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Venture Notes - June 30, 2021
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Today (27): ZERV | Claritas | CoPilot | Scholars | Lirio | TutorUp | FPK | CPRwrap | VidaFuel | Valkyrie | HODL | Bridgestone | EvidenceCare | PD | Joseph | FBSci | VIP | Spiras | IronPath | Maybe | Smart | Mono | XSolis | MSHealth | TSW3 | FPK | GAC | fit52


ZERV Inc., a property access control technology startup led by Founder-CEO Cody Horchak has quietly relocated its headquarters to Nashville from Chicago, and it has completed a $17MM capital raise (complementing $2MM separately raised since inception). The 3-year-old company says that its "smart locks, readers, and Zervers make it easy for everyday people to modernize legacy fob and card readers into a mobile-authenticated, touchless access control system." Both remote sharing and revoking of temporary or permanent access are supported. Its Vault Smart Locks are connected to mobile devices with BLE or WiFi-RF. Its Zerver R is an IoT sensor that replaces legacy FOB, card and RFID credential readers. Its offering enables users to manage via secure mobile devices visitors, tenants, service-providers and deliveries to homes, multi-residential buildings, office spaces, parking garage, and other venues -- and Zerv automatically verifies identities of new users. Video explainer here. Zerv staffing will rise from 7 to 11 within the next week, taking total companywide staffing to 40, in Tennessee, Illinois, Georgia and Texas, with aggressive national expansion ahead. The founder is setting down roots: Horchak confirmed that he and his fiance, Josie Arbogast DVM, will marry here in an October ceremony, shortly after she launches Good Vets in The Gulch, in August. Recent preliminary Zerv SEC filing here.

VC CLARITAS Capital, Nashville led a $62MM raise for healthtech Kindbody, which provides fertility, gynecology, and family-building care. Series C release here. Claritas also led a $2MM Seed raise for Richmond-based Naborforce, which supports on-demand services for older adults, release here. Other VNC coverage of Claritas here. Claritas Capital recently established a dedicated healthcare investment arm, Claritas Health Ventures, with cofounders John Chadwick and Theresa Sexton, who, alongside Principal Tania Jovanich Grant, represent the investment team. CHV is owned by Claritas Capital. Asked what's driving the seemingly heady pace of Claritas deal announcements, Sexton responded, in part, "Our pipeline is unprecedented and we are committed to engaging early and often with companies addressing women's health, mental health, remote care, and the aging population. We've announced a couple of great additions to our team earlier this year, added a summer intern, and then there are some positives from being 'around the hoop' for the past 20 years..." Other Claritas coverage here.

Chris Hefley

TRAVELTECH: CHRIS HEFLEY, the soon-46-year-old former founder, CEO and successful exiter of LEANKIT, is now chief strategy officer of CoPilot Travel. CoPilot is continuing its earlier Seed raise, with a new target of $4MM. It's led by CEO Gary Somerhalder, 32. The company enjoys a revenue-sharing relationship with deal-shopping platform Priceline.com. CoPilot has 4 FTE and 4 advisors, plus contractors. CoPilot earns shares of search, bookings and related revenue generated via participating websites that are powered by CoPilotTravel's solution, and owned by airline, hotel, and rental-car brands. Somerhalder raised about $100K prior to his initial 2019 filing for what was then to be $2MM Seed raise. Somerhalder has personally invested at least $200K in the startup. VNC LeanKit coverage here. Previous CoPilot coverage here. CoPilot current and soon-to-be amended SEC filings here.

► HRTECH: SCHOLARS INC., the Nashville, Memphis and Colorado-based recruitment engagement-content provider, has raised $1.5MM. The company has 7 FTE, with two 23-year-olds -- Co-founders Ben Siegel and Parker Pell in Colorado and Memphis, respectively -- and, 26-year-old CTO Evan Deere in Nashville, where he's building the company's engineering team. Crunchbase says the lead investor is San Diego-based LogicBoost Labs, which apparently specializes in SaaS startups, and is represented by CEO Jonathan Cogley, who's associated with the Scholars/Quickfix filing.

► BEHAVIOR: LIRIO LLC of Knoxville is again raising, this time with a $5MM goal and $853K reported in. Prior to this filing, Crunchbase estimated Lirio's capital since inception at north of $51MM. The company offers an AI-powered behavioral solution, and recently announced a solution targeted diabetes patients' care. SEC filings here. Review our previous Lirio updates here.

Ray Capp

EDTECH: TutorUP, now led by Ray Capp, said in a release it is projecting growth and mulling raising capital. Five-year-old TutorUp was fka TeacherFindr. Shares of its co-founders, Nirant Gupta and David Peters, were recently bought out. The company reported executing a $1.2MM Seed round in 2017. Addition to Capp, the team now includes Shannon Gilroy, Mike Freeman, Andrew Jacobson. Capp is the former CEO of Conduit Corporation, a self-styled investor and business incubator; a former CEO of the Nashville Technology Council; EVP of Thomas Nelson Publishers; and, COO Ingram Entertainment (founded by David Bronson Ingram). At ConduIT, Capp worked alongside that company's founder/EVP, Mike Hassell.

► FPK Cap OncoNano LLC, in Memphis, has raised roughly $4MM in the past nine months, filings here. VNC research says the fund is a VC/PE affiliate of investment banker Fox Pitt Kelton, and names associated with the latest filing include Allen B. Hyde, whom we take to be the son of Malone & Hyde, AutoZone, Memphis Grizzlies entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist Joseph Reeves "Pitt" Hyde III, who is also founder and trustee of the Hyde Family Foundation. Also named in the filing is Paul Stephens, who was agent for registration of FPK Capital, several months ago. Pitt Hyde is, among other pivotal roles, chairman of the board of the nonprofit Memphis Bioworks Foundation, which has a for-profit VC subsidiary, Innova Memphis. [Though unconfirmed by VNC, The OncoNano reference calls to mind a producer of products to diagnose and treat cancer -- OncoNano Medicine, which is a spinout of the University of Texas Southwestern. It recently raised $50MM in a Series B, led by Advantech Capital.]

Felicia Jackson

► FOLLOWUP: CPRwrap, the maker of a CPR response tool, has a StartEngine CF running, has met Founder-CEO Felicia Jackson's threshold minimum raise, has a roughly $3MM valuation and seeks a maximum of roughly $1MM capital. SEC filing. See VNC's full coverage here. See our fuller coverage here of the Chattanooga-area company.

► NUTRITION: VidaFuel Inc. in Nashville filed to raise $1.5MM in funding, showing $1.2MM in. The company, led by CEO Bette Parolini, generates nutritional support products. The company previously raised $1.5MM, also. Corporates and Ultra HNWI seem to be its mainstays, thus far. Its website here.

► NASHVILLE's BTC Media and closely allied UTXO Management, among others, are among backers for a $10MM Series A (type assets not stated) for Brentwood, Tenn.-based Valkyrie Investments, according to Valkyrie's press release today. Valkyrie CEO: Leah Wald.

CRYPTO Comedy: HODL Hodlings LLC filed for a $7.5MM raise, with $250K in, with their report showing Nashville and Los Angeles addresses. VNC research suggests this raise is related to production of a 10-part TV series to be called HODL (Hold on for Dear Life), which we think is a utility crypto coin currency caper. HODL Founder Christina Martin and movie-maker Mark Pennell are likely to get writing and executive producer credits, along with Massimiliano "Max" Musina. Will they seek TV/Movie production incentives from the State of Tennessee? Bob Raines, head of the Tennessee Entertainment Commission, told VNC yesterday that he was not aware of any approaches by HODL representatives. VNC research into Cali./TN records online show there's another entity involved somehow: Satoshi Nakamoto Productions LLC, probably named for the rumored creator of the bitcoin cryptocurrency and thus an important force in increasing adoption of distributed ledger technology. Trade media indicate the sitcom's filming will be in Puerto Rico -- but, could there be post-production work for Tennessee? Profits from the project are to be partly tokenized, via the Ethereum blockchain. There may also be a nonfungible token (NFT) in the mix. Media coverage: 1 | 2 |

CVC: BRIDGESTONE AMERICAS, Nashville, made a minority investment of undisclosed magnitude in Kodiak Robotics, positioned on self-driving truck solutions, based in Mountain View, Calif. Release here. Venture Nashville research shows that, in addition to its parent company planning to create a Global Innovation Campus in Japan, Bridgestone Americas, based in Nashville, has within the past two weeks posted on its searchable site numerous Nashville-area job openings in strategy, development, marketing, engineering and other fields, including Director-Corporate Strategy; and, Technology and Innovation Insights Lead (GAIN).

► HEALTHTECH: EVIDENCECARE INC., the Brentwood provider of clinical decision support technology, filed a placeholder for a capital raise, showing those associated with the filing as James Jamieson, Founder Brian Fengler, Judson Ivey, Don Lazas, Justin McGoldrick, Bill Sheahan, David Vreeland. The company announced in September 2020 that Bo Bartholomew signed-on as CEO. The company has previously raised about $13MM, per Crunchbase today. Jumpstart Capital led a 2019 Series A raise. Much of the prior financing was on convertibles. Previous VNC coverage here.

► PREVENTRIC Diagnostics LLC, Birmingham, has set out on a $7MM raise. Its focus is on ambulatory blood pressure monitoring, using its BPro product. The startup was launched by Founder and Chairman Philip White.

► NASHVILLE-based serial entrepreneur Josh Joseph announced he has "returned to the cannabis industry" via an investment of undisclosed magnitude in Silver Therapeutics of Maine. His family holding company holds diverse interests in Nashville and elsewhere, as VNC previously reported in some detail here.

Courteney Wolfe

AG-BIO: Memphis-based FBSciences, a 14-year-old firm focused on innovation and commercialization of sustainable biologicals for agriculture and food production, recently mentioned in a press release that it is "closing in on [$100M] in commercial success, with global commercialization and a customer base of growers across the world..." Release here. The company was fka Floratine Biosciences. Chair and CEO: Courtenay Wolfe. Co-Founder and EVP: Peter Stromberg. Online research indicates the company's financings have advanced past the D round (and PPP) and may have totaled north of $30MM (equity and convertible rounds). Filings 2008-2014 here.

► FORENSICS: VIP Forensics LLC, Franklin: Attorney and former police officer Vincent Perez JD says on his LinkedIn that he holds IP in the form of the EasyGather forensic data collection device; and, that he has "enhanced the device to provide for on location DNA/Touch DNA collection, but also facial recognition, iris scan and a fingerprint image," with some related value in COVID testing and contact tracing, among other functions. Crunchbase. SEC filing here.

► NASHVILLE-based Spiras Health -- provider of in-home and virtual healthcare solutions for patients with complex chronic conditions -- announced completing a $14MM Series B funding round led by NEA, with participation from incumbents Altitude Ventures, FCA Venture Partners, and others. CEO: Scott Bowers MBA.

SCOTT MRAZ, the Nashville-based managing partner of Iron Path Capital, is associated with Iron Path Pulse LP's report on completion of its $38.2MM raise, involving only 8 investors who like private equities.

► FINTECH: Birmingham-based Maybe Finance Inc., a SaaS financial planning and wealth management platform startup, has Republic crowdfunding effort underway, with nearly $700K raised, toward a $1MM max target (with a SAFE instrument) CEO: Josh Pigford. SEC filings here. UPDATED 2 Aug. 2021: The Republic CF offering site says Maybe Finance passed its $1MM mark and is sold out.

► FINTECH: SMART USA, the global retirement technology savings technology platform company that will soon be headquartered in Nashville with dozens of employees, may benefit from its UK-based parent's latest raise of USD 228.25MM, led by Chrysalis Investments. Story here.

► MONOGRAM Health (kidney disease and ESRenal care) raised $160MM from TPG, Frist Cressey Ventures, Norwest, et al, bringing capital raised since inception to a total $172MM, according to Crunchbase. Chair: Bill Frist. CEO: Mike Uchrin. Previous VNC reporting here.

► XSOLIS Health received $75MM investment from Brighton Park Capital. The company employs cognitive computing to afford payers and providers access and analytics for concurrent utilization review of cases, and for automation of inpatient authorizations. Co-Founder/CEO: Joan Butters. XSolis is a portfolio company of entrepreneur-investor and Co-founder Jim Sohr, who has a family office and operates PoweredHealth. Earlier VNC notes on XSolis. Brighton Park here.

Annie Lamont

MAIN STREET HEALTH is investing $26.4MM in executing their value-based rural healthcare strategy, with backing from Russell Street Ventures, VC Annie Lamont of Oak FT/HC renown; former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist MD; Nashville Capital Network, and others, according to Sandy Mazza's reporting in The Tennessean, June 29. CEO: Brad Smith. Website here.

FAMILIES: Chattanooga-based TSW3 Co-Investment I LLC -- with TSWII Capital Advisors persons who are associated with the filing including L. Hardwick "Hacker" Caldwell III and COO Chris Fehr -- filed on completion of a nearly $6.4MM raise. Among those having previously held some interest in TSWII or its affiliated funds is the The Hacker and Kitty Caldwell Family Foundation Inc., of Chattanooga. VNC research indicates Mindy Freeman is CFO for TSWII. Other TSWII-affiliated funds include, e.g., TSWII Domestic LP, which earlier this year reported raising $40MM. The Caldwell family line has been traced to 1732, about six decades prior to the town and later city of Chattanooga were formed. Some of the family's early wealth has been traced to ownership of the former Tennessee Stove Works. In recent years, Charlotte Caldwell led efforts to repurpose the Tennessee Stove Works site for the Stove Works Contemporary Art Center, story here and site here.

► FAMILIES: FPK Cap OncoNano LLC, in Memphis, has raised roughly $4MM in the past nine months, filings here. VNC research says the fund is a VC/PE affiliate of investment banker Fox Pitt Kelton, and names associated with the latest filing include Allen B. Hyde, whom we take to be the son of Malone & Hyde, AutoZone, Memphis Grizzlies entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist Joseph Reeves "Pitt" Hyde III, who is also founder and trustee of the Hyde Family Foundation. Also named in the filing is Paul Stephens, who was agent for registration of FPK Capital, several months ago. Pitt Hyde is, among other pivotal roles, chairman of the board of the nonprofit Memphis Bioworks Foundation, which has a for-profit VC subsidiary, Innova Memphis. The OncoNano reference calls to mind a producer of products to diagnose and treat cancer -- OncoNano Medicine, which is a spinout of the University of Texas Southwestern. It recently raised $50MM in a Series B, led by Advantech Capital.

► FAMILIES: PE raise: GAC Capital LLC, a Birmingham fund that serves one or more family offices, filed on its nearly completed $55MM raise. VNC research suggests GAC knows its targets, and is not looking for dealflow; and, registrant Stephen Rowe is associated with Arlington Family Offices.

► CARRIE Underwood's fit52 fitness app is -- according to a release from e-commerce investor Clearco (fka Clearbanc) and its ally, Caravan (itself allied with Creative Artists Agency, CAA) -- gaining monetization from Caravan's ability to expand tie-in consumers by providing the level of celebrity-influencer access many startups can't secure. Caravan doesn't capitalize startups, but advances funding against future earnings. Caravan's initial site isn't deeply informative, but this Techcrunch piece on a somewhat analogous program may help with understanding the model. Our earlier note on Underwood's potentially trend-setting monetization move, here.

See previous editions of Venture Notes here ... and all stories in reverse-chron order here. VNC

. last edited 1124 30 June 2021


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Tags: Advantech Capital, Allen Hyde, Altitude Ventures, Arlington Family Offices, Bette Parolini, Bill Frist, bitcoin, Bo Bartholomew, Bob Raines, Brad Smith, Bridgestone Americas, BTCMedia, Caravan, Carrie Underwood, Chris Fehr, Chris Hefley, Christina Martin, Claritas Capital, Claritas Health Ventures, Clearco, ConduIT Corporation, CoPilot Travel, Courtenay Wolfe, CPRwrap, Creative Artists Agency, CREtech, cryptocurrency, David Peters, distributed ledger technology, Ethereum, EvidenceCare, FBSciences, FCA Venture Partners, Felicia Jackson, fintech, fit52, Fox Pitt Kelton, FPK Cap OncoNano, GAC Capital, Gary Somerhalder, Hacker Caldwell, Hyde Family Foundation, Innova Memphis, Iron Path Capital, Jim Sohr, Josh Pigford, Kindbody, Leah Wald, LeanKit, Lirio, LogicBoost Labs, Main Street Health, Mark Pennell, Maybe Finance, Memphis Bioworks Foundation, Mike Uchrin, Naborforce, Nashville Capital Network, NEA, Nirant Gupta, Peter Stromberg, Philip White, Pitt Hyde, PoweredHealth, Preventric Diagnostics, proptech, Russell Street Ventures, Scholars, Scott Bowers, Scott Mraz, Smart USA, Spirus Health, Stephen Rowe, The Hacker and Kitty Caldwell Family Foundation, TutorUp, UTXO Management Group, Valkyrie Investments, Venture Notes, VidaFuel, Vincent Perez, VIP Forensics, XSolis Health, Zerv


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