This is a monthly column that runs down five interesting deals every month that may have flown under the radar. Check out September’s entry here.
Halloween is over and the holidays are fast approaching, so with so much going on it’s sometimes easy to miss some interesting startup funding news.
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Some months it’s hard to find a list of interesting startups that raised cash, but October was not one of those. From robot bakers to tech that makes separating from significant others easier, fall’s first full month had a lot to offer.
Last year, legaltech funding to startups surpassed $1 billion globally for the first time ever, and this year it did the same, according to Crunchbase data. It is also estimated about 50% of marriages in the U.S. end in divorce (although some suggest that number is declining).
Knowing those two things, meet Hello Divorce, a legaltech startup focused on divorce. The Oakland, California-based company secured a seed investment of $3.25 million led by The Artemis Fund last month.
Hello Divorce’s platform offers easy-to-understand and affordable legal services to help those who unfortunately have to navigate the murky — and often pricey — waters of divorce. The startup also offers access to finance experts, divorce coaches, mediators and more to try to eliminate some of the stress associated with the event.
The company is live in California, Colorado, New York, Texas and Utah, with more states on the way.
Perhaps most interestingly, Hello Divorce said almost 90% of its customers stay engaged with the company after divorce, using its resources “as a bridge to financial independence and emotional well-being.”
The robots are coming … to bake bread
If robots ever enslave mankind, let’s hope they can at least make tasty bread.
Walla Walla, Washington-based Wilkinson Baking Co. designs and manufactures a fully automated robotic bakery called the “Breadbot.”
And after last month, the Breadbots have more bread, as the startup locked up a $3 million seed round led by Ken Peterson of Columbia Ventures Corp.
The Breadbot is a 130″ x 48″ baking center that mixes, forms, proofs, bakes and even cools the bread.
The first commercial-ready, permanent BreadBot was just deployed in July, and Wilkinson plans to use the new cash to have 20 units deployed by early 2023.
Climate tech meet fintech
Fintech has been big with investors for more than decade, while climate tech is seeing phenomenal interest as more people worry about climate change and other environmental issues.
Somerville, Massachusetts-based Raise Green, a marketplace to get renewable energy projects and companies funded by retail investors looking to make an impact, is right at the crossroads of both
While ESG investing is big, it is difficult for small community projects to get funded and also hard for regular folks to invest in.
Raise Green tries to break down that barrier. The platform is FINRA-registered, but does not require its customers to be accredited investors. Like Kickstarter, the startup makes money when a project gets funded.
There are a lot of green projects that could use a little green. Raise Green is trying to help by letting those projects reach a bigger audience.
Digital celebrity collectibles
Sometimes things catch our eye because we just didn’t realize the market existed at all.
Enter Zoop, which announced it has secured $15 million in grants and investments to launch its digital celebrity collectibles trading platform. The platform will allow people to collect, buy and trade 3D digital trading cards of other people’s avatars.
We didn’t realize that would ever be a thing.
However, the company already has signed a strategic partnership with Ready Player Me, a platform for cross-game avatars (and formerly of this same list for August). Zoop also has several folks who formerly worked at unicorn OnlyFans — which has built a sizable online business, albeit in a very different market.
So maybe virtual trading cards of digital celebrities will be a thing?
Fewer water bottles
While many people passionately use reusable water bottles and shun single-use plastic ones, there is still a problem with a lot of waste.
Chicago-based Kadeya believes it has come up with a way to close the loop on beverage vending. The company announced it closed a pre-seed round from Evergreen Climate Innovations for its autonomous and self-serving beverage station that looks to eliminate single-use plastic bottles. The amount of the round was not divulged.
The company’s machines dispense sanitized and filled bottles of water, while also accepting the empty bottles once used and conducts a four-step sanitizing process before bottles are refilled.
The startup also sources water locally to help eliminate the heavy carbon footprint that comes from shipping it all over the world.
It’s not always easy to remember your reusable bottle, so it’s nice there may be other ways to hydrate without ruining the environment.
Illustration: Dom Guzman
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