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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I’ve written quite a few stories in the past few months (see LOOM, Kindbody, Tia and Stork Club) related to startups helping educate women about their health and reproduction. Now meet Stix, which aims to reduce the stigma associated with buying and understanding sensitive health products, such as pregnancy and ovulation tests.
The 1-year-old startup, based in New York, raised a $1.3 million seed round from BDMI, Rogue Women’s Fund and Vamos Ventures, as well as Johnson & Johnson Innovation via its investment in Founders Factory New York.
“We are setting out to build a community and increase access to women’s health,” co-founder Jamie Norwood told me in an interview. “There is so much noise and clutter, so we are creating a space where people can find answers to the most frequently asked questions.”
The company plans to use the new funding to expand its team; there are three employees now, including Norwood and co-founder Cynthia Plotch, and one that will start next week. Norwood expects to add another employee by the end of the year. Stix will also invest in product growth to expand beyond pregnancy and ovulation tests, as well as grow its customer base.
A year ago, Sandro Roco launched his Asian-inspired sparkling water brand, Sanzo, and this week, he closed on a $1.3 million round of funding. Investors included Jen Rubio, Scott Belsky, Andrew Chau and Bin Chen.
Sanzo’s water contains real fruit and no added sugars, and is sold direct-to-consumer and via retail partnerships with vendors such as Whole Foods and PopUp Grocer.
“We are excited to welcome aboard such a diverse set of investors,” Roco said via email. “This round of funding will support our brand’s continued expansion in e-commerce and retail, most notably our direct-to-consumer business, Amazon, our Whole Foods launch, which just kicked off in mid-July, and other key strategic retail partnerships.”
Workplace productivity is a hot topic right now given the world’s shift to remote work. WorkPatterns focuses on the manager level, providing a private space where managers can work with direct reports and teams on asynchronous work.
The 2-year-old startup, based in San Francisco, raised $2.8 million in total seed funding in two tranches, the most recent led by Javelin Venture Partners, and the initial raise by Pathfinder.
WorkPatterns will use the new funds to grow its 10-person team and invest in product and design, Adam Berke, co-founder and CEO, told me in an interview. Managers used to be able to rely on the serendipitous meeting in the hallway, but can’t with everyone being remote. It has become even more important to track conversations and feedback, he added.
“We will continue execution and understanding what managers need in this dynamic environment,” he said.
Staying on the subject of remote work places, San Francisco-based Jamm secured $1.8 million in seed funding from Hummer Winblad Venture Partners to grow and scale its lightweight video collaboration app.
The app enables day-to-day interactions through video so teams can brainstorm, spontaneously huddle, and provide team updates no matter where they are.
“We see a huge opportunity for spontaneous conversations in the remote workplace,” Badri Rajasekar, founder and CEO of Jamm told me via email. “Something more engaging than text and less formal than video conferencing. With our funding, we will scale our team and accelerate our product roadmap, especially around a more optimized mobile experience. Deeper integrations with existing workplace applications like Slack and GitHub will also be a priority, so that users can integrate their workflows with ease.”
Back to the theme of leadership, Austin-based Ceresa closed an early-seed round of over $1 million, led by Next Coast Venture Partners and LiveOak Venture Partners.
The startup was founded in 2018 by former McKinsey partner Anna Robinson and tech executive Nicole Tanzillo. They created a leadership development and mentoring program to address the gaps in diverse leadership within global organizations.
Ceresa will use the funding to expand product development of the data-driven, personalized platform, further deepening value to its user base of aspiring leaders and forward-thinking employers, the company said via email.
In the world of COVID-19 testing, Boston-based BRIO Systems brought in $1.9 million in seed funding to advance a complete COVID-19 testing system for the workplace. The startup provides patient-experience software to the laboratory industry and other players.
The funding was led by One Way Ventures, Techstars Ventures, Nimble Ventures, Castor Ventures and angel investors.
“BRIO plans to aggressively scale its development and operational teams to continue enabling access to easy, reliable and secure COVID-19 testing systems for employers and employees,” CEO Boris Lipchin told me via email. “The added resources will accelerate BRIO’s ability to onboard more labs and providers to its growing testing network.”
Meanwhile, automated accounting startup Proper closed on a $4.8 million seed funding round this week led by MetaProp, Expa and Bling Capital.
The San Francisco-based company was started three years ago to offer property accounting tools. It helps property managers grow their portfolios without fear of operational limitations, as well as decrease the time their accountants spend performing routine tasks.
The funds will bolster the fundamentals of the business and enable Proper to put more resources toward the advancement of their proprietary automation tools, the company said via email.
Tetra Insights offers a data platform for businesses to learn more about their customers.
Active Capital led a $1.5 million seed investment into the Boulder, Colorado-based startup, with HNVR Technology Investment Management also participating.
Michael Bamberger, Tetra’s co-founder and CEO, told me via email that the funding will accelerate the startup’s technology investment as it focuses on the needs of large companies. Global enterprises, such as Yara International, and startups like Segment are using Tetra to gain insights in order to improve customer experience.
“As companies increase their investment in customer experience, Tetra is becoming the centerpiece to the data and insight they use to make critical strategic decisions,” he added. “This new funding allows us to strengthen that position and build unique next generation data and insights features that our team is really excited to share with the world.”
Photos courtesy of Sanzo, Jamm, Ceresa, BRIO Systems, Proper and Tetra Insights.
Illustration: Dom Guzman
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