Artificial intelligence Cybersecurity Health, Wellness & Biotech Startups Venture

5 Interesting Startup Deals You May Have Missed In November: Mindful Drinking, AI Workers And A Doctor’s Office With No Doctor

Illustration of a robot arm/wrench turning a nut in the middle of the number 5.

This is a monthly column that runs down five interesting deals every month that may have flown under the radar. Check out last month’s entry here.

The holiday season is here, and it’s probably hard for most of us to keep track of some of the interesting startups raising cash.

Here’s a rundown of some intriguing rounds that got locked up this month as the weather tracks colder.

You may now enter the doctor

We normally try to focus on rounds that may have gone under the radar for most, but sometimes well-publicized rounds are too interesting to ignore.

That’s the case with San Francisco-based health tech startup Forward, which raised $100 million in funding from the likes of Khosla Ventures and Founders Fund.

The company launched with a tech-enabled direct primary care business model, but has since developed its proprietary “CarePods,” a self-contained, AI-powered doctor’s office that will be located in malls and office buildings.

The CarePods — which have been compared to an airport lactation room in their design (that definitely works) — use sensors, vital-sign measurements and even “bloodless” blood collection to provide health evaluations and identify disease risks, including diabetes, hypertension and anxiety.

The idea is to be able to offer health care wherever and whenever it’s convenient and needed.

Membership starts at $99 a month.

The round included 25% of debt. Founded in 2016, the company has raised $325 million, per Crunchbase.

War games

Defense tech seems to be having a moment. Sure, funding isn’t at an all-time high, but big rounds like Shield AI’s $200 million Series F at a $2.7 billion valuation are in the headlines.

Wraithwatch is a new defense tech startup that locked up an $8 million seed led by Founders Fund. The company aims to use AI to fight off national threats.

The Bozeman, Montana-based startup was founded by former employees at other big defense tech companies like Anduril Industries and Palantir Technologies. While still relatively little is known about the new venture, it seems Wraithwatch is bracing for an “explosion of AI-generated cyber weapons” (per its website), and is using large language models to predict possible versions of attacks and how to prevent them.

It could be the next evolution of warfare.

Healthier drinking

Many people have a complicated relationship with drinking. Well, a San Francisco-based startup raised an $11.5 million Series A — led by Motley Fool Ventures — to help folks better understand that relationship.

Sunnyside has developed an app and program to help people develop better drinking habits. What’s interesting is that the app is not designed to get people to stop drinking, but rather track and evaluate their drinking.

The program is personalized to each member’s goals and habits, and features weekly goal setting, daily reminders, and even peer coaching and support.

While alcohol consumption in the U.S. has remained relatively flat through the years, millennials in particular have shown a desire to cut back on drinking and “sober curious” has been added to our vernacular.

With the holidays here, it may not be a bad app to have on the phone.

AI colleagues

At this point, we all know when you talk with someone on the phone or on the web it may not be a real person.

However, you assume your work colleagues to be real.

Startup Artisan AI locked up a $2.3 million pre-seed round to perhaps make that a false assumption in the near future.

The San Francisco-based AI startup builds human-like digital workers called Artisans. This isn’t software that other workers use, but rather a real digital worker. In fact, the company plans to unveil its first Artisan in December — Ava, who will be a sales representative. The company plans to release a workforce of Artisans next year, including a graphic designer and marketing manager.

Artisan AI is taking part  in Y Combinator’s Winter 2024 batch in January, and the accelerator was one of a handful of investors in the pre-seed round.

Using AI to get noticed

This list has included a lot of AI, but here’s a little more anyhow.

Austin, Texas-based Handraise closed a $6.4 million seed round led by Silverton Partners. The round attracted our attention for a couple of reasons.

First, the company claims to use AI to increase the impact of the press coverage brands receive. Handraise says it leverages large language models to deliver insights — allowing brands to focus more on strategy and impact.

Obviously, we at Crunchbase News are interested in how PR firms and companies pitch and try to get into the news.

Secondly, the company was founded by Matt Allison, who also built TrendKite — a media monitoring and analytics platform that Cision acquired in 2019 for $225 million.

It’ll be interesting to see if he can realize that kind of exit again.

Illustration: Dom Guzman

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