”
Pia formed New Wave last year with Xavier Niel. The European-focused venture firm raised a $56 million debut fund. Pia formerly was a partner at Stride.VC and an investor with Accel.
Marie also formed 2050 last year. The French venture firm is focused on building a better world. Marie previously was with venture firms Daphni and Elaia.
La Famiglia, earlier this year, backed y42, a no-code business intelligence platform for loading, cleaning, connecting, visualizing and sharing data. The firm’s investments also include Deel, a payroll and compliance platform for international teams co-founded by Shuo Wang.
Ryoo and Henderson seed Wendell Sherrill and Hotz’s Lobus
Angel investors Suzy Ryoo and Rebecca Henderson seed a company co-founded by Sarah Wendell Sherrill and Lori Hotz that turns artists into owners. According to TechCrunch, New York City-based Lobus raised $6 million from Upside Capital, 8VC, Franklin Templeton, Dream Machine, Weekend Fund and Boost VC. Along with Suzy and Rebecca, other angels participating in the round include Rob Hayes, Troy Carter, Cal Henderson, Henry Ward and Lex Sokolin.
Sarah created Lobus to allow art owners to maintain partial ownership of the works they sell to benefit from secondary transactions down the line. While physical art sellers have grown accustomed to selling 100 percent of their work while seeing that value accrue over time as it trades hands, Sarah’s goal is for artists to maintain fractional ownership throughout those sales, ensuring that they earn a commission on sales down the road. The company currently has around 45,000 art objects in its database, encompassing about $5.4 billion in asset value across physical and digital objects.
Versant Ventures’ Ozawa and Westlake Village BioPartners’ Seidenberg invest in Capsida’s $50M Series A round
Versant Ventures’ Clare Ozawa and Westlake Village BioPartners’ Dr. Beth Seidenberg provide capital to launch a gene therapy company that originated from research done in the laboratory of Viviana Gradinaru. Versant and Westlake provided $50 million in Series A funding to Capsida Biotherapeutics, Inc.
Based in Thousand Oaks, Calif., Capsida is utilizing an adeno-associated virus engineering and cargo development platform to develop tissue-targeted gene therapies for multiple types of disease. In addition to the $50 million, Capsida also struck a collaboration and option agreement with AbbVie that provides $90 million in up front and equity investment capital in addition to potential future option, development, and commercial milestone payments. The collaboration is aimed at developing best-in-class, targeted gene therapies for three programs in serious neurodegenerative diseases.
Viviana is a professor of neuroscience and biological engineering, an investigator at the Heritage Medical Research Institute and the director of the Center for Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience at the Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute for Neuroscience at Caltech.
The Capsida platform uses machine learning, structural biology, non-human primate models and human tissue models to screen billions of engineered capsids for the ability to target desired tissue types precisely. The company's engineered capsids have demonstrated markedly enhanced tissue tropism for neurons versus astrocytes, glia and other CNS cell types, thus demonstrating potential to unlock treatments for disorders requiring neuronal transduction that exceeds the performance of first-generation AAV9-based therapies.
In a statement, Clare said Capsida “is taking a novel approach to developing genetic medicines.” Beth, also in a statement, said Capsida “is led by an outstanding team of executives and we are looking forward to growing the team to support our internal pipeline and the AbbVie collaboration.”
Both Clare, a managing director with Versant, and Beth, founding managing director at Westlake, are on Capsida’s board. Clare is also on the boards of 858 Therapeutics, Pipeline Therapeutics and Oyster Point Pharmaceuticals, which went public in 2019. Versant earlier this year closed three funds, totaling $950 million.
Beth currently has two companies in registration to go public: Vera Therapeutics and Sagimet Biosciences. She backed both while at Kleiner Perkins. Westlake’s investments include Neuron23, Inc., whose chairman and CEO is Nancy Stagliano; Kyverna Therapeutics; Arsenal Biosciences; and Tmunity Therapeutics, Inc., which was co-founded by Anne Chew and is seeking to transform cancer treatment.
Jackson leads Northpond Ventures into Outcomes4Me’s $12M Series A round
Northpond Ventures’ Andrea Jackson backs Outcomes4Me, Inc., which Maya Said founded to help people more easily navigate cancer treatment, telling Women’s PE Briefs that Northpond was drawn to the Cambridge, Mass. company’s “differentiated approach to empowering patients.” Northpond led Outcomes4Me’s $12 million Series A round, which also included existing investors Asset Management Ventures, Sierra Ventures and Merstal, Ltd. The new round comes six months after Outcomes4Me raised $4.7 million.
Based in Cambridge, Mass., Outcomes4Me has developed a free mobile app and platform that helps guide cancer patients through treatment, irrespective of their geographic location or health care provider. The app has been used by more than 10,000 current breast cancer patients over the past year and provides them with options for approved treatments and clinical trials. The new funding will be used to expand the platform in order to address a variety of cancers and reach more patients in Europe.
Maya, who is president and CEO, founded the company with Dr. Osama Rahma, a cancer immunotherapy expert at Dana Farber Cancer Institute and assistant professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Maya, a pharmaceutical industry veteran, was formerly senior vice president and global head of market access and science policy at Novartis.
Andrea said Northpond wants “to see patients having more advocacy and participation in their care journey – Outcomes4Me enables that.” She also said that Northpond was impressed by Outcomes4Me’s team. “How they’re building the company uniquely positions Outcomes4Me to understand and address needs across the care continuum.”
In conjunction with the financing, Andrea joined Outcomes4Me’s board. Andrea in 2021 has also led Northpond into two other companies focused on improving cancer care: Syapse, Inc., a precision medicine company which utilizes real-world data and evidence to improve outcomes in treating people with cancer, and VieCure, Inc., an oncology clinical informatics company. Andrea said the three firms’ “work in convergent technologies is focused on transforming care for patients. We are passionate about increasing the diversity of data and proliferating precision medicine beyond academic medical centers to where most people are receiving care” and that “one of the biggest ways to impact that transformation is through cancer care.”
Andrea is on the boards of both Syapse and VieCure as well as Octave Bioscience, Refeyn, Vizgen, Current Health, NanoView Biosciences and GALT. Andrea, who joined Northpond in 2020, was promoted earlier this year to director. She previously was the commercial lead at Farcast Biosciences, an oncology clinical diagnostic company.
Rallyday Partners’ Phillips backs Jordan’s Pyx Health
Rallyday Partners’ Nancy Phillips backs a company founded by Cindy Jordan that is working to combat the loneliness epidemic. The amount invested by Rallyday in Pyx Health was not disclosed.
Cindy launched Tucson, Ariz.-based Pyx Health as a tech-enabled services company providing health plans and their members a solution addressing the nation's critical loneliness epidemic. The platform’s online bot technology uses evidence-based feedback and pathways to provide emotional support combined with human intervention that is tailored to individuals’ personal needs. The funding will enable Pyx Health to enhance and scale its service offerings, further help people affected by social isolation in conjunction with loneliness, recruit additional talent and accelerate technology development.
In a statement, Nancy said that “the vision of Pyx Health fits perfectly with our mission. The company embodies our goal of increasing human potential, enhancing quality of life and catalyzing innovation to solve systemic challenges.”
Nancy co-founded Denver-based Rallyday, which last year closed its debut fund at $153 million. It seeks to invest $5 million to $50 million in lower midmarket North American companies providing education, health care and IT services.
Bakker leads Longitude Capital into Ceribell’s $53M Series C round
Longitude Capital’s Juliet Bakker steps up to support Jane Chao’s effort to improve the diagnosis and treatment of patients at risk for seizures. Ceribell, Inc., which Jane co-founded and leads, raised $53 million in a Series C round led by Longitude and returning investor The Rise Fund. The round also featured new investors RA Capital Management, Redmile Group and Red Tree Venture Capital as well as unnamed existing investors. Ceribell last raised funding in the fall of 2018 when it closed a $35 million Series B round from a group which, in addition to The Rise Fund, included Optimas Capital Partners Fund, UCB and LivaNova.
Based in Mountain View, Calif., Ceribell has developed an EEG system, which is designed to address the need for faster diagnosis of patients with suspicion of seizures. EEG, which stands for electroencephalogram, is the measurement of the electrical activity of the brain. Current EEG systems can take hours to days, forcing clinicians to treat patients with a lack of information which can lead to both overtreatment and undertreatment. Ceribell’s system, consisting of a disposable headband and a mobile recorder that acquires and transmits data to a cloud portal, enables specialists to review the patient’s EEG from anywhere. The company will use the fresh capital to expand its commercial footprint in emergency departments and intensive care units.
In a statement, Juliet said, Ceribell “has demonstrated the strong value of its groundbreaking point of care EEG technology and continues to build on its success among health care providers. This is a profound, game-changing opportunity to significantly improve patient care and save lives.”
Juliet in 2020 backed Eargo and then months later saw the developer of hearing aids go public. She also is on the boards of Nalu Medical, Inc., RxSight, Inc. and DyaMX.
Longitude, a health care venture firm, closed its fourth and largest ever fund at $585 million in 2020.
GGC invests in three MIT alum, female-led companies
Good Growth Capital, whose team includes managing partners Maureen Stancik Boyce, Amy Salzhauer and Carolyne LaSala, invests in three companies led by women, all of whom are MIT alumnae.
GGC co-led Blue Ocean Gear’s financing round with the Walton Family Foundation. The company’s CEO is Kortney Opshaug. Blue Ocean Gear sells intelligent, connected buoys for commercial fishing fleets to provide real-time gear tracking on the open ocean. The smart buoys are designed to prevent gear loss and ghost fishing, plus improve efficiency, and provide real-time ocean data in even the harshest marine environments.
GGC also took part in Impact Biosystems’ $4.5 million seed round along with Will Ventures and NextView Ventures. The Boston company’s CEO is Bridget Hunter-Jones. She co-founded the company with Ian Hunter, Sonny Vu and Craig Cheney. Impact has developed a personalized at-home device and app designed for workout recovery, pain reduction, injury prevention and rehabilitation, aiming to be the Peloton for sports recovery and physical therapy.
GGC also invested alongside TIA Ventures in Fermata Discovery, whose CEO is Amanda von Goetz. Terms were not disclosed of that financing. Fermata has developed a software tool for attorneys, private investigators and others to help them piece together data in order to help solve active criminal investigations and supply supporting evidence.
This year, GGC also backed Databento, led by CEO Christina Qi which provides parsed data on demand. Christina is also an MIT alumnae.
Good Growth has offices in Boston and Charleston, S.C. The firm has two fund families, the General Fund for Seed and Series A and the Infinite Corridor Fund. Both fund families focus on backing MIT-related and science-based companies.
Maureen and Amy have worked together for 20 years having previously co-founded Ignition Ventures, a venture creation firm focused on technology commercialization. Maureen served as COO while Amy served as CEO. Carolyne previously launched and headed Apple, Inc.’s App Store and led iTunes Europe into 17 countries. The firm’s team also includes two other managing partners, John Osborne and David Mendez.
Backbone Angels does its first deal, backs Heirlume
Backbone Angels, which was formed by 10 female executives at Shopify, does its first deal in a round that also includes Jaclyn Johnson, backing a company whose founders include Julie MacDonell and Sarah Ruest. Heirlume closed a $1.7 million seed round with participation from Backbone, Future Capital, Angels of Many, MaRS IAF and angel investors, including Daniel Eberhard, Daniel Debow, Bertrand Cesvet and Jaclyn, who is founder of Create and Cultivate.
Heirlume is the first investment for Backbone, which was formed to invest in women and non-binary founders with a focus on black, indigenous and women of color-led companies. Backbone is a collective of active angel investors made up of 10 founding partners with diverse technical and operational backgrounds who met while building Shopify with a common mission to support entrepreneurs.
In a statement, Erin Zipes, a Backbone founding partner and Shopify VP assistant general counsel, said, “for Backbone to achieve its mission of elevating the economic position of women and non-binary founders, one of the things we're looking for are scalable companies poised for very high growth. Heirlume is exactly the type of company we want to be involved with.”
Julie and Sarah co-founded Heirlume with Dave MacDonell. The Toronto company aspires to be the largest Canadian tech company with a majority female-identifying tech team. As an AI-powered self-serve online trademark search and registration platform, Heirlume ensures thoroughly searched trademarks and compliant trademark applications. The investment will fund Heirlume’s launch into the U.S. market and the implementation of key strategic partnerships.
Hughes Johnson and Jin participate in Gatheround’s $3.5M seed round
Stripe COO Claire Hughes Johnson and Atelier Ventures investor Li Jin back a company co-founded by Lisa Conn to bring remote workers together. According to TechCrunch, Claire and Li participated in Gatheround’s $3.5 million seed round, which was co-led by venture firms Homebrew and Bloomberg.
Gatheround, a Los Angeles startup, aims to bring people together online through real-time events such as chats, videos and one-on-one and group conversations. The company also provides templates to facilitate cultural rituals and learning and development activities, such as all-hands meetings and workshops on diversity, equity and inclusion.
Drexler guides Astia Angels into Bone Health’s $2.5M round
Karen Drexler, a founding member of Astia Angels, guides the organization into Bone Health Technologies, which recently named Laura Yecies CEO, in a round that also included the women-led Portfolia FemTech Fund and Good Growth Capital, whose team includes managing partners Maureen Stancik Boyce, Amy Salzhauer and Carolyne LaSala. Good Growth led Bone Health’s $2.5 million round which, in addition to Astia and Portfolia’s Femtech Fund, also included IT-Farm, Golden Seeds, Band of Angels and Berkeley Angel Network. Good Growth and the FemTech Fund first came into the round early last year – an event that we wrote about in Women’s PE Briefs.
Bone Health is utilizing NASA research to prevent osteoporosis. Based in San Francisco, Bone Health has developed a wearable medical device that is tackling low bone mass. There are some 40 million Americans who have low bone density. The company’s product, OsteoBoost, has received Breakthrough Device Designation from the FDA. Laura was tapped to lead the company last month after serving as a board member. Her background also includes previously serving as CEO at SyncThink, Catch and SugarSync.
Arborview’s Farley and Cultivian Sandbox’s Donohue-Hansen take part in Copper Cow Coffee’s $8.5M Series A round
Arborview Capital’s Carolyn Farley and Cultivian Sandbox Ventures’ Amanda Donohue-Hansen take part in funding a Vietnamese coffee company founded by Debbie Wei Mullin. Copper Cow Coffee closed its $8.5 million Series A financing round, co-led by Cultivian and Arborview with participation from Siddhi Capital, Silverton Partners, Social Starts, Montage Ventures, CRCM Ventures and Stormbreaker Ventures.
Copper Cow will use these funds to expand distribution and product innovation. Debbie is a Vietnamese American who blended her love for Vietnamese coffee and culture with her background in sustainability. Dedicated to the environment and sourcing from Vietnamese farms, Copper Cow is a quality-obsessed and eco-friendly coffee brand based in Los Angeles practicing organic agricultural and processing methods, including the use of organic matter compost, non-use of pesticides and the use of polyculture.
In a statement, Carolyn said, “Arborview is thrilled to support the growth of Copper Cow as it offers all this with ethically sourced ingredients and a reduced environmental footprint.” Amanda added, “Copper Cow has built a brand that resonates with consumers around both a sustainable product and an engaging experience. We're excited to support its mindfully crafted premium coffee experience for home and on the go.”
Battery Ventures’ Stoner helps turn HoneyBook into a unicorn
Battery Ventures’ Chelsea Stoner helps turn a company co-founded by Naama Alon into a unicorn. Battery took part in HoneyBook’s $155 Series D round, which also included Durable Capital Partners, Tiger Global Management, Zeev Ventures, 01 Advisors and existing investors Norwest Venture Partners, OurCrowd and Citi Ventures. The round, according to published reports, valued the San Francisco company at more than $1 billion, the threshold for being considered a “unicorn.”
HoneyBook has created a client experience and financial management platform for independent service-based businesses. Over the past year, the number of HoneyBook subscribers doubled. Additionally, in the past nine months, members booked more than $1 billion in business on the platform. Naama founded the company in 2013 with her husband, Oz Alon, who is CEO, and Dror Shimoni, who is the chief technology officer.
In conjunction with the financing, Chelsea joined HoneyBook’s board. This investment continues a busy 2021 for Chelsea. She also this year led the formation of Behavioral Holdings, a new platform aimed at helping behavioral-health and human-services organizations operate more effectively, and guided Battery into SaaSOptics and Chargify, both of which manage billing and automate related financial functions for software-as-a-service companies. In addition to those three companies and HoneyBook, Chelsea is also on the boards of Curve Dental; ContinuumCloud; InCloudCounsel; PageUp, an Australian enterprise talent management software company whose co-founder and CEO is Karen Cariss; Redox; and Avalara, which went public in 2018. Chelsea is a past speaker at the Women’s Private Equity Summit.