At KingsCrowd, we want to be part of the democratization of startup investing. We also want to do what we can to uplift underrepresented founders. To those goals, we have put together all the KingsCrowd Top Deals, Deals to Watch, Neutral Deals and Founder Profiles from January 2021 that feature traditionally underrepresented founders.
Optelos is a SaaS solution that uses data management, artificial intelligence, and visualization for industrial asset inspection. The platform transforms unstructured images and metadata into an information model that functions on reality modeling and automation and is a Commercial Partner of Microsoft One and is engaged in collaborative projects with Accenture. David Tran and David Collmann founded Optelos in 2016.
Deals to Watch
CLICS has developed an app-powered digital system for mixing hair colors in salons. The CLICS system is used by stylists and salon owners to source hair color, automate color formulation, eliminate wastage, and record and report service details for quality control management. Leilani Macedo and Charles Brown founded CLICS in 2016.
Akua is a meat-alt company that uses technology to make nutrient-dense, sustainable, and regenerative food. The products of Akua are rich in protein and made from ocean-farmed kelp. Courtney Boyd Myers founded in 2016 and has raised over $750,000 since its inception. Akua products, including the Kelp Jerky, are already available in over 40 stores across the US.
Blendid provides robotic food automation solutions powered by artificial intelligence. Blended’s flagship product is a robotic kiosk that makes healthy smoothies on demand and based on the taste and preferences of customers. Vipin Jain, Venki Ayalur, and Vijay Dodd founded Blendid in 2015 and have raised over $13 million in previous rounds of financing. Blendid already has four kiosks deployed in the San Francisco area and has signed an agreement with Walmart to deploy a kiosk at its Fremont, California location.
Black Sands Entertainment is one of the most popular independent black content developers in the country. The company was founded by Manuel Godoy in 2016. Black Sands Entertainment has sold over 60,000 units and has over 5 million impressions a month on social media. The company creates comics and media content based on the black population and is endorsed by Michelle Obama, ReedPOP, and the Schomburg Center.
Yoga Ed. offers online training, resources, and curriculums in yoga and mindfulness to cultivate physical, mental, emotional, and social health. The platform empowers teachers, parents, and social workers to share these skills with children and teens. Brynne Calada and Diana Hahn founded Yoga Ed. in October 2020. Yoga Ed. reported a 100% growth in revenue from 2019 to 2020, with projected revenues of $2 million for 2021.
Little West makes farm-to-bottle cold-pressed juice that is pressed and bottled in 48 hours. The juices are made from healthy and locally-sourced ingredients that promote taste and nutrition. Cassandra and Andrew Walker founded Little West in June 1991. Little West juices are sold in Whole Foods and over 400 other stores and the revenue is expected to reach over $2.5 million by 2020. Little West is usings funds raised in this round to scale to more communities, roll out more products of the new CBD line, and grow the sales channels by focusing on supermarkets and chain stores.
In a media landscape dominated by speculative fiction franchises, PopCultivator Comics plans to make its mark on the world of modern storytelling. Staffed by former associates and partners of comic giants like Marvel, DC, and Hasbro, PopCultivator plans to independently create new stories that can emerge into a market that is hungry for them. The team is composed of industry veterans that are focused on developing new digital and print comic characters that can be franchised and turned into other forms of media — generating revenue from multiple verticals, such as merchandising and games.
ShiftPosts aims to address the challenges of gig employment in the healthcare market. It employs an end-to-end workforce management platform that enables its customers — largely pharmaceuticals based in Canada — to schedule, fill gaps, and seek out talent in the gig economy. The software bypasses traditional staffing agencies, which take significant cuts of workers’ wages and result in poorer outcomes for pharmacies and pharmacists alike. Beginning with an entry into the Canadian pharmaceutical market, ShiftPosts plans to perfect its system before breaking into the more lucrative U.S. healthcare market.
ModVans is a van renovation company transforming standard work vans into mini-RVs for families and adventurers. ModVans vehicles provide seating for 5-to-7 family members and are small enough to be used for day-to-day driving. They also have features made for camping like small stoves, storage space, and beds. ModVans’ founders and husband-and-wife team PJ and Laurie Tezza created the first ModVan to meet their own family transport and camping needs.
Perfitly, LLC is attempting to solve the problem of online shoppers being unable to try on clothes before they purchase them. Perfitly’s end-to-end solution enables potential customers to see precisely how their desired garment would look on them. Upon selecting a garment, the consumer enters their measurements (the application remembers return customers and has their measurements pre-loaded) and sees a representation of how the garment looks on a digital mannequin. In test deployments, use of the Perfitly program has led to a 64% reduction in garment returns, with an 80% increase in garment conversion (changing the fit).
Vyrill is a Software-as-a-Service company focused on helping enterprise-level customers understand what people are saying about their brands in almost real time. Vyrill’s system goes through video content in order to analyze the text, audio, and images in it. This is made possible by a combination of AI and machine learning, as well as through computer vision and other techniques. By taking a single video, it can deconstruct it in a sense. This allows the company to look at the products and brands used in it, scan for keywords and topics.
I Got It wants to work directly with the major sports teams to create a more intimate and direct experience. Through its mobile app, I Got It allows users to buy certified game-used and even signed memorabilia from events. All purchases are done via auction, which can even take place at the same time as the live event that the object will come from. The objective is, in part, to create more engagement between fans and the teams/athletes they love. I Got It is currently partnered with the New Orleans Pelicans and the New Orleans Saints.
Dope Dog is a CBD brand helping dogs manage pain and anxiety. The company sells several products ranging from treats to oils and shampoo, all intended to “make dogs happy.” All products use simple, natural ingredients like flour, oats, and peanut butter, and the CBD isolate contained in each treat or drop of oil is designed for pets to enjoy. Dope Dog’s products are available both in retail stores and directly from the company’s online store.
Scooterson is an eScooter company that wants to bring intelligent micromobility vehicles to consumers. To activate the eScooter, a user need only connect their smartphone to the device’s dashboard. A first push-off with a user’s foot turns the eScooter into lower gear, while a second one will push it into a higher gear. Through the company’s mobile app, users can be alerted when the battery is low, when the device’s anti-theft alarm is activated, and more. Its AI abilities also analyze a user’s riding habits so that it can suggest ways to optimize their experience.
Deep End Fitness is bringing underwater sports and fitness training to the market along with a gladiator sport, the Underwater Torpedo League (UTL). The company is headed by two former US Marines who utilize their background and training as Marines in their venture. Deep End Fitness’ premise of underwater training is quite unique, and the company is also attacking the space in a smart way by renting out underutilized commercial and residential pools for their classes.
CLICS is a digital salon color mixing system designed to dispense the precise amount of hair dye needed for each salon client, reducing waste and maximizing profits for salon owners. We spoke to CLICS co-founder and CEO Charles Brown about the company’s flexible business model and how they help reduce salon waste. He told us about how co-founder Leilani Macedo was inspired to create the CLICS technology when she saw the waste and inefficiency of hair dye firsthand as a salon owner.
Lil Bucks uses sprouted buckwheat to make breakfast and snack foods that are healthier and more sustainable than many current products. We sat down with founder Emily Griffiths to learn more about how she discovered sprouted buckwheat and her philosophy on the future of food. She told us about how living in Australia inspired her to view what she ate in a new light and her desire to bring that experience back to America.
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About: Aryelle Young
Aryelle Young is a published writer and editor with experience across industries. She has worked with an independent publishing company and as a proposal writer for a government contractor. Her original work has also been published in various journals and one short story collection. At KingsCrowd, she strives to provide insightful and actionable content for all readers. Aryelle graduated with a Creative Writing degree from George Mason University.