Karen Frank is involved with an acquisition while Emily Melton, Kirsten Green, Kira Wampler and Barbara Burger make notable investments this week
From our Women's PE Briefs - week commencing August 30, 2021
Karen Frank is involved in Ontario Teachers’ purchase of Acorn Health
The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board, whose private equity activities are directed by Karen Frank, acquires a provider of therapy to children with autism that is led by Vicki Kroviak. Terms Ontario Teachers’ purchase of Acorn Health, LLC from MBF Healthcare Partners were not disclosed. However, Ontario Teachers’ said Vicki and other members of senior management will retain a “meaningful” ownership stake in the company.
Vicki and MBF Healthcare Partners formed Coral Gables, Fla.-based Acorn in 2018. The company provides home and center-based Applied Behavioral Analysis services to children and adolescents diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Through an organic and acquisition-focused growth strategy, Acorn has grown to operate 51 clinics in seven states. It employs 1,200 individuals and serves more than 1,300 families.
Vicki’s background includes serving as CEO of Monte Nido & Affiliates, a residential eating disorder treatment company, and co-founding and serving as CEO of Oliver-Pyatt Centers, a provider of eating disorder treatment.
Karen, who is senior managing director, equities, said in a statement that Acorn “provides tailored and high-quality care to young individuals with autism, allowing them to live fuller, more independent lives. We look forward to working with Vicki and the management team as they grow the business further and continue having a positive impact on the lives of these children and their families.”
Earlier this year, Ontario Teachers’ agreed to sell First American Payment Systems to Deluxe for $960 million; invested in Mitratech, a provider of legal and compliance software; and teamed up with Ares Management Corp. to acquire a majority interest in TricorBraun, North America’s largest primary packaging distributor. Ontario Teachers’ is the administrator of Canada’s largest single-profession pension plan, with 227.7 billion Canadian in net assets as of June 30.
Dr. Ingrid Teigland Akay’s Hadean Ventures invests in a portfolio company of Karin Kleinhans and Lena Krzyzak
Hadean Ventures, which was co-founded by Dr. Ingrid Teigland Akay, invests in a portfolio company of LSP’s Karin Kleinhans and High-Tech Gründerfonds’ Lena Krzyzak, a company whose CEO and co-founder is Dr. Claudia Ulbrich. Hadean took part in Cardior Pharmaceuticals’ 64 million euros Series B round that also included Inkef Capital, Fund+, Sunstone, Coparion and such existing investors as LSP, High-Tech Gründerfonds, BioMedPartners and Bristol Myers Squibb.
Based in Hanover, Germany, Cardior is developing non-coding RNA-based therapeutics for patients with cardiac diseases. It is moving toward starting a Phase 2 trial for its lead program, which has the potential to demonstrate clinical proof-of-concept as a transformative heart disease treatment. In a statement, Claudia said that Cardior believes that “ncRNAs can fundamentally change the treatment of heart disease by preventing, repairing and reversing damage to cardiac tissue.”
Emily Melton, Kirsten Green and Kira Wampler lead their firms back into Calibrate
Threshold Ventures’ Emily Melton, Forerunner Ventures’ Kirsten Green and Redesign Health’s Kira Wampler lead their firms back into Calibrate, which was founded by Isabelle Kenyon and is developing a science-based program to help people lose weight. According to Forbes, Threshold, Forerunner and Redesign Health took part in Calibrate’s $100 million Series B round along with Founders Fund, Tiger Global and Optum Ventures. The round comes some seven months after Threshold led the New York company’s $22.5 million Series A round. Redesign Health and Forerunner seeded Calibrate in 2020 with $5.1 million.
Calibrate has developed an app aimed at helping users reset their metabolic health. Utilizing medicine and personalized coaching, the system aims to help individuals lose up to 10 percent of their body weight. Emily and Kira are both on Calibrate’s board.
Helen McBain invests in Emily Bibb’s Breef
Helen McBain and her husband, John, are among those investing in a company co-founded by Emily Bibb that is democratizing connections between well-known brands and agencies. Breef received $3.5 million from a group that also included Greycroft, Rackhouse Ventures, The House Fund, Lance Armstrong, 640 Oxford Ventures and Laurence Holyoake.
Based in New York, Breef’s technology streamlines the agency outsourcing process and facilitates high-value, high-consideration projects. Breef’s platform allows brands to manage and service all agency projects, pitches and payments, facilitating efficiencies within today’s distributed workforce. With this new investment, Breef will continue to grow its global community and product offering, formally launching its project funding service – Breef(pay) – to help simplify payments to agencies and reduce the impact of cash flow challenges for growing businesses.
Shelly Hod Moyal leads iAngels into Antidote Health’s $12M seed round
Shelly Hod Moyal, founding partner of iAngels, leads the Israeli crowdfunding platform into a telehealth provider co-founded by Carine-Belle Feder. iAngels, Welltech Ventures and Flint Capital co-led Antidote Health’s $12 million seed round.
Based in New York, Antidote will use the capital to build an AI-based virtual health maintenance organization. Launched in January, the company provides uninsured and underinsured Americans with a virtual HMO that connects users to doctors with a smart chatbot and video calls. Antidote chose an HMO model based on the belief that it is the right way to rectify the prevalent problem of access to health care in the US market – with more than 38 million Americans uninsured. By offering a more direct approach to health care, Antidote is able to provide individuals premium quality health coverage for as little as $29 per month, making it an accessible alternative for millions of individuals and families. The company has launched a 24/7 virtual acute and primary care service across New York, New Jersey, Florida, Michigan and North Carolina and plans to rollout to more states continuing through 2022.
Carine, who is the company’s chief technology officer, founded Antidote with Avihai Soudri, who is CEO; Dr. David Zlotnick, who is chief medical officer; and Ben Enosh, who is president and chairman. Carine previously served as an officer and commander in a technology-intelligence elite unit in the Israel Defense Forces.
In a statement, Shelly said that “if there is any one industry for which COVID-19 highlighted the major gaps and necessary advances, it is the need for access to telehealth. In the wake of a global pandemic, and as an Israeli who can take for granted access to national health care, it is mind boggling that as many as one in four Americans do not have access to equitable and affordable health care. We are proud to lead Antidote Health’s financing round, and to play a role in their journey to level the field for all Americans to receive adequate telemedicine.”
Burda Principal Investments’ Amelia Townsend feeds capital into Emilie Vanpoperinghe’s Oddbox
Burda Principal Investments’ Amelia Townsend feeds capital into a U.K.-based platform co-founded by Emilie Vanpoperinghe that aims to reduce food waste. Oddbox raised 16 million pounds in funding from Burda. In 2020, the company received $3 million from Northern VCT, which is managed by Mercia AM.
Oddbox, which Emilie co-founded with her husband Deepak, delivers fresh fruit and vegetable boxes to consumers via a weekly subscription, alongside tailored recipes and data analysis highlighting a personalized measurable positive impact on the planet. The produce is rescued from farms where it is at risk of going to waste. The new funds will be used to accelerate Oddbox’s contribution to fighting food waste by enhancing customer experience, expanding its U.K. footprint and increasing share options for employees.
In a statement, Emilie and her husband Deepak said, “with our recent growth we’ve identified key areas for Oddbox to develop and further our mission to fight food waste. So while we continue to retain majority stakes, we wanted an investor to help make these developments happen, and importantly who also shares our vision that business is a force for good. We’ve found that in Burda, as they’re committed to long-term sustainability, a principle at the core of Oddbox.”
Amelia added in a statement, “we are very inspired by Emilie and Deepak, the Oddbox founders, with their clear and authentic purpose to tackle food waste and the impressive and scalable platform they have built to enable this. We are delighted to be joining the journey to accelerate this mission.”
Two Sigma Ventures’ Frances Schwiep backs Laura Del Beccaro-led Sora
Two Sigma Ventures’ Frances Schwiep backs an HR automation software company led by Laura Del Beccaro. Sora secured $14 million in a Series A funding round led by Two Sigma Ventures with prior investors also participating, according to TechCrunch.
Based in San Francisco, Sora is a HR automation tool that makes it easy to build and personalize workflows for onboarding, offboarding and all the key moments in between. It works with existing HR tools to automatically send a welcome email, schedule a new manager training or even deliver a work anniversary gift to an employee at the right time.
Barbara Burger-led Chevron Technology Ventures takes part in Malta’s Series B round
Chevron Technology Ventures, whose president is Barbara Burger, helps provide a financial charge to Malta, Inc., an electro-thermal energy storage company whose CEO is Ramya Swaminathan. Chevron and Piva Capital joined the Cambridge, Mass. company’s Series B round, increasing its size to more than $60 million. Others taking part in the round include Proman, Alfa Laval, Breakthrough Energy Ventures and Dustin Moskovitz.
Malta was started as an energy storage project in Alphabet’s moonshot factory X. Alphabet is the parent of Google. The Malta energy storage system stores energy in the form of a thermal differential between hot and cold storage media. It is based on well-established principles in thermodynamics for a system that stores electricity as heat in high temperature molten salt and cold in a low temperature antifreeze liquid. Malta’s system can store electricity for days or even weeks, until it’s needed. The electricity can come from any source in any location. Malta will work in collaboration with industry partners to turn the detailed designs developed and refined at X into industrial-grade machinery for its first pilot system.
Ramya joined Malta from Rye Development, where she was CEO. Prior to Rye, she was COO of FFP New Hydro. In conjunction with the financing, Jeannine Sargent joined Malta’s board. She has more than 30 years of international operating management, M&A, business strategy and technology experience.
In a statement, Barbara said, “Malta has the potential to be a key enabler of grid stability as renewables have become a greater portion of the energy mix.” CTV made the investment out of its $300 million Future Energy Fund II, which launched earlier this year.
Also this year, CTV has backed Natel Energy, a supplier of sustainable hydropower solutions co-founded by Gia Schneider, and Mainspring Energy, an onsite power generation provider founded and led by Shannon Miller. CTV identifies and integrates externally developed technologies and new business solutions with the potential to enhance the way Chevron produces and delivers affordable, reliable and cleaner energy now and into the future.
Sapphire Ventures’ Cathy Gao backs Saumya Bhatnagar’s involve.ai
Sapphire Ventures’ Cathy Gao backs a customer intelligence platform co-founded by Saumya Bhatnagar. Sapphire led involve.ai’s $16 million Series A round that also included GTMfund, Fenwick, Gokul Rajaram, Stanford University, Michael Whitmire and existing investors Bonfire Ventures, Greycroft, LaunchCapital and BDMI.
Based in Los Angeles, involve.ai uses artificial intelligence to help businesses prevent customer churn and accelerate revenue growth, unlocking predictive customer intelligence from existing data. Training its AI algorithms on more than 120 million data points, involve.ai is able to predict churn for customers 94 percent of the time. Saumya, who is chief product officer, founded the company with Gaurav Bhattacharya, who is CEO.
In a statement, Cathy said, “acquiring a new customer can be 25 times more expensive than selling to an existing one, so it’s no wonder that we’re seeing companies heavily invest in their customer success teams. These teams need tools that are purpose-built for them. I have been blown away by involve.ai’s bold vision to build a different type of solution that is completely reinventing the category.”
Cathy earlier this year was promoted to partner and also led Sapphire into SafeGraph, which is focused on being the source of truth for data on physical places. She has also been involved in the firm’s investments in CircleCI, Gorgias, Medable, Moveworks and UJET.
Spark Capital’s Natalie Sandman leads Zeal’s $13M Series A round
Spark Capital’s Natalie Sandman leads an investment round in a start-up co-founded by Kirti Shenoy that allows companies to build custom payroll products. Zeal raised $13 million in a Series A round led by Spark Capital, with participation from Commerce Ventures and individual investors including Jason Gardner, Omri Dahan, Vlad Tenev, Mitch Dauerman, Bob Manne and Matt Straz.
Unlike traditional payroll companies, which provide direct payroll processing to an individual employer, San Francisco-based Zeal helps platforms and large enterprises to build their own payroll products. The company’s mission is to touch every American paycheck with its tax and payment technology and to ensure that American employees are paid correctly and efficiently. The new capital will be used for growing the Zeal team and scaling the product to meet the increasing customer demand.
Natalie earlier this year led Spark into Medallion, which is focused on reducing the administrative workload of health care providers. Natalie joined Spark in 2019 from Shasta Ventures. She is a member of Spark’s early-stage team, which last year closed a new fund at $400 million.
Claire Cormier Thielke backs Fatima Dicko’s Sugar
Angel investor Claire Cormier Thielke backs a company founded by Fatima Dicko that turns apartment buildings into interactive communities. Sugar raised $2.5 million in a seed round from MetaProp, Agya Ventures, Concrete Rose, Debut Capital, The Community Fund, Consonance Capital, Lightspeed Scout Fund and LAUNCH Syndicate, as well as angel investors including Claire, Jonathan Wasserstrum, Diran Otegbade, Oleksiy Ignatyev and Ben Zises.
Los Angeles-based Sugar aims to enhance the residential experience through technology and innovation for apartment and residential communities. The platform includes customizable features to serve and engage residents, an all-in-one app for easy support and payment options and other tools. Originally born to support residents and communities during COVID-19, Sugar serves clients throughout the world, including residential communities of all sizes, real estate investment groups and other residential properties. The funding will be used to drive Sugar’s continued growth and expand its talent.
In a statement, Fatima said, “we’re honored to have the support in our technology and vision from such an excellent group of investors and innovators. We are thankful to have their backing, along with our incredibly talented team, and our clients across the US. Improving residential experiences can have a dynamic impact on business and residents. Sugar provides the technology to make it easy. We’re excited to continue to progress in the communities we serve.”
Echo Health Ventures’ Jessica Zeaske and Avestria Ventures reinvest in Genome Medical
Echo Health Ventures’ Jessica Zeaske and Avestria Ventures, which was founded by Linda Greub and Corrine Nevinny, re-invest in Genome Medical, Inc., the genomics medical practice company co-founded and led by Lisa Alderson, in a financing that enables Genome Medical to acquire a company co-founded by Jill Davies. Genome Medical raised $60 million in Series C financing from GV, Amgen Ventures and such existing investors as Echo Health, Avestria, Casdin Capital, Perceptive Advisors, LRVHealth, Dreamers Fund, Blue Ivy Ventures, Illumina Ventures, Kaiser Permanente Ventures, HealthInvest Equity Partners, Flywheel Ventures and Canaan Partners. Terms of Genome Medical’s purchase of GeneMatters were not disclosed. GeneMatters will operate as a subsidiary of Genome Medical.
Jill, a leader in the field of genetic counseling, founded GeneMatters with Invenshure. Minneapolis-based GeneMatters provides telehealth genetic counseling and software solutions that increase access to genetic services. It shared at least one investor with Genome Medical: Casdin Capital.
Genome Medical, which is based in South San Francisco, Calif., has assembled an independent network of clinical genomic experts, providing services to improve health and diagnose, prevent and treat disease. Its genetic specialists are focused on six clinical areas: cancer, cardiovascular disease, reproductive health, pediatric genetics, pharmacogenomics and proactive health management. Lisa co-founded Genome Medical in 2016 with Dr. Robert C. Green, a medical geneticist, and Randy Scott, chairman of Invitae. Previously, Lisa served as Invitae’s chief commercial officer and chief strategy officer.
Rethink Impact’s Jenny Abramson and Jessica Millstone-led Copper Wire Ventures back a portfolio company of Reach Capital’s Chian Gong
Rethink Impact’s Jenny Abramson and Copper Wire Ventures, which is led by Jessica Millstone, back a portfolio company of Reach Capital’s Chian Gong, which is led by Emily Bailard and which is working to increase school attendance rates. Rethink Impact led EveryDay Labs’ $8 million Series A round that also included Reach, Gary Community Investments, City Light Capital, Red House Education, Edovate Capital and Bonsal Capital.
EveryDay Labs claims to have prevented more than 650,000 absences and increased instructional time for students by more than 260 million minutes. In a statement, Jenny said, “Emily is leading a team that is bringing advanced analytic capabilities to bear on a vexing challenge at an absolutely critical moment. This is a technology that has already had a profound impact on energy consumption and other, major segments of the economy.”
Earlier this year, Jenny led Rethink Impact into Morty, an online mortgage marketplace co-founded by Nora Apsel, and Wellthy, a digital care concierge platform whose founder and CEO is Lindsay Jurist-Rosner. Rethink Impact, which Jenny leads with Heidi Patel, closed its second fund last year at $182 million. Jenny is a past speaker at the Women’s Alternative Investment Summit.