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Nuggs creator Simulate raises $50M

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New York-based Simulate today announced a $50 million fundraise. Led by Alexis Ohanian’s 776, the Series B brings the meat alternative’s total funding to north of $60 million and values it at $260 million.

Simulate’s first product, Nuggs (formerly also the startup’s name), has already caused a splash, thanks in no small part to aggressive online advertising. The company notes a massive push in retail availability in the last six months. The chicken nugget alternative was available direct to consumers through online ordering when it launched in Summer 2019 — availability that moved the needle during U.S. shutdowns over the past year.

“During the height of the pandemic, people really wanted frozen food shipped directly to their door,” founder and CEO Ben Pasternak tells TechCrunch. “At the time, we were DTC only, so we saw a lot of growth there prior to our pivot to retail.”

He adds that the majority of the company’s sales now currently come from retail, due to accessibility and more restrictive DTC pricing. Currently, the product is available in 5,000 retail locations, a list that includes pretty massive retail names like Walmart/ Sam’s Club, Target and Whole Foods.

“We are getting ready to launch in restaurants and in fast food,” says Pasternak. “Internationally, we recently launched across Canada, and have plans to expand to other countries too.”

Funding will also go toward expanding the company’s headcount. Currently at 20, Simulate expects to expand employment to 50 people by 2022. “Over half of that expansion will be focused on growing our engineering team,” Pasternak says.

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/06/08/nuggs-creator-simulate-raises-50m/

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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Product managers can choose from more than 75 research templates for surveys to get to know their audience.

MyYogaTeacher’s app streams interactive lessons directly to students in the U.S. from more than 120 experienced teachers in India.

The global fruit snack market was valued at $4.7 billion in 2018 and is projected to grow 8.4 percent annually through 2025.

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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.

The company is creating a multidisciplinary approach with behavior therapy and the application of medical care, which can include pharmaceuticals.

The company partners with insurance providers to tell people how much they’ll pay out-of-pocket for maternity and fertility care so they can make…

MyYogaTeacher’s app streams interactive lessons directly to students in the U.S. from more than 120 experienced teachers in India.

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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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