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5 Interesting Startup Deals You May Have Missed In March: Space Sweepers, Better Tattoo Care And More AI

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.

Funding may continue to slow, but investors still find the somewhat unusual to invest in.

Last month saw investors give cash infusions to everything from a startup cleaning up space to skincare products for those with ink.

A more sustainable space

It seems no matter where you put the human race, we will trash it up.

That is where Tokyo-based Astroscale comes into play. The startup — which describes itself as “space sweepers” since 2013, per its website — is looking to build long-term sustainability for space.

Astroscale is looking to offer both life extension and end-of-life services for satellites — so they don’t just float out there forever as junk — as well as active debris removal and other solutions to help mitigate the growing buildup of debris in space we keep leaving as we launch more and more things into orbit.

To help build scale, Astroscale closed a $76 million Series G last month from new investors that included Mitsubishi Electric and the Development Bank of Japan. It has now raised more than $376 million since being founded.

It’s not unusual for a spacetech startup to raise cash, it just isn’t usually one that picks up trash.

Taking care of your ink

While deciding what tattoo to get can be hard, caring for that tattoo afterward can come with its own complications.

Los Angeles-based Mad Rabbit inked a $10 million Series A — led by Lucas Brand Equity, with participation from several other investors such as Mark Cuban — to help with exactly that.

Founded in 2019, the startup creates aftercare and daily tattoo skincare products made with natural ingredients that are designed to promote healing and prevent infections.

Both skincare products and tattoos are a booming industry. Mad Rabbit’s release states 44% of the U.S. population now has at least one tattoo — doubling the rate in less than a decade.

In addition, earlier this year L’Oreal made a minority investment in digital temporary tattoo device maker Prinker Korea.

There seems to be significant investor interest in all things ink.

Telehealth goes to the dogs

Telemedicine was taking off even before the pandemic hit, as providers looked to offer all types of health services over video at home.

Issaquah, Washington-based Felix&Fido is taking that a step further with technology-enabled veterinary services. The startup is a  spinout of Pioneer Square Labs, and closed a $4 million pre-seed funding round led by PSL Ventures last month.

The company offers membership-based pet care plans, and delivers personalized pet health care through in-clinic, at-home and telemedicine services.

No more chasing your cat around the house with a carrier when it’s time to go to the vet — although good luck getting it to stay in the Zoom frame long enough for a check up.

AI is everywhere

AI is so popular, even this list can’t avoid it entirely.

Last month Perplexity AI, a conversational AI-powered search engine, raised a $25.6 million Series A led by New Enterprise Associates.

The San Francisco-based AI startup is looking to solve a problem everyone deals with — the inadequacies of searching the web. Dominated by basically one large player, when you search for something you get inundated with ads, paid spots and SEO-enhanced results.

Perplexity is looking to change that game, allowing users to type straightforward queries on its website and responds with answers generated by its own AI.

Taking on Google is a hard row to hoe — and the search giant also is in the AI game — but an AI-powered alternative could be something worth trying.

More streaming

We stream everything nowadays, so why not art?

Atlanta-based Loupe is a streaming art platform, and the startup locked up a $3 million “seed+” round led by Aliavia Ventures.

Loupe streams artists’ work to TVs, commercial offices, digital billboards and other signage while offering the artists royalties.

The company works with more than 700 artists, 50-plus channels, and has streaming relationships with all the large platforms like Amazon Fire and Apple TV.

When we think of streaming, it’s usually more “The Last Of Us,” not a contemporary art piece, but investors are clearly intrigued.

Illustration: Dom Guzman

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