Greenwood, Krasner and Johnson are among those making new investments in women-led companies
From our Women's PB Briefs - week commencing June 14, 2021
Greenwood’s Cathay Health leads Kojin Therapeutics’ $60M Series A round
Luba Greenwood brings two venture firms that she leads – Cathay Health and Binney Street Capital – into a company co-founded by Stephanie Dougan, which is developing a new category of drugs based on cell state biology. Cathay Health, which Luba co-founded earlier this year, led Kojin Therapeutics, Inc.’s $60 million Series A round with Polaris Partners and Newpath Partners. The round also included Leaps by Bayer, AbbVie, Inc., Eventide Asset Management, Alexandria and Binney Street, which is the Dana Farber Cancer Institute Venture Fund. Luba is managing partner of Binney Street.
Based in Cambridge, Mass., Kojin is a biopharmaceutical company using a proprietary approach to cell state and ferroptosis biology to develop novel, targeted therapeutics for diseases of high unmet need. The company plans to use the proceeds of the Series A to accelerate its drug discovery platform and advance a robust pipeline of therapeutics, with an initial focus on oncology.
Stephanie is an assistant professor, microbiology and immunobiology at Harvard Medical School and investigator, cancer immunology and virology, Dana Farber Cancer Institute.
In a statement, Luba said “Kojin’s stellar team and lineup of world-leading scientists, clinicians, investors and drug developers are a testament to the potential impact of its differentiated biology on hard-to-treat diseases. As a cross-border investment platform spanning the U.S., Europe and Asia, we look forward to bringing the global outlook, resources and health ecosystem to support and further develop Kojin’s pioneering scientific discovery that stands to address multiple large, unmet medical needs across the world.”
In conjunction with the financing, Luba joined Kojin’s board. She also lectures at Harvard University in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and has previously served in leadership roles at Google Life Sciences and Roche.
Northpond Ventures’ Kedar invests in Akin’s Hawthorne Effect
Northpond Ventures’ Sharon Kedar invests in a company founded by Jodi Akin offering a solution to decentralize the entire clinical trial lifecycle. Hawthorne Effect raised $20 million in Series A funding led by Northpond with participation from SignalFire and P5 Health Ventures.
Based in San Francisco, Hawthorne offers a robust tech-driven platform working with highly trained medical professionals to deliver complete assessments whenever, wherever and however the trial and patient require. The funding will be used to accelerate growth and help scale the company’s operations.
In a statement, Jodi said, “we figured out that clinical trial continuity has the same root cause as equity gaps in health care delivery — accessibility and convenience for patients. While there is great momentum in the adoption of decentralized clinical trials, apps just don’t draw blood, nor do they reach the equity divide. Hawthorne Effect uniquely offers the only technology-enabled distributed professionals model that addresses these common barriers in clinical research. As a result, we help sponsors deliver complete and accurate trial assessments to benefit the entire clinical trial ecosystem. Our solution also addresses the historical disparities in representation when it comes to patient populations, and the future of public health hinges on closing this gap.”
Sharon, also in a statement, said, “Hawthorne Effect is bringing the future of clinical trials to life with a solution rooted in scientific precision and clinical compassion. The team is reimagining accessibility to clinical trials and driving better data integrity – all while putting the patient first.”
In conjunction with the financing, Sharon joined Hawthorne Effect’s board. She is also on the boards of Artisan Bio, Emulate, Encodia, Isoplexis and 908 Devices, which is publicly traded. Sharon recently stepped off the board of Codex DNA, which has filed to go public. Northpond colleague Andrea Jackson replaced her.
Redesign Health’s Krasner and Forerunner’s Johnson and are involved in seeding Aponte and Lynch’s DUOS
Redesign Health’s Missy Krasner and Forerunner Ventures’ Nicole Johnson and are involved in seeding a company co-founded by Anne Marie Aponte and Kristen Lynch that is focused on providing older adults with aging-at-home independence. Redesign and Forerunner put $6 million into DUOS, enabling the New York company to come out of stealth.
DUOS provides a personal assistant – a Duo – to help older adults stay healthy and age independently in their own homes. The company works with its members and their loved ones, along with health plans and providers to provide holistic, personalized support. The company has formed a collaboration with Magellan Health, a provider of behavioral health and special/complex populations, to connect older adults with social support and resources.
Anne Marie and Kristen founded DUOS with Karl Ulfers, who is CEO and Jacques Anderson, who is chief of staff. Anne Marie, who is chief operating officer, previously held roles with Accolade and DispatchHealth. Kristen, who is chief product officer, was formerly with Onduo, a Verily Company, and athenahealth.
In a statement, Missy said, “as someone who has worked at the crossroads of technology and health care in high-tech, I have spent my entire career working on solutions that promote patient engagement and caregiving. DUOS is a simple but elegant tech-enabled solution that leverages hi-touch social connections to keep older adults engaged and thriving. It’s what every adult child wants to give their aging parents who live far away—a trusted companion and extender of the family caregiving circle.”
Missy joined Redesign in September 2020 as venture chair. She previously held executive roles with Google Health and Amazon.
Also in a statement, Nicole said “for years we’ve been looking for a market-maker in the older adult space, for good reason—as the demographics of the country shift, there’s a growing divide between this consumer group’s evolving needs and the legacy products and services that exist to support them. DUOS’ number one priority is member empowerment, and we see DUOS as tackling a massive opportunity to meet the population’s needs in a way that is culturally relevant and makes lives better.”
Nicole earlier this year seeded The Expert, which enables video consultations with interior designers. In 2020, Nicole was promoted to partner and Forerunner closed its fifth fund at $500 million. The firm’s team also includes founder Kirsten Green and general partner Eurie Kim.
Stata leads Boston Seed Capital into Hall’s InSpace Proximity
Boston Seed Capital’s Nicole Stata backs a video learning platform for educators founded by Narine Hall. InSpace Proximity, Inc. raised $6 million in two rounds of seed funding led by a $2.6 million investment from Boston Seed Capital and $1.5 million each from Gutbrain Ventures and PBJ Capital.
Based in Burlington, Vt., InSpace provides an educational platform that is used by thousands of professors in over 100 universities and K-12 schools worldwide. With a proudly bottom-up approach, InSpace crowdsources and implements features based on educator suggestions, tools and solutions. The seed funding will expand educator support to keep pace with rapid growth and establish a resource network for users to share ideas and successes, as well as improve streamlined registration and payment.
In a statement, Narine said, “this is the most exciting time to be in higher education, so much is changing. Sometimes it takes a challenge to innovate. Our goal is to provide a uniquely collaborative online environment that complements, rather than disrupts, educators’ exceptional work.”
Richardson is involved in Rcapital’s purchase of Bamforth-led Patrick Parsons
Rcapital’s Josie Richardson is involved in the private equity firm’s purchase of an engineering consultancy firm led by Gail Bamforth. Terms of Rcapital’s acquisition of Patrick Parsons were not disclosed.
Based in Birmingham, UK, Patrick Parsons focuses on helping clients assess, design and overcome the most complex of engineering challenges across a range of sectors including commercial, industrial and housing developers. The firm provides a range of connected engineering services including structural, civil and geo-environmental consulting engineering services.
In a statement, Gail said, “we have a new partner and investor in Rcapital, which puts us in a strong position financially and provides significant momentum behind our ambitious growth strategy and plans for the future. I am very pleased that the growth strategy is already paying dividends with the business performing well, and levels of secured work have already returned to pre-pandemic levels. We have also secured some fantastic new mandates and have more opportunities in the pipeline.”
Josie joined Rcapital in 2016 from Deloitte where she led a corporate advisory team. In addition to Patrick Parsons, her portfolio includes Axell Wireless Group, Richard Irvin FM, Thornhill Heat Exchangers, Splash News, Capital Cooling and Innervate Technology Solutions, Ltd.
Brown guides Rethink Education into AllHere’s $8M Series A round
Rethink Education’s Ebony Brown guides her firm into a financing round for a company that emerged from Joanna Smith’s frustration as a teacher – a round that also included Operator Collective, which is led by Mallun Yen and Leyla Seka; Potencia Ventures, whose CEO is Kelly Michel; and Boston Impact Initiative, whose CEO is Betty Francisco. AllHere raised $8 million in a Series A round that was led by Spero Ventures and also included Gratitude Railroad, SoftBank’s Opportunity Fund, and The Yard Ventures.
Boston-based AllHere combines artificial intelligence, proactive messaging and a knowledge base that pulls personal information from a school back-office platform to engage with families. A parent, for example, can send a text to the bot and begin a conversation, with responses from the bot based on their child’s record. AllHere also nudges students to come to class, and schools use the technology to communicate announcements to parents, such as closures and health guidelines, according to the company.
The idea for the company was born out of CEO and founder Joanna’s experience as a math teacher and family engagement leader at a network of charter schools in Boston. She saw how excessive absenteeism affected student performance and wanted to build a way to better support students and parents.
In a statement, Joanna said, “this funding allows us to expand the knowledge-base of our conversational AI chatbot to help students and families get information and support exactly when they need it. This is what our district and school partners are asking for as they strive to re-engage students after a challenging year of remote and hybrid learning.”
Ebony, also in a statement, said, “typical truancy products offer solutions for compliance without getting to the root cause of why students are missing school in the first place. AllHere was built to address the underlying issues of student attendance and will transcend this category by continuing to meet the unique needs of school leaders to retain and engage students across multiple platforms.”
Hmich’s Future Positive Capital invests in Johnson’s Circulor
Future Positive Capital, whose founder is Sofia Hmich, invests in a London-based company co-founded by Veera Johnson that is focused on leading the future of sustainable supply chain traceability. Future Positive took part in Circulor’s $14 million Series A round, which also included The Westly Group, Salesforce Ventures, BHP Ventures, 24Haymarket and Sky Ocean Ventures.
Circulor provides an enterprise software platform that uses a combination of technologies, including blockchain, business logic and machine learning. Its technology assigns a digital identity to commodities and tracks the supply chain data and embedded carbon at each stage of production, recycling and end-of-life. Circulor will use the investment to drive ongoing innovation and extend its presence in North America and Asia.
In a statement, Veera said, “we are looking forward to working even more strategically with our investors and industry leaders to extend our capabilities and market presence in order to consolidate and enhance our position as the leader in sustainable supply chain traceability.”
Forerunner’s Kim and Union Square’s Kaden re-invest in Wu’s ShopShops
Forerunner Ventures’ Eurie Kim and Union Square Ventures’ Rebecca Kaden re-invest in a company founded by Liyia Wu that helps U.S.-based brands reach Chinese shoppers. Forerunner and Union Square took part in ShopShops, Inc.’s $15 million Series B round, which also included LightShed Ventures, Gaingels, Acrew Capital and another existing investor, The Chernin Group. Forerunner and Union Square first backed the New York and Beijing company in 2018 when they took part in a $6.1 million seed round that also included Third Kind Venture Capital’s Shana Fisher, Founder Collective, SV Angel, XRC Labs and GGV Capital.
ShopShops has developed a live streaming app that connects brick-and-mortar retailers with consumers on their mobile devices. Specifically, the company brings a curated, high-touch social shopping experience from U.S. stores and brands to Chinese consumers. The platform connects retailers, influencers and consumers through a live and authentic interaction in the store. ShopShops manages all shipping and sales logistics from the store to the customer in China.
Gore and Rodz's Hello Alice raises $21M in Series B funding
A platform for supporting small businesses co-founded by Elizabeth Gore and Carolyn Rodz raises funds from Jean Case; Backstage Capital, whose founder is Arlan Hamilton; and How Women Invest, founded by Julie Castro Abrams. Hello Alice closed $21 million in Series B funding led by QED Investors with participation from new investors including Backstage Capital, Green Book Ventures, Harbert Growth Partners, How Women Invest, as well as a group of individuals including Guy Fieri and Jean.
Based in Houston, Hello Alice is a free multi-channel platform that guides business owners by providing funding, networks and services. The funding will be used to expand capital, networks and business service resources. It will go toward supporting business owners, including people of color, women, men, immigrants, LGBTQ+ owners, veterans and owners with disabilities, especially to serve small business owners as they emerge from the global pandemic, as well as to launch a mobile application.
In a statement, Carolyn said, “as a Latina founder and fellow small business owner, Elizabeth and I wanted to get specific with industries and who is leading the business so that unique paths are supported to help them make better decisions. As we have raised capital for Hello Alice, we are raising capital for our companies.”
Canaan Partners’ Ibrahim re-invests in Savilia-led JOOR
Canaan Partners’ Maha Ibrahim re-invests in JOOR, an online luxury, fashion and home marketplace whose CEO is Kristin Savilia. Canaan participated in the New York company’s $46 million Series D round, which also included fellow existing investors ITOCHU Corp. and Battery Ventures and new investor Macquarie Capital Principal Finance. JOOR has now raised $82 million since its founding in 2010.
JOOR allows brands and retailers to easily connect with one another through the firm’s website and apps. The platform has more than 12,500 brands and 325,000 retailers. It processes more than $1.5 billion in wholesale transactions each month. Among the brands it works with are Kering, LVMH, Richemont, Stella McCartney, Kate Spade, Dr. Martens and Valentino. Neiman Marcus and Harrods are among those who conduct their buying exclusively through the site.
Kristin joined in 2017 after JOOR founder and CEO Mona Bijoor left. Kristin previously was an executive with XO Group, which operates such websites as The Knot, The Nest and The Bump.
Sequoia Capital China’s Yang re-invests in Schweizer-led HiFiBiO Therapeutics
Sequoia Capital China re-invests in a portfolio company of managing director Lynn Yang – a biotherapeutics company whose president and CEO is Liang Schweizer. Sequoia took part in HiFiBiO Therapeutics’ $75 million Series D round, which also included fellow existing investors IDG Capital, Legend Star and Hengxu Capital and such new investors as Mirae Asset Financial Group, Further, B Capital Group, Sherpa Venture Capital, Maison Capital, Trinity Innovation Fund, Grand Mount Capital and HKSTP Venture Fund.
Based in Cambridge, Mass., with offices in Paris and China, HiFiBiO focuses on discovering therapeutic antibodies through single-B-cell screening and analysis. It will use the fresh capital to advance two lead antibody oncology assets into Phase 1 clinical trials.
Prior to joining HiFiBiO, Liang held senior management roles in cancer research at Sanofi and Bristol-Myers Squibb.
VMG Partners’ Cissell-Roell and GV’s Dame guide their firms back into The Pill Club
VMG Partners’ Kara Cissell-Roell and GV’s Frederique Dame guide their firms back into The Pill Club, an online birth control prescription and delivery service led by Liz Meyerdirk. VMG, GV and fellow existing backers Base 10, Shasta Ventures and ACME took part in the San Francisco company’s $41.9 million Series C round that also included such new investors as iGlobe and Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi. The round is the first since VMG led the Pill Club’s $51 million Series B round in 2019, with Kara joining the board.
The Pill Club has devised an all-in-one solution that both prescribes and delivers birth control around the country. The company has its own pharmacy, which dispenses birth control to all 50 states and Washington D.C. and can currently prescribe medication in 47 states. The Pill Club offers more than 120 brands of the birth control pill, NuvaRing emergency contraceptives and female condoms as well as dermatology products in 16 states.
Liz joined the company earlier this year from Uber Eats where she was part of the founding team.
Savostianova’s Ember Infrastructure backs Caban Systems
Roughly a month after making its first investment, Ember Infrastructure, which was founded by Elena Savostianova, backs a company founded and led by Alexandra Rasch Castillo that designs energy storage and management systems for the telecom industry. Ember is initially investing $35 million into Caban Systems and will provide incremental funding for EaaS engagements. These engagements are increasingly in demand for mobile network operators seeking to modernize their critical infrastructure and reduce operating without expenses.
Based in Burlingame, Calif., Caban has pioneered a three-part solution including its long-life lithium-ion storage and energy management hardware, cloud-based remote monitoring software, and a fully-integrated EaaS offering. Caban’s solar-plus-storage solution generates, stores and intelligently manages power at telecommunication sites as an alternative to legacy technologies such as lead-acid batteries and diesel generators, dramatically reducing operating costs and carbon emissions while enhancing network reliability and security. With its cloud-based remote-monitoring software and patent-pending multi-tenant energy management capabilities, Caban’s solution also optimizes energy usage, improves billing accuracy and refines forecasting for operations.
In a statement, Elena said, “Alexandra and the Caban team have developed a highly competitive value proposition for their customers in the telecom industry, in turn benefiting end-users and communities through enhanced connectivity and reliability as well as by enabling expanded use of renewable energy.”
Ember also recently entered into a joint venture with ReEnergy Biomass Operations, LLC to create a bioenergy platform, ReGenerate Energy. The newly formed company is acquiring an ownership interest in ReEnergy’s two biomass power plants in Maine and will look to expand the platform across North America.
Prior to forming Ember, Elena was a principal with Global Infrastructure Partners. Based in New York, Ember is focused on delivering capital solutions to businesses and assets seeking to reduce carbon intensity and enhance resource efficiency. The firm focuses on equity investments across renewable energy, water, waste, industrials, and agricultural infrastructure.