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5 Interesting Startup Deals You May Have Missed In May: AI Help With Parenting And Fighting Obesity

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 April entry here.

School is nearly out and summer’s almost here. A lot is going on in most people’s lives, so let’s take a look at a few intriguing startups that raised cash this month that may have escaped your notice.

This month the rounds included everything from added support for cancer survivors to leveraging your car for credit. Let’s take a look.

AI parenting

Depending on who you talk to, AI can solve everything. But can it solve the problem of making sure your kids are watching what they should on the internet?

Well maybe — at least that’s what one Nashville, Tennessee-based startup is promising. Angel AI Co., which has created an AI platform that it says provides an “age-appropriate” internet experience for children between 5 and 12 years old, raised a $4.75 million seed round led by Cortical Ventures this month.

Angel AI says it uses large language models, natural language processing, speech recognition and other tech to generate age-appropriate answers to children’s questions and deliver what the company calls compelling but safe content and entertainment.

The platform has the ability to learn and understand the child over time, and will provide video and audio options at their comprehension level to help them learn.

Angel’s content is also free from advertisements and includes a parent insight portal — which can inform parents about their children’s interests.

Making it rain

One of the things humankind still has not figured out is how to control Mother Nature.

Nevertheless, an El Segundo, California-based startup is giving it a try when it comes to rain.

Rainmaker Technology raised a $6.3 million seed round from a large group of investors that included Long Journey Ventures, Champion Hill Ventures and Garry Tan. The startup aims to develop cloud seeding techniques — a weather modification tool discovered last century that seeks to introduce ice nuclei to clouds and cause, well, rain.

Cloud seeding can work, but the question has usually been how well it works. It also has been in the news recently.

Rainmaker hired its first engineers this year and now seems poised to get out into the field later in 2024 — and make it rain.

Fighting obesity

More than 2 in 5 adults — 42.4% — have obesity in the U.S., so clearly it’s a problem.

However, it also can be complicated due to the many reasons for it. Startup Phenomix Sciences is trying to bring some clarity to the problem. The Menlo Park, California-based biotech firm locked up a $5.5 million Series A this month from investors including DexCom, LabCorp and Health2047 as it tries to bring data intelligence to the treatment of obesity.

The startup, born out of the Mayo Clinic, says it has developed a phenotyping test that gives insights into genetics to determine an individual’s cause of obesity. The test is already in use by obesity treatment providers in the U.S. and identifies obesity subtypes of the disease caused by the interaction of genes and the environment.

These different phenotypes can include things like emotional hunger or hungry gut — defined as when someone eats a full meal but feels hungry soon after. Knowing the phenotype can allow for a better treatment.

Along with its Series A, the company also secured a $1.8 million National Institutes of Health research grant.

Obesity is serious and can be caused by many things. Knowing the root of a specific patient’s problem can lead to a better outcome.

Care for cancer survivors

Beating cancer is hard. However, sometimes dealing with beating cancer can be hard too.

OncoveryCare, formerly VivorCare, locked up a $4.5 million seed round this month led by .406 Ventures to launch its cancer survivorship care model.

The Boston-based startup’s virtual care model for cancer survivorship equips patients with a care team of survivorship-trained clinicians, and initial areas will be toxicity management, mental health support, navigation and care planning, and preventative care. The first regional rollout will serve Tennessee to start, in partnership with Tennessee Oncology, also an investor.

The population of cancer survivors is growing rapidly in the country, expecting to double between 2008 and 2030 to 22 million, according to the company. It’s critical to offer those survivors help as they fight fatigue and anxiety, and deal with complex screenings and monitoring — especially coming off the toughest battle of their lives.

A credit car?

While many people take getting a credit card for granted, it can be difficult for many people who have low credit scores or have struggled to build a credit history.

Dallas-based Yendo closed a $150 million debt financing led by i80 Group to try to help those people — using something many already have.

While some folks may not have a strong credit history, they have a car. Yendo provides a vehicle-secured credit card, allowing consumers to tap into the equity of their cars to get up to $10,000 of revolving credit. A person’s credit line increases proportionally as they pay down their auto loans each month.

The card also is available to customers who do not yet own their vehicle but choose to refinance their auto loan through Yendo.

The company’s card currently is available in 40 states across the U.S. and hopes to expand with the fresh funding.

For many, their car is their most valuable asset. Being able to access credit by leveraging it makes sense.

Illustration: Dom Guzman

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