Prelude Growth Partners, founded by Neda Daneshzadeh and Alicia Sontag, invest in Asian food brand

From our Women's PE Briefs - week commencing August 2, 2021

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Prelude Growth Partners, which was founded by Neda Daneshzadeh and Alicia Sontag, invests in a fast-growing Asian food brand founded and led by Jing Gao – a company Neda tells Women’s PE Briefs that Prelude was drawn to because “consumers today are looking for bold flavors in their food preparation.” 

Terms of Prelude’s investment in Fly By Jing were not disclosed. The capital will be used to jumpstart the Los Angeles company’s retail expansion. It will roll out in Whole Foods, Target, Sprouts, Foxtrot and such online grocery platforms as Thrive Market and FreshDirect this fall. Fly By Jing was founded in 2018 and launched on Kickstarter. Its Sichuan Chili Crisp has become the top selling hot sauce on Amazon. In a statement, Jing said she created Fly By Jing “because I didn't see products that spoke to me on the market. I wanted to rewrite false narratives about Chinese food and showcase the complexity of China's 5,000-year culinary history and that 'Made in China' can mean the highest quality products with no artificial flavors or preservatives.” Neda said her firm reached out to Jing “proactively and built a relationship and got to know each other. When we first met, she wasn’t thinking about raising capital.” She added that she and Alicia believe Fly By Jing “will become a leading Asian sauce, condiment and food brand.” A consumer-focused private equity firm, Prelude earlier this year closed its second fund at $250 million. Its investments include So Good So You, a maker of wellness shots co-founded by Rita Katona; Banza, a maker of chickpea pasta; and Tasty Green LLC, a dietary supplement producer created by Dawn Russell. Neda previously was a partner at L Catterton. She has spoken at both the Women’s Alternative Investment Summit and the Women’s Private Equity Summit. Alicia previously was global president of beauty at Johnson & Johnson. https://flybyjing.com/

Lone Pine Capital’s Mala Gaonkar backs an API platform for search and dynamic experiences led by Bernadette Nixon.

Algolia closed $150 million in a series D funding led by Lone Pine with participation from Fidelity Management & Research Company LLC, STEADFAST Capital Ventures, Glynn Capital, Twilio, as well as existing investors Accel and Salesforce Ventures. Based in San Francisco, Algolia provides an API platform for dynamic experiences that enables organizations to predict intent and deliver results. The company achieves this with an API-first approach that allows developers and business teams to surface relevant content when wanted, satisfying the demand for instant gratification and building and optimizing online experiences that enhance online engagement, increase conversion rates and enrich lifetime value to generate profitable growth. This investment will allow Algolia to scale, serve the increased demand for the company’s search and recommendations products and fuel its continued global expansion into adjacent markets and use cases. Bernadette joined Algolia as CEO a year ago. She was previously CEO of Alfresco Software inc., which was acquired by private equity firm Thomas H. Lee Partners in 2018. Algolia raised a $100 million Series C round in December 2019. In a statement, Mala said “Algolia helps power developers’ search and content discovery capabilities with an API-first approach that can be applied to SaaS applications and e-commerce, as well as enterprise applications across industries. This new way of software development is an important innovation for businesses, as it helps developers more easily build digital experiences on top of Algolia’s APIs rather than implementing and maintaining a complex backend — allowing businesses to more quickly adapt to their customers’ evolving needs. We look forward to partnering with Algolia’s leadership to help the company expand and serve increased demand for its exceptional products.” Lone Pine Capital is an investment adviser that invests in equities and equity-related securities. www.algolia.com.

BBG Ventures Nisha Dua invests in a full-stack marketing platform for creators co-founded by Samantha Safer Valentine

Norby raised $3.8 million from BBG, Gradient Ventures, Bungalow Capital, Charge VC and Notation Capital. Based in New York, Norby is an audience relationship manager built for creators and emerging brands. The platform bundles together all the tools community builders need, like SMS campaigns, newsletters, event management, link in bio, signup forms, landing pages, link and referral tracking and more. The company will use the funding to expand their toolkit into an audience management platform. In a statement, Nisha said “Today B2B companies need brand and community just as much as DTC companies. The Norby team is leading the way on both – plus they’ve built an incredible product.” Nisha leads female-focused BBG with Susan Lyne. Its investments this year include Evvy, which was founded by Priyanka Jain and Laine Bruzek and is seeking to build a new understanding of the female body, and Treet, which is led by Sonia Yang and is rethinking the resale retail market. https://www.norby.live/.

BBG VenturesSusan Lyne delivers funds to a company founded by Amy Divaraniya which has created an at-home kit used to detect a woman’s best time to conceive. 

BBG led Oova’s $1.2 million seed round which also included participation by Company Ventures, according to TechCrunch. Based in New York, Oova is a fertility diagnostic company that brings the accuracy of a clinic into your own home. Oova’s at-home kit comes with a handle holder, 15 disposable cartridges and a mobile app. Users will take a urine test, scan the results with their phone’s camera and receive actionable steps, including confirmation that the person ovulated and the best days for conception. The company intends to use the new funding to add more features and get the hormone tests ready for market, as well as rebranding. In a statement, Susan said “Oova’s science is strong and enables consumers to understand their test results without having to go to an expert. The fact that you can get a personal hormone profile in the past only meant if you hit a certain level to tell if you are fertile. This one is quantitative, so it tells you yesterday, today, so you can track it and when you are about to ovulate.” BBG Ventures is an early-stage fund focused on consumer tech startups. https://oova.life/.

Sofina Ventures Yana Kachurina puts capital into an Indian natural beauty and baby care product brand co-founded by Ghazal Alagh

According to Economic Times, Mamaearth closed a $50 million funding round led by Sofina with participation from Sequoia Capital. Mamaearth is an online-first certified toxin-free baby and personal care brand. The company will use the fresh capital to double down on its brand’s growth through deeper offline expansion and also explore acquisitions in the beauty and personal care space. Yana joined Mamaearth’s board as an observer. She also is an observer on the boards of Hector Beverages and Verse Innovation Pvt Ltd. Sofina is a Belgium-based investment company investing both directly and through private equity funds. https://mamaearth.in/.

AllerFund, which was co-founded by Lisa Strovink, comes in on a new round for IgGenix Inc., which was co-founded by Dr. Kari Nadeau and whose new CEO is Dr. Jessica Grossman and is seeking to treat food and non-food allergies and other severe allergic conditions. 

AllerFund took part in IgGenix’s $25 million Series A1 financing which also included Matthias Westman, Alexandria Venture Investments, ShangBay Capital and returning investor Khosla Ventures. Based in South San Francisco, Calif., IgGenix is taking a self-described “revolutionary approach” to directly address allergic disease. It will use the capital to advance its novel antibody therapeutics platform, which captures and analyzes very rare human B cells that express allergenic-binding antibodies. IgGenix then engineers them with powerful immune modulating activities derived from the IgG antibody class to suppress allergic reactions. Kari founded the company in 2019 with Stephen Quake, Derek Croote and Bruce Hironaka. She is the director of the Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy and Asthma Research at Stanford University. Kari also co-founded two companies with Ashley Dombkowski: Alladapt Immunotherapeutics Inc., which is developing prescription therapeutics to address food allergies, and Before Brands Inc., which has created a childhood nutritional products line aimed at reducing food allergy development risk with 16 key allergens. Nestle Health Science has an option to acquire Before Brands. Jessica joined IgGenix earlier this summer from Medicines360, where she was CEO. Her background also includes serving as president and CEO of Sense4Baby, Inc. AllerFund, which Lisa founded with Adam Miller and is focused on social impact in the food allergy space. Prior to AllerFund, Lisa was chief strategy officer at the New York Stem Cell Foundation Research Institute. She also spent time at Ascent Biomedical Partners.  https://iggenix.com/.

Forerunner VenturesKirsten Green and TMV’s Soraya Darabi have a portfolio company acquired – one co-founded by Alexandria Ketcheson

HENRY The Dentist, which operates a fleet of mobile dental practices, was acquired by Onsite Dental, which is backed by Norwest Venture Partners. Based in Aliso Viejo, Calif., Onsite provides employer-based dental care. Forerunner led HENRY’s $10 million Series A round in 2019, which also includes TMX and Brand Foundry. Both Kirsten and Soraya were on HENRY’s board. Based in New Providence, NJ, HENRY brought dentists to corporate offices. The company’s vehicles are equipped with the latest technology and patient amenities, including digital imaging, BOSE noise-cancelling headphones and HBO & Netflix while sitting in a massage-featured dental chairs. The company served such companies as ADP, Merck, Vonage, Audible and CNBC. It is seeking to make it easier for people to go to the dentist. Alexandria, who was formerly an executive with Drybar, founded HENRY with her now-husband, Justin Joffe, who serves as CEO. Alexandria was chief brand officer. Earlier this year, one of Kirsten’s other portfolio companies, Modern Fertility Inc., agreed to be purchased by Ro for a reported $225 million. Soraya founded TMV with Marina Hadjipateras.

Anthemis Group’s Ruth Foxe Blader puts capital in a platform co-founded by Qiyun Cai and Hanna Wu to help people build wealth through permanent life insurance. 

Anthemis led Amplify Life Insurance’s $2.5 million seed round with participation from Transverse Ventures Fund. Based in San Francisco, Amplify is a digital permanent life insurance platform for building wealth. The platform offers life insurance products where customers can access tax-free investments inside their policy to use for retirement, student loans, a down payment, etc., meanwhile providing lifelong protection. Additionally, Amplify’s platform provides policy customization, streamlined underwriting, and an educational customer journey that caters to each unique individual’s preferences and situation. In a statement, Hanna said “Permanent life insurance is traditionally sold face-to-face by commission-driven life insurance agents. Today, Amplify is taking the first step in providing a transparent and streamlined digital-first experience for consumers to purchase permanent and cash value life products.” Ruth added in a statement “Anthemis is proud to back Amplify as they design and distribute permanent life insurance products that help under-served customers build wealth and health.” Earlier this year, Ruth made the first investment of Anthemis’ Insurance Venture Growth Fund, backing Branch Insurance, a provider of instantly bundled home and auto insurance. She also is on the board of Hometree, Axle, Hokodo, Insurdata, Kaiko, Proportunity and Stable. A financial service-oriented venture firm, Anthemis is led by founder Amy Nauiokashttps://beamplify.com/.

MMC VenturesAlexia Arts, Elvie’s Andrea Zitna, Hearst Ventures’ Megumi Ikeda and Sofia Bendz, a former Spotify executive, invest in a London-based company focused on improving long-term health for women co-founded by Andrea Berchowitz and Rebecca Love

Vira Health raised 1.5 million pounds in seed funding from LocalGlobe, MMC Ventures, and angel investors including Megumi, Andrea, Sofia, along with Matt Robinson and Simon Lambert. Vira’s mission is to make high-quality personalized menopause care accessible to all women, ultimately improving healthy life expectancy for women by reducing the prevalence of later life conditions such as osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and dementia. Stella, the first product from the company, launched to support women through personalized menopause treatment plans rooted in scientific research with the ability to talk to a trained coach for support. The funding will be used to invest further in product development and to expand the team. In a statement, Alexia said “At MMC Ventures, healthcare is a key area of research and investment. We see a huge potential in capturing and harnessing data insights to reshape the way that healthcare is practiced and delivered.” Andrea added in a statement “at Vira, our vision is to fundamentally transform long term health and wellbeing for women. We believe better menopause care is the first step. Female health issues have historically been under-researched and under-invested, and this remains the case today. There is an opportunity to use technology to redress this balance by improving the collection and use of female data in healthcare. This first round of seed funding is a step towards realizing our vision.” https://www.vira.health/.

Andreessen Horowitz’s Arianna Simpson helps spin a company out open-source blockchain ecosystem Celo – a company which will be held by Jackie Bona

Andreessen Horowitz took part in a $20 million financing for Valora along with Polychain Capital, SV Angel, Nima Capital, NFX and Valor Capital. Based in San Francisco, Valora is a mobile-first digital wallet native to the Celo Platform, which allows you to save, send and spend crypto as easily as sending a text. Since its public launch in February, Valor has secured more than 200,000 users with a balance and 53,000 monthly active users in more than 100 countries that use the app to pay, send fund globally and save. Jackie most recently served as head of consumer growth of cLabs, Inc., which initially shaped Celo and Valora. Her background also includes roles with Spotify, Twitter and Google. In a statement, Arianna said Valora “is tackling many of the friction points that have hindered the broader adoption of crypto and DeFi. It's truly becoming the global gateway to crypto. We look forward to continuing to partner with the exceptional team at Valora as crypto becomes more mainstream and continues to scale around the world." Arianna was recently named a general partner of the firm’s crypto investing team. The firm earlier this summer closed its third crypto fund at $2.2 billion. https://valoraapp.com/.

Lisa Stone ties the knot with a legal platform creating more affordable and less stressful divorces founded by Erin Levine

Hello Divorce received a seed investment of $2 million led by CEAS, with additional funds coming from Lightbank, Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures, Gaingels, Jack Newton, Ed Diab and Lisa, who is with West River Group. Based in Oakland, Calif., Hello Divorce’s mission is fixing the broken and expensive divorce process with a combination of software and accessible, easy-to-understand, affordable legal services. Using both self-service and guided processes, with the option of accessing a lawyer if needed, clients can remove a lot of the stress of the typical "lawyer up immediately” model, resulting in a quicker, more equitable and less fear-driven outcome. With this seed round, the company plans on rapidly scaling legal filing options across the U.S., improving its product and giving consumers more of the content and services they need to feel informed and in control of their divorce process. In a statement, Erin said “Hello Divorce reduces fear and builds trust by hand-holding divorcing spouses through the complicated process without talking down to them. This results in not only a phenomenally easier legal path, but the opportunity for a healthier, happier next chapter." https://hellodivorce.com/.

Revel, a community and event platform for midlife women co-founded by Lisa Marrone and Alexa Wahr, acquires a social platform and website for women over 40 founded by Nina Lorez Collins following a funding round that included participation from Elizabeth Weil and Forerunner Ventures, which was founded by Kirsten Green

Terms of Revel’s acquisition of The Woolfer were not disclosed. Elizabeth and Forerunner took part in Revel’s $3.5 million seed round, which also included August Capital, Y Combinator, Maveron, Alexis Ohanian, Villi Iltchev, Chris Bennett, Andy McLoughlin and Gordon Sween. Based in San Francisco, Revel’s mission is to ignite an empowered, confident and supportive community of women worldwide, who defy outdated stereotypes about what is possible as women age. The Woolfer is a feminist group of likeminded women who gather in-person and virtually for open and honest discussions about everything from books, health and relationships to the funny and real aspects of aging. The acquisition of The Woolfer will expand Revel's footprint across the U.S. In a statement, Alexa said "We are thrilled to bring The Woolfers into the Revel community. More members means more creative energy on the platform and more fun and interesting events, making us a richer and more vibrant space overnight. Our shared mission is to ignite an empowered, confident, and supportive community of women worldwide, who defy outdated stereotypes about what is possible as women age -- and this acquisition is a huge step forward towards achieving this vision." https://www.hellorevel.com/.

EmergeVest’s Jessica Bruser deposits capital in a Singapore-based neobank for women entrepreneurs founded by Debbie Watkins.

A Hong Kong-based growth-oriented private equity investment group, EmergeVest seeded Lucy. The amount was not disclosed. Lucy’s mission is to empower women to open accounts, avoid high-interest credit, meet high-interest loans, take fledgling businesses to the next level and launch impactful, enterprising ideas. Lucy will use the proceeds of this funding round to invest in its tech platform, expand its Singapore-based team and prepare for an imminent launch of its inaugural product, before expanding regionally through strategic partnerships. In a statement, Debbie said “We immediately connected with Jessica and the EmergeVest team and are pleased that they share our vision for supporting women entrepreneurs.” In conjunction with the financing, Jessica joined Lucy’s board of directors.  https://welucy.com/.


BOOST&Co’s Kim Martin packs funding into a U.K. based delivery service provider founded by Kate Lester.

BOOST&Co invested 2.5 million pounds in Diamond Logistics, which provides local and national fulfilment and delivery to businesses across the United Kingdom. The business has developed its own platform, Despatchlab, that brings client users and network partners together. The funding will be used to continue developing the firm's ‘one-stop’ logistics platform, accelerate the growth of its network and build on the demand created by the U.K. lockdowns. In a statement, Kate said "We are absolutely delighted to support Kate and the team at Diamond Logistics and help them achieve their future growth plans. Diamond Logistics offers a compelling service and we are very excited by the opportunities Despatchlab presents for them and the market as a whole.” Kim also recently led BOOST&Co into Atech Support, a U.K. based cloud service provider. BOOST&Co is a provider of growth capital for innovative, fast-growing UK SMEs and offers loans, covering a wide range of sectors. https://www.diamondlogistics.co.uk/.

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