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Healthy Roots Dolls Lands $1M Seed For Product Line That Represents All Children

The company aims to create all types of products representing our multicultural world.

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Toy company Healthy Roots Dolls has raised $1 million in seed funding to expand its line of children’s products, such as dolls and storybooks, that represent the beauty of diversity.

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Yelitsa Jean-Charles founded the Detroit-based company in 2015 and launched the company’s first Black doll, Zoe, in 2019 that combines educational play experience with curly hair care.

“As a company, our goal is to be representation for all children,” Jean-Charles, a Black woman, told Crunchbase News. “Before Zoe, I could not find a doll that had the same hair texture and color of skin that I did. We are now building products for every child. They can see themselves, or their friends, in Zoe, and it also represents diverse play in early stages of development.”

Much of her entrepreneurial journey was chronicled in Crunchbase’s Female Founders Series last August, but she said her company’s growth since 2019 “has been pretty crazy.”

Healthy Roots partnered with Procter & Gamble’s My Black is Beautiful campaign in 2019 to further the mission of celebrating positive images among Black women. Each doll came with a curly hair kit featuring P&G’s hair care line, My Black Is Beautiful Golden Milk Collection.

“The partnership was intentionally mission alignment, and not about getting into stores,” Jean-Charles said. “We also launched a hair care line with it.”

The company’s current product lineup includes Zoe, which retails for $79.99 on healthyrootsdolls.com, as well as clothing and accessories for her.

Healthy Roots’ seed funding was led by Backstage Capital, which was joined by Lightship Capital, Broadway Angels, Alpha Bridge, The Community Fund, Sequoia Scout and a group of individuals, including Sahil Lavingia. The startup has now raised a total of $1.5 million, which includes funds from grants, pitch competitions, accelerator programs and crowdfunding, Jean-Charles said.

Brittany Davis, a principal at Backstage Capital, said in an interview that she met Jean-Charles during the firm’s Backstage Accelerator program and was one of Healthy Roots’ first investors.

“We’ve seen her since Day One be heads down and focused on the product,” Davis said. “Now we are seeing that journey, and it has been cool to be a part of it.”

She said Healthy Roots “hits us all personally,” because previously there were hardly any Black dolls, and those that were nominally Black often had Caucasian features. Large brands tried to address the representation, but did not do it authentically, Davis added

“Yelitsa is phenomenal and builds representation in a product,” she said. “The future of this country will be a minority majority, so she is building for the future customer. She is going to be at a scalable size, meeting them where they are — more diverse.”

Jean-Charles said she intends to use the funding to meet demand, expand the company’s brand and product offering to more than dolls, and continue to focus on the customer base. While she does not have specific products in mind yet, she aims to create all types of products representing our multicultural world.

“We have never had a year where we consistently offered the product, then COVID happened, and brand recognition grew over the summer during Black Lives Matter,” she said. “We ended up going viral and selling out, and we have not been able to keep Zoe in stock.”

Going forward, Jean-Charles said there are so many things to achieve toward “total doll domination,” including her goal of representation in the toy aisle and with hair play.

Healthy Roots Dolls has a small team of under 10 people, but she would like to grow there, bringing on talent with skill sets in creative, marketing and technical, as well as a passion for the work the company is doing, she said.

“I’m looking forward to creating more value for our customers and listening to them to see what they like so we can design for the future,” Jean-Charles added.

Feature photo of Yelitsa Jean-Charles and Zoe courtesy of Healthy Roots Dolls
Blogroll illustration: Dom Guzman

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

“As a company, our goal is to be representation for all children,” Jean-Charles, a Black woman, told Crunchbase News. “Before Zoe, I could not find a doll that had the same hair texture and color of skin that I did. We are now building products for every child. They can see themselves, or their friends, in Zoe, and it also represents diverse play in early stages of development.”

Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/healthy-roots-dolls-lands-1m-seed/

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The Briefing: SEC Said To Pause Chinese Company IPOs, Neuralink Raises $205M, 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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SEC reportedly freezes China-based company IPOs

U.S. securities regulators have stopped processing registrations of U.S. IPOs and other security sales by Chinese companies while they craft new guidance addressing the risk of a new regulatory crackdown by China’s government, according to a Reuters report citing unnamed sources.

Deal flow has reportedly slowed a month after Chinese regulators banned ride-sharing giant Didi from signing up new users shortly after its blockbuster IPO. That was followed by crackdowns on technology and private education companies.

Allison Lee, a commissioner at the Securities and Exchange Commission, has also reportedly said that Chinese companies listed on U.S. stock exchanges must disclose to investors the risks of China’s government interfering in their businesses as part of their regular reporting obligations.

Musk’s Neuralink raises $205M

Neuralink, the brain-machine interface startup co-founded by Elon Musk, raised $205 million in a Series C funding round.

Vy Capital led the financing, with participation from Google’s GV, DFJ Growth, Valor Equity Partners, Craft Ventures, Founders Fund and Gigafund. The financing brings total funding to date for the Fremont, California-based company to $363 million.

New funds

• True Beauty Ventures raises debut fund to back beauty, wellness brands: True Beauty Ventures L.P. said Friday that it has closed its debut fund, raising more than $42 million to back companies in the beauty and wellness space with checks in the $1 million to $5 million range from seed to Series C funding.

The fund is led by co-founder and General Partner Cristina Nuñez and co-founder and Managing Partner Rich Gersten. Nuñez brings consumer private equity investing experience from stints at Tengram Capital and L Catterton as well as beauty operating experience as an executive at Clark’s Botanicals and Laura Geller Beauty, the firm said, while Gersten brings investing experience as a former partner at private equity firms Tengram Capital, L Catterton, and North Castle Partners.

True Beauty Ventures has made six investments to date, including in hair care brands AQUIS and K18 Hair, Gen Z oriented skincare brand Kinship, direct-to-consumer CBD products company Feals, luxury hair care brand Crown Affair, intimacy products brand Maude, and a not-yet-disclosed clean makeup brand.

Travel and hospitality tech

Exoticca lands $30M for tours: Barcelona-based Exoticca, a provider of travel tour package deals, reportedly raised $30 million in a funding round led by 14W and Mangrove Capital Partners. The financing follows a sharp rise in demand for bookings as more borders reopen to travel.

— Joanna Glasner

Illustration: Dom Guzman

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

Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/briefing-7-30-21/

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The Briefing: iCapital Network Raises $440M, Duolingo IPO Pops, 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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iCapital Network raises $440M

Alternative investing platform iCapital Network this week said it has raised $440 million in fresh financing at an approximately $4 billion valuation.

The round was led by Temasek. New investors Owl Rock Capital, MSD Partners, Noah Holdings and Golub Capital joined in, as did existing investors WestCap, Ping An Voyager Partners, Blackstone, UBS, Pivot Investment Partners, BNY Mellon, Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs Asset Management.

iCapital’s platform connects wealthy investors and their advisers with alternative investment managers. The New York-based startup said it will use the new funding to expand the product types available on its platform as well as pursue strategic acquisitions. It noted that since its most recent funding in March 2020, it has almost doubled the assets on its platform from $46 billion to $80 billion and has made five acquisitions.

— Marlize van Romburgh

Duolingo pops in Nasdaq debut

Shares of Pittsburgh-based language learning platform Duolingo popped 35 percent in their public-market debut on the Nasdaq on Wednesday. The company had priced shares for its IPO at $102 each, above the upwardly revised range of $95 to $100.

Duolingo reportedly raised about $520 million and set an initial valuation above $3.4 billion. The company trades on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol DUOL.

— Joanna Glasner

Marco raises $82M to finance SMB export businesses

Marco, a financing platform for small and medium-sized export businesses in the U.S. and Latin America, said this week that it raised $82 million in funding led by Kayyak Ventures. Miami-based Marco said it also increased its credit line provided by Arcadia Funds to to $100 million.

“Small exporters, especially in LatAm, are burdened with a broken financing system that makes it nearly impossible to compete with larger exporters,” Marco co-founder and COO Peter D. Spradling said in a statement. “Banks aren’t built to serve the needs of smaller companies; they often make SMEs wait around 90 days before rejecting over 50% of trade finance applications. We built Marco specifically to support this disadvantaged market. The seed round will help build a more stable and equitable trade ecosystem.”

— Marlize van Romburgh

Class Technologies lands $105M Series B

Edtech startup Class has raised $105 million in a Series B round led by the SoftBank Vision Fund 2, the company said Wednesday. Class, which launched less than a year ago, adds teaching tools to Zoom meetings, making remote-learning more engaging. The new round brings Class’ total funding to more than $160 million.

— Sophia Kunthara

Brain Technologies dials up $50M, launches AI interface for consumer applications

AI startup Brain Technologies on Wednesday announced the launch of its Natural app and said that it has raised more than $50 million in new funding from investors including Laurene Powell Jobs, Goodwater Capital, Scott Cook and WTT Investment.

The San Mateo, California-based startup describes the Natural app this way: “Natural is the first interface enabling software to be in-sync with your intention. You no longer go to apps, apps come to you. Simply say what you want and the right app forms itself around your words. For example: Instead of jumping between different delivery apps to find the restaurant you’re looking for, ordering sushi is as easy as saying “Order sushi,” and all the restaurants that deliver to you though any platform show up right in front of you. Natural automatically picks the fastest or cheapest delivery platform based on your preference. Simply tap on the one you like and check out with Apple Pay.”

The company said it’s currently focused on commerce use cases including food delivery, buying groceries, travel booking and retail shopping.

— Marlize van Romburgh

LogicGate unlocks $113M Series C

Chicago-based LogicGate closed a $113 million Series C led by PSG, along with participation from Greenspring Associates. The company helps clients identify, assess and continuously monitor in real time potential business risks.

Founded in 2015, the company has raised $156 million in total funding to date.

— Chris Metinko

Illustration: Dom Guzman

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

The round was led by Temasek. New investors Owl Rock Capital, MSD Partners, Noah Holdings and Golub Capital joined in, as did existing investors WestCap, Ping An Voyager Partners, Blackstone, UBS, Pivot Investment Partners, BNY Mellon, Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs Asset Management.

Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/briefing-7-28-21/

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The Briefing: Visa Acquires Currencycloud, Couchbase 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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Visa buying Currencycloud at $962M valuation

Visa announced that it will acquire London-based Currencycloud, a global platform for banks and fintechs to provide cross-border payments, in a deal that values the company at £700 million ($962 million).

Currencycloud’s cloud-based platform offers a set of APIs enabling banks and financial services providers to offer currency exchange services, including real-time notifications on foreign exchange transactions, multi-currency wallets, and virtual account management.

Founded in 2012, Currencycloud previously raised at least $160 million in known funding, per Crunchbase data. Visa was the lead investor in its last round, an $80 million Series E in January 2020.

Couchbase raises $200M in upsized IPO

Couchbase, a provider of NoSQL database technology for application developers, raised $200 million in its IPO, setting an initial valuation of around $1.2 billion. The company priced shares at $24 each, above the projected range of $20 to $23.

Enterprise tech

• YOOBIC raises $50M for digital workplaces: YOOBIC, developer of a digital workplace for frontline teams, closed a $50 million Series C funding round led by Highland Europe. The round brings total funding to date to $80 million for YOOBIC, which markets its technology for retail workers, restaurant staff, fieldworkers and other types of frontline employees.

— Joanna Glasner

Health tech

• Woebot Health raises $90M for AI-powered mental health bot: Woebot Health, a San Francisco-based mental health startup, raised $90 million in Series B funding co-led by existing investors JAZZ Venture Partners and Temasek with participation from funds and accounts managed by BlackRock Private Equity Partners and Owl Ventures. Other investors included Mirae Asset Capital, Kicker Ventures, Alumni Ventures, Gaingels, NEA and AI Fund. Woebot operates an AI-powered mental health platform and claims its technology facilitates “a human-level therapeutic bond with users.”

Enterprise software

Interos hits unicorn valuation: Arlington, Virginia-based Interos reached a $1 billion valuation after its $100 million raise led by NightDragon, with Kleiner Perkins and Venrock also participating. Intereos helps companies manage risk and continuously monitor their supply chain and business relationships to avoid disruptions. The company reported a compound annual growth rate of 303 percent in the last two years

Founded in 2005, Interos has raised nearly $130 million to date, according to Crunchbase data.

— Chris Metinko

Illustration: Dom Guzman

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

Currencycloud’s cloud-based platform offers a set of APIs enabling banks and financial services providers to offer currency exchange services, including real-time notifications on foreign exchange transactions, multi-currency wallets, and virtual account management.

Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/briefing-7-22-21/

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