MAYA Capital’s Lemann, Clocktower Ventures’ Saman and EQT’s Brochado are among those doing new deals this week
From our Women's PE Briefs - week commencing May 17, 2021
González-Estéfani and Bullrich’s TheVentureCity rolls the dice on The Last Gameboard
TheVentureCity, which is co-founded by Laura González-Estéfani and Clara Bullrich, rolls the dice on a company founded by Shail Mehta that provides a digital alternative to physical boardgames. TheVentureCity led The Last Gameboard’s $4 million seed round, according to TechCrunch. The round also included participation from SOSV, Riot Games, Conscience VC and Corner3 Ventures.
Based in Denver, The Last Gameboard is a 16-inch square touchscreen device with a custom OS and a sophisticated method of tracking game pieces and hand movements. The idea is to provide an alternative to physical games where that’s practical and do so with the maximum benefit and minimum compromise. In addition to providing a unique and superior digital version of a game, the device can connect with others to trade moves and send game invites.
Shail has a financial background, having worked for hedge funds and venture capital funds and consulted for the Nuclear Regulatory Committee, City University of New York, the City & County of Denver’s RTA project and Triunity Engineering. Following this round, the company is poised to start its beta program over the summer and ship its first production units before the holiday season.
MAYA Capital’s Lemann and Clocktower Ventures’ Saman back Divibank
MAYA Capital’s Lara Lemann and Clocktower Ventures’ Adriana Saman guide their firms into a Brazilian company co-founded by Rebecca Fischer focused on helping entrepreneurs in Latin America. Maya and Clocktower took part in Divibank’s $3.6 million seed round, which also included Better Tomorrow Ventures, Village Global, Magma Partners, Gilgamesh Ventures, Rally Cap Ventures, Alumni Ventures Group, Sebastian Mejia, Tayo Oviosu, Karim Atiyeh, Josh Abramowitz and Daniel Simon.
São Paulo-based Divibank is a data-driven financing platform where businesses have access to capital to finance their growth via revenue-share/non-dilutive financing. Divibank is changing the way entrepreneurs scale their online businesses without dilution by providing quick and affordable capital to startups and SMEs in Latin America. The company will use the funds to accelerate its product roadmap, ramp up hiring and develop value additive software for their clients. The software will help users better manage their digital ad campaigns and optimize their investment returns.
Rebecca, who is chief product officer, founded the company with Jamie Taboada, who is CEO of Divibank. In a statement, Rebecca said, “our goal is to help entrepreneurs in Latin America by giving them the necessary resources they need to grow their businesses. We have ambitious plans, and we are looking forward to expanding our product offerings and services. This investment shows that we are on the right track and it is a vote of confidence in our mission to help SMEs and startups in the region.”
Lara stated that the founders of Divibank “continue to execute at an incredibly fast pace. We have been close to Divibank since the beginning because Jaime was an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at MAYA, and we saw them navigate the start of the operations in March 2020, right at the beginning of the pandemic. They are a formidable duo, building a world-class team and organization in a rapidly expanding market.” MAYA, which Lara founded with Monica Saggioro Leal, is investing from its $41 million debut fund.
Also in a statement, Adriana said that Divibank was Clocktower’s first seed investment in Latin America made with its first Lat Am-focused fund. “We were impressed with what they accomplished in just 12 months,” she said. “They’ve managed to grow a lending business with a lean structure while testing multiple growth strategies along the way.” Santa Monica, Calif.-based Clocktower is focused on financial technology.
Brochado leads EQT into Vinted’s 250M euros Series F round
Carolina Brochado does her first investment since joining EQT last year, backing a second-hand fashion company that was co-founded by Milda Mitkute and whose backers included Full In Partners, which was co-founded by Elodie Dupuy and Jessica Davis. EQT Growth led Vinted, Ltd.’s 250 million euros Series F round, which valued the company at 3.5 billion euros.
Based in Vilnius, Lithuania, Vinted is Europe’s largest secondhand apparel and kids’ item consumer-to-consumer marketplace. Vinted was founded in 2008 by Milda and Justas Janauskas – neither of whom still hold roles with Vinted. In a statement, Carolina said that Vinted “is transforming the second-hand fashion market across Europe through their customer-centric approach and extraordinary execution.”
In conjunction with the financing, Carolina joined Vinted’s board. She joined EQT as a partner from the SoftBank Vision Fund and has helped create the firm’s Growth Initiative.
Luciana Lixandru was a member of Vinted’s board until leaving Accel early last year to join Sequoia Capital.
Celniker is serving as interim CEO on a Third Rock Ventures-backed company
Third Rock Ventures’ Abbie Celniker is serving as interim CEO of a Third Rock-backed company that is seeking to discover medicines for cancer and other diseases. Flare Therapeutics launched following an $82 million Series A round that was led by Third Rock and included Boxer Capital, Nextech Invest, Casdin Capital, Invus Financial Advisors and Eventide Asset Management.
Based in Cambridge, Mass., Flare is targeting transcription factors through switch sites, which are newly identified druggable regions that control predictable and profound changes in gene expression. The company will look to discover novel small molecule medicines to treat the multitude of diseases driven by transcription factor dysregulation.
Abbie has over 30 years of experience in senior research and development, as well as executive leadership roles, and focuses on the formation, development and strategy of portfolio companies. In a statement, she said, “we created Flare to pursue the mission of conquering transcription factors which have been one of the most sought-after targets of drug developers based on the central role they play in cancer and other diseases. The outstanding scientific team and co-founders we have brought together have already made strong progress to show how the unique biochemistry of the switch site serves as key targets for transcription factor regulation, translating into powerful biology and a new path for life-changing medicines for patients.”
Kayser takes part in KKR’s acquisition of ERM
KKR’s Franziska Kayser takes part in the firm’s acquisition of a sustainability consultancy founded by Keryn James. KKR will acquire the majority position in ERM from OMERS Private Equity and Alberta Investment Management Corporation, with ERM’s management team and partners remaining as minority investors. The financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
ERM has expertise in environmental health, safety, risk and social matters with a team of more than 5,500 purpose-driven consultants, including 580 partners, across 150 offices in over 40 countries. The London-based company supports its clients in every part of their organization, from boots to boardroom, with a focus on operationalizing sustainability and implementing environmental, social and governance best practices. ERM helps its clients shape their ESG strategies, as well as identify and address their key sustainability issues. Additionally, ERM partners with the world’s leading organizations to advance thought leadership in sustainability through its SustainAbility Institute.
In a statement, Franziska and the four other KKR team members involved in the deal said, “true expertise in sustainability and environmental matters is more important than ever. We are proud to invest in an organization like ERM and its partners, as they continue to help organizations implement ESG management best practices across their operations.”
Keryn added in a statement that the long-term partnership with KKR will allow ESG to “expand and accelerate our client impact and bring new capabilities and technologies to the business of sustainability.”
Roche Venture Fund’s Marathe invests in Ball’s Soteria Biotherapeutics
Roche Venture Fund’s Nisha Marathe invests in a company led by Kristine Ball that is focused on treating patients with solid tumor cancers. Soteria Biotherapeutics, Inc. announced a $42 million Series A financing led by Roche and 5AM Ventures with participation from other investors including M Ventures, Novartis Venture Fund and Alexandria Venture Investments.
Based in San Francisco, Soteria is developing a next generation of switchable bispecific T-cell engagers to treat cancer patients with solid tumors, enabling safer and more efficacious treatments. In a statement, Nisha said that Soteria’s technology “has the potential to revolutionize the T-cell engager field with its proprietary approach designed to control and target potent biologic immune activators to attack tumors. Specifically, we believe the T-LITE technology is highly differentiated, where the potent activity of a T-cell engager can be selectively switched on by small-molecule activators to direct tumor cytotoxicity and reduce cytokine release syndrome, ultimately resulting in a therapy with potentially greater safety and efficacy.”
Kristine added in a statement that these funds will support “the advancement of our technology and allow us to build a pipeline of T-LITE development candidates with potential in well validated cancer targets. We appreciate the confidence and vision this syndicate of premier investors has shown in our opportunity to disrupt the T-cell engager field and our potential to create differentiated, potent therapies against solid tumors.”