Ramalingam’s Moonshot secures funding from Beringea’s McCormick while Kawai’s Roadster is backed by Banister

From our Women's PE Briefs - week commencing June 7, 2021

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Osier guides Adenia Partners’ acquisition of Verjee’s Africa Biosystems 

Adenia PartnersMartha Osier guides her firm’s acquisition of an East African life sciences distributor co-founded by Yasmin Verjee. Terms of Adenia’s purchase of Africa Biosystems Limited were not disclosed.

ABL is a Kenyan distributor of life sciences and clinical diagnostics equipment, such as instruments used to conduct research and diagnosis across the animal, human and crop sectors with product applications that span molecular, cell and protein biology and DNA forensics.

An Africa-focused private equity firm, Adenia will work together with ABL to expand its operations in its core East African markets, with a focus on accelerating its installed base of scientific instruments. Adenia will also help ABL establish a new management structure as well as improve its systems and processes to better capture opportunities in the life sciences market.

In a statement, Martha said, “at a time when the life sciences market in East Africa is expected to grow significantly due to rising healthcare needs, we are excited to invest in Africa Biosystems, which has built a strong reputation in the region with its exemplary service and technical know-how.”

Yasmin added in a statement, “we are thrilled to welcome Adenia as an investor and look forward to our next phase of growth. With their trusted guidance, we plan to deepen our commitment to developing the regional markets, while boosting awareness of our products and their applications within East Africa’s life sciences sector.” Yasmin joined Adenia in 2018 after spending four years at Catalyst Principal Partners. She was promoted earlier this year to partner.

Bread and Butter’s Grove backs Freye’s Orbiit

Bread and Butter VenturesMary Grove backs a company co-founded by Bilyana Freye that automates interactions within online communities. Orbiit, according to TechCrunch, raised $2.7 million in a round led by Bread and Butter, with participation from new investors High Alpha Capital, LAUNCHub Ventures and Company Ventures. Existing investors Founders Fund, Acceleprise and other angels also participated.

Orbiit is a virtual networking platform helping community managers systematically connect their members through curated one-on-one conversations. The New York-based company activates communities globally through connections between members and saves community builders valuable time with algorithmic matching and comprehensive analytics. The capital will be used to build out the Orbiit product and engineering team.

In a statement, Bilyana said, “tailored one-on-one connections allow members to discuss difficult topics, be vulnerable and share learnings with one another. Those one-on-one connections are the hardest to execute, but when you start investing in them, with the help of Orbiit, you see engagement feeding into all other initiatives and a vibrant, active community that truly delivers on the promise to its members.”

Mary, a managing partner at Bread and Butter, added in a statement “This age-old question of how to leverage technology at scale to drive meaningful connections across communities both internal to an organization and across the globe is a problem we’ve been actively seeking a solution to for a decade. Orbiit brings the perfect blend of tech-enabled software with human curation to create strong connections and provide insights back to community managers.”

Earlier this year, Mary led Bread and Butter into Nest Collaborative, a provider of breastfeeding support founded by Amanda Gorman. Mary founded Minnesota-based Bread and Butter with Brett Brohl. She previously was a partner with Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund.

Ramalingam’s Moonshot secures funding from Beringea’s McCormick

A company founded by terrorism and extremism expert Vidhya Ramalingam secures funding from Beringea’s Karen McCormick to identify and mitigate online dangers. Moonshot raised $7 million in Series A funding from Beringea and Mercia Asset Management.

London-based Moonshot, which is now opening a Washington, D.C. office, was founded by Vidhya and Ross Frenett to design technologies and methodologies to reach people both engaging in and affected by a range of online harms, including disinformation, human trafficking, gender-based violence and child sexual exploitation and abuse. Moonshot will use the funding to drive international expansion, further develop its tech stack and expand operations to allow it to counter such harms as disinformation and organized crime.

Vidhya is recognized internationally for her role leading global responses to extremism and terrorism. Following the 2011 attacks in Norway, she was appointed to lead the European Union’s first inter-governmental initiative on far-right terrorism and extremism, initiated by the Governments of Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands, and launched by the EU Commissioner for Home Affairs. She has testified before the U.S. Congress on the global threat posed by far-right terrorism, was named an Obama Leader by the Obama Foundation and has advised the Biden-Harris administration on countering white supremacist terrorism.

In a statement, Karen said, “it is not often that you meet a founding team that has advised heads of state alongside Facebook and Google: in Vidhya and Ross, we are working with entrepreneurs that provide world-leading perspectives on the global trends shaping the future of online threats.”

Karen is on the boards of Luxury Promise, Fnatic, Thread, Been There Done That Global, InContext Solutions, Blis and EDITED, which was co-founded by Julia Fowler. Karen is Beringea’s chief investment officer.

Carlson and Stichs Guild Education raises a $150M Series E round that values the company at $3.75B

Guild Education, the education benefits company that was co-founded by Rachel Carlson and Brittany Stich and whose board includes Redpoint VenturesAnnie Kadavy, raises a large new round at an impressive valuation from a group that includes existing investors Redpoint; Laurene Powell JobsEmerson Collective; Cowboy Ventures, which was founded by Aileen Lee; and GSV Ventures, which was founded by Deborah Quazzo. Guild raised a $150 million Series E round that valued the company at $3.75 billion. In addition to Redpoint, Emerson, Cowboy and GSV, investors in the round included Bessemer Venture Partners, D1 Capital Partners, General Catalyst, Harrison Metal, ICONIQ and Salesforce Ventures. Guild’s prior investors include Operator Collective, which is led by Mallun Yen and Leyla Seka, and Rethink Impact, which is led by Jenny Abramson and Heidi Patel.

Based in Denver, Guild has developed a platform that corporations use to make going back to school easier for employees. To date, it has partnered with such entities as Walmart, Lowe’s, The Walt Disney Co., Discover Financial and Chipotle. Colleges that it works with include the University of Arizona, Purdue Global, New Hampshire University and the University of Central Florida. Guild’s program has been used by 400,000 working adults.

Rachel serves as CEO while Brittany is a senior advisor. Rachel previously founded and served as CEO of Student Blueprint. Brittany is a former teacher and was a program director with Quad Learning, Inc.

Kawai’s Roadster cruises to an impressive liquidity event

Roadster, which was co-founded by Elsa Kawai and whose backers included Cyan Banister, cruises to an impressive liquidity event. A digital platform that enables dealers to sell new and used vehicles online, Roadster was acquired by CDK Global for $360 million. Roadster is now a wholly owned subsidiary of CDK, a provider of integrated data and technology solutions to the automotive, heavy truck, recreation and heavy equipment industries.

Roadster, according to Crunchbase, raised a total of $26 million from such other investors as Costanoa Ventures, Trucks Venture Capital and Liberty Mutual Strategic Ventures.

Jackson guides Danone Manifesto Ventures into Ready, Set, Food!

Danone Manifesto VenturesHolly Jackson brings the corporate venture arm of Danone back into a guided system to safely introduce food allergens to children co-founded by Dr. Katie Marks-CoganReady, Set, Food! raised $3.5 million in its most recent funding round led by Edward-Elmhurst Health, and supported by returning investors Danone Manifesto, Mark Cuban and AF Ventures.

Developed by parents, for parents, following first-hand experiences with their kids’ own childhood food allergies, the team behind Ready, Set, Food! is composed of leading physicians and experts in allergy research, including Katie, co-founder and allergist-mom. The system gradually introduces infants to peanuts, eggs and milk, the top three childhood food allergens, to significantly lower their risk of developing a food allergy. The easy-to-use and all-natural daily dietary supplement helps reduce the risk of developing the top three food allergies. The investment will help advance the Los Angeles-based company’s mission of giving every baby a chance at a healthier future through its complete, early allergen introduction system of the top nine allergens.

In a statement, Holly said, “we are excited to continue supporting the important work underway at Ready, Set, Food! to help provide a life of food freedom for all children. We look forward to continuing to work with their team as they take additional steps to advance their mission, including the launch of new products, on-the-ground healthcare partner work, donation programs and more.”

Danone Manifesto focuses on bringing health through food to as many people as possible by partnering with entrepreneurs in the food revolution.

Saigal’s Kudos receives backing from Underwood

A startup co-founded by Amrita Saigal, which is seeking to reinvent disposable diapers with sustainability in mind, absorbs capital from April Underwood. Kudos absorbed $2.4 million in seed funding from April, Foundation Capital, Xfund, PJC, Precursor Ventures, Liquid 2 Ventures, SV Angel, Underscore VC, Alpha Bridge Ventures and more.

According to Amrita, Kudos is the first and only disposable baby diaper to earn Cotton, Inc.’s natural cotton seal for having 100 percent cotton touching baby’s skin instead of plastic and is made with four times more plant-based materials than the best disposable diaper out there. Based in Boston, Kudos operates on a direct-to-consumer subscription model, offering a monthly box based on the baby’s changing size and weight.

April is a venture partner with Obvious Ventures and the founder of Nearby.

Able Partners’ Eilian, Blau and Ryu and Victress Capital’s Cashman and Norris get behind Tebbe’s Rae Wellness

An inclusive women’s supplement brand co-founded by Angie Tebbe gains capital from Able Partners, whose investment team consists of partners Amanda Eilian, Lisa Blau and Alison Ryu, and Victress Capital, which is led by Lori Cashman and Suzanne Norris. Rae Wellness received a cash infusion of $9.5 million in Series A funding led by PowerPlant Partners and joined by M13, Able and Victress.

Based in Minneapolis, Rae offers a variety of vegan, non-GMO and gluten-free supplements. The funding will help the company continue developing its supplements targeting women’s well-being in sexual, hormonal and mental health. In a statement, Angie said, “we’ve been ramping up fast — it’s a crazy dream come true. We needed a big infusion to get to the scale we want, which includes creating an omnichannel brand.”

Amanda, Lisa and Alison also comprise the management team of Able Partners, a special purpose acquisition company which is in registration to go public.

Victress last year closed its first institutional fund at $21.7 million. The firm has used the fund to back such other companies as WaitWhat, a self-described “media invention company” whose co-founder and CEO is June Cohen; Summersalt, a travel wear company founded by Lori Coulter and Reshma Chattaram Chamberlin; and Alyce, Inc., a developer of a personal experience platform.

Eli-Lorch steers AMEX Ventures’ into Jorge’s Trulioo

American Express VenturesDana Eli-Lorch steers AMEX’s venture arm back into a sizable round for portfolio company Trulioo, an identification technology service co-founded by Tanis Jorge. Trulioo secured $394 million in a Series D round at a $1.75 billion valuation led by TCV, with additional participation from existing investors Citi Ventures, Blumberg Capital and Mouro Capital.

Trulioo’s latest funding round comes as the pandemic accelerated the need of businesses, e-commerce firms and financial firms to verify customers’ identities for secure transactions. The Vancouver, BC-based company helps banks, financial service providers, online marketplaces and others verify the identity of their customers, using hundreds of data sources that cover 5 billion people and 330 million companies. The global identity network enables companies to reliably onboard customers in a digital-first world, which speeds international expansion, mitigates fraud risk and ensures regulatory compliance. Trulioo builds and connects digital identity networks around the globe and this framework empowers businesses to assess the various risks associated with digital identities.

This funding will enable Trulioo to accelerate their goal to become an end-to-end identity platform, breaking down fragmented data silos caused by disparate identity networks. Trulioo will work in partnership with TCV to expand their investments in product innovation, build out artificial intelligence/machine learning capabilities and accelerate their global go-to-market strategy.

Li, Fidler and Scarborough-led BDC Capital’s Women in Technology Venture Fund help fund Urtasun’s Waabi

A Canadian self-driving technology company founded by Raquel Urtasun launches following a funding round that includes angel investors Fei-Fei Li and Sanja Fidler and the BDC Capital’s Women in Technology Venture Fund, which is led by Michelle Scarborough. Waabi secured $83.5 million in Series A funding led by Khosla Ventures with additional participation from Uber, Radical Ventures, 8VC, OMERS Ventures, BDC, Aurora Innovation, Inc. and angel investors.

Toronto-based Waabi is building the next generation of self-driving technology with an approach that unleashes the power of AI to drive safely in the real world, bringing the promise of self-driving closer to commercialization than ever.

In a statement, Raquel said, “self-driving is one of the most exciting and important technologies of our generation. Once solved at scale, it will change the world as we know it.”

Michelle, also in a statement, said, “we believe that diversity powers innovation, and are committed to supporting women-led technology companies that have world-changing potential. Raquel is a pioneer in the self-driving space, who will use her unrivaled qualifications, unparalleled experience, and deep knowledge to build the future. We’re so proud to champion her team and partner with them as they build Waabi into a global leader.”

Earlier this year, Michelle led the fund into AmacaThera, which was co-founded by Molly Shoichet and which is developing an alternative to opioids. The BDC Capital Women in Technology Venture Fund is a venture capital fund dedicated to investing in women-led technology companies and helping to build a robust ecosystem to support women in tech today and in the future.

Contentstack raises capital from Georgian’s Walsh, Illuminate’s Padnos and Roberts’ GingerBread Capital

Georgian’s Emily Walsh steers her firm into Contentstack, a content experience platform led by Neha Sampat that has previously been backed by Illuminate VenturesCindy Padnos and Linnea RobertsGingerBread Capital. Georgian, Illuminate and GingerBread took part in Contentstack’s $57.5 million Series B round, which was led by Insight Partners. The San Francisco company has now raised a total of $89 million. Illuminate and GingerBread first invested in Contentstack in a 2019 financing – the size of which was not disclosed.

Contentstack is used by companies to power its voice, virtual reality, support and in-game experiences. Its customers included McDonald’s, NBC, Broadcom and Chico’s FAS. Contentstack will use the new capital for international growth, expand its ecosystem of channel and technology partners and accelerate new technology innovation. Prior to Contentstack, Neha was CEO of Built.io.

In a statement, Emily said that the Georgian team members “are big believers in Contentstack and the leadership team, especially after our conversations with global brands revealed how important Contenstack is to these organizations and how beloved the product is by both business and technical users.”

Emily is lead investor at Georgian, a Toronto-based fintech company that invests in high growth software companies. She is on the boards of Reonomy, Tractable and Vention and an observer on the boards of WorkFusion, Bidgely, and Flashpoint.

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