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5 Interesting Startup Deals You May Have Missed In March: Robot Recyclers, Better Pregnancy And AI For Teeth

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 our February entry here.

Spring is finally here along with longer days.

The changing weather may have caused you to miss some eye-catching rounds, so let’s run down a handful that you may have missed as our clocks sprung forward.

Robot recyclers

Only about 20% of residential recyclables are actually recycled, so clearly recyclers need a way to better find, sort and separate than what they have now.

San Francisco-based Glacier is looking to help with that. The AI and robotics startup is developing robots that automate recyclable sorting while at the same time collect real-time recycling data for companies.

Glacier locked up a $7.7 million round this month — led by big-name firms/funds NEA and Amazon‘s Climate Pledge Fund. In fact, the company now has a partnership with the retail giant to help the “traceability and recovery processes for recyclable materials” at Amazon. The partnership will try to identify and aggregate novel biomaterials so they can be recycled.

The startup’s robots utilize AI capabilities to identify more than 30 different materials — including everything from plastic bottles and aluminum cans to more difficult-to-label items like toothpaste tubes and cat food cans.

We are all trying to recycle as much as we can, but perhaps an AI-enhanced robot can help where we fall short.

Better maternal nutrition

While expecting mothers often watch what they eat, it also can be important pre- and post-pregnancy too.

Detroit-based Chiyo is a fertility through postpartum maternal nutrition startup. The company attracted some investor interest this month with a $3 million round, led by Bread and Butter Ventures, Ingeborg Investments, Union Heritage Capital, Peterson Ventures, Detroit Venture Partners, Palette Ventures and Helm.

The startup is looking to rewrite “what nutritional care looks like during each stage of a woman’s reproductive life cycle.” Its meals are rooted in Eastern food therapy. It has served 100,000 meals since launching in 2021 and grew 300% in the past year while expanding nationwide.

The company also now works with more than 100 women’s health practitioners. With the new cash, the firm is looking to build its digital platform for personalized customer self-guided content and nutrition programs and increase distribution through clinics and its practitioner community.

One stat the startup likes to point to is a 50%-plus decrease in pre-term birth rates across labor-and-delivery hospital units that participated in coordinated holistic care programs between 2014 and 2019.

AI for teeth

You may have heard AI is a big thing right now. Well, did you know it can help your teeth?

March Capital clearly believes it can. The firm led a $53.2 million Series C at a $550 million valuation for Boston-based Overjet.

The startup uses AI to help interpret X-rays and review dental insurance claims — huge issues that often cause friction between dentists, payers and patients, and can cut into the time allotted for care.

Its platform — the only dental AI platform cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, per the company — can be used to detect, outline and quantify instances of oral disease — with millimeter-level precision. Its AI is trained on millions of cases and continually verified.

Still likely won’t make anyone want to go to the dentist, but perhaps it will increase the level of attention and care.

Getting more out of your work

Everyone wants to give their best at work. A Cincinnati-based automated coaching firm is trying to help with that.

Cloverleaf raised $7.3 million in a Series A extension led by Advantage Capital. The startup is trying to help companies unlock their team members’ full potential by leveraging psychology data from behavioral assessments — such as DISC and Enneagram — and providing personalized coaching tips to employees directly in their daily collaboration tools such as Slack and Microsoft Teams.

The idea seems to be that while upskilling and training the workforce can be useful, personalized tips for team members based on who they are and how they think can also be useful.

It seems to be catching on, as the company has tripled its revenue since June 2022.

At a time when companies are cutting their workforce, getting the best out of everyone is more important than ever — even if it comes from a Slack channel.

Can I help you?

We started with robots and we’ll end with robots.

It’s no secret restaurants have struggled to secure enough staff post pandemic.

Well, a Redwood City, California-based startup may have a solution — robot waiters! Bear Robotics got a $60 million Series C financing from home appliance giant LG Electronics.

The robots are not exactly human-like — they are more just elevated trays on wheels — but the company may have plans to expand beyond its current Servi robots. In its blog announcing the round, the company says “we’re poised to explore new frontiers, particularly in smart warehousing and supply chain automation. Our next-generation robotics platform, featuring autonomous navigation systems and adaptive learning algorithms, is tailored to meet the intricate demands of modern supply chains and manufacturing processes.”

However, it is the current product that caught our attention.

While you may lose out on the human element with a robot as your waiter, you also won’t deal with a rude server. Perhaps it’s a trade off.

Illustration: Dom Guzman

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