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5 Interesting Startup Deals You May Have Missed In June: Surgery With AR, And Owning (Part Of) A Racehorse

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.

Summer is here and funding is slow.

However, between the slowing pace of funding and summer vacations, you may have missed some interesting rounds last month. Let’s recap a few that caught our eye.

AR-assisted surgery

If you’ve ever gone under the knife, you know you always want to make sure your surgeon has every advantage possible.

Augmedics, an AR (augmented reality) surgical navigation startup, agrees. The Chicago-based company locked up a $82.5 million Series D led by CPMG last month. The news came in the same week the company marked its 4,000th U.S. patient treated with its “xvision Spine System.”

The patented tech uses augmented reality to give surgeons a type of “x-ray vision” during surgery. The technology superimposes data onto the surgical field, allowing surgeons to visualize patient anatomy through skin and tissue and navigate instruments and implants during spine surgery.

Apparently there is more to AR than just playing Beat Saber.

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Head to the winner’s circle

Ever want to own a racehorse?

Sure you have. Now startup Experiential Squared is making that a real possibility — kind of.

The startup is the parent company of the racehorse ownership platform, MyRacehorse, and closed a $7 million funding round led by 1/ST.

Using the MyRacehorse app, anyone can review and purchase a fractional share in a racehorse for a one-time payment of as low as $100. Through the app, the partial owner can follow updates from the trainer, jockey and analysts, while also receiving direct and instant payouts of prize money.

The platform currently has more than 50,000 active owners and 100 active horses — with earnings in excess of $20 million.

You may not win the Triple Crown with your horse, but it’s likely as close as many of us will get to being a player in The Sport of Kings.

Space retrieval

We cover space-related startups a lot in this column, especially as space becomes a part of more companies’ businesses.

Space has provided a new frontier in research in life sciences — including for monoclonal antibodies, stem cells and protein crystallization. While launching gets cheaper and easier by the day as more and more companies offer the service, returning the research to Earth remains tricky.

Germany-based Atmos Space Cargo closed a seed round of about $4.3 million from the likes of High-Tech Gründerfonds and the Amadeus Apex Technology Fund.

Atmos develops space capsules capable of safely returning any cargo from space. The company creates its own specially designed capsules viable for what the startup believes to be a wide-range of applications — including biomedical and material sciences research — and even one-day manufacturing of products in space.

The company is on track to embark on its first demonstration mission at the end of next year.

More bees

Bees are another thing we cover a lot here.

However, Los Angeles-based Beekeeper’s Naturals is a little different. The health and wellness startup locked up a $14 million round last month co-led by Devonshire Investors and Cavu Consumer Partners.

Beekeeper’s Naturals creates products based on propolis — a resin-like material made by bees from the buds of cone-bearing trees.

From that residue, the startup creates throat sprays, immunity boosters, and products for brain and digestive health — all very buzzy health concerns.

Mining for big money

We usually stay away from big rounds that garner headlines in this space.

However, if a round is interesting enough, it makes the list regardless, so just in case you missed it — KoBold Metals raised a big $195 million round from a number of big-name investors, including Andreessen Horowitz, and Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos-backed Breakthrough Energy Ventures. The new cash values the climate-tech startup at $1.15 billion.

What makes the Berkeley, California-based startup intriguing?

KoBold Metals ties two hot trends together for investors — artificial intelligence and alternative energy sources. The company uses AI to mine for valuable metals such as cobalt, copper, nickel and lithium — used in the production of batteries for a variety of sectors, including electric vehicles.

The startup has built a database about the Earth’s layers and uses algorithms to make predictions about where mineral deposits are located around the world.

Pretty cool and timely, even if you may have seen it already — considering all the escalating concern about finding such material.

Illustration: Dom Guzman

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