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Blendoor data lets you know if companies are living up to diversity pledges

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Many companies talk the talk when it comes to diversity, but it’s harder to know if a firm is actually going the extra mile to hire more qualified people from underrepresented groups, or if they just make noise about it. Blendoor, a six-year-old startup, wants to put data to work on the problem by giving companies a score based on publicly available data to let the world know just how diverse a company actually is.

Blendoor founder and CEO Stephanie Lampkin says that when she launched the company, it was more focused on finding qualified diverse candidates by mitigating unconscious bias in the hiring process. That involved removing name, age, gender or any other indications that could potentially create bias and just let the person’s work record stand on its own. She said that the startup targeted companies that had made public DEI pledges as a natural place to start.

As the company directed its efforts in this direction, however, Lampkin says that it quickly became apparent that the public positioning of a company, and how it directed its hiring resources, were often two different things, and she decided to switch focus. “So we decided to create an index, a credit score, and we pulled in a ton of data from their diversity reports, their EEO One forms if they publish them and all of this buzz around different pledges and investments and partnerships, etc.,” Lampkin told me.

She then took this data and structured it, normalized it and built an algorithm that could dynamically score companies much the same way that our credit rating or security scorecards work and make that information public.

She said the George Floyd killing was a turning point for her and the company. “When George Floyd [was killed] and I saw this resurgence of the diversity pledge, I decided that I don’t want to play in this diversity theater anymore and just be another check-the-box-solution that companies are using to demonstrate that they care,” she said.

She added, “So we decided to double down on BlendScore and in doing so hold companies accountable for all of these big financial commitments that they’re making in order to track the deployment of that capital, but also the downstream effects in terms of their hiring, retention, promotion rates, compensation equality, etc.”

That culminated in a report the company recent published looking at the data and finding that companies’ public stance doesn’t always match its public face, especially with pledges following Floyd’s death. “My initial purpose was to demonstrate if there is a negative correlation between pledges and performance — and the only area where we found that to be true was with Black employees versus Black Lives Matter pledges.” She says that everywhere else there was pretty consistent positive correlation around companies that said they wanted to improve in areas like gender diversity and pay equality, and those that were actually doing that.

In terms of making money, Lampkin says that she wants to focus on helping companies with governance when it comes to diversity pledges, especially for public companies, which will have to answer to a variety of constituencies, from investors to consumers. She also believes that their approach to measuring diversity will also increasingly have an impact on who wants to work at a company and the ability to attract the best talent.

She says that if people are insisting on making diversity a political stance, she’s going to focus on diversity as a fiduciary responsibility. While it may be good for society as a natural byproduct of that, some companies only see it through that governance lens, and if that’s the case, she intends to work that angle.

“I’m doubling down on ESG and fiduciary responsibility. No more talk about what’s good for a society. [It doesn’t matter] what you believe is good for society. This is now about risk management and ESG,” she said.

So far the company has 13 employees and she reports she’s raised about $1.7 million. She acknowledges raising money is a challenge, especially for a Black woman founder. It’s worth noting that fewer than 100 Black women have ever raised more than $1 million as of last year.

“It’s been really challenging. We’ve had to just survive off revenue, and think in part it’s because we sit at the intersection of social activism and for-profit venture, when a lot of investors are like Marc Andreessen they don’t see a path [for Stakeholder Capitalism], but I think that’s changing and the investor community claims to be on board for more impact investing, so we’ll see.”

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/06/08/blendoor-data-lets-you-know-if-companies-are-living-up-to-diversity-pledges/

Start Ups

Curate Brings In $1.25M Seed For Small Business Sales, Operations Platform

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After a year of helping small businesses navigate sales and operations during the global pandemic, Curate has raised a $1.25 million seed to continue developing its modern sales and operations platform for florists, caterers and other creative businesses.

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Ryan O’Neil and his wife founded the St. Louis-based company in 2013 after previously owning a wedding and event floral business together. A year in, and Curate was losing customers because it was taking too long for O’Neil’s wife to get proposals back due to the time she put into researching all of the event components and their costs.

“Sitting at the kitchen table, we realized that all of these spreadsheets and lists should be talking to each other,” he said. “We started with catering businesses and then sourced software for floral businesses.”

Curate’s platform enables businesses to create proposals, process payments, manage supply chains, and maintain communication with customers and suppliers so owners can spend more time on their business. It also has workflow integrations with popular tools such as Square, QuickBooks and Stripe.

The seed round was led by OCA Ventures, which was joined by Jim McKelvey, Cultivation Capital and Stout Street Capital. Prior to this investment, Curate was bootstrapped, O’Neil said.

“Coming out of COVID, there were some important opportunities we knew we had to jump on, and we knew if we were going to raise a Series A, we needed all of the pieces in order,” he added. “We ended up finding great partners, like OCA.”

O’Neil intends to use the new funding on technology development, to grow and provide new features and functionalities, especially for catering companies, as well as for a more robust customer relationship management platform for florists.

Tamim Abdul Majid, general partner at OCA Ventures, said he was introduced to O’Neil by another entrepreneur in St. Louis. The firm was looking for solid vertical SaaS solutions and was impressed with how well O’Neil had coordinated Curate’s growth.

“Ryan is the kind of customer-driven CEO that we like,” Abdul Majid said in an interview. “His numbers are really good, he has good economics and churn rates — the right kind of thing you want to see in a SaaS play. In addition, Ryan’s customers are some of the best we have had in terms of fans, who are saying ‘you can’t take this service away from me.’”

Meanwhile, O’Neil said Curate experienced “explosive demand” over the past year, with April 2021 revenue up 700 percent over the year prior. As such, he also expects to double his employee headcount to 32 people and is hiring in infrastructure and product development.

During the global pandemic, the company was working with customers to cancel events and solve supply chain issues. Within six weeks, Curate had also built a brand-new product for customers to see what their workflow would look like for one product versus another. It even hired a full-time employee to answer Paycheck Protection Program questions and help companies apply, O’Neil said.

Next up, the company will round out key roles within the leadership team and work on product development.

“As we look forward, we will be restructuring the application so it is faster and stronger,” O’Neil added. “One of the key things that showed up this year was that we can jump verticals. We are seeing dynamic growth with caterers, but also have landscapers, interior designers and creative small businesses, and we want to be the sales and operations center for all businesses.”

Illustration: iStock

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Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/curate-brings-in-1-25m-seed-for-small-business-sales-operations-platform/

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Exclusive: Crediverso Raises $3.1M Seed To Be The Credit Karma For The Hispanic Community

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Los Angeles-based Crediverso closed a $3.1 million seed round to help launch its platform later this summer that hopes to connect the growing Hispanic community with the financial offerings it needs.

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The round was led by a group of investors including Bessemer Venture Partners, Act One Ventures, Point 72 Ventures and Clocktower Ventures.

The company is looking to serve one of the largest emerging markets in the world — the growing Hispanic community in the U.S. Despite more than 62 million Hispanic consumers in the U.S., banks and other financial service institutions have had a hard time breaking into the market due to language barriers and not fully understanding the needs there, said founder and CEO Carlos Hernandez.

The Crediverso platform attempts to change that by offering products and services from financial partners that cater to the Hispanic community — including remittance and loan options. The platform, which will be available in both English and Spanish, addresses a need Hernandez knows well from growing up around Southern California.

“This is a space I know intimately,” he said. “I saw this firsthand.”

Open market

Hernandez expects the platform to launch later this summer and already has signed up about a dozen financial service companies to offer their products on the site, including US Bank, Western Union and Remitly.

The platform will be free to users, as it monetizes through commission-based and revenue-sharing agreements with providers on the site, Hernandez said. He compares the site to Credit Karma or Chime, but for the Hispanic community, which has had trouble accessing many financial products in the market.

The company, founded last year, will use the money to grow and expand the platform, as well as for sales and marketing, Hernandez said. The company currently only has four full-time employees, but about 30 total workers counting contractors and the like, he said. The company has its engineering team in Mexico, he added.

Crediverso originally was only looking for about $1.5 million in a seed round, but Hernandez said investor reception was and continues to be great to the product. He said while many point to Latin America or parts of Asia as “emerging markets,” the Hispainic community in the U.S. is expected to grow to 94 million by 2030.

“We have one of the largest emerging markets here in the U.S.,” he said.

Alejandro Guerrero, general partner at Act One Ventures, said he also saw firsthand how the U.S. credit system was unavailable to many — including his parents.

“Those life experiences impacted me deeply and are part of what made me instantly recognize that Carlos and Crediverso are different and special,” he said.

“When I met Carlos it was clear that his understanding of this market is unmatched, and that his vision to create a Spanish-language workflow platform with highly curated information and content — along with a much bigger vision as Crediverso scales — was the key to building trust with this community and unlocking a lost market opportunity worth over $1 trillion,” he added.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias.

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Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/exclusive-crediverso-raises-3-1m-seed-to-be-the-credit-karma-for-the-hispanic-community/

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Clair Labs Targets $9M Seed On Contactless Patient Monitoring

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Remote patient monitoring company Clair Labs closed on $9 million in seed funding to continue developing its contact-free technology for both hospitals and at-home health care.

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Leading the seed round was 10D, with participation from SleepScore Ventures, Maniv Mobility and Vasuki.

Adi Berenson and Ran Margolin co-founded the Israel-based company in 2018 after meeting at Apple, where they were part of its product incubation group.

They got the idea for Clair Labs after seeing the aging population and push of hospitals to send low-acuity patients home, which resulted in more high-acuity patients in the hospitals. While at home, patients were generally given medical devices, and the pair thought they could combine their knowledge of consumer technology from Apple with health care to make those devices easier to use and something patients are willing to use at home.

What resulted is contact-free biomarker sensing for continuous monitoring of vital signs including heart rate, respiration, air flow and body temperature. Clair Labs is using that information to build medical devices and systems.

“One of the challenges of this space is that it is wide, and there are many companies taking a horizontal approach,” Berenson told Crunchbase News. “We think the best approach is to find existing workflows and deploy our technology. It is a bit trickier because you have to fall into existing clinical, regulatory and reimbursement practices, but it works well when all of those pieces fall into place.”

The company is initially targeting sleep medicine, especially around sleep apnea, as well as acute and post-acute care facilities.

According to Berenson, biomarker sensing is a more cost-effective way to digitally monitor around the clock. The system also monitors behavioral markers, including sleep patterns and distress, as well as tracks changes in the patient’s position, such as an intent to rise. All of that data is analyzed by machine-learning algorithms to provide evaluations and alerts to health care staff.

The technology is currently in clinical trials in Israel, and the company has plans to begin pilots with sleep centers and hospitals in the United States.

Clair Labs is pre-revenue and running on a lean team of 10 employees. The new funding will enable the company to hire for its R&D center in Tel Aviv, as well as get it in position to open a U.S. office next year, which will be focused mainly on providing customer support in North America and leading marketing and sales.

“It took us a bit of time to incubate, but with this round, we are now moving from incubation to prototyping and the clinical trials phase,” Berenson said. “The trials are going well and the system is performing. Our goals for the next two years include completing our trials in Israel before going to the United States for trials, getting FDA clearance, and beginning to sell before we go after our next funding round.”

Meanwhile, Rotem Eldar, managing partner at 10D, said his firm’s focus is on digital health, and there is a strong interest in Clair Labs due to an experienced team that is bringing technology and know-how into a space with a large market opportunity.

In the past few months, several remote patient monitoring companies have attracted venture capital, including:

Eldar said Clair Labs differentiates itself with its computer-vision expertise, and in the way that it did not have to develop a new sensor — a large burden for companies — as the contactless application in different clinical applications.

“Sleep tests, though a niche market, is an entry into the market that is quick and needed,” he added. “With this type of sensor, they can enter the market quickly and easily expand usage to other applications.”

Illustration: Dom Guzman

Stay up to date with recent funding rounds, acquisitions, and more with the Crunchbase Daily.

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Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/clair-labs-targets-9m-seed-on-contactless-patient-monitoring/

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The Briefing: BharatPe Eyes $250M, Codex Prices IPO, And More

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Here’s what you need to know today in startup and venture news, updated by the Crunchbase News staff throughout the day to keep you in the know.

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BharatPe reported eyes $250M at $2.5B valuation

Indian fintech BharatPe is reportedly close to securing $250 million in a fresh funding round led by Tiger Global Management, per TechCrunch.

The investment would reportedly set a pre-money valuation of around $2.5 billion for the New Delhi-based startup, which offers a service to help offline merchants accept digital payments and obtain financing.

Founded three years ago, BharatPe counts Coatue, Ribbit Capital, Sequoia Capital India and Insight Partners among its largest backers.

— Joanna Glasner

Public offerings

Codex DNA prices IPO: Codex DNA, developer of an automated synthetic biology workstation and related tools, raised $107 million by offering 6.7 million shares at $16, the high end of the range of $14 to $16. Shares are set to begin trading on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol DNAY.

M&A

Ford acquires Electriphi: Ford has announced that it is acquiring Electriphi, a provider of charging management and fleet monitoring software for electric vehicles, for an undisclosed sum. The purchase comes as Ford seeks to build out charging infrastructure as it aims for increased output of electric vehicles.

— Joanna Glasner

Illustration: Dom Guzman

Stay up to date with recent funding rounds, acquisitions, and more with the Crunchbase Daily.

Crunchbase News’ top picks of the news to stay current in the VC and startup world.

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Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/briefing-6-18-21/

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