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Venture Notes - April 22, 2024
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Today: Wicked | Heritage | Bunches | Peridio | Eventshop | Caduceus | BuildWitt | SageHill | Omnigenics | Wayspring | MerchantE | BeeKids | Regent | Arena | AB | Zapata | Veterans | FdtnCap | Vehlo | Atmus


Alli Truttmann

SWEATING your latest deal? 'Might take a look at Wicked Sheets LLC, led by Louisville-based Founder-CEO Alli Truttman, who created the company's "smart bedding" offerings to combat night sweats and incontinence, employing moisture-wicking and cooling products. Truttman is closing in on a $2MM target equity raise, SEC here.

NASHVILLE-based Heritage Healthcare Innovation Fund IV, which we spotted a year ago with a $400MM target, recently reported it had closed on roughly $230MM from 29 investors, with placements supported nationwide by Houlihan Lokey Capital, based in Los Angeles. See all VNC Heritage Group coverage here.

BUNCHES: Nashville-based social-networking, fan engagement tech entrepreneur and DAO policy advocate Derek Brown filed today to raise about $7.1MM, showing the equity and options round nearly complete for his Bunches startup. See our 2022 backgrounder on Brown here.

Bill Brock

INFRA-OPS: PERIDIO INC., Nashville, is more than halfway to its $8MM equity-raise goal, according to its recent filing by Co-Founder and CEO Bill Brock, who cut his teeth with IoT player Very and in SimCenter computational work at UT-Chattanooga. The company offers AIoT (AI, Internet of Things) configurable device management platforms enabling businesses to efficiently manage their connected devices at scale. Among other topics: Over-the-air (OTA) updates, fixes. Break it down here.

Spencer Combs

FOUNDER Spencer Combs filed for an $8MM raise for his Eventshop Inc. startup, which was created in Nashville to activate fan purchases of unique-to-show products at major events. This year, Eventshop aims to support consumer engagement with at least 150 artists, sports organizations and others. Its offerings include data capture and analysis, custom apparel and product drops, brand activations and augmented reality (AR) experiences. Combs' March 19 filing showed $500K in from one investor.

Dave Vreeland

CADUCEUS Capital Partners reported April 19 that Caduceus Early Stage Digital Health Fund II LP plans a $50MM raise in pooled investment fund interests, with the Dave Vreeland MHA and Scott Kolesar aboard the filing. Fund I had a $100MM target, as VNC previously reported. VNC research indicates the company has invested in 10 companies, with its only exit to-date being via its 2021 sale of Healthcare Value Analytics to locally based EvidenceCare. Caduceus coverage here. Vreeland coverage here. Kolesar here.

Aaron Witt

AARON WITT, 28, has now apparently raised about $20.4MM for his 6-year-old, Nashville-based BuildWitt Inc. BuiltWitt is his roll-your-own startup driven by his passion to help others recruit scarce construction workers, win projects and showcase construction equipment brands, and more. As we reported earlier, this Arizona native is focused on heavy infrastructure, mining, and demolition industries, and has 80+ FTEs supporting their marketing and branding, events, training and development. Part of the secret sauce seems to be the company's founding members. Witt's LinkedIn.

Davis Grizzard

CHATTANOOGA- and Atlanta-based Sage Hill Investors -- a family office focused mostly on diverse pre-seed and Series A opportunities pursued alongside fund managers and VCs. It has about 50 portfolio companies. Most recently, Sage turned-up as 6.4% ClassA owner in an April 16 preliminary S-1 filing by Mobix Labs Operations Inc. (Nasdq:MOBX), which resulted from a merger with spac Chavant Capital Acquisition Corp. Sage's president-CEO is Davis Grizzard (scroll down for his profile), who is a member of one of the families behind Grain Craft, the parent of which was acquired in 2022 by Redwood Capital Investments. Grizzard is also a co-founder of Chattanooga FC, among other interests. Sage's CFO is Atlanta-based Lisa Harris CPA; CIO is Rostam Zafari; and Brian Eberhard as Sage Hill's chief strategy officer. Sage's philanthropic arm is World Within, which makes impact investments in emerging markets.

Kyle Bransfield

KYLE BRANSFIELD, the 40-year-old chairman of APx Acquisition Corp. I (APXI), and his wife relocated to Metro Nashville in late 2022. He's using his serial-blank-check savvy in pursuit of opportunities in foodtech, agriculture, precision health treatments and related sectors, pursued with a global lens. His fourth SPAC process is underway. As described in its recent filings, a month ago APx executed a combination agreement through a series of related transactions involving in various ways parties OmnigenicsAI Corp sub Heritas Ltd, MultiplAI Health Ltd. and merger affiliates. (MultiplAI Health is currently enrolled in the 2024 Project Healthcare Cohort of Nashville Entrepreneur Center.) The process is currently expected to lead to OmnigenicsAI operating as the resulting consolidated public business, with shares and warrants trading upon closing as OMNI and OMNIW, respectively. Bransfield's prior experience suggests that near-term OmnigenicsAI will be broadening its network of lifescience partnerships and is likely to recruit private investment (PIPE) in OMNI. In 2023, Bransfield took public Moolec Science, a molecular farming firm, related WIRED coverage here. Apx's SEC filings here.

Carter Paine

HEALTHTECH: Nashville-based Wayspring (fka AxialHealthcare) on April 18 reported raising $45MM in equity capital. Total funding since inception now estimated as north of $165MM. The company continues to scale its "value-based care solution, a full-risk medical home model for substance use disorder (SUD)." Its co-founders were Kevin Kirkpatrick and Paul McCurry, but shortly after its founding leadership passed to John Donahue, as CEO and later as executive chairman. It raised its first outside capital in 2013 via the Healthbox accelerator, a program sponsored that year by HCA and Blue Cross Blue Shield Venture Partners. It has been led the past five years by CEO Carter Paine, a former NaviHealth executive. Announced investors have over the years included Valtruis (affiliated with WCAS), Centene Corporation, CareSource, HLM Venture Partners, Highmark Ventures, Sandbox Advantage Fund, .406 Ventures, Blue Venture Fund, Oak HC/FT, and Edward Kissel, an Angel investor. Wayspring/Axia advisors have at times included attorneys with Bass Berry & Sims and members of healthcare-focused Jarrard Phillips Cate & Hancock, which was acquired in 2020 by The Chartis Group.

Vaden Landers

NASHVILLE FINTECH entrepreneur Vaden Landers has returned to the Payments sector by joining Alpharetta-based MerchantE, a subsidiary of of Tokyo-based OPN Holdings. He was previously devoting much of his time as a special advisor to S2 Cognition, a cognitive assessment program focused on improved athletic performance. He remains resident in the Nashville area, but spends time each week in North Georgia. He's focused on driving "the integration of Opn's innovative frontend merchant solutions and MerchantE's unique direct connectivity to all the major card brands, enabling a combined Opn and MerchantE to provide a seamless payments experience to businesses of all sizes across the U.S., Asia and beyond," according to a release. Previous Vaden Landers coverage here.

Krystal Emmons

SOLVING for too-few pre-school options in the Memphis region, parent and former minister Krystal Emmons launched Bee Kids Preschool Learning Center, for which she's now pursuing a $250K equity raise, with $125K in thus far from 10 investors. The founder holds degrees in organizational leadership and Christian education, respectively from Jackson's Union University and Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary, in Memphis. The April 19 SEC filing here. VNC research indicates the founder plans to open two additional commercial learning centers during the next four years. The early-childhood focus may also be replicated within a nonprofit entity designed to serve inner-city children in Memphis. The startup's attorneys are with Evans Petree; accounting is with Frazee Ivey Davis. Separately, Emmons's husband, Justin Emmons, owns LivLimitless Fitness Studio in Memphis. The pair previously operated CrossFit Bartlett.

Travis Messina

TRAVIS MESSINA, Franklin-based CEO of Regent Surgical Health Topco LP, filed showing roughly $31.3MM raised from 31 investors in the ambulatory surgery business, dealing with both physician partnerships and health-system ASC JVs. It also maintains a revenue cycle management practice. Christa Blumenshine recently joined as CFO. Messina succeeded Chris Bishop, who's now CEO of Veterinary Innovative Partners. Messina's earlier roles were with Martin Ventures and Vanguard Health Systems.

Brian Ferguson

ARENA LABS INC., led by CEO Brian Ferguson in Nashville, aims to raise nearly $4.3MM equity and debt funding to advance its offering, which "trains and optimizes the human-centered skills needed to flourish in the high-stress, high-consequence field of medicine" to help create "elite" high-performing medical teams. See this month's filing here.

ALLIANCEBernstein's ecosystem is broad and diverse, as demonstrated by its participation in completing the $118M.7MM private equity investment pool, involving 186 investors and reported April 11. AB-Abbott Private Equity Solutions 2024 GP is GP to the issuer, and AB Private Credit Investors LLC is an advisor. VNC research shows AB maintains numerous partnerships in support of its programs, including such previously disclosed partners as Abbott Capital Management and LSV Advisors, among others. The filing for AB-Abbott Private Equity Solutions 2024 (Delaware) Fund LP was entered by AB's Rebecca Hill.

BOSTON-based Zapata Computing Holdings Inc., which has Nashville presence and was fka Andretti Acquisition Corp., recently completed its spac merger and filed this month on both a $14.6MM Form D equity raise and, separately, on an S-1 program of active and potential future sales of Zapata shares by Lincoln Park Capital Fund LLC. The filing indicates a process that could over time yield gross proceeds for Zapata of up to $75MM. VNC's previous Zapata coverage here. The original company was created mainly by its current CEO, Christopher Savoie, and by members of the fabled Andretti automotive family who lead several businesses, some of which have close ties to Nashville-based Bridgestone Americas.

Paul Woolard

VETERAN VENTURES CAPITAL, founded in Tennessee, recently began raising VVC Veterans Fund II, with a $50MM target and a $100MM hard cap. VNC research indicates VVC Veterans Fund I (vintage 2020-21) ultimately hit its $20MM target, with about $13MM now deployed into 14 firms. Apply for funding here. VVC's existing portfolio firms are said to have also garnered about $120MM in nondilutive grants or contracts. Threshold portfolio criteria include: Companies offering dual-use goods, with proven market fit in Seed to Series A/B stages, with north of $1MM ARR -- plus, U.S. military veterans on the cap table and in some role(s) in the C-suite. Initial checks are modeled at $1MM with expectation of follow-on investments. VVC's team and expanding investor and advisor networks include family offices, states participating in SSBCI, and numerous others, some of whom are listed here. The firm's most visible operators: Tysons, Va.-based Derren Burrell, 51, and Nashville-based Paul Woolard, 58. A VVC-aligned microfund pools smaller investments. Outside advisors include attorneys with Cooley. Audit is by Spicer Jeffries, with fund admin via CARTA. VVC's banking is with JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley. VVC's D.C.-area office is in Fairfax County, off I-495. Related VVC coverage.

Scott Altick

NASHVILLE-based Scott Altick is aboard the filing for the target-$25MM Foundation Capital Co-Investment Fund I equity raise, which is to support property development for innovative knowledge-economy tenants in lifesciences and other fields. Altick is also a managing partner in Charlotte-based Trinity Capital Advisors, which is active in Nashville, Raleigh, St. Louis and South Florida properties.

Michelle Fischer

VEHLO Holdings LP the Knoxville entrant in SaaS and financial solutions for the automotive repair industry, recently announced co-founder Michelle Fischer's transition to chairing the company board, and the appointments of John Weis as CEO and Brian Wagner as president-COO. It also added to the team CFO Bill Roselli, CRO Rob Hurst, and CPTO Robert Patrick. In 3Q 2023, the company reported its plan to raise an estimated $61.2MM needed to ensure existing qualified holders are entitled to receive certain profit interests associated with appreciation. Fischer's LinkedIn.

Steph Disher

NASHVILLE-based Atmus Filtration Technologies (ATMU), an independent spinoff from Cummins (CMI), reported via SEC on April 19 that Toni Hickey, its erstwhile chief legal officer and corporate secretary, now serves in a transitional role prior to departing the company. Atmus began trading nearly a year ago and has been led from inception by former Cummins exec CEO Steph Disher. Atmus Chairman Steve Macadam is also a director of Nashville-based LP (LPX), chairman of Atlanta-based Veritiv (VRTV), and a director of Minneapolis-based Sleep Number (SNBR). Atmus recently named Stuart Taylor II of Chicago to its board of directors. Taylor is a PE investor in transportation, capital goods, and consumer-products businesses, and holds Yale and Harvard degrees. He has also served as a director with 3PL-focused Essendant, automation-oriented Hillenbrand, and packaging-centric Ball Corp. The Atmus webpage today says the company has 4,500 employees and $1.6BN annual sales. Media notes on Hickey's prior Cummins role here. The company plans to disclose 1Q24 financial results May 3.

See all previous Venture Nashville coverage, click here. VNC


. last edited 0543 23 April 2024

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Tags: Aaron Witt, Abbott Capital Management, agriculture, AI, Alli Truttman, Alliance Bernstein, Andretti Acquisition Corp, APx Acquisition Corp, Arena Labs, Atmus Filtration Technologies, Axial Healthcare, Bass Berry Sims, Bee Kids Preschool Learning Center, Bill Brock, Bill Roselli, Brian Eberhard, Brian Ferguson, Brian Wagner, Bridgestone, BuildWitt, Bunches, Caduceus Capital, CARTA, Carter Paine, Chartis Group, Chattanooga FC, Chavant Capital Acquisition Corp, Chris Bishop, Christa Blumenshine, Christopher Savoie, construction, Cooley, Dave Vreeland, Davis Grizzard, Department of Defense, Derek Brown, Derren Burrell, dual use technologies, entertainment, Evans Petree, events, Eventshop, fan engagement, fintech, Foundation Capital, Frazee Ivey Davis, Grain Craft, health, Heritage Group, Houlihan Lokey Capital, IOT, Jarrard, Jarrard Phillips Cate Hancock, John Weis, JPMorgan Chase, Justin Emmons, Kevin Kirkpatrick, Krystal Emmons, Kyle Bransfield, Lincoln Park Capital, Lisa Harris, LiveLimitless Fitness Studio, LivLimitless, LSV Advisors, Martin Ventures, MerchantE, Michelle Fischer, Mobix, Mobix Labs Operations, molecular farming, Moolec Science, Morgan Stanley, MultiplAI Health, Nashville Entrepreneur Center, NaviHealth, OmnigenicsAI, OPN Holdings, Paul McCurry, Paul Woolard, Peridio, Project Healthcare, Rebecca Hill, Redwood Capital Investments, Regent Surgical Health, Rob Hurst, Robert Patrick, Rostam Zafari, S2 Cognition, Sage Hill Investors, Scott Altick, Scott Kolesar, Spencer Combs, Spicer Jeffries, sports, Steph Disher, Stephanie Disher, Steve Macadam, Stuart Taylor, Toni Hickey, Travis Messina, Trinity Capital Advisors, Vaden Landers, Vehlo, Vehlo Holdings, Venture Notes, Veteran Ventures Capital, Wayspring, Wicked Sheets, World Within, Zapata Computing Holdings


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