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Alife Health Aims To Improve IVF Outcomes With $9.5M Seed

Alife Health is leveraging artificial intelligence and data to create personalized IVF treatment insights.

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Investors infused $9.5 million of seed funding into fertility technology company Alife Health, which is building a modern operating system for in vitro fertilization (IVF) designed to improve reproductive outcomes.

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Lux Capital led the seed round and was joined by Amplo, IA Ventures and Springbank Collective as well as a group of angel investors that include Anne Wojcicki, Fred Moll and Amira Yahyaoui.

One in eight families struggle with infertility, according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. San Francisco-based Alife Health was founded in 2020 and is leveraging artificial intelligence and data to create personalized treatment insights so clinicians can make better decisions that maximize a patient’s chances of success while also lowering costs and barriers to IVF access.

“Many of us are touched by infertility,” Paxton Maeder-York, founder and CEO of Alife Health, told Crunchbase News. “Typically, IVF is expensive and time-consuming. It can cost an average of $10,000 to $12,000 per cycle and can take an average of three times. We aim to improve success rates across every cycle and bring costs down.”

Before Alife Health, Maeder-York was building surgical robots to fight lung cancer and decided to go back to school to study how AI and machine learning was impacting medicine. One of his focus areas was IVF and the impact on women and the LGBTQ+ community.

One of the biggest challenges to infertility is loss of control by the patient, Maeder-York said. While other companies are focusing on one process along the IVF journey, Alife is working to optimize every step using AI and personalized medicine.

“Starting a family is a personal experience, and if you can’t, it feels like you’ve also lost the ability to control the situation,” he added. “We are re-empowering the patient to make the best choices. If they have the right data, they may be able to make different decisions, such as banking more embryos. Here, the patient is an enormous stakeholder.”

He intends to deploy the new funds in pushing the company to its next stage. He believes Alife Health is already understanding what technology should be built and has received endorsements from doctors and partnerships. The company has 11 full-time employees, and Maeder-York plans to double that by the end of the year in order to scale up to a full ecosystem of platforms that will integrate

The next phase is getting the technology through regulatory submissions and out to patients. There are 500 fertility clinics across the United States, both private and academic institutions, and Alife has been working with some of the largest clinics to build a use case and unbiased dataset over the past year, Maeder-York said.

As part of the investment, Lux Partner Deena Shakir is joining the Alife board. Her focus is on women’s health, which she said is particularly salient. In addition, Alife is bringing equity and diversity into the fertility space that traditionally skewed to middle- and upper-class white families, she said in an interview.

“We’ve been looking at this space for a long time,” she said. “Their focus on health equity and diversity are a major issue with health care at-large, and we’ve seen that come out during COVID. Alife is building in the core of research and working with top academics who are specifically keeping that in check.”

Illustration: Dom Guzman

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Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/alife-health-aims-to-improve-ivf-outcomes-with-9-5m-seed/

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Robotics Startup ViaBot Sweeps Up $6.1M In Funding

San Franci

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San Francisco-based ViaBot publicly launched with a $6.1 million raise looking to help property and facility managers clean up — literally.

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Investors in the company include Baseline Ventures, Morado Ventures, Grit Ventures and SOSV.

While the company’s robots-as-a-service — or RAAS — offering for facility and property management deploys robots to sweep campuses clean, co-founder and CEO Gregg Ratanaphanyarat said one of the true value propositions of ViaBot is its robots’ multifunctionality.

“There’s often a thought that one robot can do one thing — robots are fine for a single function,” Ratanaphanyarat said. “However, it’s possible to make robots do more. The industry needs to start making robots more efficient.”

ViaBot’s new RUNO robots also offer vision-based security with the ability to view and scan things such as license plates of cars on a property. Ratanaphanyarat said the company likely will add other functions, such as more property maintenance features like landscaping, as it grows.

While the 20-person company does not release customer information, it has entered into a strategic partnership with Cushman & Wakefield and started to deploy robots onto properties managed by the firm last year. While many of the robots are mainly deployed on properties in the Bay Area, the new funding will be used to meet customer demand to start using the new robots across the U.S., Ratanaphanyarat said.

Solving problems

ViaBot sees itself as sitting in the intersection of being able to disrupt a traditional market often slow to change and solving a labor shortage involving what is considered “dirty, dull and dangerous” outdoor work, said Kelly Coyne, founding partner at Grit Ventures.

“When you match the labor shortage with this long overdue moment (for change) in a traditional industry, you have a tremendous opportunity,” Coyne said.

ViaBot also provides a software platform that allows users to control the robot and file reports, as well as give them real-time information and visibility of the property. The platform also will allow the company to continue to add services to the robots.

The robots are available via a subscription, which makes it more likely to retain customers by easing their fears of maintaining a robot.

The company’s ability to broaden its services and remain sticky with customers, along with the interest ViaBot is seeing from current and potential customers, made the investment obvious, Coyne said.

“We are seeing intense demand for geographic expansion and demand for added services,” she added.

Illustration: Dom Guzman

Stay up to date with recent funding rounds, acquisitions, and more with the Crunchbase Daily.

“There’s often a thought that one robot can do one thing — robots are fine for a single function,” Ratanaphanyarat said. “However, it’s possible to make robots do more. The industry needs to start making robots more efficient.”

Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/robotics-startup-viabot-sweeps-up-6-1m-in-funding/

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Exclusive: Spinwheel Banks $11M For Consumer Debt Management Platform

Spinwheel is trying to eliminate the financial shock of loan debt; starting with student loans.

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Tomas Campos and Tushar Vaish co-founded Spinwheel in 2019 after Campos saw how student loan debt was affecting his sister, who graduated from college over a decade ago, and his niece, who graduated in 2019.

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“When she graduated, we thought it was an awesome milestone, but she was distraught over how she would pay her student loan debt,” Campos told Crunchbase News. “My sister, who worked for the government, was rejected for student loan forgiveness and had to take all of her savings and put it toward the student debt. She had been saving for a house.”

It’s that financial shock that Spinwheel is trying to help people avoid. It secured $11 million in its first round of financing to enable Americans to get out of debt sooner by providing an application programming interface to embed loan management tools into the apps people use the most.

The funding was led by QED Investors with participation from Core Innovation Capital, Fika Ventures and Firebolt Ventures.

Arjan Schütte, founder and managing partner of Core Innovation Capital, said his firm invests in fintech companies and was particularly interested in student debt.

After looking at more than 100 apps in this space, Core formed a hypothesis that there needed to be a student loan debt payment-as-a-service. They found that in Spinwheel, he said.

“If you are just doing it directly you are not going to get traction, but if you build it into existing channels, such as banks, grocery store points or airline points, there will be more success,” Schütte added. “Financial services are complicated, and Tomas and Tushar have an extraordinary motive for getting up in the morning. We were moved by what we felt was an authentic story and reason to chip away at student debt.”

Spinwheel is starting with student loan debt, where the Federal Reserve estimates $1.7 trillion in U.S. student loan debt is owed. Students, on average, graduate with $29,000 of private and federal loan debt and default on their loans at a rate of 15 percent.

The new funding will go toward scaling the company’s product roadmap and doubling its team of six in the next six months. It will also enable the company to quickly expand to other debt categories, such as credit card, auto and mortgage, over the next 12 months, Campos said.

“We see ourselves as the modern API infrastructure to help Americans understand, manage and pay their debt,” he said. “We want to start on student debt with people and grow with them as they make big purchases throughout their lives.”

Its clients include loan service providers, employee benefits, points and cash-back providers, as well as fintechs and banks looking to add these tools to their tech stack. Clients are able to drop in Spinwheel’s low-code or no-code API and be up and running in under an hour.

Although there are a number of fintech startups addressing the student loan space, Campos believes Spinwheel’s differentiator is its holistic approach to the entire sector rather than focusing on one aspect, such as point solutions, payments or data.

“We have found pent-up demand in the market, especially because dealing with student loan data is the most complex part,” Campos added. “When we thought about use cases, we knew we needed to bring all of those together. Our approach is to provide data and insights and the payments in one integration.”

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

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Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/exclusive-spinwheel-banks-11m-for-consumer-debt-management-tool/

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The Briefing: Ada Lands $130M, Anebulo Prices IPO, And More

Crunchbase News’ top picks of the news to stay current in the VC and startup world.

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Here’s what you need to know today in startup and venture news, updated by the Crunchbase News staff throughout the day to keep you in the know.

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Ada raises $130M for chatbots

Toronto-based Ada, a provider of chat bots used in customer support, reportedly raised $130 million in a funding round led by Spark Capital.

Founded in 2014, Ada previously raised $60.6 million in known funding, per Crunchbase data. In 2020, the company says it automated more than 1.5 billion customer interactions for hundreds of global companies, including Zoom, Facebook and Square.

— Joanna Glasner

Public offerings

Anebulo prices IPO: Austin-based Anebulo Pharmaceuticals, a biotech developing treatments for cannabinoid overdose and substance addiction, announced that it raised $21 million by offering 3 million shares at $7, the midpoint of its projected range of $6 to $8.

— Joanna Glasner

Health care

Vori Health secures $45M: Vori Health, a San Francisco-based musculoskeletal condition treatment startup, raised $45 million in Series A funding from New Enterprise Associates. The funding will be used to expand product, services and data offerings, as well as grow its clinical and support teams. Vori is the latest example of investment flowing into musculoskeletal. New York-based Kaia Health raised $75 million in Series C funding in April for its platform that provides real-time exercise feedback via a smartphone app to care for musculoskeletal, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and osteoarthritis conditions.

Expressable inks $4.5M: Online children’s speech therapy practice Expressable, based in Austin, closed on a $4.5 million seed round co-led by Lerer Hippeau and NextView Ventures. The company’s platform combines one-on-one teletherapy with its proprietary education platform.

— Christine Hall

Fintech and e-commerce

Nøie lands $12M for skincare platform: Copenhagen-based Nøie, a customized skincare platform, raised $12 million in Series A funding led by Talis Capital.

— Joanna Glasner

DappRadar banks $5M: Lithuania-based DappRadar, a global app store for decentralized applications, also known as dapps, secured $5 million in a Series A funding led by Prosus Ventures, Blockchain.com Ventures and NordicNinja VC. DappRadar said it will invest the funds into technology development and to promote widespread dapp adoption.

Caplight inks $1.7M: Caplight, a San Francisco-based startup founded in 2021, brought in a $1.7 million funding round led by Fin VC. The company’s platform enables institutional investors to buy and sell derivatives of private equity and close on transactions up to 85 percent faster than the average secondary-market deal, according to the company.

— Christine Hall

Illustration: Dom Guzman

Stay up to date with recent funding rounds, acquisitions, and more with the Crunchbase Daily.

Anebulo prices IPO: Austin-based Anebulo Pharmaceuticals, a biotech developing treatments for cannabinoid overdose and substance addiction, announced that it raised $21 million by offering 3 million shares at $7, the midpoint of its projected range of $6 to $8.

Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/briefing-5-7-21/

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