MPULSE MOBILE INCREASES SUPPORT OF MEDICARE ADVANTAGE AND MEDICAID HEALTH PLANS THROUGH KEY SOLUTIONS AND TECHNOLOGY PATENT

By Josh Ades  Posted February 25, 2020

LOS ANGELES – February 2020 – mPulse Mobile, the leader in Conversational AI and digital engagement solutions for the healthcare industry, announces today that it has crossed two significant milestones in early 2020. mPulse Mobile now supports more than 30 million healthcare consumers and has also delivered over 500 million automated conversations for high-value solutions like Medicaid Redetermination, Medication Adherence and a range of solutions focused on closing gaps in care to improve quality measures for their healthcare partners.

Healthcare organizations across the industry are increasingly investing in interactive messaging as it continues to be the most effective channel for engaging their consumers. mPulse experienced exceptional growth in its Medicare Advantage and Medicaid plans in 2019, adding 20 new government program plans in the past year. With these new partners onboard, mPulse now works with plans that manage the care of more than 23% of Medicaid lives and 56% of Medicare Advantage lives in the US. mPulse has a combined 28 years of experience working with 6 of the top 12 Medicare Advantage plans by size. Closing out a strong 2019, mPulse now partners with nearly 100 different healthcare organizations. In addition to Medicare and Medicaid, mPulse customers focus on behavioral health, pharma, dental, and medical technology.

“We are thrilled to be doing so much work across the healthcare landscape to drive meaningful outcomes in quality improvement, member satisfaction, and population-level behavior change among many others. We always try to remember that real people are behind every outcome and helping to guide them is our mission, so it’s exciting to really feel the impact we can make alongside our customers on their members’ lives.” said Chris Nicholson, CEO of mPulse Mobile.

Some of the outcomes mPulse achieved in 2019 include their co-published study in JMIR demonstrating the impact of Social Determinants of Health on Medicare medication adherence, a 12 percentage point improvement in Medicaid redetermination rates for a large Illinois-based MCO, and a 48% screening completion rate for a previously unengaged Medicaid population. These results were the product of close collaboration between mPulse and the plans, as well as their leading Conversational AI platform and ongoing solution optimization.

“Relationships are the key to success, both between us and our partners but just as importantly between our partners and their members. Leveraging our behavioral data science team and enterprise-grade technology, we are able build real connections and empathy at scale between healthcare organizations and their members that lead to important outcomes,” added Ram Prayaga, mPulse Mobile CTO.

Intelligently pairing behavioral data science with technology has long been core to mPulse’s offerings, and recently led to a patent (patent #10474724) for the Mobile Content Attribute Recommendation Engine (mCARE). mCARE plays a major role in Conversational AI programs by analyzing consumer profiles each time new information is added and automatically delivering the best next communication to the consumer to increase the likelihood of health activation,” explains Prayaga.

Further indicating mPulse’s focus on bringing a scientific approach to healthcare consumer engagement, they earned a trademark for Conversation Science™ in 2019. Conversation Science refers to the use of advanced analytics to determine how impactful conversations are, ranging from the population level all the way down to 1:1 with each individual. The ability to measure and report on conversation efficacy empowers mPulse to adjust rules governing each conversation to ensure members have the best possible experience and to achieve key health engagement outcomes.


The most promising Philly tech companies in this new decade: RealLIST Startups 2020

The startups chosen for this year’s roundup vary in product and in mission, but represent innovative approaches and solutions across rising industries in Philadelphia and beyond.

 By Paige Gross / STAFF

Every year since 2017, we here at Technical.ly have combed through our archives, listened to our communities and relied on our own reporter gut instincts to name 10 startups we deem to be extremely “real.”

These folks are the movers and shakers of the startup tech and entrepreneurship ecosystem here in Philadelphia, and from where we stand, they are well shaped to do big things in 2020 and beyond.

Most have given us evidence — through doubling down on hiring, fundraising or launching new products — that they’re setting up to make the Philly startup scene better than it was before they arrived.

From where I stand, as a reporter fairly new to Philly’s tech scene but with a deep understanding of Philadelphia’s strengths and weaknesses, these startups make the cut. They are varied in product and in mission, but represent innovative approaches and solutions across rising industries in this city and beyond.

As always, the companies chosen fit these criteria:

  • Have been founded no earlier than 2017, a rule Technical.ly cofounder Christopher Wink established in his 2012 definition of a startup. (The sunset period, unfortunately, leaves out some very real contenders that graced our list last year such as NeuroFlow and Lilu which have made significant strides, deals and growth this year.)
  • Make the lion’s share of their revenue from a specific product offering. That means agencies were not in the game.
  • Have not been through a significant exit event like mergers or acquisitions.

P.S. If you don’t see your startup on this list, don’t worry — that doesn’t mean the work you are doing is “unreal.” This annual list is just a peek into some startups we think will make some major strides, though we will be following as many as possible throughout the year.

Let’s jump in.

10. FORT Robotics

The one-year-old company is a spinout of Humanistic Robotics, which was founded in 2004 and created devices to keep humans safe from landmines which were deployed in areas such as Afghanistan and Southeast Asia. In about a year, FORT, which has a mission to create a secure, end-to-end wireless platform that ensures human safety around dangerous machines, has grown from its original team of 10 to about 25 employees and raised $4 million in seed funding.

“The industry has been there, and the tech is finally there, but there’s not yet a safety platform of record,” CEO Samuel Reeves told Technical.ly during a visit to its Curtis Center office. In 2020, FORT will likely raise a Series A round and continue to grow, Reeves said.

9. Simply Good Jars

Former professional chef Jared Cannon launched this line of jarred, ready-to-go meals stored in connected smart fridges at the end of 2017, and has seen slow but steady success with the venture since. Cannon was chosen for New York-based Food-X, an accelerator program for food-related startups, in 2019, where he claimed to tap a handful of Fortune 500 companies as customers.

“We are on the cusp of some really exciting stuff,” Cannon told Technical.ly. “We’ve partnered with Byte Technologies along with other regional brands to commercialize our offering and help even more people have a better for all food option available steps away from where they’re already living life,” i.e. offices and other facilities such as hospitals.

In September 2019, Cannon pitched Simply Good Jars to a handful of investors at a live pitch event, and raised $325,ooo — part of a $1.6 million seed round he said was underway.

8. GoCoach

This job training and reskilling company was started in NYC, but its founder, Pennsylvania native Kristy McCann Flynn, told Technical.ly last year that she was coming home to run the business from Philly. McCann Flynn launched the company in 2018 to offer a SaaS and customer-facing solution to the professional development market.

The app relies on a network of customers and career coaches who work together to bring folks up to speed on current workforce trends and skills. It tracks KPIs, has behavioral assessments and brings in a range of “coaches” for various industries. The company is remote friendly, and has a handful of employees in Philly, New York, California, Washington and North Carolina.

“We will be honing in on Philly hires for sales and support and West Coast for tech,” McCann Flynn said.

7. Avisi Technologies

This Pennovation Center-based medtech startup was founded by University of Pennsylvania grad Rui Jing Jiang in 2017 while she was at The Wharton School. The company’s product, VisiPlate, aims to treat open-angle glaucoma with an ocular implant that’s designed to remove excess fluid from inside the eye. The device releases pressures that damage the optic nerve.

In 2019, the company said it was funded via non-dilutive grants and awards including a $225,000 federal government grant from the National Science Foundation and additional funding from Penn, Ben Franklin Technology Partners, VentureWell E-Teams, among others. Last year, Avisi went through the MedTech Innovator Accelerator based in San Francisco.

6. QuotaPath

QuotaPath made the 2019 RealLIST for reasons that remain true in 2020: It raised a $1.5 million seed round led by Austin-based ATX Seed Ventures and angel investors, and the company’s profile is raised with cofounder AJ Bruno. His first company, TrendKite, was acquired last year in a nine-digit deal.

In 2019, the team launched its flagship product, a platform designed to help salespeople calculate and track their commission-based earnings and quota attainment. The company also raised $3.5 million, doubled its employee headcount and had a company kickoff in Philadelphia where it flew its Austin employees up for a hackathon and a day of strategic sessions.

5. Gettacar

The Northeast Philly startup is run by two childhood friends, Yossi Levi and Jake Levin, with years of experience in traditional auto sales and a stint at goPuff for Levin, who helped launch the local delivery service company that got a $750 million investment in 2019. The thought process was this: Why can’t cars be sold and delivered the same way you can get a six-pack of beer sent to your house?

The pair launched the showroom-less auto seller in 2018, essentially an online platform where folks could shop for a used, reasonably priced car and get it delivered the next day. The company raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding in 2018 which included San Francisco-based e.venturesThe Philadelphia Inquirer reported. A Gettacar spokesperson told Technical.ly in December that it employed 100 people locally and operates a 25,000-square-foot reconditioning center in Northeast Philly.

4. NICKL

This news subscription startup was born in Brooklyn, but lured to the City of Brotherly Love for the 2019 LIFT Labs accelerator class — and has since decided to make Philly its home. NICKL, and its product NICKLpass, found success in the idea of bundling and selling news outlet subscriptions to groups, namely companies. It was a need the three-person company heard from Comcast during the accelerator.

Nickl has secured discounts as high as 70%, CEO Sumorwuo Zaza said, in deals that give news outlets more subscribers and Nickl a share of revenue from the sales, he told the Inquirer. One of NICKL’s only confirmed clients is the Los Angeles Times, which told the Inquirer it has “seen some encouraging results” since trying Nickl’s corporate account bundling service. The company will continue to work out of LIFT Labs until the 2020 accelerator class moves in, and then the company will get an office nearby, Zaza said.

3. Crossbeam

Three-time founder Bob Moore jumped into his latest project, “LinkedIn for data” startup Crossbeam, in 2018 with cofounder Buck Ryan. The duo raised a $3.3 million seed round in early 2019, then a $12.5 million Series A in August led by FirstMark Capital with participation from existing investors First Round CapitalUncork Capital and Slack Fund.

In 2019, Crossbeam’s platform went live and onboarded more than 100 companies (including some local ones); released products; been featured on the “How I Raised It” podcast; and won first prize at PACT’s Phorum demo pit. In early 2020, the startup has reached about 20 full-time employees, including senior product manager Lindsey O’Niell (one of our inaugural RealLIST Engineers), who moved to Philly to join the team.

2. Penji

The on-demand graphic design startup, founded in 2017, is becoming a go-to for companies looking for design services and has some mass appeal from its unique subscription model: unlimited design services managed through proprietary software for a flat rate of $369 a month. It’s been heralded for extending those services to Camden nonprofits that couldn’t afford them for a single dollar. It earned enough clout to land on the Inc. 5000 list last year at number 1,006.

Penji set up shop in Camden near the waterfront two years ago, but its significant staff growth — up to about 60, now, cofounder and CEO Khai Tran said —was cause for the startup to move operations over the Ben Franklin Bridge to Philly in fall 2019. Tran told Technical.ly at the time: “The mission didn’t change. Just the location did.”

1. Astarte Medical

This precision medicine company is run by two former venture capital investors, Tracy Warren and Tammi Jantzen, who have since taken their savvy in raising money for others to their own startup. The team had an especially banner year — raising a $5 million Series A round in May 2019 and an additional $3.5 million in November — and seems it will have an even more impressive 2020.

The funding will go toward the commercialization and adoption of its NICUtrition, a suite of digital tools and diagnostics that supports feeding protocols, practice and decision-making in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) for premature babies. The company will use the additional funds to accelerate hiring and ramp its sales and marketing efforts for its first two solutions, NICUtrition Analytics and NICUtrition Guidance.

“Astarte Medical plans to grow its team by 300% in 2020, adding in-house sales and marketing staff, as well as client support functions to assist early adopters,” it said in November. “In addition, the company also plans to expand its in-house engineering and data science teams to support continued product development.”

The duo also gets props for rapid fundraising and hiring in Yardley, a ‘burb not really known for attracting tech talent.

Finally, a few honorable mentions (in no particular order):

  • EmployeeCycle
  • Swirl
  • VyB
  • TrekIT Health
  • Kumba Africa
  • This Apps Saves Lives
  • Leadovate
  • Hopskip
  • MD Ally
  • NaturAll Club

Placer.ai, a location data analytics startup, raises $12 million Series A

Catherine Shu@catherineshu / 7:00 am CST • January 22, 2020

Placer.ai, a startup that analyzes location and foot traffic analytics for retailers and other businesses, announced today that it has closed a $12 million Series A. The round was led by JBV Capital, with participation from investors including Aleph, Reciprocal Ventures and OCA Ventures.

The funding will be used on research and development of new features and to expand Placer.ai’s operation in the United States.

Launched in 2016, Placer.ai’s SaaS platform gives its clients real-time data that helps them make decisions like where to rent or buy properties, when to hold sales and promotions and how to manage assets.

Placer.ai analyzes foot traffic and also creates consumer profiles to help clients make marketing and ad spending decisions. It does this by collecting geolocation and proximity data from devices that are enabled to share that information. Placer.ai’s co-founder and CEO Noam Ben-Zvi says the company protects privacy and follows regulation by displaying aggregated, anonymous data and does not collect personally identifiable data. It also does not sell advertising or raw data.

The company currently serves clients in the retail (including large shopping centers), commercial real estate and hospitality verticals, including JLL, Regency, SRS, Brixmor, Verizon* and Caesars Entertainment.

“Up until now, we’ve been heavily focused on the commercial real estate sector, but this has very organically led us into retail, hospitality, municipalities and even [consumer packaged goods],” Ben-Zvi told TechCrunch in an email. “This presents us with a massive market, so we’re just focused on building out the types of features that will directly address the different needs of our core audience.”

He adds that lack of data has hurt retail businesses with major offline operations, but that “by effectively addressing this gap, we’re helping drive more sustainable growth or larger players or minimizing the risk for smaller companies to drive expansion plans that are strategically aggressive.”

Others startups in the same space include Dor, Aislelabs, RetailNext, ShopperTrak and Density. Ben-Zvi says Placer.ai wants to differentiate by providing more types of real-time data analysis.

“While there are a lot of companies touching the location analytics space, we’re in a unique situation as the only company providing these deep and actionable insights for any location in the country in a real-time platform with a wide array of functionality,” he said.

*Disclosure: Verizon Media is the parent company of TechCrunch.

The story of two women who’ve raised more than $6 million to start their own ‘fem tech’ company for women and children’s health

Collin West and Nihar Neelakanti, Kauffman Fellows Fund Oct 4, 2019, 10:29 AM

  • Tammi Jantzen is the cofounder of Astarte Medical, a precision medicine company that utilizes software and predictive analytics to improve health outcomes during the first 1,000 days of life.
  • Jantzen prides herself on being part of a female-led cofounding team and has become very acutely aware of the specific challenges involved in fundraising for female founders.
  • She shared her experience transitioning from CFO in venture capital to entrepreneur, as well as pitching investors on “fem tech.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Tammi Jantzen grew up in a small Wisconsin college town and started her professional life as an accountant working for a publishing company, which was later acquired by McGraw Hill. After the acquisition, McGraw Hill let go of all the accountants and offered Jantzen a job in New York City. 

A year after the move, Jantzen realized her passions were leading her elsewhere. She fell into venture capital around 1998 after a VC client of her husband’s, a residential contractor, talked about how their fund was looking for a CFO. Soon enough, the fund offered Jantzen the job, and the rest is history. 

With nearly two decades of experience in venture, Jantzen made the bold transition to entrepreneur and cofounded Astarte Medical, a precision medicine company that utilizes software and predictive analytics to improve health outcomes during the first 1,000 days of life, with an initial focus on preterm infants. 

Jantzen prides herself on being part of a female-led cofounding team for Astarte Medical and has become very acutely aware of the specific challenges involved in fundraising for female founders. 

She joined us to speak about her fundraising experience as a cofounder of a startup, combining her former experience and perspective as GP of a fund tackling a complex, significant problem from two different angles. 

Learning by doing

There are few industries in which learning is so closely tied to “figuring it out along the way” than venture capital. Having an intimate understanding of the financial mechanics behind investment transactions is often the only prerequisite to becoming a successful venture capitalist — the rest must be learned through a wide variety of good and bad deals. 

“Prior to becoming immersed in the VC world, I had only heard about venture capital,” noted Jantzen. “I didn’t know much about it, and I learned from just doing.” 

The fund Jantzen joined was a $45 million regional fund and had already made a couple of investments. As the fund was preparing to raise a second fund, one of their LP’s presented an opportunity to join him in a $150 million fund called Battelle Ventures. Jantzen was a founding member of Battelle Ventures in 2003 as CFO and saw the fund grow to $250 million under management. Battelle Ventures was an early-stage fund focused largely on healthcare, energy, and homeland security. 

“Battelle Ventures only had a single LP, so there were unique aspects to our mandate and operations as a result,” commented Jantzen. 

During her time at the first fund, Jantzen met Tracy Warren. After Battelle Ventures chose not to pursue a second venture fund, Jantzen and Warren joined to start their own fund, Astarte Ventures. It was the first fund focused exclusively on women’s and children’s health. 

“Fem tech wasn’t coined yet,” said Jantzen. “We saw an enormous opportunity to add value to an underserved market. Prospective fund investors told us to go out and prove the market actually exists. We took a bet and it paid off. We helped validate the space and proved that our small fund would actually make money.” 

Jantzen and Warren put their own money to work, investing under Astarte Ventures. In the course of their work, they spent a lot of time visiting women’s and children’s hospitals around the country. That’s where they met Katherine Gregory, RN, PhD at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Jantzen and Warren were intrigued by Gregory and her research. 

“Kate Gregory was clearly a rockstar,” said Jantzen. “She was working on some phenomenal research on preterm infant microbiome and gut health. She had a unique background having hands-on clinical experience as a nurse alongside stellar academic and research credentials. At the time, we didn’t know what the product would be, but we knew it was worth the time and energy to figure it out. This initial meeting with her prompted our entrepreneurial shift and led to the founding of Astarte Medical in 2016.” 

Starting to fundraise

Astarte Medical has raised over $6 million, with $1.4 million coming from Jantzen and Warren personally. Astarte Ventures funded the initial seed round, which funded the BabyBiome Study in Gregory’s lab at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The company also received seed capital from Ben Franklin Technology Partners, who invested alongside the founders’ capital based on the strength of the team while the concept was still forming a business. In October 2017, having formulated a solid plan and developed an initial product, Astarte Medical went out to officially raise its Series A. However, fundraising for these experienced investors-turned-entrepreneurs was not without its challenges.

“Having spent so much time in early-stage investing, we went into this thinking we knew exactly what we needed to do to win over investors. The process of raising capital took longer than we ever thought,” said Jantzen. “It was actually really frustrating. VCs and even many of the angel groups said two things: ‘It’s really interesting what you are doing, but you are a little too early, so come back to us when you have revenue.'”

She added: “One of the most frustrating lessons of fundraising was spending too much time entertaining the wrong investors. We spent an incredible amount of time in diligence with some, who when asking about exit strategy and corporate development specifically asked if our female-led team could handle it. One group even asked if we had any men on the team. There we were with a life-changing company, a functional business model, and an experienced team, and we’re being asked if we had male supervision.”

Despite vexations, the pieces started to come together in early 2018. Keiretsu Forum MidAtlantic would become the lead investor, and the term sheet was executed in February 2018. Astarte Medical got its final commitments in December, a full 10 months after the execution of the term sheet.  

“We now realize that we set very unrealistic expectations on how much time and energy would be expended to raise this round of funding. We spent 80% of the time on 20% of the commitments,” said Jantzen. “We spent too much time chasing small checks. In the final three months, the bulk of the money came in triggered by some uncommon avenues.”

Astarte Medical participated in accelerators XLerateHealth and Illumina Accelerator. 

“Every accelerator helped add another critical piece to the puzzle,” commented Jantzen. “XLerateHealth helped refine the pitch, and much to our surprise, $1 million of the $5 million came as a direct result of our participation in XLerateHealth. The Illumina Accelerator enabled us to sequence an unprecedented amount of data at a fraction of the cost, and provided dollar for dollar match funding. The match funding provided $2 million of the $5 million Series A round, which was a tremendous catalyst, enabling us to close our round slightly oversubscribed.” 

“This has been the hardest I’ve ever worked but, hands down, the most fun I’ve ever had,” added Jantzen. “I think the coolest thing for me is that we are making a difference in the lives of infants and families, helping babies thrive. What better mission could there be? But it’s not all about impact; we’re building a solid, highly investable business. Closing our Series A was validation of our vision and opportunity, as well as our team.” 

Takeaways as a GP and entrepreneur

As a general partner at a venture capital fund and a cofounder of a startup, Jantzen has a unique point of view of fundraising. 

Sitting on the other side of the table as entrepreneurs, they gained an appreciation for all the founders that had come before them as investors for over 15 years.  

“Looking back, 2018 was a challenging year while we were fundraising.  With little gas in the tank, no one took a salary and the founders personally invested to bridge the company to closing,” said Jantzen. “From a personal standpoint, it was a difficult year, but we wholeheartedly believed in our vision and knew we would persevere. Having a cofounder to lean on throughout the process was critical to our success. I couldn’t imagine going through it as a lone founder.”

“We were surprised that we didn’t get more traction from female-founder-friendly investment groups that we thought would be excited about the opportunity,” added Jantzen. “We were fortunate to have Astia Angels and NextAct Fund invest, but most early-stage VCs and many angel groups are very risk-averse. We found ourselves spending a lot of time entertaining potential investors that we shouldn’t have given their biases and tire-kicking. There was one angel group we spent over a year in diligence with only to find that they couldn’t pull an investment together.  In retrospect, it turned out to be a blessing as not all money is good money. We are fortunate to have a syndicate of committed investors who share our vision and respect the experience and potential of this team.” 

The process of pitching a startup to dozens or even hundreds of investors is more of an artform that requires discipline and due diligence. 

“We had over two hundred iterations of the pitch deck. We treated every investor pitch as a unique opportunity,” she said. 

Jantzen’s largest frustrations were not knowing who was really serious and able to invest, investor indecisiveness, and lack of leadership within angel groups. 

“If I had to boil the entire ten months of fundraising to three takeaways, I would say: focus initially only on folks that can lead the deal; your relationship with your investors is much like a marriage, so be selective with who you choose; and above all, be persistent. Stay focused on the business and the opportunity, continue to share your passion and vision, and the right investors will ultimately buy in,” she said. 

Through Astarte Medical’s vision of improving outcomes in the first 1,000 days of life, Jantzen and team will have a meaningful and measurable impact on hundreds of thousands of infants and their families. Astarte Medical has already built the largest and most comprehensive dataset of preterm infant microbiome profiles and corresponding clinical data about both mom and baby. 

“We started the company based on Kate’s idea of using a ‘calculator’ that looks at microbial health risk factors of baby — gestational age at birth, how they are born, antibiotics administered, mom’s health, how they are fed, and so on — and marries those factors with microbiome sequence data and outcomes,” said Jantzen. “If we can connect all those factors together and identify which variables influence the establishment of the microbiome and how it changes during the course of the infant’s stay in the neonatal intensive care unit, we can build predictive algorithms to risk stratify infants and provide predictive models on growth that can help clinicians make better-informed care decisions around nutrition, feeding, and the use of antibiotics and probiotics. With our dataset, we’re developing MAGI, the Microbiome And Growth Indicator — a gut health profile.” 

Astarte Medical has also built NICUtrition, a feeding dashboard that simplifies the processes of documenting and logging feeding for preemies in the hospital. The more data it collects, the more powerful of an impact the data will be able to make in the future of personalized medicine. 

“Zeroing in on the best way to feed every baby is going to be huge for ensuring health in the first 1,000 days of life starting from conception through age two,” said Jantzen.

Jantzen is optimistic about the future, and as cofounder of a startup tackling major issues head-on and transitioning from GP of a fund aligned with her passions, Jantzen is thrilled to be in the space.

Nihar Neelakanti is an investor at Kauffman Fellows Fund, produces The Arena Podcast, and writes the Journal Newsletter by Kauffman Fellows. The firm’s investments include Zoom, Carta, Tally, Groww, One Concern, and Catalog DNA. Previously, he was an analyst at Correlation Ventures, a venture firm out of San Francisco that has invested in notable consumer companies such as Casper, Cotopaxi, and Imperfect Produce. He also cofounded Vendima Bags, a direct-to-consumer luxury bag startup.

Collin West is cofounding partner of Kauffman Fellows Fund and a Kauffman fellow from class ’17. He’s also founder and head of research of Kauffman Fellows Research Center. Previously, he was a principal at Correlation Ventures. He’s a 2x founder. He’s also pictured in the Guinness World Records for leading the first team to row a boat across the Arctic Ocean over 41 days and 1,000 miles non-stop and unsupported. 


Progentec Raises $5M in Series A Funding Led by Plains Venture Partners

– Commercializing aiSLE DX Flare Prediction Test, a new blood-based biomarker laboratory test for the prediction of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) flares

– Launching new research into digital biomarkers and the remote delivery of therapeutic programs

– Releasing aiSLE DX Lupus Classification/Diagnosis Test by mid-2020


NEWS PROVIDED BY Progentec Diagnostics, Inc. 

Jan 08, 2020, 11:49 ET

OKLAHOMA CITY, Jan. 8, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Progentec, a leader in the development of nextgen diagnostics and digital therapeutics for the management of autoimmune diseases, announced today that it has completed a $5 million Series A funding round led by Plains Venture Partners, the Oklahoma Seed Capital Fund and the Oklahoma Angel Capital Fund II, managed by i2E Management Company (Oklahoma City), with participation from NMC Health (Abu Dhabi), OCA Ventures (Chicago), Stanford University (Stanford), the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation (Oklahoma City), Mayo Clinic, and Burns & Stowers Investments LLC (Norman, OK).  The funding round provides go-to-market capital for Progentec’s CLIA laboratory and digital technologies for the management of lupus.

“With these funds we will be able to realize our vision of providing a comprehensive solution for management of lupus patients that combines proprietary blood biomarkers with high levels of sensitivity and specificity with continuous remote digital monitoring to benefit millions of lupus patients world-wide,” said Progentec’s CEO, Mohan Purushothaman. “In early 2020, Progentec will launch the aiSLE DX biomarker assay for early prediction of lupus flares.  Later this year, Progentec will launch an enhanced lupus disease diagnosis assay to correctly diagnose/classify lupus patients. These tests will support rheumatologists in making proactive treatment decisions to ensure better outcomes while reducing costs.”

The technology that powers the aiSLE DX test for Flare Prediction was featured at the 2019 ACR/ARP Annual Meeting during the ACR 19 Spotlight Slide Deck program. Progentec’s Dr. Melissa Munroe presented the research.

“Nextgen diagnostics are changing the world of healthcare by pairing unique blood-based biomarkers with digital biomarkers to improve patient outcomes while lowering the cost of disease management,” said Scott Meacham, the President and CEO of i2E Management Company, the fund manager for Plains Venture Partners, the Oklahoma Seed Capital Fund, and the Oklahoma Angel Capital Fund II. “Progentec’s aiSLE DX and other diagnostic tools paired with digital technologies will help patients, clinicians, and payors identify individualized treatment plans that can have significant and meaningful impact both on quality of life and cost of care.”

This funding will also support new research into digital biomarkers and remote delivery of digital therapeutic programs. “The cyclical nature of lupus isn’t just hard for doctors to manage. It’s hard on patients,” said Arif Sorathia, Progentec’s Director of Digital Products. “We are finding digital signals that help Lupus Warriors understand their individual patient journey.”

About Progentec Diagnostics, Inc.
Progentec is committed to improving access and health outcomes for patients in therapeutic areas with a high level of unmet need by combining clinically-validated diagnostic interventions with state-of-the-art digital technologies. Through collaborations with research institutions and health practitioners around the world, Progentec is working to reduce mortality and morbidity while improving care management and service delivery for chronic health conditions.

Contact:
Mohan Purushothaman
(973) 885-5242
mpurushothaman@progentec.com

Distance mental-health provider Regroup merges

The Chicago-based startup has combined with an established player to form what it hopes will be an industry juggernaut.

Regroup Therapy, an innovative startup that uses technology to fill gaps in mental health coverage, has merged with established industry player InSight Telepsychiatry.

Regroup founder David Cohn will stay on at the combined company as chief growth officer, along with other Regroup executives who will be in senior roles.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it creates the largest company in long-distance psychiatry, Cohn said. Mt. Laurel, N.J.-based InSight got into the mental-health business as a brick-and-mortar provider but moved into telehealth.

Cohn declined to provide specific financials but said the deal creates a combined company that will have triple the revenue of Chicago-based Regroup and about 150 employees. The merger will not result in layoffs.

Cohn, who founded the company in 2011, says Regroup merged with InSight to bulk up ahead of what he sees as a consolidation wave.

Regroup had signed up both public and private customers, from correctional facilities to insurers, looking to offer mental-health services. It specialized in scheduled psychiatry appointments, delivered via secure video chat.

InSight had developed an on-demand service to provide services to patients on an as-needed basis, something Regroup’s customers were seeking, Cohn said. “On-demand is a winner-take-all business. They got ahead of this.”

InSight also has a direct-to-consumer business. InSight, founded 20 years ago, took its first outside investment last year from private-equity firm Harbour Point Capital.

Regroup is backed by investors including local venture funds OCA Ventures, OSF Ventures, Impact Engine, Wasson Enterprise, HBS Angels, Hyde Park Angels and Further Fund. 

Genvid Technologies Announces Series B – Raises $27M to Accelerate Interactive Streaming Tools + Services

NEW YORK, Nov. 26, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Genvid Technologies Inc., a developer of interactive streaming technologies for game developers, media companies and sports broadcasters, announces its Series B fundraise.

Genvid’s SDK enables creators to build rich interactivity across multiple streaming platforms (Twitch, YouTube and more) on multiple infrastructures (AWS, Azure), and on multiple game engines (Unity, Unreal and proprietary engines).

Indie game developers and major game publishers are actively creating new streaming experiences that are only possible with Genvid’s tech stack. Genvid’s technology has already been used in many ways- most recently, powering the latest Counter-Strike: Global Offensive finals on Twitch, and various 5G showcases for Japan’s NTT Docomo.

The Series B funds will be used to further accelerate Genvid’s SDK feature development, as well as build an end-to-end services platform for developers who need live operations, integration, web development for their interactive streams. Additionally, the company will expand its business development efforts beyond the game industry into media and sports, since Genvid’s tech works as well with streaming video as it does with game-engine rendered content.

“We are already the standard toolkit for developers looking to bring rich, two-way, realtime interactivity to their games and broadcast,” says Genvid CEO Jacob Navok. “Our core tools will continue to improve as new features are added to take advantage of 5G, growth in interactive television, and to support the many new digital media formats being created by independent developers in partnership with Genvid, such as the metaverse-like experiences of Pipeworks Studio’s Project Eleusis.”

Leading the round is New York’s Galaxy Interactive, the division of merchant bank, Galaxy Digital, that focuses exclusively on the fast-growing interactive content and technology space, with an emphasis on investments in video game studios, esports, and more.

Sam Englebardt, head of Galaxy Interactive, will join Genvid’s board. “Galaxy Interactive and Genvid share the same vision,” says Sam. “We are strongly aligned around the belief that interactive streaming will be integral to the next major expansion of the gaming market.  Genvid’s technology will significantly grow the overall user base beyond traditional gamers themselves and unlock powerful new forms of content creation, consumption and monetization.   I believe every company in our portfolio, especially those which are utilizing blockchain and other technologies for the creation and ownership of digital goods, will benefit tremendously from the way Genvid’s technology will marry their products to the rapidly expanding streaming content infrastructure.”  

All of Genvid’s existing investors- March Capital Partners, OCA Ventures, Makers Fund, and Horizons Ventures, have joined in this round. And Genvid welcomes additional new investments from Valor Equity Partners and K5 Global.

Together with Galaxy Interactive, Genvid’s board and investor base represent unprecedented game industry insight and influence/investment in esports, game, media companies and other emerging technologies like blockchain and virtual and augmented reality. Valor Equity Partners is led by Antonio Gracias, who sits on esports team Cloud9’s board, while March Capital’s investments into Genvid have been spearheaded by Gregory Milken, who is co-owner of esports team Immortals Gaming Club. Makers Fund is one of the leading game content funds in the world today. And K5 Global is headed by Michael Kives, the former CAA agent who brings a wealth of media and sports connections.

Additionally, Genvid is announcing two new advisors who have been assisting Genvid over the last year. Matthew Ball is the former head of strategy for Amazon Studios and a leading thinker in the media industry, while Anna Sweet spent six years driving the growth of the Steam platform at Valve, led content strategy at Oculus and is now a games industry investor and advisor.

“The media industry has spent most of the last decade focused on shifting content online and figuring out how to charge for it,” says Matthew Ball. “The next decade will be about reinventing this content and creating brand new formats native to digital delivery. Interactivity will be at the core of this opportunity. And Genvid will be one of the key enablers of and creative partners behind these experiences.”

Genvid is also announcing the establishment of its European office in Berlin for business development and technical support, and its live operations office in Irvine, California to oversee infrastructure for clients. The company has over 50 employees in six offices worldwide, including New York, Montreal, Santa Monica, Irvine, Berlin and Tokyo.

About Genvid Technologies
Founded in 2016 by game industry veterans and backed by Galaxy Interactive, Horizons Ventures, Makers Fund, March Capital Partners and OCA Ventures, Genvid offers an SDK for game developers to integrate into their games and allows game developers to make revolutionary broadcasts. The Genvid SDK is a simple-to-use middleware, flexible enough to run on any streaming platform and infrastructure that developers want to support. As a result, livestreams can be monetized through transactions that are uniquely targeted to the individual watching, leading to a significant revenue opportunity for game developers through sponsorships and in-stream purchases. The first interactive streaming tools built specifically for game developers, the Genvid SDK can be downloaded for free at https://www.genvidtech.com.

About Galaxy Interactive
Galaxy Interactive is the newest investment division of Galaxy Digital, a leading merchant bank founded by Mike Novogratz and dedicated to blockchain technology and digital assets.  Investing from its $325 million Galaxy Digital EOS VC Fund (a partnership between Galaxy Digital and software development company, Block.one), Galaxy Interactive focuses exclusively on companies operating at the intersection of interactive content, blockchain and other technologies, with particular emphasis on video game studios, eSports, digital objects and related infrastructure tech.  The division is based in New York City and is spearheaded by Galaxy Digital Co-Founder and Partner, Sam Englebardt. 

SOURCE Genvid Technologies

10 tech startups focused on improving life for older Americans

Baby Boomers have immense buying power, and Silicon Valley is taking notice.

by Benjamin Lampkin

Some of the most famous and successful companies to emerge from Silicon Valley, from Facebook to Uber to Airbnb, have grown and benefited from investments and funding by venture capital firms.

Startups aimed at consumers over the age of 50 account for just 0.7% of VC funding. But a number of companies have begun to tap into those same investors to reach an underserved market with more than 70 million Americans.

1. Papa: Grandkids-on-Demand

The premise of Papa sounds like it might be a joke at first, but this company’s “grandkids on-demand” concept is anything but. Founded in 2016, Papa connects seniors with college students who are ready to help with transportation needs, cooking, filling prescriptions, or simply hanging out and chatting.

In October 2018, the company raised $2.4 million from Initialized Capital and Sound Ventures to help expand its reach from Florida into five additional states, and just announced an additional $10 million round.

2. Silvernest: Airbnb alternative

The number of home-sharing sites, popularized by Airbnb, has swelled in recent years, and Silvernest has joined the fray by focusing on older homeowners and potential renters who are interested in letting or sharing a room.

3. Siren: Smart socks

Xinhua/Li Ying via Getty Images

The idea of smart socks would have seemed inconceivable not even a decade ago. But Siren CEO Ran Ma’s utilization of NeuroFabric, which has sensors woven into the sock’s fabric and can sense temperature changes, allows the socks to monitor feet at multiple points and contact a physician and the patient if inflammation is detected.

The San Francisco-based company raised over $3 million in funding from DCM, Khosla Ventures, and Founders Fund, and also won the TechCrunch Hardware Battlefield competition in 2017.  

4. Eargo: Stylish hearing aids

Hearing aids, initially called ear trumpets, have been around since the 17th century, but digital technology has advanced the device significantly in the past few decades. Eargo was founded in 2010 and unveiled its first device in 2015; it now boasts three different styles that can be purchased directly from the company.

In March 2019, they received a $52-million round of financing from Future Fund, NEA, the Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation, Nan Fung Life Sciences, and Maveron, bringing their total funding to $152 million. 

5. Willow: Disposable underwear

Adult diapers might not be the kind of product that comes to mind when thinking of Silicon Valley startups, but Willow jumped into the multi-billion industry last year with a more modern approach, eschewing the bulky padding for natural fibers and a sleeker design.

They garnered $2.5 million in a pair of fundraising rounds from FirstMark Capital, Two River, and Wildcat Venture Partners.  

6. Honor: Home-health tech

After pivoting to a national home-health network that connects and partners with local agencies and home care operators, Honor raised $50 million in 2018 to bring its total funding to $115 million. The San Francisco-based company is backed by 25 investors but received its latest round from Prosus and Alumni Ventures Group. 

7. WHILL: Personal electric vehicles

Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

The Model Ci wheelchair, or personal electric vehicle, was named one of the Best Inventions of 2018 by TIME Magazine and snagged a Best of Innovation Award at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show.

A $45 million round of funding was completed in 2018, bringing the total amount of funding to $90 million from around 21 investors. 

8. Rowheels: A better wheelchair

Manual wheelchair users have their own innovator to thank, as Wisconsin-based Rowheels introduced a propulsion system that allows the driver to pull back on the handrims to move forward. In addition to its wheelsets, which attach to an existing chair, they’ve also unveiled their own wheelchair model.

Across eight rounds of funding the company has raised $4.5 million from WISC Partners. 

9. Cake: Digital planning

Created by engineer Suelin Chen and palliative specialist Dr. Mark Zhang, Cake is a digital service where consumers can create and store end-of-life decisions like wills, advance directives and medical interventions, estate planning, and memorial services. The online platform lets users answer simple questions to create a detailed checklist, upload documents, and access them at any time.

Multiple backers, including Pillar VC and Arkitect, have granted $1.6 million to the Boston-based company. 

10. Rendever: Virtual reality

The aging-in-place population is quickly growing, & technology needs to support this large group. We were delighted to give some early insights into how #vr is connecting both families & entire communities, no matter where they age, at the #CoxSmartHome #ConnectedIndependence

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virtual reality company working with retirement communities, Rendever offers a way for people to overcome feelings of isolation. By using VR headsets and software like Google Maps, clients can navigate real-world locations and even experience visits to their former homes.

Rendever hasn’t raised an eye-popping amount like the other companies on this list, but is a good example of using technology in new ways to benefit people as they age.

Balto, Real-time AI Call-Guidance Software, raises additional $3 million in Seed funding

Balto, the world’s first artificial intelligence software for real-time call guidance and coaching, announced today that it closed a $3 million seed financing round.

ST. LOUIS, Sept. 26, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Participating in the round are OCA Ventures (co-lead), Stage Venture Partners (co-lead), Jump Capital, Cultivation Capital, SaaS Ventures, TIA Ventures, and Sandalphon Capital. This round of funding will be used to scale the organization’s sales and marketing capabilities, expand headcount, and make major investments in applying A.I. to help sales teams make their sales messaging more effective.

CEO Marc Bernstein, COO Chris Kontes, and CTO Davidson Girard founded Balto in January 2017 to address the multibillion-dollar need to optimize revenue opportunities and eliminate costly mistakes on sales calls. Since inception, Balto has guided almost 10 million phone calls and has consistently doubled its customer base every five months.

Balto uses artificial intelligence to analyze both sides of the conversation and instantly deliver critical information to sales representatives before they lose valuable sales calls. Balto is fully customizable and is the only call guidance software solution that can provide real-time feedback without storing any transcripts or call recordings. Balto has attracted customers across all industries, from 2-person sales teams to fast-growing publicly traded companies in financial services, healthcare, home improvement, pharmaceuticals, utilities, retail, insurance, collections, and enterprise technology.

“We are thrilled to be leading a second round in Balto Software just 13 months after our first,” says Alex Rubalcava of Stage Venture Partners. “Balto has built a world-leading real-time call guidance product that brings unprecedented AI-powered coaching to every agent on the call center floor. Balto also empowers sales managers with speech analytics and live data so they know, for the first time, how well their teams are selling in the moment.”

“The A.I. is powerful, the rep coaching is effective and the results are measurable. Balto has built a category-leading product and developed sales and marketing functions far ahead of typical seed stage companies,” says Tamim Abdul Majid of OCA Ventures.

With this newest round of funding, Balto is thrilled to continue expanding its St. Louis-based team and serving its customers nationwide.

About Balto

Balto is the #1 AI technology for real-time call guidance and coaching. Balto’s software solution listens to both sides of a call and instantly delivers critical information and feedback to sales representatives before they lose valuable sales calls. Balto is fully customizable and current customers include sales teams, contact centers, and customer service groups in sectors ranging from debt collections to healthcare and home improvement.

For more information, contact: info@baltosoftware.com
For press inquiries, contact: marketing@baltosoftware.com

SOURCE Balto

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SpotHero Scoops Up $50M

By Jim Dallke -August 22, 2019

Chicago parking app SpotHero landed $50 million in new funding as it looks to help more people find on-demand parking.

The round was led by Macquarie Capital, an Australia-based investment bank. Other backers in the round include Insight Venture Partners, Global Founders Capital, OCA Ventures and AutoTech Ventures.

SpotHero has now raised $118 million since it launched in 2011. It’s the latest Chicago startup to crack the VC funding century mark, joining AMP AmericasFourkitesSprout Social, and G2 Crowd, who’ve all crossed over $100 million in total capital raised within the last 12 months.

SpotHero now offers drivers access to 7,000 off-street parking locations in 300 cities, making it the largest marketplace to find a parking spot in North America, the company said.

The startup said that its all-time sales have now reached more than $500 million, and it’s on pace to reach $1 billion in all-time transactions by 2020.

“By standardizing the way parking is bought and sold, we are introducing the same visibility into parking inventory that people expect from the airline or hospitality industries,” Mark Lawrence, CEO and co-founder of SpotHero, said in a statement.

Earlier this year, SpotHero announced SpotHero for Fleets, a parking-as-a-service solution for the car-sharing economy that helps fleet providers like Car2Go find parking—while also preparing for the industry’s eventual transition to autonomous vehicles. It launched SpotHero for Business in 2017, which helps employers manage parking spend. The startup said earlier this year that it has 600 enterprise clients on the platform.