Startups Venture

Last Week In Venture: Bee Buzzy-ness, Stocking The Store, And A Year Of Working Globally

Hello and welcome back to Last Week In Venture, a weekly sampling of deals that may have flown under your radar.

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There are plenty of companies operating outside the unicorn and public market spotlight, but their stories are worth sharing. In them, we can find current trends and get a glimpse at the future.

So, without further ado, let’s check out some of the deals from the week that was in venture-land.

Remote Year

Stop me if this hits a little close to home: You might be one of the folks who gets up a little earlier than they want to, performs their morning ablutions, trundles to the office, slogs through another day of meetings and paperwork that’s caustic to the soul, gets home, holes up, watches shows, and goes to sleep. Then, wake up, and repeat, for years. Work the same office job for long enough and you’re bound to go a little sir crazy. Working remotely doesn’t necessarily change the nature of your work, but it does offer a nice change of scene.

Headquartered in the Chicago area, Remote Year is in the business of helping you break out of that rut. For a down payment and a monthly fee for programs ranging from four to twelve months, Remote Year designs and facilitates an itinerary for you to keep working while traveling the world. The fee covers travel logistics, workspace, a private bedroom in a shared apartment with other Remote Year participants, a local support team, and other amenities. Following a Remote Year experience, program participants get access to the alumni Slack group, invitations to meetups and other events, and discounts on other Remote Year experiences.

Remote Year was launched in 2014 and has since served over 2,500 people living the work-travel life. This week, the company announced $5 million in additional funding led by Chicago-based Lightbank. Prior investor Highland Capital Partners participated in the deal, which brings Remote Year’s total venture backing to $17 million.

Mable

Based in Boston, Mable is building a wholesale commerce platform for small and independent businesses in the grocery sector to connect with the brands and distributors which stock their shelves. This week, Mable raised $3.1 million in seed funding co-led by Venrock, Accomplice (née Atlas Ventures), and Founder Collective. Beyond the leading trio of VC firms, the deal saw participation from angel investors including former grocery executive and current startup investor James McCann, venture investor Laurent Amouyal, and Shopkeep co-founder David Olk.

The company was founded by Arik Keller, who previously served as a product director for Paypal’s demand generation and market platform, and was chief product officer at Confirm.io, which was acquired by Facebook in January 2018. In July 2018, he bought a small grocery store and “quickly discovered the inefficiency of managing inventory procurement,” according to a press release announcing Mable’s new funding and beta launch. In May 2019, Keller partnered with Mable’s CTO, Eric Carlstrom, to build out a solution.

“When I bought my store, I found modern tech solutions for nearly everything, except re-ordering inventory,” said Keller in the statement. “We found ourselves saying, ‘If we could just order everything in one place, life would be a lot easier.’ Then it occurred to me — we should build that!”

The company’s marketplace launched in beta in September, and although it currently focuses on packaged foods, Mable says it has plans to expand into produce and beverages to bring more of the wholesale ordering process onto one platform.

Beekeeper’s Naturals

It’s no secret that there’s a buzz ’bout our little yellow stripey friends, the bees. A few months ago, Crunchbase News covered the global hive of bee-related startups, and today there’s another one to add to the swarm.

Founded by former finance professional and hobbyist apiarist Carly Stein when she was still working at Goldman Sachs, Beekeeper’s Naturals is a Toronto-based company developing health and beauty products derived from bee-derived raw materials like honey, propolis, and pollen. Its wares include infused honeys, sprays, and supplements.

This week, the company announced $3.5 million in Series A funding led by Sonoma Brands, an investment and marketing firm which has previously made investments in companies like Smashmallow, Yumble, and Dang Foods, among others.

Image Credits: Last Week In Venture graphic created by JD Battles. Photo by Alexandre Godreau, via Unsplash.

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