Health, Wellness & Biotech Startups Venture

Startups To Watch: VastBiome, LunarCRUSH, Highwing, OthersideAI

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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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This week, we saw another batch of startups moving and grooving in some cool ways as a result of their seed funding.


The first is VastBiome, a Millbrae, California-based drug discovery company “mining the human gut microbiome” to find biomarkers and therapies to treat cancer and autoimmune disease. Before I write on, I must note that I saw this company get its start when I was reporting on health innovation for the Texas Medical Center.

VastBiome was founded by a group, including Kareem Barghouti, Peter McCaffrey and Kovi Bessoff in Houston in 2018 when the team was part of the TMC’s Biodesign fellowship. Following the team’s graduation, Ayin Vala joined the company as another co-founder.

The company secured $4.5 million in seed funding, led by Viking Global Investors, Timewise Investment and Merck Global Health Innovation Fund.

Barghouti told me, via email, that the company is putting the new capital to work growing the team, technology development, laboratory experiments and to initiate clinical studies to expand access to patient data and biospecimen samples.

Next up, the company is working toward securing new partnerships and relationships with clinicians, as well as meeting its seed-stage milestones so that it can go after its Series A later in 2021.


Another California company, LunarCRUSH, a social listening tool for cryptocurrencies, raised $1 million in a seed round led by Draper Goren Holm along with Manutara Ventures.

Based in Costa Mesa, LunarCRUSH is also a destination for the cryptocurrency community online, using the social data to create dashboards and insights. The new capital infusion will be used to grow its team internationally into Europe and Latin America.

Joe Vezzani, CEO of LunarCRUSH, told me via email that the company is also “moving right into the next round of funding.”

Also on our radar

Illustration: Dom Guzman

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