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December 10, 2019 | 4-minute read (670 words)
By Yair Segev
Seed deals aren’t what they used to be, and that may be a good thing. They’re still happening, but the valuations – and the funding amounts – are rising, with the annual number of seed rounds of $5 million or higher quadrupling between 2014 and 2018, Crunchbase noted.
During the third quarter of this year, investors put $1.92 billion into seed-stage deals, which marked the highest number in five quarters. To take the temperature of this trend, we dug down to get a sampling of a few firms that have scored seed deals this year.
Check out five companies that logged early-stage deals so far in 2019.
1. Blue Water Vaccines
This Ohio firm is working to create a universal flu vaccine, and brought in $7 million in seed funding this past July, led by CincyTech. The company is aiming to run a Phase 1 trial for the vaccines in 2020, and the hope is that the vaccination will protect people against all strains of influenza.
The drug underwent a successful pre-clinical study based on findings of researchers at the University of Oxford. “The next two years are going to be very telling once we prove the vaccine is effective and gives broad protection against influenza,” said CEO Joe Hernandez.
Texas-based Voyager raised $1.5 million in seed funding from four investors in August. The firm, which creates software to make maritime bulk shipping more efficient, planned to use the funding to expand its line of software-as-a-service products, attract more customers and boost its staffing.
“Shipping bulk commodities like crude oil, gas and petrochemicals is still a highly manual and complex process, with $360 billion in ocean freight managed globally by email, phone, fax and text in a high-volume, fast-paced environment,” said CEO Matthew Costello. “This infusion of capital will propel us forward in our mission to modernize and optimize the massive bulk shipping ecosystem with seamless, multi-party collaboration to help companies grow their sales and eliminate costly operational errors.”
In July, Brooklyn’s Umbrella brought in $5 million during its seed round, led by Thrive Capital. The platform connects older homeowners with community members who are interested in helping them with tasks like raking leaves, changing light bulbs or performing other small jobs. The community members get paid for the work, and the seniors have a simple resource for finding help when they need it.
“Our members use Umbrella to maintain their independence and stay connected to their communities — whether that means some help around the house or meeting others in the area,” said CEO Lindsay Ullman. “We are the easiest way for older adults to continue to live in the homes they love, rather than the traditional alternative of ‘senior living.'”
Bellevue, Washington’s Kurvv brought in $1 million during a September seed round, led by SEMA Translink Investment. Kurvv plugs a company’s data into an artificial intelligence model to give businesses the data science they need to thrive. The company aimed to use the funding to expand its business strategy and to create tools for its DSaaS (data-science-as-a-service) offering.
“We’re targeting companies that have data, but don’t have the knowledge or the resources to hire data scientists and can’t bring in a consultant,” said CEO Ryan Lee.
Houston’s sEATz brought in $1.3 million during a seed round in September, led by Valedor Partners. The company allows stadium guests who are attending concerts or sporting events to order food, drinks or merchandise from their seats. Consumers order their products through the app, and then a runner delivers the items to the customer.
The company aimed to use the funding to launch a new version of the app and to scale from seven to 10 venues before 2020. “We're building enterprise-level, scalable in-seat ordering, delivery, and pick-up software. We'll have all the data and validation we need this fall to really start to push that out," said CEO Aaron Knape.