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Startups To Watch: Irys, Mission Control, Rah Rah, Buzz Solutions

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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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If you thought it was hard to make sure everyone in your department is looped in on the latest communication, you can probably appreciate what it takes to inform an entire community. Irys, formerly Cityflag, specializes in community engagement tools for municipalities and government entities.

The San Antonio-based company closed on a $1.2 million investment this week led by Good Growth Capital, with participation from Arcadis and Techstars Ventures. The new funding helps Irys expand its service in supporting cities, military bases and the private sector, as well as advance its product development.

Irys community engagement platform

Co-founder and CEO Beto Altamirano told Crunchbase News via email that the company is helping municipalities adapt to virtual experiences in a post-COVID-19 world by introducing artificial intelligence for identifying neighborhood issues, such as automating the experience of flagging and reporting on a pothole or graffiti.

“Part of our strategic growth plans also include the expansion of development within the military sector in 2020,” said Altamirano. “Irys has partnered with the U.S. Air Force through the AFWERX program comprising active duty, Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve, Air Force Civilian Service and contractor personnel. This partnership will focus on helping military bases address family housing and on-base infrastructure issues.”

Mission Control

Have a group of friends that like to play sports? Rec league esports and gaming platform Mission Control helps community centers, schools, workplaces and recreation departments conduct their own esports leagues through digitally organized social experiences.

The St. Louis-based startup secured $1.75 million in a funding round led by Dundee Venture Capital, in addition to M25, Cultivation Capital and MATH Venture Partners.

Mission Control platform

“I grew up playing video games with my brother and my friends as a way to spend time together. For us, it was a social activity meant to gather communities just like traditional rec league sports,” said Austin Smith, CEO and founder of Mission Control, in a written statement.

“With this funding, we are excited to bring the structure of traditional rec leagues and the excitement of esports to social gamers and their communities across the country,” he said.

Rah Rah

Rah Rah app

Following on our theme of community, for many students, college is their first time away from home to an environment where they may not know anyone.

This is where Rah Rah comes in. Founded by CEO Cooper Jones and Chief Technology Officer Sam Allen in 2018 to be a campus wayfinder, the SaaS platform is a one-stop shop for a higher-education campus community to access resources, groups and events that are personalized to the user.

The New York-based company received $2.8 million in personal seed funding from Workday execs Dave Duffield and Phil Wilmington.

“Campus life is rapidly evolving, and students tell us there is information overload from the myriad of campus platforms and a lack of integration and relevancy,” said Jones in a written statement. “We have built a technology solution that can keep up with the innovative changes required in student and community engagement now and in the future.”

Buzz Solutions

Switching gears to a new topic, Buzz Solutions, a StartX startup, is developing artificial intelligence technology to spot and analyze power line flaws so companies can repair them before a fire starts.

The Palo Alto-based company raised $1.2 million in seed funding led by Blackhorn Ventures with participation from investors including Ulu Ventures, Vodia Ventures and

Buzz Solutions platform

The new funding will be used to hone image analysis and provide actionable reports in a matter of hours or days, compared to the six to eight months it takes utilities now when the work is performed by engineers, according to the company.

“Buzz Solutions plans to use the seed funding to grow our team and product offerings, helping us best serve the needs of our current and future customers,” CEO Kaitlyn Albertoli said via email. “These funds will accelerate our time to key milestones as energy companies use our technology to protect their critical infrastructure.”

Company photos courtesy of Irys, Mission Control, Rah Rah and Buzz Solutions
Illustration: Dom Guzman

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