Donda Mullis’ Raw Sugar bites into some sweet capital

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

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Donda Mullis’ Raw Sugar bites into some sweet capital

Raw Sugar, LLC, an aspirational brand co-founded by Donda Mullis, bites into some sweet capital. The amount invested in the Sarasota, Fla. company by WM Partners was not disclosed.

Raw Sugar seeks to make clean beauty and healthy living products affordable. It utilizes plant derived and cold-pressed ingredients to produce such things as soap, body wash, hair care, scrubs, lotions, lip care and deodorants. Donda, who is chief marketing officer, founded the company in 2014 with her life partner Ronnie Shugar, who is CEO.

Vikki Jackson-Smith-led J&B Recycling has been acquired

J&B Recycling, a private equity-backed U.K. waste management company led by Vikki Jackson-Smith, has been acquired. BGF said that J&B was acquired by Urbaser, Ltd., the UK subsidiary of the third largest environmental services provider in Europe. Terms were not disclosed, but BGF said it generated a 2.4 times return from the investment. BGF originally invested 7.5 million pounds in J&B in 2014. J&B provides service for commercial and local authority customers across the North East of England.

Michele Perry-led Relatient raises $100M from Brighton Park Capital and does an acquisition

Relatient, Inc. a patient engagement vendor whose CEO is Michele Perry, secures a large amount of additional capital from its private equity backer and does an acquisition. Relatient said it raised $100 million in additional growth capital from Brighton Park Capital and has signed a definitive agreement to merge with Radix Health, which has developed enterprise-grade patient access solutions.

Based in Nashville, Tenn., Relatient focuses on improving patient and provider communications for increased patient satisfaction and improved productivity. The company engaged patients with more than 200 million messages in 2020 on behalf of U.S. providers, medical practices, hospitals and health systems. Brighton Park invested in it the fall of 2019.

Dr. Renee Dua’s HeyRenee raises $3.8M

Investors get behind a company co-founded by Dr. Renee Dua that is developing a patient-centric digital health platform designed to make better health care a reality for all Americans. HeyRenee secured $3.8 million from Mucker Capital, Fika Ventures, Tau Ventures, Global Founders Capital and SaaS Venture Capital.

HeyRenee is scheduled to launch its platform in early 2022 – a platform that it says will eventually work with every provider, partner and point solution to curate the perfect combination of services for each patient’s specific needs. Renee founded HeyRenee with Nick Desai, with whom she co-founded home-centric primary care company Heal. She is a practicing nephrologist who was Heal’s chief of medicine.

Butterfly Equity partners with MaryRuth Ghiyam’s MaryRuth Organics

A private equity firm takes a liking to a health supplement brand founded by MaryRuth Ghiyam. Butterfly Equity said it is partnering with MaryRuth Organics. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Based in Los Angeles, MaryRuth is a digitally native health and wellness brand operating in the premium vitamins, minerals and supplements industry. MaryRuth’s boasts a growing portfolio of products spanning across multiple categories, including multivitamins, probiotics, herbal and adaptogen supplements, skin, beauty and more. Each supplement product is crafted with high-quality, vegan, non-GMO, dairy free, no gelatin, soy free, gluten and wheat-free ingredients.

In a statement, MaryRuth said, “the MaryRuth’s team is thrilled to have a partner like Butterfly, which is a mission-driven team passionate about food. The Butterfly team is in alignment with our views about food justice and we are so happy to have their support as we grow and scale the company to help more people live healthier and happier lives around the world.”

Butterfly is a private equity firm specializing in the food sector, spanning the entire food value chain from “seed to fork” via four target verticals: agriculture and aquaculture, food and beverage products, food distribution, and foodservice.

Leah Puccio-led Vital Decisions is acquired by Evolent Health

Vital Decisions, a private equity-backed provider of advance care planning services whose CEO is Leah Puccio, has been acquired by a publicly traded company. Evolent Health, Inc. will pay $85 million to WindRose Health Investors with an additional earn out of up to $45 million. It will report into Evolent’s specialty management offering, New Century Health.

Based in Edison, N.J., Vital Decision provides services that ensure that the care of individuals with serious illness aligns with their values and changing preferences throughout their health journey and as they approach the end of life.

Cyndi Tetro-led Brandless raises $118M in equity and debt financing

An omnichannel commerce platform led by Cydni Tetro raises funds to help consumers make better choices simply and easily. Brandless raised $118 million in equity and debt financing led by Clarke Capital Partners and included other strategic corporate and institutional investors. Keystone National Group provided a senior debt facility.

Based in Silicon Slopes, Utah, Brandless aims to make it easier for people to take better care of themselves, their families and the planet by working with the best ingredients, partners and customers to drive community-led innovation and validation. With this funding, the company will acquire more digitally native brands that share its mission of better-for-you in order to expand its product portfolio with more products. This raise will also enable Brandless to activate their community by giving individuals the opportunity to become social influencers who can advocate for their favorite products and monetize their social presence.

In a statement, Cydni said, “Clarke Capital is well known in the consumer-packaged goods space, as they’ve taken companies from millions to billions. The Clarke team understands how to successfully build and scale product portfolios in a technology-driven marketplace. They’ve been an incredible partner to Brandless, helping us expand our portfolio and strengthen our acquisition strategy to support companies who are committed to disrupting the status quo.”

Dipti Borkar’s Ahana raises $20M in Series A funding

Investors put additional capital into Ahana, a Presto-based analytics company co-founded by Dipti Borkar. Ahana raised $20 million in Series A funding from Third Point Ventures and existing investors GV, Leslie Ventures and Lux Capital.

Based in San Mateo, Calif., the start-up was founded by Dipti and Steven Mih, who worked together at Couchbase and Alluxio. Dipti is chief product officer. Ahana claims to be the only commercial company focused on PrestoDB, a project hosted by the Linux Foundation’s Presto Foundation. Presto has become one of the fastest growing open source projects in the data analytics space since Facebook open sourced the technology in 2013. Ahana plans to improve ease of use, documentation and foster growth of the community users of the PrestoDB GitHub repository.

Ayisha Fareed’s Panhwar Jet secures $10M in Series A funding from Valkyrie Group

A company co-founded by Ayisha Fareed lands funding to develop an all-electric, self-charging luxury business aircraft. Panhwar Jet secured $10 million in Series A funding from Valkyrie Group, which also plans to raise an additional $100 million of Series B capital to accelerate the growth of the new venture.

Based in Newport Beach, Calif., Panhwar Jet is determined to provide the best flight experience by using clean, sustainable energy that will create a new future of aviation where speed and range have no limitations. Current battery density does not allow other electric aircrafts to fly beyond two hours total flight time. However, the disruptive self-charging technology invented by Panhwar Jet will allow their aircraft to fly up to 12 hours without touching down.

In a statement, Ayisha said, “we’re excited to collaborate with Valkyrie Group as our strategic capital partner. Valkyrie and Panhwar Jet share the passion, team spirit, background, and experience that will disrupt the electric aviation industry.”

Maria Fujihara-led SINAI Technologies raises $10M in seed funding

A platform led by Maria Fujihara garners capital to help organizations build decarbonization strategies. SINAI Technologies, Inc. closed $10 million in seed funding led by Obvious Ventures with participation from Ajax Strategies, Valo Ventures, High Alpha, Climactic, along with other angels and existing investors including Afore Capital, MCJ Collective and Climate Capital.

Based in San Francisco, SINAI is a software platform that helps organizations build decarbonization strategies. The decarbonization platform enables more intelligent carbon emission measurement, reporting, mitigation and scenario analysis for organizations using science-based methodologies. SINAI intends to use the funds to continue scaling its decarbonization platform as well as launch new modules and tools that further empower companies to achieve net-zero targets through automating processes to monitor, price, analyze risks and reduce carbon emissions.

In a statement, Maria said, “net-zero commitments are being made daily by companies, without a strategy for meeting these commitments. Our platform enables companies to achieve their net-zero targets by not only identifying, but crucially forecasting and pricing, the most cost-effective decarbonization strategies. These strategies work for companies of all sizes, with the greatest decarbonization experienced by global companies with complex supply chains.”

Stephanie Dua and Noelle Millholt’s BEGiN purchases Olivia Ballvé’s KidPass

BEGiN, a venture-backed developer of an early learning program whose co-founders include Stephanie Dua and Noelle Millholt, acquires a company co-founded by Olivia Ballvé which enables families to discover and book kids’ activities. Terms of BEGiN’s purchase of KidPass were not disclosed. KidPass had previously raised capital from such investors as Javelin Venture Partners, CoVenture, Y Combinator, TIA Ventures, Bionic Fund, RiverPark Ventures, CoCoon Ignite Ventures and FJ Labs.

Based in New York, KidPass enables parents to discover activities for kids of all ages and book them online or via a mobile app. Olivia founded KidPass with Solomon Liou, Aaron Kaufman and Chhay Chhun. She previously was vice president of partnerships for bMobilized, Inc. and director of relationship management for Clickable.

BEGiN last fall raised a $40 million Series C round from LEGO Ventures, Sesame Workshop, 3one4 Capital, Trustbridge Partners and Interlock Partners. BEGiN has developed the learning program HOMER, whose offerings are among the top reading programs in Apple’s App Store for children five years old and younger. Stephanie, who is president, and Noelle, who is chief revenue officer, founded the company with Neal Shenoy, who is CEO.

Investors spread capital into Miyoko Schinner’s Miyoko’s Creamery 

Investors spread capital into a vegan dairy alternative brand founded by Miyoko Schinner. Miyoko’s Creamery raised $52 million in Series C funding led by PowerPlant Partners, with participation from Cult Capital, Obvious Ventures, Stray Dog and CPT Capital.

Miyoko’s Creamery creates cheese and butter based on plant milk, rather than oil and starch. The products are currently distributed in 30,000 stores nationwide as well as in Canada, South Africa, Hong Kong and Singapore. The Petaluma, Calif.-based company will use the capital to continue to expand operations and its business reach, advancing both distribution and product innovation.

Edith Harbaugh’s LaunchDarkly raises $200M

LaunchDarkly, whose co-founder and CEO is Edith Harbaugh, is shining brightly after yet another funding round. The Oakland, Calif. company closed a $200 million Series D round with participation from Lead Edge Capital, Top Tier Capital Partners, Insight Venture Partners and existing investors Bessemer Venture Partners, Redpoint, Threshold, Uncork Capital and Bloomberg Beta. It is now valued at $3 billion. Early in 2020, LaunchDarkly raised a $54 million round at a $1 billion valuation. It has now raised $330 million.

LaunchDarkly has created a feature flag management platform, enabling software teams to test products with a small set of users. Edith launched the company in 2014 with John Kodumal after being a product director at TripIT. LaunchDarkly has more than 2,000 customers, including SAP, NBC and Ulta.

Investors plant capital in Tisha Livingston’s 80 Acres Farms

Investors plant capital in an indoor farming company co-founded by Tisha Livingston. 80 Acres Farms raised $160 million in a round led by General Atlantic and joined by Siemens Financial Services, Inc. The funding round also included Blue Earth and General Atlantic’s Beyond Net Zero team with additional participation from existing investors including Barclays and Taurus Capital.

Based in Hamilton, Ohio, 80 Acres Farms’ vertical farm system grows a wide variety of pesticide-free and just picked produce, including leafy greens, herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers and microgreens. The company intends to utilize the capital for continued expansion and product development, building from its current footprint of vertical farms that yield a diverse offering of high-quality produce.

In a statement, Tisha said, “the new investment positions the company as the leading proven and profitable technology provider prepared for rapid expansion. In addition, this enables 80 Acres to focus on their operational expertise and deep research and development.”

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