The Portland Seed Fund leadership team: Angela Jackson, Jenn Lynch, and Jim Hutson. (Portland Seed Fund Photo) has raised its largest fund yet as the firm looks to invest in more startups up and down the west coast. PSF just closed its third fund, raising $13.9 million, nearly double the size of its second fund and triple the size of its first. The firm, founded in 2011, is one of the top seed-stage investors in the Pacific Northwest. It typically makes $50,000-to-$100,000 investments and occasionally leads rounds with larger checks. Most of its dollars goes toward follow-on rounds. PSF focuses on Portland, but has backed companies based in Seattle and the Bay Area. “We’re excited about Oregon,” said PSF Managing Director Angela Jackson. “We’re benefiting from smart entrepreneurs moving here from other, more expensive locations. There is a constant supply of new talent, and good deal flow, at value prices when compared to other adjacent markets.” Some of its recent include Megh Computing; Wild Friends Foods; Goodwell; Snap2Insight; Zembula; Streem; and NurseGrid. PSF was an early investor in Auth0, the Seattle-based identity authentication startup that , and backs The Riveter, . It also recently put cash behind Node, . Most investors in the third fund are based in Oregon. They include the state of Oregon’s Oregon Growth Fund; foundations; angel groups; high-net worth individuals; and families. , , and lead PSF. Jackson and Lynch are on .
(MDMetrix Photo) Imagine knowing that all the data you need to do your job better was locked in a system that you couldn’t access. That’s the frustrating reality for many healthcare workers who aren’t able to extract useful data from their hospital’s electronic medical records systems. Seattle startup just landed $3 million to make medical records more useful with a product that lets caregivers ask data-driven questions about their patients. Warren Ratliff. (Warren Ratliff Photo) The seed round was led by Founders’ Co-op along with investors Arnold Venture Group and WRF Capital. , CEO at MDMetrix, said the company plans to use the money to speed up its plans and apply artificial intelligence to help clinicians filter out “the signal from the noise” of patient data. The idea behind MDMetrix is to give healthcare workers the ability to track improvements over time. “We give clinicians visibility they’ve never had before into what’s going on. They’re able to ask questions on the fly. They’re able to really manage clinical operations in a continuously improving way,” said Ratliff. The company, which has raised more than $4 million to date, was started in 2016 by , an anesthesiologist at Seattle Children’s Hospital. It employs around a dozen full-time and contract staff. Seattle Children’s uses MDMetrix at its main campus hospital and surgery center, but the company declined to talk about its other customers. Dr. Dan Low, an anesthesiologist and co-founder of MDMetrix. (GeekWire Photo / Clare McGrane) Electronic health records are a popular punching bag. They’ve been blamed for everything from among doctors to . “Something’s gone terribly wrong. Doctors are among the most technology-avid people in society; computerization has simplified tasks in many industries. Yet somehow we’ve reached a point where people in the medical profession actively, viscerally, volubly hate their computers,” wrote Haven CEO Atul Gawande last fall. Haven is a healthcare joint venture between Amazon, JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway. Ratliff says the frustration doesn’t just come from the countless hours spent clicking around poorly-designed interfaces. Doctors are also fed up with not being able to use data from the health record to answer questions. Ratliff joined the company last August. He was previously co-founder and COO of Caradigm, a healthcare joint venture between GE Healthcare and Microsoft. MDMetrix essentially tries to make it as easy as possible for a licensed practitioner to find answers to basic questions related to patient care. Ratliff said the interface was designed to be as easy to use as the Airbnb app. The platform also brings together key metrics into a control center for leaders and staff to monitor. The idea is to avoid a situation in which important questions go unasked and unanswered. With more useful data, clinicians can more easily establish best practices. Ratliff contrasts the situation facing medical professionals with that of a chief financial officer, who has tools to easily see high-level profit-and-loss statements as well as granular expenses. “In medicine, we’ve tolerated a system where clinicians don’t have the visibility you would expect in any other kind of industry or business,” Ratliff said. “Imagine trying to run a complex financial organization with a spreadsheet. There are just better ways of doing that.”
(TomboyX Photo) , the Seattle-based startup bringing gender-neutral underwear to the masses, is apparently a good fit for investors, too, as the company just closed an $18 million Series B funding round. Launched in 2013 by married founders Fran Dunaway and Naomi Gonzalez, TomboyX targets “plus-sized, gender non-conforming and specialized tradespeople” with its apparel products. The company raised $4.3 million in a Series A round last summer, and total funding is $24.3 million to date. This round was led by , which becomes TomboyX’s majority stakeholder, and the capital will be used to invest in product development and brand-related campaigns, according to a news release. “We are very excited to collaborate with the team at The Craftory as we continue in our mission to design inclusive and gender-neutral underwear for our diverse global audience,” Dunaway and Gonzalez said in a statement. “We are confident that their expertise in branding and consumer goods will complement our own creativity and disruption of traditional products.” TomboyX founders Fran Dunaway and Naomi Gonzalez. (TomboyX Photo) TomboyX stresses that its underwear produces comfort across a broad range of silhouettes and sizes, and is fit-tested on hundreds of bodies, from size XS-4X. Elio Leoni Sceti, co-Founder and chief crafter at The Craftory, called TomboyX a “forward-thinking brand” taking on some of society’s biggest issues. “We are extremely proud to be welcomed to join the team as they expand their global reach and continue to design innovative sustainable pieces,” Sceti said. “It is crucial that companies like TomboyX continue to champion self-esteem as we move towards a more open, progressive society.” Craftory directors will join the TomboyX board along with fashion industry veteran Pauline Brown of TAU Investment Management, a New York and Hong Kong-based investment firm with expertise in the global apparel and textile value chain.
(Joylux Photo) , a Seattle startup that aims to improve women’s sexual health with a wellness device, has raised an additional $7 million. Joylux plans to use the money to bolster its sales team and scale the company. Colette Courtion. (Joylux Photo) The additional Series A financing brings total funding to $12 million, with backing from the Alliance of Angels, Belle Capital, Portfolia, Sofia Fund and Kimberly Clark. Joylux first launched its flagship product, the , a little over a year ago. The vFit uses a combination of red light therapy, heat and sonic vibration to help restore healthy sexual function. It’s an at-home device that can be used on its own or in combination with in-office treatments. Joylux is now in 200 physicians’ offices and available through some retailers. The company’s business model pulls a page from the Sonicare toothbrush or Clarisonic pore cleanser, selling to customers through physicians. Goop, the wellness company started by Gwyneth Paltrow, last month. , CEO, said Joylux is filling a blind spot that has been overlooked by male entrepreneurs. “There’s been no innovation in this space in decades,” she said. “Imagine raising capital from a majority of men,” Courtion added. “It takes a lot of brave investors.” Courtion has a background in medical aesthetics and started Joylux with the goal of applying techniques that are commonly used in skincare to sexual health. The company has 12 employees with plans to grow to 20 by the end of 2019. Joylux is also working on gaining FDA approval for vSculpt, a device to treat incontinence and vaginal atrophy. The vSculpt is already approved as a medical device in Canada and Europe.
Jeff Hussey. (Tempered Networks) Seattle-based has raised an additional $17 million to invest in engineering, sales resources, and partnerships. The company confirmed the new funding to GeekWire this week. The fresh cash brings total funding to $57 million, with backing from Ignition Venture Partners, IDG Ventures, Fluid Capital, Ridge Ventures and Rally Capital. Founded in 2014 by , who formerly helped launch F5 Networks, Tempered Networks builds products around , in which anything that connects to a network must pass an identification test. That’s in contrast to the traditional approach of trusting people and machines who are connected the organization’s network on site or through VPNs, while keeping out bad actors with firewalls. The company’s main technology, called “identity defined networking,” is a platform for zero trust networking. Connections are granted based on a whitelist that identifies trusted entities and gives access to the network. Tempered also claims to make the process of creating and managing networks easy with a simple point-and-click interface. Tempered’s customers include oil drillers, electrical substations, hospitals and smart buildings. The 55-person startup has recently been working on to accommodate the growth with internet-of-things devices. It has also to build secure systems for smart buildings. Tempered is part of a hive of cybersecurity activity in Seattle, joining startups including Auth0, ExtraHop, DefenseStorm and Polyverse, among others.
The Flexe team in Seattle. (Flexe Photo) As more consumers shop online, retailers need capacity to ship products across the country — particularly as they battle e-commerce kingpin Amazon. , a Seattle logistics startup that operates an on-demand warehouse marketplace, is helping them do that. The company today announced a $43 million investment round to meet demand from a growing number of companies needing “pop-up” storage space. Activate Capital and Tiger Global Management led the Series B round. Seattle VC firm Madrona Venture Group also invested for the first time, while previous backers Redpoint Ventures, Prologis Ventures, and others put more cash behind Flexe. Total funding to date is $63.5 million. Flexe operates much like Airbnb — instead of matching travelers with open homes and apartments, it matches retailers with warehouses that have excess capacity. Companies such as Staples, Toms, Ace Hardware, and others use Flexe to help support their online businesses and reduce the costly “last mile” delivery expense. Giant brands including Walmart and P&G are also customers. Flexe benefits warehouse owners who make revenue on space that would have otherwise sat empty, which Flexe estimates is 20-to-30 percent of a given warehouse. More than across the U.S. and Canada use Flexe’s software to bid on various offers, up from 370 warehouses three years ago. Flexe tripled revenue in 2018 and was the fastest-growing company in Washington state last year by Deloitte. “Flexe invented the on-demand warehousing category for businesses facing a crisis of agility while trying to meet rising consumer demands,” Flexe co-founder and CEO told GeekWire. Flexe co-founder and CEO Karl Siebrecht. (Flexe Photo) Flexe offers customers pay-as-you-go flexibility; merchants don’t need to sign long-term leases for warehouse space — only when they know how much capacity is required, as well as where and when. They can avoid the fixed costs that often come with a lease, particularly for retailers that only need extra storage space for a limited amount of time — a beverage vendor that sees sales spike in the summer; a retailer that sells its inventory during the holiday season; or a company such as Lime, the fast-growing mobility startup that has thousands of shared bikes, scooters, and cars. There are other unique use cases, too, such as Ace Hardware using Flexe to support its emergency response initiatives during Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Michael. Flexe has described itself as a “warehousing-as-a-service” company. “We needed space in the northeast U.S., the Midwest, and on the West Coast,” Justin Schuhardt, a supply chain executive with Walmart, at a recent industry event. “So, what ended up happening was Flexe was able to, through their marketplace approach, give us a selection of different providers from coast to coast with different size buildings and different available capacity.” Walmart is one of many companies using Flexe in the e-commerce battle against Amazon. While Flexe’s customers are competing against Amazon, so too is Flexe itself. Instead of selling on Amazon, Flexe offers brands an alternative that lets them ship products in their own branded boxes and existing shopping software. The third-party warehouses, meanwhile, handle labor and administrative work. It also keeps retailers from having to share any data with Amazon. “Companies that depend on Amazon logistics to meet their customers’ expectations will hand over their customer data, customer experience and customer relationship to Amazon,” Siebrecht said. “We believe there’s a better way — a new option that uses technology to offer an entirely new model for on-demand warehousing and fulfillment.” (Flexe Photo) Amazon forever altered the retail landscape when it introduced the Prime two-day shipping program 14 years ago. The Seattle company upped the ante again late last month when for Prime members. Amazon will spend $800 million during this quarter alone on the new shipping initiative, signaling the importance of building out its fulfillment network to meet consumer demand. But Flexe can offer similar delivery speeds given how many warehouses are on its marketplace. In 2017, Flexe began . Siebrecht said Amazon’s recent 1-day shipping announcement “has already driven a pop in demand for Flexe.” “When Flexe announced one-day shipping capabilities two years ago, it allowed our clients to offer the most competitive delivery promises and successfully fulfill them,” he added. “Not only is our network of warehouses massive, it’s connected through a single technology platform and it’s provider agnostic. In other words, companies aren’t limited to a fixed provider or set locations of fulfillment centers.” Since launching in 2013, Flexe company has amassed a huge warehouse footprint, with approximately 30 million square feet available on its platform. But that’s still a far cry from Amazon, which owns of space at its own fulfillment centers across the world. (Flexe screenshot) Consumer expectation for fast shipping is driven not only by Amazon but rivals such as Target and Walmart that have instituted their own two-day shipping initiatives and turned physical stores into mini-warehouses for popular programs such as order online and pick up in store. Two market trends are playing to Flexe’s hand. One is the growing online shopping industry — e-commerce sales during the last holiday season $126 billion, up 16.5 percent year-over-year. Another is the rising cost of industrial real estate and . Will O’Donnell, managing partner at Prologis Ventures — an investor in Flexe — said vacancy rates in logistics real estate are near historic lows. “As the industry continues to grow, we recognize the value of integrating flexible options into supply chain planning,” he said in a statement shared with GeekWire. “We have been an investor in Flexe and are supportive of new business models that can help meet our customers’ business needs.” Prologis, a publicly-traded logistics real estate giant, is an example of a company that might be considered a competitor to Flexe “when in fact these companies are partners in the Flexe network,” Siebrecht noted. An additional use case for Flexe is when businesses face unpredictable problems that affect manufacturing and production with suppliers and distributors, such as President Trump’s China tariff that . (Flexe Photo) Flexe competitors include industry giant XPO Logistics, newer startup Stord, and UPS, which its own warehouse technology startup called Ware2Go in August. Siebrecht, a former executive at aQuantive and AdReady, said the new UPS service focuses on small and medium-sized businesses, while his company targets “high growth, venture-backed startups all the way up to Fortune 50 global corporations.” There are a bevy of other startups building solutions for supply chain improvement, including fellow Seattle on-demand trucking startup , which helps match trucking companies with shippers. Flexe has plans to expand internationally, but for now it is focused on the U.S. and Canada, said Siebrecht, a Pacific Northwest finalist for . Siebrecht co-founded the company with . Flexe estimates the logistics industry to be $1.5 trillion. The U.S. market for warehousing is worth $27 billion, according to . Flexe, a finalist for the category at last week’s , is ranked No. 88 on the index of top Pacific Northwest startups. The company has 80 employees and plans to double its headcount this year. This year Flexe has beefed up its C-suite by hiring , the company’s new chief people officer and general counsel; , chief technology officer who was previously a transportation exec at Amazon; and Matt Millen, chief revenue officer. Flexe also just moved into a new, 24,000 square-foot office headquarters in Seattle’s Pioneer Square neighborhood. As a result of the new funding, Raj Atluru, managing director at Activate Capital, has joined the Flexe board. “Flexe presents such clear value for forward-looking businesses who recognize that structural flexibility is a competitive differentiator and key ingredient to winning in the market,” Atluru said in a statement. Tiger Global, which co-led the round with Activate Capital, has made several recent Seattle investments, including last week for Zenoti. It also led for Seattle marketing startup Amperity; in Seattle-based real estate company Redfin; and is an investor in Bellevue, Wash.-based OfferUp, a Craigslist competitor valued at more than $1 billion. Siebrecht called Tiger Global “one of the most sophisticated and experienced e-commerce and logistics technology investors in the world.”
Spruce Up CEO Mia Lewin. (Spruce Up Photo) has some new spending money. The high-tech home shopping startup just closed a $3 million seed round, bringing its total funding to $4.5 million. New York investment firm Two Sigma Ventures led the round. Other investors include Madrona Venture Group, Female Founders Fund, Alumni Ventures Group, and Peterson Ventures. Spruce Up uses artificial intelligence to recommend home products from a catalog of more than 25,000 items curated by home stylists. Shoppers fill out an interactive quiz to gauge their taste and then receive curated suggestions from designers. “With this seed round, we are doubling down on AI powering every aspect of our product and operations,” Spruce Up CEO Mia Lewin said in a statement. The new funding will also help Spruce Up grow its engineering and data science teams. The startup currently has eight full-time employees and nine part-time stylists. Two Sigma Ventures’ Dan Abelon will join Spruce Up’s board of directors as part of the deal. “We believe AI-powered personalization is the future of e-commerce, and Spruce Up is addressing a multi-billion dollar market and significant pain point for consumers today stuck in eternal scroll,” Abelon said in a statement. Spruce Up is a spin out of Madrona Venture Labs, the venture capital firm’s in-house startup studio. The startup’s co-founders are technology and interior design veterans. Lewin is a former eBay executive who founded several design studios before joining Madrona Venture Labs as CEO-in-residence. Her co-founder Mike Dierken previously held leadership roles at Amazon and McKinsey & Co.
(Dolly Photo) Things are moving at . The Seattle startup just raised $7.5 million, bringing its total funding to $20 million. The fresh cash will help the company expand its peer-to-peer moving app internationally. Like other gig economy startups, Dolly provides an app that connects people in need of services with other people willing to sell them. In Dolly’s case, individuals and businesses who need help moving stuff can find movers with the necessary trucks and equipment. , a new Seattle firm, led Dolly’s latest investment round. Unlock co-founder Andy Liu will join Dolly’s board as part of the deal. Original Dolly investors also participated, including Maveron and Amazon Worldwide Consumer CEO Jeff Wilke. “Industry data shows that people are tired of the same old unpredictable and expensive delivery services,” Liu said in a statement. “So-called last-mile delivery is in desperate need of an upgrade, and Dolly is in a great position to lead this space.” Dolly has thousands of vetted independent contractors on its platform available to accept requests from customers who need something moved. Dolly’s “Helpers” can make $30 or more per hour if they have a truck and can lift more than 75 pounds. Dolly’s prices vary on the number and type of items being moved, the number of movers needed, the distance between pickup and drop off, and the service level. After launching in 2014, Dolly is now operating in 11 U.S. cities. The company in September that it was producing more than $1 million in revenue per month with more than 100,000 customers. Dolly’s future in its hometown, Seattle, has been uncertain for the past few months because of an with state regulators. The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission ordered Dolly to cease operations in March 2018, ruling that the company was a “household goods carrier,” operating without the proper license and requirements. But the WUTC and Dolly seem to have found a path forward. “We are currently working with the WUTC to comply with their order and how best to re-apply for a household goods moving permit,” said Kevin Shawver, Dolly’s director of marketing. Dolly is currently available in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, Denver, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. The company plans to use the new funding to expand to additional cities in the U.S. and abroad. The moving services industry is estimated to be worth $12.6 billion, to the American Moving & Storage Association.
(Dolly Photo) Things are moving at . The Seattle startup just raised $7.5 million, bringing its total funding to $20 million. The fresh cash will help the company expand its peer-to-peer moving app internationally. Like other gig economy startups, Dolly provides an app that connects people in need of services with other people willing to sell them. In Dolly’s case, individuals and businesses who need help moving stuff can find movers with the necessary trucks and equipment. , a new Seattle firm, led Dolly’s latest investment round. Unlock co-founder Andy Liu will join Dolly’s board as part of the deal. Original Dolly investors also participated, including Maven Ventures and Amazon Worldwide Consumer CEO Jeff Wilke. “Industry data shows that people are tired of the same old unpredictable and expensive delivery services,” Liu said in a statement. “So-called last-mile delivery is in desperate need of an upgrade, and Dolly is in a great position to lead this space.” Dolly has thousands of vetted independent contractors on its platform available to accept requests from customers who need something moved. Dolly’s “Helpers” can make $30 or more per hour if they have a truck and can lift more than 75 pounds. Dolly’s prices vary on the number and type of items being moved, the number of movers needed, the distance between pickup and drop off, and the service level. After launching in 2014, Dolly is now operating in 11 U.S. cities. The company in September that it was producing more than $1 million in revenue per month with more than 100,000 customers. Dolly’s future in its hometown, Seattle, has been uncertain for the past few months because of an with state regulators. The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission ordered Dolly to cease operations in March 2018, ruling that the company was a “household goods carrier,” operating without the proper license and requirements. But the WUTC and Dolly seem to have found a path forward. “We are currently working with the WUTC to comply with their order and how best to re-apply for a household goods moving permit,” said Kevin Shawver, Dolly’s director of marketing. Dolly is currently available in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, Denver, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. The company plans to use the new funding to expand to additional cities in the U.S. and abroad. The moving services industry is estimated to be worth $12.6 billion, to the American Moving & Storage Association.
Madrona managing directors, from left to right: Tom Alberg, S. “Soma” Somasegar, Scott Jacobson, Matt McIlwain, Tim Porter, Hope Cochran, and Len Jordan. (Paul Goodrich is Madrona’s other managing director) (Madrona Photo) Call it the “ones we missed” fund. has raised $100 million for what it calls an “acceleration fund.” The Seattle firm, which has focused on early-stage deals across the Pacific Northwest throughout its 24-year history, will target later-stage companies based across the country with the new investing vehicle. Madrona began thinking about this new strategy last fall, just after it $300 million for its seventh fund. The venture capital firm had dabbled with later-stage deals, investing in more established companies based outside of Seattle such as , Tigera, and over the past few years. Matt McIlwain. (Madrona Photo) “We’ve done some of those, but very selectively,” said Madrona Managing Director Matt McIlwain. “We wanted to have a dedicated fund and a dedicated focus on that acceleration stage.” In an interview with GeekWire, McIlwain described this stage as when a company has already found product market fit and is “really starting to accelerate the growth of the business.” “This fund is focused on Madrona making new investments in companies for the first time in that acceleration stage, not only in Seattle but across the West Coast and the country,” McIlwain said. The longtime Madrona director admitted that the firm has missed out on investing in some companies early, pointing to fast-growing Seattle startups such as Outreach, Auth0, Icertis, and Textio. The new fund frees up Madrona to participate in later rounds for more mature companies both in and out of the Pacific Northwest. “It’s fair to say that there are some great Seattle companies that we didn’t get right early on,” McIlwain said. “If it makes sense to be able to add some complimentary value to the other folks on the syndicate, we’d love to be thought of as a group that can do that. “Madrona has been known for being the seed and Series A group,” he added. “This helps communicate that we could lead or partner in a B or C round with other great investors and entrepreneurs.” (Madrona Image) Madrona will be “super selective” with the acceleration fund, with plans to make six-to-nine investments over a three-year span, McIlwain said. The average check size will range from $7 to $10 million. If all goes to plan, Madrona could raise another acceleration fund when it starts planning for its eighth traditional “core fund.” Madrona’s existing investors provided the capital for the acceleration fund. The firm remains committed to making early-stage investments in Pacific Northwest startups via its traditional fund. Madrona prides itself on planting seeds in companies from “Day 1” and sticking with them throughout a journey to acquisition or an IPO — Smartsheet, Impinj, and Redfin are examples of those investments. “We love our core strategy,” McIlwain said. “Nothing is changing there.” In fact, cash from the acceleration fund could very well go toward additional Seattle companies. “We are more committed to this region than ever,” McIlwain said. He noted Madrona’s partnerships with organizations including Techstars Seattle and the University of Washington, and said the firm’s new founder center, , has been “incredibly successful.” Madrona employs 30 people at the firm and has been bulking up its lineup, adding and over the past year. The same team will be working with both funds — this could help Madrona avoid issues that plagued Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, which dealt with internal rifts after establishing a “growth” fund in 2010 to compliment its early-stage fund. “Our approach is very different,” McIlwain said when asked about last month’s Kleiner Perkins story in . “A unified team, unified process and consistent fund economics across the firm along with our collaborative approach will allow us to bring the full Madrona team’s value-add to all our companies across all our funds.” A staircase connects Madrona Venture Group’s existing office to Create33, a new founder center that aims to be an epicenter for Seattle startups. (GeekWire Photo / Taylor Soper) Madrona is facing increased competition from Silicon Valley firms that are . Recent investors in later stage rounds for companies such as Outreach and Auth0 include Mayfield, Spark Capital, Trinity Ventures, and Meritech Capital. McIlwain said he welcomes the new entrants in the Seattle market. “It is great for the Seattle ecosystem to have more investors partnering with great entrepreneurs and investors like Madrona to build global-leading companies,” he said. Madrona has proven its ability to back nascent startups that become huge companies. Its track record for investing in later-stage companies for the first time, especially those outside of its backyard, is not as clear. The firm hopes to use its hometown as an advantage. “And, we believe, it is essential to have the ‘Seattle Perspective’ as part of your team to accelerate growth and maximize long-term value,” it wrote in a blog post today. McIlwain said that perspective includes proximity to homegrown companies such as Amazon and Microsoft, and the cutting-edge technologies being developed across the city in industries such as cloud computing, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. Madrona believes it can make a difference for companies not familiar with the Seattle tech scene. “It’s the access to the insights from those domains; access to the innovators both in small and big companies we’ve had the opportunity to work with; and this whole area of a cultural approach that really values taking a trust-based, long-term style to company building,” McIlwain said. In addition to Create 33, other Madrona-related initiatives include , the “startup studio” backed by Madrona. Recent investments made by the firm include deals backing Igneous, Ovation, Knock, Polly, Pro.com, and Clusterone.
The TerraClear team poses with the farmland rock picker that is part of what they’ve been developing. Founder and CEO Brent Frei is second from right in second row. (TerraClear Photo) TerraClear’s bid to upend the farming industry by using advanced technology to help farmers clear rocks from fields is producing a reliable crop — cash. The startup just closed a $6.1 million funding round led by Madrona Venture Group to bring its total capital raised to more than $13 million since launching in December 2017. Based in Bellevue, Wash, and in the farming community of Grangeville, Idaho, TerraClear was founded by Brent Frei, the former CEO of Onyx Software who co-founded Smartsheet in 2005. Born out of a desire to take the heavy lifting out of vital farm work and prevent damage to expensive machinery, Frei’s team and technology have been growing steadily. TerraClear will add Madrona Managing Director Matt McIlwain to its board of directors and has just hired Trevor Thompson, a former U.S. Navy SEAL and Rhodes Scholar, as president. The new funds will help to accelerate hiring, product development and testing as the company brings more automation to the $5 trillion global agriculture industry. PREVIOUSLY: McIlwain was the first venture investor in Smartsheet, the publicly-traded software company that helps automate key work processes. “The value that he and the team at Madrona brought to Smartsheet was significant,” Frei said. “He had exceptionally good advice along the way, he was very good at mentoring the leadership and our strategy. So in a lot of ways when he said he was interested in being on [TerraClear’s] board, I felt honored. We’re still at a very small stage right now relative to the things he’s involved in. To get his focus on this, there’s just nothing but upside.” For his part, McIlwain called Frei a “visionary leader” and said the TerraClear team is drawing on their “deep understanding of both the life and work of a farmer as well as expertise with robotics and software-enabled machine learning to change how fields are cleared and planted.” TerraClear’s Dwight McMaster addresses a group of farmers in Grangeville, Idaho, during a demonstration of the company’s rock-picking machinery. (TerraClear Photo) With 15 employees now and positions currently open, Frei said he wouldn’t be surprised if the team is double the size at this time next year. The company formally opened a fully outfitted lab and test facility this spring in Grangeville, a town of 3,000 where Frei grew up and where his family still farms. Earlier this month they hosted a field day and invited a dozen farmers from the biggest and most advanced farms in the area and showed them end to end how TerraClear works. Fields are surveyed by drones, rocks are classified and localized by a neural network, rock size and location data is mapped, and finally the heavy lifting is done by automated machinery. “It was fantastic. It exceeded all of my expectations,” Frei said of the show and tell. “Both from the candidness of the input and the things that we learned all the way to the interest and the financial potential of the product and the business.” (TerraClear Graphic) Farmers can be a stubborn lot, a characteristic perhaps born out of having to locate and lift heavy rocks out of their fields by hand over generations. Finally showing those who have been relying on inferior processes that the tables have potentially been turned was eye opening for the farmers and Frei. “One of the farmers there, who I have a lot of respect for, when he first came in he said, ‘I’m interested in seeing what you’ve got, but we’ve got a process in place and we don’t really need anything, but I’m perfectly happy to give you advice.’ As we went through the process his opinion didn’t change much until ultimately he saw the thing working and he said, ‘Yeah, we probably need this.’ “That admission all by itself was a real checkmark in the box of ‘this has got legs,'” Frei added. “Because when you’ve got some of the more advanced farmers who have really worked on automating the expensive and mundane and routine processes and they’re looking at this going, ‘I could save a lot of time and money doing this’ … that’s meaningful.” Brent Frei holds a “field day” with farmers in Grangeville, Idaho, where TerraClear has established a production and test facility. (TerraClear Photo) With ready access to many thousands of acres of farmland around Grangeville, TerraClear plans to be all about testing this summer, with hundreds of hours in the field planned. The picker is mounted on either a human-driven piece of machinery, like a front-end loader, or could eventually be attached to an autonomous vehicle. If TerraClear’s engineers can collect and analyze data and innovate and iterate on the picker prototype quickly enough, the hope is to put a beta product in the hands of farmers next year and learn from real customers. “Right now it’s just making sure that that thing grabbing the rocks is as foolproof as possible,” Frei said. “The market is huge and we’re laser-focused on building exactly what farmers need to make their lives easier.”
Praveen Seshadri, left, and Brian Sabino of AppSheet. (AppSheet Photo) Seattle startup has raised $15 million to fuel growth of its platform that helps businesses develop their own data-based apps without requiring a team of developers. Shasta Ventures led the round, with participation from existing investor New Enterprise Associates. Total funding to date is $19.3 million. Founded in 2014, AppSheet sells software that enables nearly 6,000 customers such as Husqvarna Group, Solvay, Tigo Guatemala, American Electric Power, M&O Partners, Boom Technology, and others to build “no-code” apps. More than 200,000 apps have been deployed using AppSheet and more than 18,000 “active app creators” build apps with AppSheet each month. Use cases include inventory management, CRM, and field service, and span across industries such as manufacturing, construction, scientific, and others. Examples of include those designed for requesting and tracking equipment maintenance; generating daily construction reports; or completing a pre-surgery checklist. AppSheet has been and natural language processing technology to further speed the creation of apps. AppSheet CEO launched AppSheet with , a former student in his database systems class at Cornell University. They had been exploring how mobile apps can make businesses more productive and discovered that businesses were hungry for modestly priced custom-built apps. AppSheet is among a number of platforms touting themselves as quick and easy app development platforms. The startup competes against products built by other Seattle-area companies such as Microsoft and K2 Software, as well as Siemens-owned Mendix, OutSystems, Betty Blocks. Asked about AppSheet’s secret sauce and differentiators, here’s what Seshadri shared with GeekWire: We disrupt traditional business software development across three dimensions: 1. Access: Our true no-code model allows every business user to create and innovate with apps without writing any code to build them. 2. Agility: Deployment of apps from the AppSheet intelligent no-code app platform is lightweight and instant. It is an order of magnitude more agile than a low-code solution, significantly more powerful, and comes at a fraction of the cost of using mainstream programming languages that convert a desired program into a sequence of low-level instructions computer hardware can execute. 3. Ambition: The expressive power of the AppSheet intelligent no-code platform is constantly improving. Our current generation of apps includes machine learning, rich integrations, micro-services, and are not limited to mobile/web apps. The fresh investment will be used to increase marketing spend and platform enhancements. AppSheet will also open a “center of machine learning excellence” in Portland, Ore. The company employs 20 people and expects headcount to grow to 50 over the next year. “We believe AppSheet’s demonstrated success with a broad horizontal customer base is a key indicator of its expected impact,” Ravi Mohan, managing director at Shasta Ventures, said in a statement. “There is no doubt that we are at the start of a technology revolution that will allow business users to create their own software solutions, and there is no doubt that AppSheet is the market-leading platform that will drive this transformation.” Other recent Shasta investments in Seattle-area companies include ; ; ; ; ; and . The firm is among a crop of Bay Area investors .
CI Security’s Kraken Signal on the wall of its office. (CI Security Photo) A cybersecurity startup that pairs software with analysts who review and investigate attacks raised $9.6 million to continue battling intrusions against companies of all sizes, as well as healthcare and government organizations. CI Security CEO Garrett Silver. (CI Security Photo) In addition to the cash infusion, the company has changed its name from to . CEO Garrett Silver said the new name doesn’t mean a major shift in the business is on the way. It’s more about simplicity and reflecting the company’s core priorities and Critical Insight platform. “It gives customers critical insight into the threats they’re facing so we can help them manage, detect and respond,” Silver said of the company’s offerings. The new Series B round, led by a previous investor in Alan Frazier’s , brings the company to nearly $16 million in lifetime funding. The company has 68 employees, with its home office in Seattle and security operations centers in Bremerton and Ellensburg, Wash. The company is planning to expand the security centers, and the new funding round will help with that. Security and tech giants like ADT and Cisco Systems are in the “Managed detection and response” market that includes CI Security. One place where CI Security stands out, Silver says, is its offerings for healthcare and government organizations. The company’s office in Bremerton, Wash. (CI Security Photo) “Core to our mission is defending organizations that protect the health of our communities,” Silver said. “We’re seeing growth in our healthcare customer base as well as growth in our public sector customer base. We’re honored to be defending hospitals, clinics, cities, ports, and school districts. We want to help those organizations keep patients alive, keep the lights on, and keep our water clean.” Citing predictions from Silver said companies spent $96 billion on cybersecurity technology in 2018, yet attacks continue to impact organizations of all kinds. One big problem is a major shortage of qualified cybersecurity experts in the field, Silver said. CI Security’s technology is meant to amplify its human talent, not solve every problem on its own. Silver claims CI Security experts can spot attacks and help remove them much faster than the competitors: “in hours or minutes instead of months.” “There are threats everyday like phishing, crypto-mining, and malicious intruders,” Silver said. “When those threat actors get into a system, the industry standard is that it often takes months or years to detect them — the average is about 200 days. That’s not acceptable.”
(Outreach Photo) Seattle has a new unicorn. Outreach CEO Manny Medina. (Outreach Photo) Sales automation startup has reeled in a huge $114 million investment round that pushes its valuation to $1.1 billion, joining an elite club of other fast-growing companies also valued above $1 billion. “That’s right: Outreach is officially a ‘unicorn’ and the only one in the rapidly growing sales engagement space,” Outreach CEO wrote in a . Outreach has been on a roll for the past few years with its software that uses machine learning to help customers such as Cloudera, Adobe, Microsoft, Docusign, and others automate and streamline communication with sales prospects. The technology offers one system to track all touch points, from phone calls to emails to LinkedIn messages, and integrates with existing tools including Salesforce and Gmail. Outreach more than doubled its revenue in 2018 and met all goals and metrics, Medina told GeekWire earlier this year. The company now has more than 3,300 customer accounts and 50,000-plus users. It employs 315 people and plans to reach 450 by the end of 2019. Medina said the company will continue to invest in its hometown, with a goal of becoming “the next enterprise beacon of Seattle.” Lone Pine Capital, a Greenwich, Conn.-based hedge fund manager, led the Series E round. Meritech Capital Partners and Lemonade Capital joined the round, as did existing investors DFJ Growth, Four Rivers Group, Mayfield, Microsoft Ventures, Sapphire Ventures, Spark Capital and Trinity Ventures. Lone Pine Capital previously invested in Convoy, another Seattle startup that . Other companies with valuations north of $1 billion in the Seattle region include Rover and OfferUp. (Outreach Photo) The $114 million round for Outreach follows a $65 million round that came in this past May. Total funding to date is $239 million. “This financing will enable us to infuse every aspect of the customer journey with the power of machine learning so organizations can identify the actions that move the needle in order to make better, faster decisions,” Medina wrote in the blog post. “We will also expand in the coming months by doubling our machine learning team, increasing our international footprint, and investing in our partner ecosystem, Galaxy, as well as our recently announced integration with Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 for Sales.” Medina told GeekWire in February that “this upcoming year we will make more investments in scaling the business efficiently and prepare for an IPO a few years out.” Medina, a former director at Microsoft, originally launched a recruiting software startup called GroupTalent in 2011 with his co-founders Andrew Kinzer, Gordon Hempton, and Wes Hather. But the entrepreneurs in 2014 to focus on building tools for salespeople. “Outreach is one of my favorite stories,” Founders Co-op’ Managing Partner Chris DeVore, an early Outreach investor, . “The business they set out to build wasn’t working, but because they stuck together as a founding team and kept adapting and learning, they figured out how to find a productive thing. But that wasn’t because of where they started or the early metrics. It was because as humans, they were so committed and resilient and so gritty that they figured it out.” Outreach is ranked No. 23 on the , our index of top Pacific Northwest startups. Outreach is also a finalist for Next Tech Titan, a category at the upcoming that highlights future dominant forces in the Pacific Northwest tech scene. Last year, Outreach to upgrade its headquarters and made its It was the only Seattle company to crack the top 25 in list for 2018. and previously predicted that Outreach would reach unicorn status. There are 341 unicorn companies worldwide, according to , with nearly 30 startups reaching that milestone in 2019. reported that 57 companies became unicorns in 2017.
Founders’ Co-op Managing Partners Chris DeVore and Aviel Ginzburg. (Founders’ Co-op Photo) More investment dollars are flowing into the Pacific Northwest startup ecosystem thanks to a new fund from . The Seattle-based early-stage venture capital firm just closed a $25 million fund, its fourth and largest ever since launching in 2008. Founders’ Co-op will follow the same playbook it has used in years past: being the first institutional check and anchor tenant in the seed round for companies it bankrolls. The firm focuses on writing checks in the $250,000-to-$750,000 range for budding startups across the Pacific Northwest. It has backed more than 90 startups, including companies such as Remitly, Outreach, Auth0, Crowd Cow, Apptentive, and others. Those companies have collectively gone on to raise more than $1.5 billion in follow-on capital. “We aren’t thematic investors but are focused on technical founding teams solving hard problems into which they have unique insights, which tends to lead us to enterprise software, from developer tools up through workflow automation and systems of intelligence,” DeVore told GeekWire last week. GeekWire previously reported on this fund , when Founders’ Co-op raised the initial dollars. The last clocked in at $20 million four years ago, which followed a $7.7 million fund in 2012 and a $2.7 million original fund. DeVore and Andy Sack started the firm in 2008, along with partner Rudy Gadre, a former Facebook and Amazon.com executive. Sack stepped away from day-to-day duties several years ago, leaving the Seattle firm in the hands of DeVore, who recruited Seattle entrepreneur , co-founder of Simply Measured, to the team as a venture partner. Ginzburg was promoted to general partner last year. Sack and Gadre are still involved as venture partners. Many in the Seattle tech economy have the lack of homegrown capital available in the Pacific Northwest over the years. DeVore is one of the biggest advocates looking to change that imbalance. “Somehow, all of a sudden, it’s ten years later,” DeVore wrote in a blog post. “We’re still doing the same thing we’ve always done, but the world has changed around us.” In his blog post, DeVore noted the growth of Seattle as a tech hub, with Amazon, Microsoft, and a flurry of remote engineering outposts helping increase the talent pool exponentially: “We’ve spent the last ten years honing our craft and building a community of founders, investors and mentors dedicated to our shared mission of making the Pacific Northwest the best place in the world to start a software company. Over the same period, our regional startup ecosystem has grown and changed in ways we never imagined, offering a more diverse and talented pool of potential founders than we’ve ever seen. As with our first fund back in 2008, it looks like we’re heading into another cycle of uncertainty in the global economy. We expect markets to slow, or even contract, over the next few years. We expect the last several years’ run of easy money for startups to end along with it. Putting that all together, we know for sure that the founders we back in this next cycle will be some of the best we’ve ever seen.” in Founders’ Co-op mostly come from the Pacific Northwest and are a mix of founders and tech executives, plus family offices and foundations. The State of Oregon, via its Oregon Growth Board, invested again in the fourth fund. DeVore also runs Techstars Seattle, which its 10th class in February. Ginzburg, meanwhile, leads the Alexa Accelerator, another Techstars program that Amazon helps operate in Seattle. Founders’ Co-op, Techstars Seattle, and the Alexa Accelerator are all run out of the University of Washington’s Startup Hall.
Showdigs interfaces for property managers, users and brokers. (Showdigs Photo) Another new Seattle startup has raised cash to fix problems in the complicated world of real estate. raised a $3 million seed round to make life easier for property managers who are inundated with requests for showings of rental homes and apartments. The company operates an Uber-like marketplace model, connecting property managers in need of people to show houses and apartments with real estate brokers looking to make some extra cash. “They get bombarded with hundreds of inquiries every time they have a vacancy,” Showdigs CEO said in an interview with GeekWire. “The problem is they have to start following up with everyone and scheduling meetings and times for people to see the unit, and this is where they get swamped and need help.” Showdigs CEO Kobi Bensimon. (Showdigs Photo) Showdigs plugs into property managers’ systems, and when they get a request for a showing from a site like Zillow or Apartments.com, the company sends back a link to set up an appointment. Visits can be scheduled with as little as 30 minutes notice, and Showdigs then pings brokers on the platform in the neighborhood to do a showing, the same way Uber finds nearby drivers for ride requests. Brokers make $25 per showing, paid by property managers, with Showdigs taking a cut. The company is still tinkering with how it brings in revenue, testing options like taking a percentage off each showing, offering subscriptions for property managers, flat fees per vacant unit and more. Showdigs just launched its service in November, starting small in the West Seattle neighborhood. A month later, the company expanded to all of Seattle and Portland. In 2019, Showdigs plans to expand to more major markets. Showdigs is one of a number of Seattle startups tackling problems in the real estate industry. Some are dealing with the sales process (FlyHomes), while others aim to solve construction (Blokable) and title and escrow (JetClosing). FlyHomes is testing a similar service — “a role where rideshare drivers who were also real estate agents could show homes on demand,” as this notes — but for those looking to buy properties, not rent. Today, Showdigs has about 150 brokers on the platform and is working with 10 large property managers. The company just showed its 1000th unit. The nine-person company is split between Seattle and Tel Aviv, Israel. Bensimon and a lot of the business team are in Seattle, while the product team, led by Waze veteran Ohad Ron, is in Israel. The seed round was led by Bellevue, Wash.-based venture capital firm . Bensimon said the cash infusion will be used to beef up the company’s software and platform, so that when the time comes to expand, scaling up the business will go smoothly. Bensimon is a veteran of the real estate tech business. He co-founded and led a startup called ActiveBuilding that helped large apartment complexes communicate with tenants. He in 2013. The experience at ActiveBuilding gave Bensimon a window into the issues property managers deal with and inspired the idea that became Showdigs. Brokers rarely show apartments anymore thanks to technological innovations from sites like Zillow. But they possess unmatched local knowledge, the training to show units and flexible schedules to take some load off overbooked property managers. Brokers are primarily reliant on sales commissions, so Showdigs gives them an opportunity to earn extra money in between sales or keep cash coming in during a dry spell. “It’s a way for them to complement their income,” Bensimon said of the platform for brokers. “They get a commission every time they make a sale, and sometimes they could go for months without having an income.”
Apana CEO Matt Rose. Many building operators assume that losses from water mismanagement are just a cost of doing business. thinks otherwise. Rose is the CEO and co-founder of , a Bellingham, Wash.-based startup located north of Seattle that helps Fortune 500 brands and other customers manage their water use. The startup today announced a $11 million funding round led by existing investor , a Tokyo-based company, as well as others that previously invested including Cowles Company, E8 Fund, and Urban Innovation Fund. Rose, a former Navy pilot who has a software development background in healthcare and defense industries, founded Apana in 2014 with , who has more than two decades of experience building and maintaining wastewater treatment plants. Apana helps companies manage their water usage. (Apana Photo) They’ve helped build a product that combines IoT devices with cloud-based analytics software to measure and analyze building-wide water use. It alerts users to potential problems and helps address areas of optimization. Rose said that customers typically see between a 15 and 30 percent reduction in water use, which is more valuable given in big cities. He said the system pays for itself in 18 to 24 months. Apana has customers such as Costco and MGM Resorts International in more than 600 cities globally, but Rose said the opportunity remains large. He noted that less than 1 percent of commercial, industrial, and institutional buildings in the U.S. have any kind of water management system. “This type of solution has not readily been available, because without some sort of IoT solution connected to analytics and reporting, it’s nearly impossible to do,” he noted. Total funding to date for Apana is $15.5 million. The company, which its seed round more than two years ago, employs 16 employees.
is today announcing its series C financing that it hopes will allow the company to bring its at-home gym to even more homes. The funding round shows investors’ excitement around the new generation of personal exercise equipment that combines on-demand training with smart features. like Peloton, offer features previously unavailable outside of gyms and with this injection of capital, the company expects to build new personal features and invest in marketing and retail experiences. L Catterton’s Growth Fund led the $45 million series C round and included investments from Shasta Ventures, Mayfield, Sapphire Sport, and others also participated. This financing round brings the total amount raised to $90 million. Tonal is based out of San Francisco, CA and was founded by Aly Orady in 2015. The company . The wall-mounted Tonal uses electromagnetism to simulate and control weight, allowing the slender device to replicate (and replace) a lot of weight-lifting machines. The Tonal machine costs $2,995, and for $49 a month, Tonal offers members access to personal training sessions, recommended programs and workouts. Since launching, CEO Orady tells TechCrunch there have been virtually no returns. He says their customer care teams proactively work with members to ensure a good experience. Orady is excited to have L Catterton participating in this financing round, saying their deep network and unparalleled experience building premium fitness brands globally is an incredibly exciting new resource for the company. The Connecticut-based investment firm helped fund in ThirdLove, ClassPass, and The Honest Company. “As the fitness landscape continues to evolve, we have seen a clear shift toward personalized, content-driven, at-home workout experiences,” said Scott Dahnke, Global Co-CEO of L Catterton said in a released statement. “Tonal is the first connected fitness brand focused on strength training and represents an opportunity to invest behind an innovative concept with tremendous growth potential. We look forward to leveraging our deep knowledge of consumer behavior and significant experience in the connected fitness space to bring Tonal’s dynamic technology and content platform to more homes across the country.” Tonal shares a market with Peloton, and Orady says a significant amount of Tonal owners also own Peloton equipment. Yet, feature-by-feature, Peloton, and Tonal are different. While they’re both in-home devices that offer on-demand instructors, Peloton targets cardiovascular exercises while Tonal is a strength-training machine. Orady states his customers find the two companies offer complementary experiences. “The common thread with our members is that they understand the value of investing in their fitness and overall health,” said Aly Orady, “All of our members are looking to take their fitness to the next level with strength training. Tonal offers the ability to strength train at home by providing a comprehensive, challenging full body workout without having to sacrifice quality for convenience.” This is an enormous market he says the company can rely on for years to come. The majority of Tonal’s customers are between 30 and 55 years old and live in, or adjacent to, the top 10 major metro US markets. There’s an even split, he says, between male and female members. Tonal is similar to , another at-home, wall-mounted exercise device that costs $1,495. While Tonal focuses on strength training through resistance, Mirror offers yoga, boxing, Pilates and other exercises and activities with on-demand instruction and real-time stats. Mirror also launched in 2018 and the company has raised $40 million. Going forward Tonal expects to expand its software to provide new personalization features to its members. The hope is to build experiences that motivate users while serving up real-time feedback. This includes building new workout categories and additional fitness experiences even when users traveling and do not have access to their Tonal machine. The company sees it expanding its retail and marketing presence. Right now, just eight months after the product’s debut, customers have very limited access to try the Tonal machine. It’s only on display at Tonal’s flagship San Francisco store and is coming to a pop-up store in Newport Beach, California. Orady tells TechCrunch the company needs new talent to help the company achieve its mission. Tonal is hiring and looking to hire in hardware, software, design, video production, and marketing. At-home exercise equipment is a massive market and Tonal offers a unique set of features and advantages that should allow it to stand apart from competitors. This isn’t just another treadmill. Tonal is a strength-training super machine the size of a thick HDTV. Challenges abound but the company seemingly has a solid plan to utilize its latest round of financing that should allow it to reach more customers and show them why the Tonal machine is worth the cost.
Dr. Sanford Markowitz, founder of Rodeo Therapeutics. (Case Western Reserve University Photo) Seattle-based startup is raising more cash for its work on tissue repair and regeneration. The company has reeled in another $4.3 million, according to , adding to an investment round that also included a $3.7 million cash infusion . Rodeo, which raised a $5.9 million Series A round in 2017, declined to comment on the new funding. The biotech startup is focused on creating treatments for inflammatory bowel disease as well as a drug that helps cancer patients’ cells grow quickly following stem cell transplants. Rodeo was started by gastrointestinal cancer expert Dr. Sanford Markowitz, stem cell and drug development specialist Dr. Stanton Gerson, and regenerative medicine expert Dr. Joseph Ready. Thong Le is the company’s CEO; he’s also president and CEO of Seattle-based Accelerator Life Science Partners, one of Rodeo’s investors. Thong Le, CEO of Rodeo Therapeutics. (Accelerator Corporation Photo) Regenerative medicine holds the promise of creating new tissues to replace damaged ones. Rodeo’s therapies could one day help the living with an inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s disease, as well as the 22,000 who receive a bone marrow or umbilical cord blood transplant . Rodeo’s investors include AbbVie, Lilly, Arch Venture Partners and Johnson & Johnson, among others. The new regulatory filing listed the following venture investors: Steve Gillis, managing director at Arch Venture Partners Asish Xavier, vice president of venture investments at Johnson & Johnson Development Corporation Joel Marcus, founder of Alexandria Venture Investments Tadataka Yamada, venture partner at Frazier Healthcare Margarita Chavez, managing director at AbbVie Ventures
Crelate CEO Aaron Elder. (Crelate Photo) In a startup environment where heavy funding, bold bets, and rapid growth are the norm, stands out for its modest, slow-and-steady approach. The recruiting software startup just raised $5.3 million from Five Elms, a venture capital firm in Kansas City, Mo. Crelate develops tools to help recruiting agencies manage their pipelines of talent and job opportunities. The four-year-old startup just crossed 900 customers. “There’s definitely different approaches to building a business,” said Crelate CEO Aaron Elder. “There’s the burn fast and either get really big or burnout. I’m operating more under the continuous improvement, high probability of success.” The new funding builds off of a $1.2 million round the company closed in early 2017. Crelate plans to grow its 21-person team and double down on sales with the fresh cash. “We see a lot of demand and need for our product,” Elder said. “The industry is growing and they have some very specialized needs.” Crelate is headquartered in Maryland but its engineering operation is in Kirkland, Wash. Elder, who is based at the Kirkland office, said he picked the Seattle suburb because “the tax climate is more friendly to business” and “it’s a little bit cheaper.” Crelate is that have set up outposts in the Seattle area to mine the region’s tech talent.