angelinvesting

  • Anishaa Nenawati posted an article
    HaptX received a $1.5 million grant to create a full-body haptic system. see more

    Sep 29, 2020, 10:31am, Forbes

    Today, HaptX, Virginia Tech, and the University of Florida won a $1.5 million National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to develop the first program to bring force feedback to upper and lower limbs in virtual environments, ForceBot. Founded in 2012 by Jake Rubin and Dr. Robert Crockett, HaptX started with a vision they strikingly captured in an image of the full body haptic system Rubin envisioned for virtual reality (VR). The company has taken a serious detour through reality, productizing haptic gloves for VR and robotic telepresence. After turning practical, and doing another round of funding based on its growing enterprise business, they are going back to the future with this announcement.

     

    ForceBot is a four-year project to develop an exoskeleton for commercial and enterprise applications using HaptX’s microfluidic touch feedback technology to simulate virtual objects. The NSF grant will be distributed between each company to contribute individual components to ForceBot, and then the resulting IP will be used for commercial products. In the project, VR and robotics are hand in hand towards building a full-body haptic exoskeleton rig. The rig will increase force feedback on the human body for users in virtual environments. HaptX’s contribution to the project is finding the commercial uses for the rigs, in addition to the use of HaptX Gloves products in the rig. Jake Rubin, CEO and Founder of HaptX told us that in the short term they have always, “built towards the company’s original vision piece by piece, performing R&D on each segment of the full system while simultaneously narrowing down what has the most short term commercial potential.” The grant brings things into a full circle, with plans to use the exoskeleton to create prototypes of a product for the future.

     

     

     

     

    This exoskeleton will be designed to mimic real-world forces such as weight, texture of objects, shape, and terrain. Dr. Alexander Leonessa, Principal Investigator, Virginia Tech stated, “we’re excited to create a system that increases immersion for VR users in applications requiring intensive body motions like sports and industrial skills training, gaming, emergency response, and many others.” 

    How we interact with the virtual worlds we occupy is one of the central questions of VR. This thought regarding HaptX was included in my first book, Charlie Fink’s Metaverse. With the HaptX full exoskeleton, the rig will be able to use mechanical arms with gloves [as seen at CES 2020] and actuators attached to each leg will simulate the haptic feedback from walking, running, and climbing stairs. The company is trying to establish itself as more than a glove company. Regardless of the success of the ForceBot, the worst-case scenario is still a product that fulfills the company’s original vision in some capacity. Rubin left us with this statement, “immersion and fidelity are wanted in the market and HaptX is not going to stop until we get there.” 

    This story was written with Brandon Cloobeck.

     

     

    About Keiretsu Forum

    Keiretsu Forum, the world’s leading angel investor network with over 1,500 investors in 38 chapters on 3 continents. Keiretsu Forum has invested more than $500 million into more than 700 companies since inception. Keiretsu Capital administers funds on behalf of its Limited Partners - the Co-Investment & Opportunities Fund creates a diversified portfolio of technology start-ups backed by top tier angel groups and pursues the high upside value potential in these dynamic investment opportunities while promoting the sharing of risk inherent in any early-stage venture.  The firm is based in Seattle and San Francisco and its principals are veteran Silicon Valley and technology investors Randy Williams, Matthew C. Le Merle, and Nathan McDonald. 

    For more information please visit www.keiretsuforum.com or contact us.

  • Anishaa Nenawati posted an article
    Aclipse Therapeutics has been awarded a $2.1 million grant see more

    Aclipse Therapeutics is pleased to announce that one of the world’s largest biomedical research funding agencies has awarded Aclipse a $2.1 million grant to support the development of Aclipse’s M102 for the treatment of ALS. The grant is non-dilutive and will fund the completion of IND-enabling studies and will allow Aclipse to initiate the first-in-human studies for M102. The grant will also further fund the development of therapeutic biomarkers for M102’s efficacy and patient stratification. The grant award was the result of a highly competitive application and peer-review scientific process. 

    This most recent grant makes a total of over $2.8 million non-dilutive funds awarded to the M102 program in the last month and further validates M102’s biological approach and potential to become a targeted and life-saving therapeutics for ALS patients. 

    Raymond K. Houck, CEO of Aclipse Therapeutics, said: “We are honored by the support from FightMND which shares our vision for a novel and broad multi-disease pathomechanism approach to treating ALS patients.

     

     

     “The FightMND award also confirms M102’s success to date and validates M102’s potential to become a targeted and life-saving therapeutic for ALS patients.”

    The research forms part of the work of the University of Sheffield’s Neuroscience Institute, which aims to bring academics and scientists together from across varied specialties to translate scientific discoveries from the lab into pioneering treatments that will benefit patients living with neurodegenerative disorders.

    The study was supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Sheffield Biomedical Research Centre, which is the UK’s only Biomedical Research Centre dedicated to Neurology. It is a research partnership between the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, dedicated to improving the treatment and care of people living with chronic neurological disorders.

    Read the article to know more.

     

     Keiretsu Capital identified and invested in Aclipse Therapeutics, an innovative biopharmaceutical company that focuses on developing novel and highly differentiated drugs to address diseases with high unmet medical needs. We are confident in this company and team; they continue to meet their milestones and deliver on targets.” said Nathan McDonald, Managing Partner and CEO of Keiretsu Capital.  

     

    About Keiretsu Forum

    Keiretsu Forum, the world’s leading angel investor network with over 1,500 investors in 38 chapters on 3 continents. Keiretsu Forum has invested more than $500 million into more than 700 companies since inception. Keiretsu Capital administers funds on behalf of its Limited Partners - the Co-Investment & Opportunities Fund creates a diversified portfolio of technology start-ups backed by top tier angel groups and pursues the high upside value potential in these dynamic investment opportunities while promoting the sharing of risk inherent in any early-stage venture.  The firm is based in Seattle and San Francisco and its principals are veteran Silicon Valley and technology investors Randy Williams, Matthew C. Le Merle, and Nathan McDonald. 

    For more information please visit www.keiretsuforum.com or contact us.

     

    About  Aclipse Therapeutics 

    • Aclipse has an experienced management team that exited Thar Pharmaceuticals, where we developed a phase 3 orphan drug that was acquired by Grünenthal.
    • They have an ALS clinical advisory board of 5 of the top 10 ALS physicians in the world.
    • Their first product M102 is a disease-modifying, new chemical entity drug candidate for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease) with a significant upside to also treat in Huntington's disease, Friedreich’s ataxia, and Parkinson's disease.
    • M102 activates the Nrf2 and HSF1 pathways and, in animal models, not only stops ALS disease progression, but reverses the animals back toward the healthy state.
    • They can identify those ALS patients who respond to M102 vs. those patients who do not respond. This ability to precisely target specific patients increases our probability of clinical success by 3.1-fold according to industry data
    • The US spends $6 billion per year on treating ALS patients. M102 is projected to generate $2.3 billion/year in peak sales.

    Learn more - https://www.aclipsetherapeutics.com/

     

     

     

     

  • Anishaa Nenawati posted an article
    From festivals to food trucks, Seattle’s Joule Case taps new markets for portable batteries see more

    By Tony Lystra  – Tech Editor, Puget Sound Business Journal

    Aug 27, 2020, 11:57am EDT

    Earlier this year, Joule Case, the Seattle portable battery manufacturer, thought it had found a stable, reliable market in music festivals. 

    Last year, the company powered nearly a half-dozen music events, including the Treefort Music Fest in Boise and the Nocturnal Wonderland rave festival, which hosts events in Southern California and Texas.

    Historically, the festivals have relied on diesel generators, coughing out plenty of carbon emissions as they power lights, video displays, soundboards, amps, and monitors.

    Joule Case has a solution for that: modular, stackable, and scalable battery configurations that supply all the power diesel generators produce and then some without the greenhouse gases. 

    Until the pandemic hit, the music festival season had been scheduled to begin in March, and Joule Case was lined up to power more than 100 of them.

    “If you were to tell me in January that there would be an international pandemic and all the customers and all the music festivals lined up would be zero — a big giant goose egg for music festivals — I would have said, ‘Well, Joule Case is not around anymore,’” said James Wagoner, the company’s co-founder, and CEO. 

    Rather than quitting, Wagoner and his partner, Alex Livingston pivoted the company toward new markets. Since Joule Case’s beginning in 2015, the partners had been discussing what they see as their batteries’ potentially endless uses.

    “The vision of Joule Case is to be, as we call it, the Standard Oil of the green revolution,” Wagoner said. 

    That means the batteries can be used to store solar power, provide backup energy to homes in case the grid goes down, and for camping trips, food trucks, medical devices, and building contractors.

    “We had some of these conversations back in the day. We had to restart those conversations,” Wagoner said. “It’s just finding those different sales channels and resellers, telling a different story.”

    Since the Covid-19 pandemic gripped the U.S. economy, Joule’s investors have been channeling sales opportunities from those new markets to the company, which, Wagoner said, has had to do hardly any cold sales or marketing during the pandemic.

    Last week, Joule closed an oversubscribed, second-round convertible note offering, raising $500,000. In all, Wagoner said, the company has raised $1.5 million, largely from angel investors, including Park City Angels and Keiretsu Forum, the international community of private equity angel investors, venture capitalists, and corporate and institutional investors.

    Had COVID not killed this year’s music festival season, “Joule Case would have been a much larger company than it is right now,” Wagoner said. Joule had to lay off four music industry specialists because of the pandemic. 

    Thanks to those new sales channels, he said, Joule now employs five people and is hiring to fill another two positions.

    Since last year, the company has sold more than 200,000 batteries, which are assembled in the Boise, Idaho, suburb of Garden City. A single food truck spent $20,000 on Joule batteries to replace its diesel generator, Wagoner said.

    The batteries, he said, come in various sizes and configurations and can be assembled like Lego blocks to suit a customer’s power needs. Costs typically range from $700 to $80,000. A single $700 Joule battery can power a TV for eight hours.

    The company is currently talking with electric vehicle manufacturers about using the batteries in cars and trucks. In fact, Wagoner and Livingston’s previous company, R2EV, built batteries for use in electric vehicles.

    Among the markets that have emerged from the Covid outbreak are video conference funerals, where portable power is needed to power cameras and TV monitors.

    One hospital in California is using a Joule battery to power a portable video conferencing system that can be wheeled into quarantined patients’ rooms so they can talk with their family members.

    And then, Wagoner said, there are coders and executives from Google and other Silicon Valley tech companies, who are working from home and facing an unstable California power grid.

    “We are seeing significant demand for our power,” Wagoner said. “It’s sometimes good to not know what the future is so you’re not overwhelmed by it.”

     

    About Keiretsu Forum

    Keiretsu Forum, the world’s leading angel investor network with over 1,500 investors in 38 chapters on 3 continents. Keiretsu Forum has invested more than $500 million into more than 700 companies since inception. Keiretsu Capital administers funds on behalf of its Limited Partners - the Co-Investment & Opportunities Fund creates a diversified portfolio of technology start-ups backed by top tier angel groups and pursues the high upside value potential in these dynamic investment opportunities while promoting the sharing of risk inherent in any early-stage venture.  The firm is based in Seattle and San Francisco and its principals are veteran Silicon Valley and technology investors Randy Williams, Matthew C. Le Merle, and Nathan McDonald. 

    For more information please visit www.keiretsuforum.com or  contact us.

     

    About Joule Case

    Joule Case is the only power solution that works for consumers and commercial, industrial, and special event applications.

    Know more - https://joulecase.com/

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Anishaa Nenawati posted an article
    An Interview with Brianna McDonald on how to successfully raise funding during the pandemic. see more

     

    425 business, August 10, 2020: Interview with  Brianna McDonald on how to successfully raise funding during COVID.

    Despite a worldwide pandemic, entrepreneurs and investors continue the quest to uncover emerging-market drivers and opportunities. At Keiretsu Forum, we have funded nearly all of the companies this year that have participated in our (now virtual) online investment forum, with a continuous flow of due-diligence packages completed or syndicated new deals successfully closed. 

    We strongly believe there will be a V-shaped recovery for 85 percent of the economy; already there are favorable market indicators such as a stabilized and appreciating stock market. Available capital and liquidity also remain abundant. Companies that have significant demand drivers associated with COVID-19 are raising capital fairly quickly and efficiently in large amounts. Technology also remains an area of continued interest with a high quality of deal flow.

    A silver lining is we expect to see leaner, more efficient, and more focused companies moving forward, ready to take advantage of a market recovery. If you’re considering funding or in the process now, here are seven steps early-stage companies can take to become more attractive to investors.


    1. Strengthen the balance sheet by closing outstanding commitments, and explore venture debt and lines of credit.

    Companies should exhaust every opportunity to generate additional working cash flow without taking on additional liabilities. One way is to convert lines of credit or venture debt into expanded cash flow. Likewise, companies with inventory will want to increase stock, even though there might be volatility in inventory drawdowns and/or potential supply chain challenges. To do such, close any existing sales or partnerships because they can provide additional flexibility and cash where applicable. For example, Palarum offers a product for hospitals that prevent falls and just completed key pilot studies. It recently concluded a three-year purchase letter of intent from a key customer, which is leveraged to acquire additional financing that covered the cost of the product rollout.

    2. Negotiate with vendors/landlords/others to reduce or defer costs.

    On average, our portfolio companies are negotiating reduced rates cut at nearly 50 percent. If no reduction is available, look to get two or three free months deferred to the end of the lease. You might be surprised at how easy it can be to negotiate favorable terms. Replacing a tenant is a high-cost landlord who wants to avoid for otherwise high-quality growing companies.

    3. Immediately variabilize costs/shift to equity-based compensation where it makes sense.

    A great way to reduce cash burn is to increase option pools and/or create more equity-based incentive compensation in the form of stock options available to executive team members. Less cash-out equals less cash burned! Equity-based compensation is tied to milestones and is considered a variable cost.

    4. Slow down payables, including maximizing payment schedules against terms and conditions.

    This is another case of “Ask and Ye Shall Receive.” Negotiate longer payment terms, and/or purchase upfront or in bulk. That can drive substantial price reductions and savings of as much as 50 percent.

    5. Take swift action to cut costs and reduce burn rates — earlier decisions are rarely regretted.

    Where are you focusing your marketing spend? Where are you focusing on your business development efforts? Is that spend really realistic going forward? Is engineering fully focused on where it should be? If not, cut back as much of that discretionary spending to further reduce the burn rate. Look at ways you can be a more efficient customer-focused organization versus a market-focused one.

    6. Focus on revenue generation, reorder priorities, replan the road map to emphasize the top line.

    Maximize the top line and get healthy around that line of business. Start by replanning the go-to-market road map, with a focus on the core values and core customers that maximize survival. Oftentimes companies try to do lots of different things, but in reality, there are only one or two things they do really well. Everything else is a distraction that drives excess costs. Focus on the customers who have money and will have significant demand for your product or service. Then make sure to take really good care of them!

    7. Get in line now for government support/non-dilutive funding (e.g. DoD, NIH grants), etc.

    Most companies have probably filed for PPP funding; if not, do so immediately, but there are other opportunities for government funding. Many of our life sciences and health care technology portfolio companies, such as XYZ, have applied for DoD and NIH grants administered via the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.


    Brianna McDonald is president of the Northwest region of the Keiretsu Forum angel investment community.