Portfolio news - June 2017

June is apparently a very busy time for our companies, so much so that we need two updates this month to cover the news already this month.

Proterra: Undermining the narrative that South Carolina companies never raise venture capital, Proterra announced its latest $55 million financing (in which VentureSouth members again participated - thanks pro rata rights!)  (Forbes, WSJ.) Wonder what proportion of those that are "still in" will be buying electric buses or just creating their own hot air?

ActivEd: several big achievements, from a rollout across all Cherokee County Schools to a state-level budget proviso to fund Walkabouts in 250 more classrooms in South Carolina - taking ActivEd into over 50% of schools in the state. This is why this is important.

Pharmright: Livi is working hard - and is already improving the lives of caregivers and early adopters. You can enjoy The Medicine Shoppe's commercial here.

OB Medical: LaborView is now available in Australia and New Zealand thanks to a distribution partnership with LSR Healthcare. (It had also announced integration with Philips' legacy monitoring systems back in April.)

Kwipped: Officially announced the additional investment from The Angel Roundtable. Pleased to be working with Tony and the rest of the TAR team.

Servosity: And finally here's Damien Stevens' "Entrepreneur Minute" from a couple of weeks ago.

Portfolio news - Early June 2017

There is no quiet winding down for summer at VentureSouth - with two diligence teams working hard, multiple investments closing, and strategic planning for improvements to our processes in the fall.

There is even less of a decrescendo at our portfolio companies. Here are the most recent updates:

Pharmright: new customers flooding in during May, including new pharmacy customers like The Medicine Shoppe in South Dakota and PharmNet in Mississippi.  Vote for them in the AARP Innovation Challenge here.

Avadim: continuing its partnership expansion, Avadim announced its partnership with Briggs Healthcare and with GPA.

Vendor Registry: added Dorchester County to its portfolio of governments in SC, joining Florence County, North Charleston, City of Spartanburg, and many others.

Atlas Organics: launched its consumer food waste collection business, Compost House. See this introduction from Greenville Online.

Proterra: World's most amazing bus company Proterra added a new chief legal officer and a new CFO.

And Kwipped's new equipment leasing program continues to add partners, like Balboa Capital today.

 

Portfolio news - May 2017

The spring continues to be productive for VentureSouth's portfolio companies. Here is a recap of recent progress on marketing and product development

Plum Print: received nationwide exposure in the Washington Post (subsequently re-circulated through the Rockies in the Denver Post to the Pacific in the Bend Bulletin!) - and was Sarah Michelle Gellar's top pick for Mothers Day. You can see their elevator pitch on MSNBC and on Hulu.

Kwipped: announced the launch of its equipment leasing program. If you would like to rent-to-own equipment, Kwipped now helps you find the equipment AND find ways to finance it. Learn more from Robert on the SE Tech Podcast from this month.

Avadim: announced another partnership, this time with Ocean X for a direct to consumer subscription channel.

Proterra: it wouldn't be a monthly update without something on Proterra. This month we have a new cold weather package and diagnostics kits and a test of the bus in Greenville. Not cool enough? How about (semi) autonomous buses?

Building up products, teams, and revenues are (of course) crucial for growth. But we are always mindful of exit preparation, and so are pleased to see when portfolio companies add to their patent suite - making themselves more attractive to potential strategic buyers.

Congratulations therefore to Zipit (here - receiving its 10th patent),  KIYATEC (here), Pharmright (here), and Brightfield (here) on expanding their patent portfolios in the last few weeks.

Portfolio news - April 2017

Partnerships are crucial to early-stage companies to help them scale more rapidly. April saw the announcement of three example partnerships in our portfolio:

Other companies launched new products and hit milestones on their own:

And Proterra just keeps on rolling:

Dirtbags!

Atlas Dirtbags

Atlas Organics Dirtbags hit the market! You can find the first available bags at the following locations tomorrow afternoon. Please help spread the word! Certified SC Product and STA Certified.
Clean, high-quality compost - made with all organic materials - Not made with manures - we say, “No Doo Doo, No Kidding!”

  • Carolina Garden World, 1020 S Pine St, Spartanburg, SC 29302
  • Piedmont Farm and Garden, 7043 Howard St, Spartanburg, SC 29303
  • Hub City Co-Op, 176 Liberty St, Spartanburg, SC 29306
  • ACE Landscapers Supply, 1620 N Pleasantburg Dr Greenville, SC 29609

Portfolio news - March 2017

March was another busy month for VentureSouth portfolio companies. Here are a few of our favorite stories.

The Upstate Business Journal's "Startups to Watch" featured several VentureSouth portfolio companies, including TipHive and Ellipsis.

Kwipped expanded its services to offer "white glove delivery service" to take the complexity out of shipping and returning the assets you rent from the marketplace. And, if somehow you missed it, it had a nice write up in Electrical Engineering times.

Medical device manufacturer Pharmright added to its sales team - welcome Shannon.

And in the biggest news this month, Pete Durand and Rival Health announced a merger with gBehavior to create a comprehensive wellness platform with offices across the southeast. Congratulations to Pete and the team, and good luck on the next stage of the journey.

PS - Know anyone that would like to be an Optical Development and Test Specialist?

Portfolio news - February 2017

Since the last set of portfolio news in January, VentureSouth investment companies have achieved recognition in many areas. In addition to Baebies' FDA approval, here are other examples:

Zipit Wireless: named in Gartner's Market Guide for Clinical Communication & Collaboration report.

Brightfield: profiled by UNC TV as part of their program about Asheville's Collider.

Several others added to their already impressive teams:

Kwipped: hired a CTO, Wellington Souza (and continued receiving positive press in trade magazines like For Construction Pros and Lab Manager, and local newspapers).

Avadim: hired a new chief medical officer, Dr Joseph Renzulli, and their newest board member, Humberto Antunes, won a Lifetime Achievement Award at the South Beach Symposium.

Others still announced sales growth and other partnerships, like:

Vendor Registry: is now being used by Myrtle Beach's procurement division.

TipHive: agreed a new partnership with a large Papa Johns franchisor, to help information sharing within the franchise network, and was featured in the MMM SE Tech Podcast series - to which you should subscribe.

And the final award of the night goes to Emrgy, voted the best startup in Georgia (1-10 employees) by the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

Baebies receives FDA approval

Congratulations to Baebies for announcing it received clearance from the FDA for its SEEKER platform - the first Lysosomal Storage Disease newborn screening platform.

Following a panel review recommendation last August that unanimously supported approval, the FDA announced its clearance last week.

As Seeking Alpha put it: Who Loves Ya, Baebies?

This is a great milestone for Baebies, in which VentureSouth members invested in 2014 and last year, and another underline of the "Do Good" part of our motto - "Make Money. Have Fun. Do Good."

Vendor Registry: new VentureSouth investment raises $1.8 million

We are very pleased to contribute to Vendor Registry's seed round. Announced today, the $1.8 million financing is to continue its rapid expansion, to let more local governments obtain services more efficiently from vendors.

Angel groups frequently invest in partnership with other groups. In this case, we are delighted to be working alongside both southeastern partners (like the Chattanooga Renaissance Fund and Lighthouse Ventures) and new partners from further afield (Allos Ventures). And of course alongside Chris Van Beke and his talented team, who are already helping local government agencies do more with less.

You can learn more about the company from this profile in GovTech magazine.

Good luck to Vendor Registry.

Portfolio news - January 2017

January began with a bang with Proterra's financing, and they continued to dominate headlines - with stories of big order wins like this one for 73 buses.

January has been an exciting time for other VentureSouth portfolio companies as well. Here are a few others that have made the news.

ActivEd: Kinesthetic learning edtech company ActivEd is going to be used in all the elementary schools in Greenville County. Greenville County is the largest school district in SC (and the 44th largest in the US) with over 50 elementary schools, so this is a big win.

Pharmright: Charleston-based Pharmright raised additional capital to accelerate the commercialization of Livi. Our groups participated - led by VentureSouth Charleston.

Vendor Registry: New portfolio company Vendor Registry impressed us - and impressed the Murfreesboro, TN purchasing department.

Booster: Crowdr became Booster, and moved from desktop to mobile. You can now live-stream your event from your phone or tablet, and simultaneously raise money for it. Download the app here.

Plum Print: And Plum Print inadvertently troubleshot inauguration logistics...

VentureSouth announces investment in KWIPPED

We were very pleased to announce yesterday that VentureSouth members have invested in KWIPPED.

KWIPPED is an online platform that helps businesses and organizations wanting to rent specialized commercial equipment. The company assists with rentals in more than 500 equipment categories across 22 different industries. Its applications include medical and laboratory, audio-visual, construction, surveying, film production, power utility, and many more.

Nearly 500 suppliers have listed over $55 million of their assets available for rent, and many thousands of potential renters seeking equipment are registered with the platform.

VentureSouth is anchoring this $1 million Series A round of growth capital, which will be used to accelerate KWIPPED’s marketing efforts, increase the variety of equipment available for rental, and add sales and technology staff.

Members from across our network, from Asheville Angels to Lowcountry Angels in Charleston, and the VentureSouth Angel Fund II, participated in the investment. We wish Robert Preville and the rest of the KWIPPED team the best of luck growing the business - and will do whatever we can to help!

(And thanks to a diverse set of media, from Fortune and the Wall Street Journal to the Wilmington Business Journal to the Palmetto Business Daily for helping to spread the news.)

 

Proterra's $140 million round

Happy 2017 everyone!

We begin our portfolio news this year with a BIG announcement - a $140 million round raised by portfolio company Proterra. This is genuinely exciting and national-scope news - congratulations to the team that is truly revolutionizing bus transportation.

It's also exciting news for UCAN and VentureSouth. Our members were able to participate in this financing - and did so with enthusiasm. We made a substantial investment (though of course a small proportion of $140 million!) - particularly for an angel group that had already invested repeatedly in the company in each every round since we first invested.

VentureSouth (via UCAN) first invested in the bridge round in 2011 that allowed the company to survive long enough to raise the first venture capital round from Kleiner Perkins. Since then, the company has gone from strength to strength. We'll explore on our blog some lessons learned from this investment. Look out for those.

It is still possible to invest in Proterra through VentureSouth. Contact us to learn more.

Portfolio news - November / December 2016

Several exciting updates from the last few weeks.

Proterra leads the way, with coverage in Forbes - and with press on three recent deals: (1) 15 new buses funded by the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District; (2) in the Chicago Tribune of an announcement in late October about a partnership with JLL to deliver 10 Catalyst buses for a service operating between Chicago’s commuter train stations the Prudential Plaza and Aon Center, both JLL-managed properties, in Chicago; and (3) the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority in Massachusetts.

Target Pharma continues to outperform, announcing its fourth disease community in partnership with Bristol-Myers Squibb - following its earlier announcement in partnership with Intercept Pharmaceuticals.

KIYATEC is not far behind - moving by popular acclaim from a startup to a breakout success. Keep up the good work.

Pharmright is accelerating nationally - demo'ing the Livi from Missouri to Maine.

Avadim announced its recognition by Vizient for the innovation of its technology and its plans to make $3.1 million of products per week at its new facility.

And lastly Crowdr provided a sneak peak of its mobile app Booster that launches in January. See you on there!

More portfolio news - October 2016

October has been a busy month, especially for the medical companies in our portfolio. Here are their further highlights.

Pharmright: Reached passed important milestones - production coming from its Maine manufacturing facility and product being shipped to customers. Many congratulations.

OB Medical: After announcing the LaborView at the AHWONN conference in June, maternal-fetal monitoring device manufacturer OB Medical began supplying their device to delivery rooms across the US. Congratulations to them too!

Avadim: Triple good news for our Asheville portfolio company, Avadim, which announced a partnership with the National Wrestling Coaches Association to prevent skin infections in wrestlers, enjoyed coverage for its continuing record revenue growth, and announced its roll-out of consumer products when Theraworx Relief hits the shelves next year.

And not strictly "portfolio news," these two articles are interesting insights into two portfolio companies:

  • This profile of Baebies' co-founder and president Vamsee Pamula explains his background and reveals much about what makes a stellar entrepreneur.
  • This article by Arjun Sethi explains at length why the "hive" is a great communications platform - and shows why we are excited to support TipHive.

Portfolio news - October 2016

Each month we convey some of the achievements of some of our portfolio companies. There is plenty of good news already this month, so here is an early October portfolio update.

Avadim: Announced its plans for a $25 million investment to create 500 jobs in a new HQ in Western North Carolina. This helps to explain why early stage companies create all net new jobs.

Atlas Organics: delivered the goods - in the form of 20 tons of organic compost. Much more to come.

Pharmright: Announced a partnership with Med One to help finance purchases of the new Livi, and became a finalist in Med City News' patient engagement competition.

Target PharmaSolutions announced very exciting news about its first disease state communities and first industry partnerships.

And Baebies received unanimous approval from the FDA panel for its SEEKER screening.

Some really impressive milestones in several different areas. And on a lighter note, Growjourney helped Paul boast impressive rows of broccoli, kale, lettuce, chard, and bok choy in his vegetable garden for the first time. Baby kale pairs well with (VentureSouth sponsor) RJ Rockers' Bellringer. Who knew?

Portfolio news - September 2016

New financings, new products, new clinical trials, and increasing recognition for our portfolio companies this month.

OB Medical: our syndication partner New World Angels publicly announced its participation in OB Medical's third financing round. VentureSouth invested again too, for the third time.

Avadim: announced the results of its use trials in student athletes.

Proterra: continues its success with its remarkable Catalyst E2 electric bus.

Vendor Registry: recent investment Vendor Registry is already recognized as critical for local government procurement processes. It was ranked #4 of the top 50 companies in the Engaging Local Government Leaders (ELGL) Choice Awards, with some great testimonials.

Pharmright: "may help curtail medication confusion". Alternatively, "may revolutionize medication adherence and help save hundreds of lives"!

 

Proterra Announces Catalyst E2 Bus With Highest Single Charge Performance on the Market

Proterra Catalyst® E2 Series Sets New Industry Precedent with a Nominal Range of up to 350 Miles

Highest-performing bus on the road can serve toughest bus routes on a single charge

 

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 12, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- APTA 2016 -- Today at the American Public Transit Association (APTA) Annual Meeting, Proterra, the leading innovator in heavy-duty electric transportation, unveiled the newest addition to its fleet of zero-emission vehicles: the Catalyst E2 series, named for its unprecedented Efficient Energy (E2) storage capacity of 440 - 660 kWh.  Last month, an E2 series vehicle achieved a new milestone at Michelin's Laurens Proving Grounds where it logged more than 600 miles on a single charge under test conditions. Its nominal range of 194 - 350 miles means the Catalyst E2 series is capable of serving the full daily mileage needs of nearly every U.S. mass transit route on a single charge and offers the transit industry the first direct replacement for fossil-fueled transit vehicles.  The high-mileage Catalyst E2 series joins the existing Catalyst FC and XR series vehicles, designed for circulator and intermediate-mileage routes, respectively.

The Future of Transit Arrives: Proterra Customers Across the U.S. Praise Electrified Transport
Compelled by a total cost of ownership significantly lower than fossil fuel-based alternatives, transit agencies across the U.S. agree that diesel's dominance is waning, giving way to the economic and environmental benefits of battery-electric mass transportation.

The Proterra Catalyst E2 is capable of serving the full daily mileage needs of nearly every U.S. mass transit route on a single charge and offers the transit industry the first direct replacement for fossil-fueled transit vehicles.

J. Barry Barker, Executive Director, Transit Authority of River City: "TARC now has largest deployment of Proterra battery-electric buses east of the Mississippi. Providing both environmental benefits and cost savings, these buses are a symbol ofLouisville's sustainability efforts.  We are proud of these positive impacts and to call Proterra a partner, as they pass this key milestone in their journey as the foremost transport innovator in the world."

Doran Barnes, Executive Director at Foothill Transit: "We just surpassed one million miles of revenue service with our battery-electric Proterra fleet, and we're looking forward to many more miles to come. Since our first EV bus procurement with Proterra in 2010, we knew that zero-emission buses were the future of mass transit. Now, with the new Catalyst E2, this vision is a reality.  We're excited by the possibilities of an all-electric future."

Jonathan Church, Administrator at Worcester Regional Transit Authority (WRTA): "More and more, we're witnessing our neighbor agencies consider all-electric buses, as they see how well our Proterra buses have weathered some of the ugliest Northeast snow storms. We look forward to continuing our partnership with Proterra as their technology continues to expand within North America."

2.6 Million Miles and Counting

With annual sales already 220% higher than 2015, Proterra is experiencing a breakthrough year in the mass transit sector and expects the debut of the Catalyst E2 series to only further magnify this success. Doubling production in 2017 to serve unprecedented customer demand, Proterra will have both of its manufacturing lines in full operation in Greenville, S.C. and theCity of Industry, Calif. To date, Proterra buses across the United States have completed over 2.5 million miles of revenue service, displacing 540,000 gallons of diesel, and eliminating over 10 million pounds of carbon emissions.

"Proterra's primary goal has always been to create a purpose-built, high-performance electric vehicle that can serve every single transit route in the United States. Today, with the unveiling of the Catalyst E2 Series, that goal has been achieved," said Ryan Popple, CEO of Proterra. "The question is no longer who will be an early adopter of this technology, but rather who will be the last to commit to a future of clean, efficient, and sustainable mobility. With the Catalyst E2 offering a no-compromise replacement for all fossil fuel buses, battery-electric vehicles have now broken down the final barrier to widespread market adoption."

About Proterra: 
Proterra is a leader in the design and manufacture of zero-emission vehicles that enable bus fleet operators to eliminate the dependency on fossil fuels and to significantly reduce operating costs while delivering clean, quiet transportation to the community. Proterra has sold more than 312 vehicles to 35 different municipal, university, and commercial transit agencies throughout North America. Proterra's configurable EV platform, battery and charging options make its buses well suited for a wide range of transit and campus routes. With unmatched durability and energy efficiency based on rigorous U.S. certification testing, Proterra products are proudly designed, engineered and manufactured in America, with offices in Silicon Valley, South Carolina, and Los Angeles. For more information, visit: http://www.proterra.com and follow us on Twitter @Proterra_Inc. 

Photo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160908/405743

Pharmright / Zipit partnership

"Cross pollination" of expertise between portfolio companies on "VC platforms" is one area where organized groups of VC and angels provide value to companies beyond simply capital.

It is especially pleasing to see local examples of portfolio companies being mutually supportive. Two VentureSouth companies, Pharmright and Zipit, announced today their development partnership. Zipit's expertise in Internet of Things communications fits perfectly into the Livi - allowing Livi's operators to securely and accurately monitor medication and patient interaction. Zipit gives more detail here, and the Charleston Post & Courier provides some more context for how this partnership helps seniors and others on multiple medications.

 

Portfolio news - August 2016

Many people may have been at the beach in South Carolina in August, but the VentureSouth portfolio companies continued to make waves.

First some product launches:

Servosity: Released its new generation disaster recovery platform

Pharmright: Reached a key milestone with the successful registration of Livi with the FDA. This should pave the way for sales in the fall, and will help start making prescription drug regimens easier to follow.

Baebies: Exhibited its novel FINDER platform at the AACC Annual Scientific Meeting and Clinical Lab Expo.

And secondly some well-deserved recognition:

We're proud to have not one, but two, portfolio companies nominated for 2016's Innovision Awards! - Atlas Organics and Crowdr TV. Impressive competition, but these are high caliber entries.

Avadim: named to the Inc 500's list of fastest growing companies: #234, with three-year sales growth of 1,675%!