Category: Venture Capital

Biodesix raises additional $7M from sale of preferred shares

BOULDER — Biodesix Inc. has raised $7 million on a follow-on sale of its offering of series F preferred shares, bringing the total amount raised for the round to $24.8 million.

The Boulder-based diagnostic test-maker had raised nearly $17.8 million in February through the Series F funding round. A preferred stock is a class of ownership in a corporation that has a higher claim on its assets and earnings than common stock.

The additional capital was provided by existing Biodesix investors and will be used for the development of new diagnostic tests for clinical use with immunotherapies — treatments that use certain parts of a person’s immune system to fight diseases such as cancer. Biodesix’s blood tests identify which cancer patients could best benefit from various cancer drugs, because most cancer drugs work only on specific sets of the population. In essence, the tests help get the right drugs to the right patients.

The money also will be used to expand the company’s offering of its commercialized tests, Veristrat and GeneStrat.

 

Boulder-based Black Bear Energy raises $2.5M Series A funding round

BOULDER — Black Bear Energy Inc., announced on Monday that the 15-month-old Boulder company has raised a $2.5 million Series A round of funding to scale its model of helping large businesses and commercial real-estate owners integrate renewable energy into their buildings.

Local venture-capital firm Boulder Ventures led the round, with participation also coming from Black Bear seed investor Rocky Mountain Institute.

Drew Torbin

Drew Torbin

Kim Saylors-Laster

Kim Saylors-Laster

Black Bear CEO Drew Torbin said in an interview Monday that the company has already added two employees in the wake of the new funding round and is hiring for a third — a junior-level analyst — that will bring the firm’s employee count to eight. Black Bear’s employees are split between Boulder and Arkansas, where executive vice president Kim Saylors-Lastor is based.

Founded by Torbin in April of last year, Black Bear works as a buyer’s agent for large property owners, helping them identify energy-efficiency options that exist in their building portfolios and then seek out bids, execute contracts and oversee construction of the projects.

It’s the type of work that Torbin and Saylors-Laster did for Prologis and Walmart, respectively, in building the two largest on-site corporate solar programs in the United States. But Torbin said it’s also work that most companies don’t have the expertise to engage in, even though they know there is untapped potential in their portfolios.

The bulk of Black Bear’s work is in facilitating solar projects, but the company also does work in energy storage, fuel cells and lighting.

“We realized pretty quickly that the market had a latent demand for our services, and we’ve been working pretty quickly to work with these large customers ever since,” Torbin said.

Torbin declined to disclose revenue, but the company says it is already serving clients that represent more than 1 billion square feet of property.

“We’ve got a big pipeline, big and growing,” Torbin said.

Started last year with a $500,000 seed funding from Rocky Mountain Institute and Carbon War Room, Black Bear will use the new funding not only to add employees but also to continue the buildout of a software platform that will make the company more efficient in the services it provides.

“All of our best companies spring from the authentic experiences of our serial entrepreneurs,” Kyle Lefkoff, founder and general partner at Boulder Ventures, said in a news release. “Drew and Kim are the most experienced people in this market, and the overwhelming response of their customers to Black Bear Energy validates their unique approach.”

Brad Feld kicks off entrepreneurs-network campaign with $100K gift

BOULDER —  Brad Feld, a national venture capital investor, entrepreneur and philanthropist, has committed $100,000 to kick off the Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network Colorado’s new capital campaign.

The network is designed to support entrepreneurs, create jobs and stimulate economic growth in targeted regions of the country by leveraging the resources and intellectual capital of the Blackstone Group, a global investment firm based in New York.

Feld is a resident of Boulder, a managing director of the Boulder-based investment firm Foundry Group and a co-founder of Techstars, a national accelerator program for startups founded in Boulder that has its own investment arm.

BEN Colorado, formed in 2014, is funded by a $3 million gift to the University of Colorado Boulder, part of a three-year grant from the Blackstone Charitable Foundation. BEN Colorado is hosted at CU’s Silicon Flatirons Center for Law, Technology and Entrepreneurship.

Blackstone identified Colorado as a vibrant entrepreneurial region needing better connections between its various high-growth industries and geographies.

The current network of BEN Colorado’s 70 companies employed more than 6,000 people and generated more than $1.4 billion in revenue last year.

“BEN Colorado exemplifies the transformation that can happen when local communities collaborate to tackle big problems,” said Steve Schwarzman, chairman, chief executive and co-founder of Blackstone. “Brad Feld shares Blackstone’s mission, and we thank him for his tireless efforts helping entrepreneurs build the innovative, successful companies Colorado needs to ensure future growth.”

Amy Stursberg, executive director of the Blackstone Charitable Foundation, said Feld has been an advocate of the BEN Colorado program since its inception, and this gift is the cornerstone in a campaign that will develop a sustainable program in support of furthering entrepreneurship and job growth in Colorado.

Learn more at: www.bencolorado.org.

Investment firm buys majority stake in Firefly Medical

FORT COLLINS — Carlton-Harvey Group, a Georgia-based private-equity firm, has acquired a majority stake in Fort Collins medical-device startup Firefly Medical Inc., as the latter aims to significantly scale up sales.

Carlton-Harvey invested $2.5 million in Firefly, according to a recent regulatory filing, and Firefly co-founder Patrick Bols said Wednesday that there is also an undisclosed loan commitment aside from the equity portion.

Bols, who has served as chief executive for the past year, becomes chairman of the Firefly board with the new transaction. CHG principal Trevor Carlton, meanwhile, will take over as CEO of Firefly, and CHG principal Stuart Harvey becomes president.

Firefly, 320 E. Vine Dr., will keep its branding, and all eight employees who were with the company prior to the CHG investment will remain.

“Everybody still has a very important job to do here,” Bols said.

The addition of Carlton and Harvey, as well as a new sales manager, boosts the company’s employee count to 11, and Bols said the intent is to add two more employees this year and three to five more in 2017. The new cash infusion will be used largely to beef up sales and marketing, including internationally.

“The most important part of this transaction is we’ll now have seasoned executives managing the company,” Bols said.

Founded in 2013 by Bols, Steve Schmutzer and Keith Burge, Firefly makes a device called the IVEA that aims to replace the standard pole from which IV bags are hung in order to improve patient mobility, nursing staff efficiency and safety for both patients and caregivers.

Firefly officially launched the device in May of last year. Bols declined to disclose revenue.

“Almost immediately we recognized that the IVEA is a solution that could transform the industry,” Carlton said in a news release. “It’s a great story and a great product, and we look forward to working with Firefly to make the IVEA the new standard of care in hospitals around the world.”

Correction: The original version of this story mis-labeled Carlton-Harvey Group as a Fort Collins-based firm. We regret the error.

Section.io closes $1.5M seed-funding round backed by Boulder VCs

BOULDER — Section.io Inc., a 4-year-old Australian company whose founders recently moved the company to Boulder, announced Wednesday it has closed a seed-funding round of $1.5 million.

Section.io raised $800,000 of the round in March.

The completed round was led by venture capitalists in Boulder, including Tahoma Ventures, Blue Note Ventures, Galvanize Ventures and Techstars Ventures.

Section.io operates a content delivery network used by high-traffic web sites. The network is integrated with agile development workflows. Section.io gives engineers more control and flexibility to drive website performance and security.

Ari Newman, a partner at Techstars, said the group is excited to add Section.io to the Techstars Ventures portfolio.

“Their technology bakes website scaling in at the most fundamental level, and will change how the content delivery network industry delivers value going forward,” Newman said. “By bringing agile development workflows to the CDN industry, section.io has integrated the last bastion of the web application delivery stack with agile development workflows.”

Section.io in a prepared statement said it is adding to its sales and development teams. Additionally, the capital will allow the company to focus on partnerships with hosting providers, content management system providers, agile development tools and other complementary software-as-a-service products.

Boulder-based Ignyte launches $5M investment fund

BOULDER — Ignyte Lab LLC — a Boulder company that aims to help revenue-generating companies scale their operations — is raising funds for a new $5 million investment fund that it will use to invest in technology and natural and organic foods startups.

Ignyte founder Ryan Ferrero said in an interview that the Ignytion fund will make seed-stage investments averaging $250,000.

Ferrero will manage the fund along with a pair of veteran entrepreneurs who have joined Ignyte as partners, Bernee Strom, who recently moved to Boulder from Seattle, and Tom Miller of Peak Asset Management in Louisville.

Tom Miller

Tom Miller

Bernee Strom

Bernee Strom

Ryan Ferrero

Ryan Ferrero

The new fund will allow investors not only to invest in promising young companies. But the hope is that it will also expand the clientele for Ignyte, which often takes on operational roles with the young companies with which it works.

“What we’re doing is hitting the gas and accepting business submissions to scale ourselves,” Ferrero said.

Run for the past four years out of ad agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky’s offices in Gunbarrel, Ignyte recently moved into office space at the Sustainability, Energy, and Environment Complex on the University of Colorado Boulder’s East Campus at the corner of Foothills Parkway and Colorado Avenue.

In addition to Strom and Miller, venture capitalist Trapp Lewis — who is based in Singapore and whose resume includes stints with companies such as Alibaba and Yahoo — has also become an investor in Ignyte.

United Arab Emirates entrepreneur Wissam Otaky, meanwhile, is working with Ignyte as an advisor as his company, Hatcher, helps Ignyte deploy a software platform through which the company will better be able to manage its portfolio and portfolio companies’ operations, including everything from tasks to email to finances to file storage. The platform will also allow investors in the Ignytion fund, no matter their location, easier access to greater detail on portfolio companies and facilitate communications.

“When you’re managing a portfolio, there’s so many moving pieces on a given day,” Ferrero said. “You need to be able to coordinate and get tasks done efficiently.”

Strom, whose background includes helping launch priceline.com, as well as several other companies, moved to Boulder last fall and connected with Ferrero in the spring. She said that with all of the startup accelerators already in place in Boulder, she found Ignyte’s model a good fit for her to help companies that are already post-product and post-revenue to grow.

“I decided my niche would be better to help companies scale,” Strom said.

Beau Burris, CEO of Denver-based Mame’s Crafted Gourmet LLC, which makes Mame’s Burritos, said Ignyte’s participation in his company has been invaluable in recent months as it starts to scale. Ignyte took a minority equity stake in Mame’s in December. Burris said the company grew over the past couple of years to more than $1 million in revenue, but needed help raising money and taking the next step.

“To go from a million-a-year business to 10 million-a-year, it takes some guidance I think,” Burris said. “I want the direct route there. I don’t want to be climbing all these side mountains on the way there.”

While Ignyte has worked with local companies to this point, Ferrero said the Ignytion fund would seek out deals all over the map.

“We would imagine the lion’s share of submissions will happen from here, but we are sourcing deals from everywhere,” Ferrero said.

Door to Door Organics leads charge among area venture-capital deals in 2Q

Nine of the 19 venture-capital deals in Colorado during the second quarter were struck by companies in the Boulder Valley and Northern Colorado, led by Louisville-based online grocer Door to Door Organics Inc., according to the quarterly MoneyTree Report released Friday.

Door to Door Organics and its new partner, Charlottesville, Va.-based Relay Foods, garnered $10 million in equity financing provided by the Arlon Group and existing Relay stockholders.

The two online sellers of organic groceries announced in June a merger in which they plan to operate under a new brand to be disclosed later this year.

The 19 deals in the state during the second quarter amounted to $78.5 million, compared with $44.6 million in 15 deals during the first quarter of the year.

Nationally, venture capitalists invested $15.3 billion in 961 deals in the second quarter. Compared with Q2 2015, dollars and deals are down 12 and 22 percent, respectively.

Other companies in the region that received venture capital during the quarter included:

Minute Key Inc., Boulder, $2.5 million from Matrix Partners and Serent Capital. Minute Key makes automated key duplication kiosks.

Rapt Media Inc., Boulder, $2.5 million from Boulder Ventures Ltd., Golden Seeds LLC and an undisclosed firm. Rapt Media provides a cloud-based interactive video creation and editing platform.

Woot Math LLC, Boulder, $1.3 million from and undisclosed firm. Woot Math offers mathematics instruction tools.

Kapteyn-Murnane Laboratories Inc., Boulder, $1.2 million from an undisclosed firm. K-M Labs is a manufacturer of laser systems.

Prieto Battery Inc., Fort Collins, $1,040,000 from Stanley Ventures. Prieto Battery is developing 3-D lithium battery technology.

Soundwall Inc., Broomfield, $1 million from an undisclosed firm. Soundwall makes a canvas that is a speaker and is connected to the Internet, enabling it to play music from a mobile device or play back the artist’s voice describing the painting.

Shinesty Inc., Boulder, $915,000 from Azure Capital Partners LP and an undisclosed firm. Shinesty is an online clothing retailer.

BiOptix Diagnostics Inc., Boulder, $800,000 from an undisclosed firm. BiOptix develops tools for the life-sciences industry.

The MoneyTree Report is compiled by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and the National Venture Capital Association based on data provided by Thomson Reuters.

Editor’s note: This story was revised shortly after being published changing the number of venture-capital deals in Colorado during the second quarter from 20 to 19. Thomson Reuters had listed an investment for Cherwell Software in Colorado Springs worth $8.2 million, but that deal was removed because it was a filing for employee stock options and does not count as VC funding.

Ag-tech firm GeoVisual Analytics lands seed funding

BOULDER — Agriculture-technology company GeoVisual Analytics announced Wednesday that it has raised a new seed round of funding led by AI Capital of Denver.

The specific amount of the funding was not disclosed, though chief marketing officer Carl Kalin indicated that it’s between $500,000 and $1 million, typical of many seed rounds. Taylor Farms of Salinas, Calif., and SVG Partners of Los Gatos, Calif., also participated in the round.

Boulder-based GeoVisual, founded in 2010, specializes in analytics of imagery and other big data sources to aid in monitoring and managing activities on Earth’s surface. On the precision ag side, that means using planes, drones and on-ground cameras to help farmers better understand what is going on in their fields and manage resources related to crop production. On the forestry side, the company analyzes satellite imagery to provide information about what is happening on the ground.

NASA funded the company’s development of its OnSight mobile sensing platform and its Computer Learning Image Processor platform.

Kalin said the new funding will help the three-person company soon add three more employees — two in Boulder and one at its Salinas, Calif., office. But he added that the company could at least double again next year as it targets a $5 million to $10 million Series A round of funding.

GeoVisual last year participated in the Thrive Accelerator in Salinas that is run by SVG and Forbes magazine and aims to connect startups with food-industry giants to deploy and hone their technologies.

Boulder-based 10-4 Systems lands $13.9M funding round

BOULDER — 10-4 Systems Inc., a Boulder-based provider of supply-chain technology for freight carriers, brokers and shippers, has raised $13.9 million of series A financing led by GlobalTranz’s co-founder Andrew Leto.

Along with the funding, 10-4 Systems has completed a spinoff from Arizona-based GlobalTranz, allowing 10-4 Systems to focus on product development and customer acquisition.

Founded in 2012 within GlobalTranz, 10-4 Systems has developed software and an integration process to improve visibility and communication in the freight-transportation industry.

“This is an important milestone for 10-4, and one that we’ve been working diligently to execute for quite some time,” said Travis Rhyan, 10-4 Systems’ president and chief executive. “We appreciate the contribution from our former parent company and look forward to the next chapter in our organization’s evolution. We’ve secured significant investment that will continue to fuel our growth, expansion, and innovation for years to come.”

10-4 Systems’ Freight Portal software and integration provides companies real-time tracking of their inbound and outbound shipments.

Soundwall eyes growth with new CEO, $3M funding round

BROOMFIELD – Settled into its Broomfield headquarters after a move from Boulder last year, startup Soundwall Inc., closed recently on a $3 million funding round and saw cofounder David Hose return as CEO as the company works to get its “connected canvases” for art in front of more customers at brick-and-mortar retail locations.

Hose replaces Aaron Cohen, who was hired in late 2014 and will stay involved as an advisor for Soundwall. While remaining chairman of Soundwall, Hose had spent a yearlong stint as interim CEO of music-streaming service Rhapsody until late last year.

David Hose

David Hose

Now back leading the way for Soundwall, Hose said a major focus of the new funding round will be on ramping up sales and marketing, specifically getting customers to see the company’s products in person rather than just online. After a small launch in 2014, Soundwall increased sales in 2015 mostly through online sites.

Soundwall makes a canvas that is a speaker and is connected to the Internet, enabling it to do things like play music from a mobile device or play back the artist’s voice describing the painting. The company earlier this year added a “floating aluminum” version to its product lineup that is more modern and sleek looking than Soundwall’s original framed product.

“This year we realized that people who get it love the product,” Hose said. “But it’s hard for people to figure it out online, so we’re working out a strategy for that.”

Soundwall, which has an office in New York, will still keep higher-end pieces on display in galleries in places like New York and London. But Hose said the company plans to make a big push to get its canvases into more boutique retail stores as well.

“We’re going to find places where you’d expect to see magical, beautifully designed product,” Hose said.

The new funding round follows a $4 million round raised in late 2014 largely for product development and building out the company’s team, which Hose said has grown by 10 over the past year to about 20. John Malloy of California-based BlueRun Ventures led the previous round, while the lead investor of the latest round was not disclosed.

Soundwall, which had been operating out of the former Sutherland’s lumberyard site at 3390 Valmont St. in Boulder, moved last year into space in 530 Compton St. in Broomfield. Hose declined to disclose revenue. But he said Soundwall can produce about 200 of the handbuilt canvases – which can sell for $800 to as much as $20,000 – per month per shift at its new space, and said he’s working on adding a second shift. The aim, he said, is to continue to add employees this year.

“Our goal is to add to the Broomfield economy,” said Hose, who cofounded the company with Sven Coppom.