Startups Venture

Startups To Watch: Manifold Bio, Writer.com, Infinite Looks

Crunchbase News typically covers larger funding rounds, however we think these startups are worth highlighting for their interesting approaches despite their smaller raises.

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Manifold Bio

Testing proteins is one way to see how well a drug candidate will work in humans. Boston-based Manifold Bio, a spinoff from George Church’s lab at Harvard Medical School, is focused on increasing the number of tests that can be performed on protein therapeutics.

“We want to predict what a drug is going to do, and we can get the best data during animal trials before the bottleneck happens when it moves to human trials,” CEO Gleb Kuznetsov, Ph.D., told Crunchbase News.

The startup raised a $5.4 million seed investment round led by Playground Global and joined by existing investors Fifty Years, GETTYLAB and Allston Venture Fund. The investment will enable the company to expand the team, accelerate the development of a proprietary protein quantitation platform and initiate partnerships with pharmaceutical companies.

Manifold Bio is not focusing yet on certain diseases, and Kuznetsov said his vision is for Manifold to be making its own therapeutics.

In addition, there are a lot of opportunities with proteins because they can be programmed to do specific tasks with the right tools, he said. For example, the proteins could be programmed to go into a cancerous tumor, but not into healthy tissue, or go into the brain, but not another area.

“When you are making something relevant to treating a disease, it is a big bet you are making,” he said. “We want to measure more proteins to help them do that, and pharma companies are eager for a solution and are very interested in what we are doing.”

Writer.com

Company marketing teams spend a lot of time creating their brands, and Writer.com makes sure that language, terminology and messaging are consistently communicated to anyone who writes content for the company.

“We think of it as a content design system where marketing teams can take control of their messaging and brand by centralizing all of their guidelines,” said May Habib, Writer.com co-founder and CEO, in an interview.

The startup, which changed its name from Qordoba in August, raised a $5.2 million seed round to develop its artificial intelligence platform so that companies can analyze and correct their written language.

The investment was led by Upfront Ventures, Aspect Ventures, Bonfire VC and Broadway Angels. It will be used to build on the product and invest in development, Habib said.

Writer.com works with customers across a broad range of industries from real estate to insurance to retail.

“We are narrowing in on what would be a great target buyer for our product, but with customers in all different industries, it demonstrates the need for a product like this, especially with more people working remotely,” she added.

Infinite Looks

Sunday II Sunday serum

I’d like to give an honorable mention this week to luxury hair care brand Sunday II Sunday, developed by New York-based Infinite Looks. The 1-year-old startup did not disclose its funding amount, but I spoke to founder Keenan Beasley, who heads up several brands, about the seed financing that was backed by Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC and Ignite Venture Studio.

“They saw the value in what we were doing and wanted to lend support,” Beasley said. “With their R&D backgrounds, we will work together to ensure we are providing the best products to the women we serve.”

The Sunday II Sunday line sells exclusively on its website and was developed to meet the typical hair care needs of the active Black community, where around 40 percent of Black women avoid exercising because of their hair, he added. It includes hair care products to remove sweat, buildup and environmental damages so women can wash less frequently, hence the “Sunday II Sunday” brand name, Beasley added.

The funds will be used to scale the reach of the Sunday II Sunday product line for those with textured hair, as well as expand the product line offering.

Photo courtesy of Sunday II Sunday
Illustration: Dom Guzman

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