OMERS Growth Equity’s Lee among those investing in women owned firms this week

From our Women's PE Briefs - week commencing March 22, 2021

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Bumble’s Wolfe Herd invests in a startup co-founded and led by Williamson

Bumble CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd invests in an insurance startup co-founded and led by Bumble’s former chief brand officer, Alexandra Williamson in a round that also includes Geeta Sankappanavar, co-founder and president of Grafton Asset Management. Whitney and Geeta took part in Asteya’s $10 million round that also included I2BF Global Ventures, Capital Factory, Cap-Meridian Ventures, Northstar Ventures and Atrum.

Based in Miami, Asteya is focused on reimaging disability insurance, which typically protects workers against unforeseen gaps in income, related to health problems, injuries or childbirth. According to Asteya, one out of three people will be unable to work due to wellness complications at some point before retiring. However, 50 million working adults currently do not have income protection. Asteya is offering online applications that enables users to get coverage within minutes. Its first offering is geared toward individuals such as gig economy workers. The company is working with such carriers as Munich Re and certain underwriters at Lloyd’s. Alexandra founded Asteya with Hadi Radwan, who is chief product officer.

Duggal’s Female Founders Fund leads Rising Team’s $3M seed round

Female Founders Fund, whose founding partner is Anu Duggal, and Supernode Ventures, whose managing partners are Laurel Touby and Jenny Friedman, are among those backing a company founded by Jennifer Dulski that is focused on helping managers motivate, organize and effectively lead their teams. Female Founders Fund led Rising Team’s $3 million seed round, which in addition to Supernode included Peterson Ventures, Burst Capital, Xoogler, 500 Startups and Roble Ventures, according to TechCrunch.

Jennifer founded Rising Team because she did not see companies that were offering both tools – surveys and training options – in one package. Jennifer’s background includes executive roles with, Google and Facebook.

Female Founders Fund earlier this year backed Base, an at-home lab testing and smart app company founded by Lola Priego.

Smith-Farrell is tapped to lead Be Biopharma

Joanne Smith-Farrell is tapped to lead a company that Longwood Fund Principal Lea Hachigian was involved in founding. Joanne is now CEO of Be Biopharma. She was previously chief operating officer and business unit head, oncology at bluebird bio. Her background also includes executive roles with Merck and Pfizer.

Last fall, Be Biopharma raised $52 million in Series A financing from Longwood, Atlas Venture, RA Capital Management, Alta Partners and Takeda Ventures, Inc.

Based in Cambridge, Mass., Be Biopharma is developing B cells as medicines. B cells are prolific protein producers that can be collected from peripheral blood, have a programmable lifetime that could last decades, target specific issues, and have broad customizable functionality.

Lea founded Be Biopharma with Dr. David Rawlings and Richard James, who are at Seattle’s Children’s Research Institute, and Longwood colleagues David Steinberg and Aleks Radovic-Moreno. Lea serves on Be Biopharma’s board. She has also been involved with the founding of ImmuneID, Inc., TScan Therapeutics and Immunitas Therapeutics.

DigitalDx Ventures’ Colucci re-invests in NephroSant

Michele Colucci, co-founder and managing partner of DigitalDx Ventures, re-invests in a kidney health company founded and led by Dr. Minnie Sarwal. DigitalDx took part in NephroSant’s $16 million Series A round that was led by DaVita Venture Group.

Based in San Francisco, NephroSant was spun out of the University of California San Francisco where Minnie is a professor of surgery. The capital will be used to support research and development and the launch of NephroSant’s first product, a needle-free urine test that helps determine if a patient’s body is rejecting a transplanted kidney. The test – the first that is home based – avoids the need for a biopsy. The test uses multiple biomarkers including a proprietary technology for measurement of urine cell-free DNA. Currently, up to 40 percent of all kidney transplant recipients result in clinical or sub-clinical rejection. Identifying and predicting rejection earlier would enable clinicians to intervene sooner and help patients live a longer life.

Fraiman guides Voyager Capital’s re-investment in Act-On Software

Voyager Capital’s Diane Fraiman guides her firm’s re-investment in Act-On Software, a growth marketing automation platform whose CEO is Kate Johnson. Voyager took part in Act-On’s $20 million growth financing, which also included Beedie Capital and such other existing investors as U.S. Venture Partners, Technology Crossover Ventures and Norwest Venture Partners.

Based in Portland, Ore., Act-On will use the capital to build upon platform enhancements introduced throughout 2020. In a statement, Kate said Act-On’s mission is “to empower modern marketers to do more than just create sales leads – we’re helping deliver holistic brand experiences that strengthen customer loyalty and drive adoption.” Kate took over as CEO of the company in 2018 after serving as chief financial officer. She previously had been with Jive Software.

Diane serves on Act-On’s board.

Lee guides OMERS Growth Equity into Evidation Health

Teresa Lee, a managing director with OMERS Growth Equity, guides the Canadian pension plan’s investment arm into Evidation Health, a digital health company co-led by Deborah Kilpatrick and Christine Lemke and whose investors include McKesson VenturesCarrie Hurwitz Williams. OMERS Growth Equity and Kaiser Permanente Group Trust co-led Evidation’s $153 million Series E round, which also included McKesson Ventures and fellow existing investor B Capital Group. The new round comes some nine months after Evidation raised $45 million in Series D funding, a financing that Carrie led McKesson Ventures into.

Based in San Mateo, Calif., Evidation has created a privacy-first, direct-to-person research platform. It currently has a network of more than 4 million individuals. The company will use the new capital to fuel the expansion of its virtual health programs, which are designed to motivate and empower individuals to take evidence-supported actions to manage their health and conditions. The company’s platform, Achievement, has been used for real-world studies on topics such as COVID-19, Alzheimer’s disease, chronic pain and respiratory conditions. Evidation currently works with nine of the world’s ten largest biopharmaceutical companies.

Evidation was originally launched out of GE Ventures’ new business creation unit, which was led at the time by Risa Stack. Deborah, who is co-CEO and executive chair, joined Evidation in late 2014 after being chief commercial officer of CardioDx, a genomic diagnostics company. Christine, who is co-CEO and president, co-founded the company in 2012 with Mikki Nasch, who is vice president of business development; Alessio Signorini, who is chief architect; and Luca Foschini, who is chief data scientist.

In a statement, Teresa said “Evidation has made rapid, virtual research at scale possible and the company’s innovative platform can be levered to guide patients on their health journeys. Evidation is positioned to be a key enabler of the feedback loop that translates into timely, appropriate care and health insights.”

In conjunction with the financing, Teresa joined Evidation’s board. Teresa in 2020 backed Aledade, a provider of value-based care. Teresa joined OMERS Growth Equity in September 2019 after spending 12 years with OMERS Private Equity.

OMERS Growth Equity is a long-term investor, focused on supporting companies to pursue all types of growth opportunities. OMERS, which was founded in 1962, is one of Canada’s largest defined pension plans.

Encore Consumer Capital’s Wallman backs Bosworth’s Love Wellness

Kate Wallman, a director with Encore Consumer Capital, backs a women’s health and wellness brand founded and led by Lauren “Lo” Bosworth. The amount invested by Encore in Ogilvie Brands, Inc. was not disclosed.

Ogilvie, which does business as Love Wellness, specializes in supplements, multivitamins, over-the-counter suppositories and female hygiene. Lauren founded the New York-based company in 2016 after a decade-long career as a reality television star. Feeling that she was not getting enough from legacy women’s health brands, Lauren saw the opportunity to build a wellness brand for women driven by body positivity, clean ingredients and expert formulations. The company’s products are sold through its website, Amazon and at both specialty retail and mass channels, including Ulta and Target.

In a statement, Kate said that Lauren “has built a company that is a category pioneer focused on straight talk about sensitive issues and delivering efficacious women’s health and wellness products.”

In conjunction with the investment, Kate has joined Love Wellness’ board. She is also on the boards of firm portfolio companies Murry’s, Inc., Full Sail Brewing and KYLA Kombucha.

Based in San Francisco, Encore is a consumer product-focused private equity firm, which is currently investing its $260 million third fund. The firm has raised more than $600 million in equity and has invested in more than 35 companies.

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