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November 2, 2020

Underrepresented Founders – October 2020

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 active Deals to Watch, Neutral Deals, and Founder Profiles from October 2020 that feature traditionally underrepresented founders. Note: There were no Top Deals in October.


Deals to Watch

Yerbae

Yerbaé is capitalizing on the intersection of healthy soft drinks and energy drinks. Yerbaé offers zero-sugar, zero-calorie caffeinated beverages powered by yerba mate, an herbal tea from South America. Cans of Yerbaé are available in stores nationwide thanks to the company’s partnerships with Walmart, WinCo, Albertsons, Safeway, and more. More than 10 million cans of Yerbaé have been sold over the last three years through retail partnerships and DTC sales. Yerbaé has demonstrated solid operational efficiency so far and looks well-positioned for an eventual acquisition. 

18.21 Drinks

18.21 Drinks is an umbrella beverage brand that includes bitters and cocktail ingredients, sparkling cocktail mixers, spiked sparkling water beverages, and an upcoming cannabis-infused sparkling line. 18.21 is intentionally tackling several different trends within the consumer beverage space, including high-end cocktail mixers for sophisticated bar drinks, hard seltzers similar to Truly and White Claw, and CBD-infused drinks. The company has generated over $5.5 million in revenue to date, and 18.21 is profitable in addition to its impressive revenue figures. In 2019, the company booked just over $1 million in revenue, and made $44,108 in net income. The previous year was a profitable year as well, with $1.5 million in revenue and over $28,000 in net income.

COI Energy

COI Energy operates as a hardware-and-software provider. Operationally, it targets the detection, elimination, and monetization of energy waste. The company does this by connecting its technology, its system, to a user’s meter and other energy-related assets. It then collects data from the system that enables real-time insight into consumption. COI’s system helps users to plan their consumption and energy production based on real-time and historical data — thus lowering waste and costs. COI Energy utilizes machine learning and AI protocols to help with the analysis of the data their system collects. 


Neutral Deals

Quirkchat

QuirkChat is a mobile app connecting geeks, hobbyists, gamers, and cosplayers — helping those audiences find a tight-knit community centered on anime, comics, and other niche interests. While QuirkChat was founded in line with the standard principles of niche social networks (more targeted content, closer connections, etc.), the app was also founded to provide a safer and more positive space for geeks to interact. Geeks can record “quips” (15-second videos offering a take on a relevant subject), join “podchats” (group livestreams to chat with new and existing friends), and interact with “squads” (groups of users interested in particular subjects or following particular creators). 

Blended Sense

Blended Sense has created a SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) platform that matches local creative content experts with small and medium sized businesses that need their services. Examples of creative content experts would include photographers, graphic designers, artists, and both audio and video professionals. This managed marketplace takes into consideration the needs of the business in question. It also considers the services and experience of the content providers. It then matches the two parties together on an as-needed basis. Blended Sense’s Creative Intelligence technology also handles the accounting, project management, and customer service for its professional users.


Founder Profiles

Renewal Mill

This Deal to Watch wants to address food waste and climate change by working with food producers and creating consumer products with food matter the producers don’t use. We spoke to founders Claire Schlemme and Caroline Cotto to learn more about upcycled foods.

Vymedic

Under the leadership of Cynthia Winning, the team at Vymedic is aiming to disrupt the OTC wellness space with a new immune support tablet. This timely solution could majorly disrupt the OTC treatments market. We sat down with Cynthia to discuss what inspired her to build the company, her vision for the future of the space, and more. Vymedic is currently raising funds via the Netcapital portal.

ChipBrain

Through the use of emotionally intelligent AI, ChipBrain wants to provide a tool that allows users to tap into the emotional subtext of a virtual conversation. We spoke to co-founders Lisa Vo and Curtis Northcutt to learn more about empathy AI and their vision for ChipBrain. ChipBrain is currently raising funds on the NetCapital funding portal.

18.21 Drinks

18.21 Drinks is a startup that’s poised to tap into many emerging consumer trends in the alcoholic beverages space. At the center of these converging trends is a new player: cannabis-infused beverages. The CBD-enhanced drink market is growing rapidly, with a projected CAGR of 17.8%. We recently talked with co-founder Missy Koefod about what inspired her to start the company and where the beverage industry is headed.

Additionally, according to Missy, “(18.21 is) committed to diversity in hiring. Additionally, (they) are committed to supporting (the) community, and 1% of proceeds from the sale of each can goes to charities selected by (their) communities.”

COI Energy

COI Energy wants to address energy waste by detecting, eliminating, and monetizing it for other companies. This Deal to Watch startup uses AI and machine learning to provide energy usage analytics to its clients — thereby enabling them to better plan their energy consumption. We spoke to founder and CEO SaLisa Berrien about the challenge of climate change and how her company is helping create a better future. 

Melanence

Professional development and the pursuit of new skills are often critical activities for those looking to advance their careers. Yet it can be difficult for people of color to find support and safe spaces for their own development. Juan Young wants to change that with a new professional development platform. We talked to Juan about his own struggles with development and networking as well as his vision for the future of this space.

In the profile, Juan explains, “I believe that investing in Black founders is a great business decision. Seeing value where others overlook it is a sign of a great investor.”

Hudson Space Systems

Hudson Space Systems is pioneering microgravity research as a service. The team of five co-founders has already filed a patent for the project and developed their prototype at Stevens Institute of Technology. We got on a call with Nathan, one of the founders, to learn more about services the company will offer, how they will monetize, and more.


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About: Olivia Strobl

Olivia comes to KingsCrowd with a background in venture capital and technology. She spent time at Glasswing Ventures, an AI-focused venture fund in Boston, before joining the KingsCrowd team. There she helped develop machine learning algorithms for the opportunity qualification of preseed and seed-stage startup companies. Prior to her time at Glasswing, Olivia worked in a lab studying the neural correlates of attention. She holds a degree in Neuroscience from Wellesley College.

View Olivia Strobl's articles

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