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 September 2020 that feature traditionally underrepresented founders. Note: There were no Top Deals in September.
Deals to Watch
Renewal Mill is bridging the gap between food manufacturers that produce byproducts and both food retailers and wholesale customers, using what the team refers to as a “co-location model.” Renewal Mill produces okara flour from the pulp leftover from soymilk processing and has plans to do the same with oat flour upcycled from the oat milk production process. The CPG product line also includes brownie mix and cookies that are both vegan and gluten-free and serve as great vehicles to introduce curious consumers to upcycled ingredients.
ThisWay Global is an artificially-intelligent hiring program matching job candidates with job openings without bias: candidates are matched to positions based on their work experience and skills alone, not their name, image, school, previous companies, or other information that spurs conscious and unconscious biases. After uploading resumes into ThisWay, whether by integration or by manual upload, recruiters click a few buttons and watch as resumes are sorted into a match score for each role (Excellent, Good, etc.), without bias. Therefore, ThisWay saves recruiters hours of manual resume screening time, and does so without prejudice against minority candidates or unconventional backgrounds.
Smart Soda is a soft drink company producing vitamin-infused, alkaline-based sodas and carbonated beverages for both the wholesale and retail markets. The company’s core is its wide range of better-for-you soft drinks. Smart Soda offers 32 beverage flavors, ranging from unsweetened sparkling waters in flavors like Mixed Berry and Watermelon Lime, to specialty sodas (Apple Cinnamon, White Grape, etc.), classic sodas like cola and root beer, and alkaline/mineralized waters. All of these beverages are vitamin-infused, vegan, kosher, and can be infused with CBD.
Pristeem produces compact dry cleaning units for apartment buildings, offices, hotels, and other shared spaces. Residents, workers, or visitors can pay around $1 per garment to dry-clean their clothes in about ten minutes from the comfort of their lobby or other community area. Pristeem’s method of cleaning does not use PERC, the environmentally-harmful chemical found in many dry cleaning shops.
Capsul is dedicated to creating quality customized jewelry at a reasonable cost for its customers. On the eco-side of the equation, the business uses mostly sterling silver, brass, and gold to craft its products. Capsul offers customizable rings, bracelets, and more through computer vision and 3D printing technologies. Perhaps the most intriguing of its customizable jewelry options is the Soundwave line of products. On a necklace, ring, or other product, customers can have engraved the output of a sound file. Consumers can scan a Soundwave engraving with the Capsul app to have the audio played back for listeners.
Boaz Bike created an e-scooter with a strong unibody aluminum framed unit. Each one is fitted with a more comfortable seat than the thin, hard ones e-bikes commonly have. The seat helps to create a lower center of gravity compared to standing, making them safer than other e-scooters. The tires are also extra-thick, which is meant to increase stability during transport. Across three cities, the company has seen its users take more than 20 thousand trips. Not a single one has resulted in a reported accident.
Cherry Street Pharmacy is a brick-and-mortar pharmacy in Tulare, CA that provides prescription medications to patients in the medically-under-resourced Central Valley region of California. Cherry Street differentiates itself from traditional boutique pharmacies by offering additional products — over-the-counter medications as well as pet drugs. It also provides services like personalized health programs to patients, with some online integration to provide convenient support. The Cherry Street mobile app allows patients to check the status of prescriptions, browse health content, and communicate directly with pharmacists. Cherry Street also offers free delivery to patients in the local area, eliminating the need for in-store visits entirely.
SurelyWell is a sanitization products company offering hand sanitizers, sanitary wipes, and masks to businesses, government entities, and consumers. The company partnered with 7Eleven, MGM, the US Postal Service, and other large organizations to provide sanitary products to their employees. SurelyWell believes that its competitive advantage is in unit economics. By reducing corporate overhead and aggressively pursuing cost-cutting manufacturing contracts, the company has steadily decreased the cost of each hand sanitizer bottle produced over the past four months. It has also maintained healthy margins on goods sold. The company manufactures the majority — if not all — of its products in US-based, FDA-approved manufacturing facilities.
Eli Electric Vehicles redesigned the car in an effort to address how the majority of drivers actually use their vehicles. The end result: the Eli ZERO. The Eli ZERO is a small electric vehicle (EV) meant for urban drivers. The small car was designed for drivers who navigate busy, congested roadways on short trips. The Eli ZERO takes about five hours to charge from any accessible outlet and gets about 50 miles per charge. The Eli ZERO is around half the size of most average cars and it’s 30% smaller than the Smart Fortwo — a leading microcar. Eli Electric Vehicles plans to begin selling the Eli ZERO in the US and Europe next year.
Manna is an all-in-one cooking app designed to help users discover recipes, cook them, and share them with their friends. Manna’s goal is to combine several sets of cooking apps (recipe apps, kitchen tools, and cooking communities) into a one-stop-shop for everything home cooking. Manna users can import recipes from web URLs, converting them into streamlined recipes (without the fluff) that are saved in their Manna cookbook. After choosing a recipe, users can use Manna to scale up or down a recipe, take notes on preparation, or make any other edits. When the meal is finished, it’s time to share. Manna has its own social media feed to share culinary creations with friends and family.
ThisWay Global has created a solution for workplace bias in the hiring process. The company created a platform that enables applicants to be matched to positions based purely on their previous experience and skills — helping eliminate biases based on factors like name, education, and prior employers. The platform also greatly reduces the time recruiters and hiring managers must spend manually sorting through resumes. We interviewed ThisWay Global founder Angela Hood who told us why crowdfunding was a natural match for the company.
Bloomi is a comprehensive, one-stop-shop for all things sexual health. From period products to pregnancy-safe items, Bloomi makes shopping for womxn products easier than ever. We sat down with founder Rebecca Alvarez-Story, a UC Berkeley-educated Sexologist and entrepreneur, to talk about what inspired her on this journey of creating a more inclusive and empowering marketplace, what brought her to equity crowdfunding, and more.
Grapevine is offering a solution for easy group-philanthropy through its online community management platform for giving circles. The platform enables groups to create circles, add members, make donations, and more. We spoke with co-founder and CEO Emily Rasmussen about the strength of philanthropy and the fast growth Grapevine has already seen.
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.