Stancik Boyce, Salzhauer, LaSala and Strandberg among those investing in women led companies this week

From our Women's PE Briefs - week commencing April 5, 2021

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Roberts’ GingerBread Capital takes part in Pair Eyewear’s $12M Series A round

Linnea Roberts GingerBread Capital sees the potential in a direct-to-consumer, customizable eyewear brand co-founded and co-led by Sophia Edelstein. GingerBread took part in Pair Eyewear’s $12 million Series A round, which also included Javelin Venture Partners, Norwest Venture Partners, Precursor Ventures, Bolt and such strategic investors as David Rogier, founder and CEO of Masterclass.

Based in New York, Pair allows children and adults to change their glasses as often as they wish. Top frames start at $25 and glasses themselves cost just $60. The company has partnerships with brands like Marvel, Harry Potter and NBA teams and has experienced 30 percent month-over-month growth since appearing last year on “Shark Tank.” Sophia founded and co-leads Pair with Nathan Kondamuri.

GingerBread backs women-led companies. Earlier this year, it invested in Air Protein, whose co-founder and co-CEO is Lisa Dyson and which is out to change the future of food.

Good Growth Capital takes part in Databento’s $4M round

Good Growth Capital, whose team includes managing partners Maureen Stancik Boyce, Amy Salzhauer and Carolyne LaSala, invests in a company founded and led by Christina Qi. Good Growth took part in Databento’s $4 million round, which also included Mercury Fund and such existing investors as Blindspot Ventures, Differential Ventures and Indicator Ventures.

Databento’s platform offers a la carte data from a variety of direct sources, so customers only pay for the data they need. The founding team were original founders of Domeyard, a high-frequency trading hedge fund; they built the core technology to enable their own trading and then spun-out to create Databento, offering customized, parsed datasets. Databento provides two offerings to data users and will provide another to data owners. The company provides data in small, custom slices, providing self-service data requests and uses AI algorithms to index original datasets and prepare multiple blocks of data based on predicted user demand.

Good Growth’s investments also include NALA Systems, whose CEO is Sue Mecham and which is designing water purification membranes; Coagulo, which is led by Galit Frydman and tests for anticoagulation; Base Operations, led by CEO Cory Siskind and which created an app to keep employees traveling abroad safe; Radical Plastics, which is led by CEO Kristin Taylor and developed an additive that renders plastic film biodegradable in the environment; LuminDx, led by CEO Susan Conover and which is utilizing artificial intelligence and telemedicine to help health care professionals better diagnose skin diseases; and Aluna, which is led by CEO Charvi Shetty and has developed a device that has received FDA clearance to help patients better manage their asthma as well as “compassionate use” approval from the FDA to help diagnose COVID-19.

Good Growth has offices in Charleston, SC and Boston. The firm has two fund families, the General Fund for Seed and Series A and the Infinite Corridor Fund. Both fund families focus on backing MIT-related and science-based companies.

Hummingbird Ventures’ Wajskop guides the firm into Anima’s $2.5M seed round

Hummingbird Ventures Lola Wajskop guides the firm into a company co-founded by Rachel Mumford that is seeking to prevent avoidable deaths. Hummingbird led Anima’s $2.5 million seed round, which also included Amino Collective and a group of angel investors, according to Crunchbase News.

Based in London, Anima is focused on catching health problems as early as possible and getting people in to see doctors. The company is providing automated triage in which people would submit their concerns/questions to the site and doctors can then more quickly evaluate the situation. Rachel, who is chief operating officer, founded the company last year with Shun Pang, who is CEO. Rachel previously held a series of roles with Her Majesty’s Treasury, including head of innovation finance in entrepreneurship in the enterprise and growth unit.

In an interview with Crunchbase News, Lola said that Hummingbird was “impressed with Shun and Rachel and could see how a doctor, who everyone wants to see in person and is exhausted from work, could benefit as well. Shun and Rachel have huge visions for Anima, and we are sure this is ‘Step 1’ for the journey in health care.”

Lola is also involved with firm portfolio companies Automata, Basecamp Research, Higia, Soda and Zippi. Prior to Hummingbird, she co-founded Yes She Can.

The Engine re-invests in Syzygy Plasmonics

The Engine, whose managing partner and CEO is Katie Rae, re-invests in Syzygy Plasmonics, Inc., which was created around research from Rice University Professor Naomi Halas. The Engine took part in Syzygy’s $23 million Series B round, which included Horizons Ventures, Equinor Ventures and such other returning investors as GOOSE Capital and Evok Innovations. The Engine co-led Syzygy’s $5.8 million Series A round that was raised a year ago.

Based in Houston, Syzygy is developing a photocatalytic chemical reactor powered by light from renewable electricity instead of heat from burning fuel. The company’s reactor is seen as having the potential to revolutionize the industrial gas, chemical and energy industries by reducing the cost and carbon emissions in the production process for a range of chemicals such as fuel, fertilizer and plastic.

The company is also based on research by another Rice University professor, Peter Nordlander. Naomi and Peter co-founded Syzygy with Trevor Best, who is CEO, and Suman Khatiwada, who is chief technology officer.

Tappan Hill Ventures and Elevate Ventures re-invest in Casted

Tappan Hill Ventures, whose president and managing director is Linda M. Fingerle, and Elevate Ventures, whose chief investment officer is Ting Gootee, re-invest in Casted, a marketing platform for branded podcasts whose CEO and co-founder is Lindsay Tjepkema. The Indianapolis-based company raised $7 million from a group that also included Revolution Ventures and another returning investor, High Alpha Capital. Tappan Hill, Elevate and High Alpha seeded Casted in 2020 with $2.35 million.

Casted enables B2B enterprises to leverage audio and video content as a sales and marketing tool. They enable marketing teams to publish content, access a fully searchable content archive, amplify content and quantify the impact of the content through data-driven analytics. The company’s customers include PayPal, HubSpot, Drift and ZoomInfo.

Lerer Hippeau’s Strandberg involved in Ensemble’s $3M seed round

Lerer Hippeau’s Caitlin Strandberg buys into Jacklyn Rome’s effort to ease an acute pain point for divorced parents. Lerer Hippeau joined TTV Capital and Citi Ventures in providing $3 million of seed capital to Ensemble, which Jacklyn founded and leads.

Based in Los Angeles, Ensemble has developed an expense tracking app for co-parents. The company hopes that it will replace the text messages and spreadsheets that parents now rely on to track shared finances for their children. Ensemble launched in the iOS App Store a year ago. Users of the app are, on average, tracking more than $1,000 per month in shared expenses. Jacklyn founded Ensemble after leading new product launches at Uber and Blue Apron.

In a statement, Caitlin said that “as family childcare expenses balloon, Ensemble makes it easier for co-parents to approach a traditionally difficult topic – money. Ensemble's intuitive product makes it seamless to manage and collaborate on shared expenses when it matters most.”

A principal at Lerer Hippeau, Caitlin has also backed such companies as Studs, an ear-piercing startup co-founded by Anna Harman and Lisa Bubbers; Cure Hydration, a hydration brand created by Lauren Picasso; Otherland, a candle maker co-founded and led by Abigail Cook Stone; Sweet Reason Beverage Company, a CBD-infused beverage company founded and led by Hilary McCain; and The Inside, a home furnishings company co-founded by Christiane Lemieux and Britt Bunn.

Lightspeed Venture Partners’ Quinn backs Real

Lightspeed Venture Partners Nicole Quinn backs Real, a therapy startup founded and led by Ariela Safira – a company which in 2020 was seeded by such investors as Forerunner Ventures Kirsten Green; Female Founders Fund, whose founding partner is Anu Duggal; and BBG Ventures, which is led by Susan Lyne and Nisha Dua. Soccer star Megan Rapinoe and entrepreneur and actress Gwyneth Paltrow are also investors in the company. Lightspeed, according to TechCrunch, led Real’s $10 million Series A round. The publication said existing and new investors also participated but did not say who other than Megan and Eric Kendricks, an NFL player.

Based in New York, Real is seeking to offer differentiated mental health solutions. The company enables members to access group therapy meetings and events that are organized around themes, such as sexuality, body image and miscarriage. Members pay $28 a month. Real had set out to have a physical location but moved to a digital-first model.

In a blog post announcing the investment, Nicole said Real solves the problem of a single therapist in a group setting “by turning therapy into a one-to-many platform that’s far more affordable and accessible than traditional treatments.” She said the firm is excited about Real because it’s digital, affordable, the market is “huge,” engagement “is through the roof” and the team, which she describes as “exceptional, product-driven leaders.”

Nicole, a partner, last year joined the board of Calm, after leading Lightspeed’s re-investment in the mental wellness brand. Nicole’s portfolio companies include Illumix, which was founded by Kirin Sinha; Goop, Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle site; and Zola, a wedding registry whose CEO is Shan-Lyn Ma. Nicole spoke at this year’s Virtual Women’s Private Equity Summit.

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