- Brightfield Transportation: in our first link to Treehugger, here is a nice article on Brightfield. What's even cooler than an electric roadster? A solar-charged electric roadster, that's what.
- Target Pharma: continues to grow its disease communities, now adding pharma giant Novartis to its TARGET-NASH community.'
- KIYATEC: Cancer innovation and hiking the Appalachian Trail have a few things in common. Learn what in the UBJ article.
- Baebies: Enjoy Baebies' newsletter for January here, including links to its knowledge center, latest research study demonstrating the feasibility of using lower sample volumes for testing coagulation markers of enzymatic functional assays on a microfluidic cartridge, and its non-profit support events. The company completed its $13M equity raise, and we were proud to be a part of it.
- Pandoodle: with Sharing Economy International Inc, announced a potential partnership agreement where SEII could acquire 51% of its stock
Investing in early stage companies pays off in many ways. The most tangible is when they are bought by bigger companies. We're delighted to start the year off with "an exit" - with FarmShots acquired by Syngenta.
VentureSouth members invested in FarmShots in September 2016, attracted by Josh's technological skills and persistence, FarmShots' technology and market opportunity, and the cost saving and efficiency improvements for farmers.
Financial terms have not been disclosed, but we are happy to say that the investment definitely hit our return targets! This investment is a case study on how angel investing should, and does, work - so look out for more on our blog to come.
Though our part on the entrepreneurial journey is over, we wish Josh and Syngenta the best of luck in continuing to develop a great business.
2017 was a very productive year for VentureSouth portfolio companies. We are proud of their progress and achievements, so wanted to pass along a few additional awards, links, self-promotion, and recognition of them.
- KIYATEC - announced a further partnership with the Greenville Health System. You can learn at this Youtube link.
- Interesting article on Livi - how it can help in the ever-expanding opioid epidemic.
- KWIPPED - explaining how technology gives equipment a new lease on life in Equipment Finance Advisor
- Brightfield - a local award for innovation for Brightfield's founders, and with coverage in Clean Technica
- Zipit - recognized by AT&T with a Strategic Product Award.
Bring on 2018!
With a portfolio of 40 active companies, it can be hard to keep track of all their achievements. Our team of intrepid news searching scripts this month bring you:
Proterra: In addition to providing the keynote content at the VentureSouth Summit, Proterra is sending buses to San Jose airport and Greensboro NC, and showing them off in Iowa, California and Shreveport. They're driving a market continuing to grow at 28% / year; Vox's recent industry review is a great primer.
In what is rapidly becoming the Proterra and Avadim show, below are links to some of the newsworthy items for late September and October.
Proterra: after several years and much effort, here come the first two Proterra buses in Greenville. And these are now officially world-record-breaking buses; take a seat Tesla. And Proterra also announced partnerships with LG Chem, purchases by Van Hool, and more.
TiO Home announced a partnership with On Top Of The World Communities - a 3-year, 1,200-home program beginning in January.
Kwipped was featured in Total Station Markets, Chemistry World, MSN Lifestyle, the Journal Of Clinical Research Best Practices, and Irish Tech News - quite a selection. It also passed $75MM in listed assets.
Avadim: announced its partnership with Rite Aid and other pharmacies for Theraworx Relief, and was recognized as the 2nd-fastest growing company in NC and 13th-fastest growing healthcare company on the Inc 500 - quite an achievement. Awesome work Avadim.
Proterra: more CATbuses as Clemson acquired its second fleet of Proterra buses, they're coming to RDU airport - learn more here and here; five Proterra buses will begin serving New York City; and this long list of partnerships just announced with DoT grants is impressive
More milestones, awards, and good publicity over the last few weeks for the entrepreneurs working hard over the summer.
- Press coverage: Test and Measurement provided a nice analysis of leasing and rental in the testing space, with good coverage of Kwipped; Chemistry World provided more coverage in their space; and Funding Sage provided a nice interview with the serial successful founder
- New app: You can download Kwipped's app for suppliers in the App Store or Google Play
- New industry lines: Added Dental Equipment and Ophthalmic Equipment to its ever-expanding lineup. Need a dentist chair to do something legendary?
Baebies: Received a CE mark in Europe for SEEKER, which is great news, and announced new assays for FINDER. They also inked a new deal with Trivitron's Labsystems Diagnostics to deliver a wider range of newborn screening solutions.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
Partnerships are crucial to early-stage companies to help them scale more rapidly. April saw the announcement of three example partnerships in our portfolio:
- FarmShots: announced a great partnership with Planet and John Deere
- Target Pharma: no-one does big pharma partnerships better than Target. Here is the latest announcement of Target-NASH in partnership with Allergan
- Avadim: agreed a partnership with HPSI Purchasing Services. (And continues to raise money. Our investments a < 40c / share are starting to look promising...)
Other companies launched new products and hit milestones on their own:
- Atlas Organics: launched its Dirtbags bagged compost to the market over the Easter weekend
- Booster: launched its app in the Apple Store, and started helping e-commerce sellers establish better relationships and sell more products
And Proterra just keeps on rolling:
After demonstrating great perseverance and adaptability, Booster launched its new mobile app this week.
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
March was another busy month for VentureSouth portfolio companies. Here are a few of our favorite stories.
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.
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?
Zipit Wireless: named in Gartner's Market Guide for Clinical Communication & Collaboration report.
Several others added to their already impressive teams:
Others still announced sales growth and other partnerships, like:
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.
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."
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.
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.
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!
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.