Mobile hospitality platform ALICE raises $3 million

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Based in New York City, ALICE is a mobile hospitality program that has raised $3 million in seed funding. The lead investors in this round include Tishman Realty Principles and the founders of NeueHouse. 645 Ventures and the founding team at Seamless Web participated in this round of funding. More details below:

PRESS RELEASE

NEW YORK, N.Y. – February 9, 2015 – ALICE, a mobile platform for guests to engage with hotel services and staff to manage all requests, today announced that it has secured $3 million in seed funding. The financing was led by hospitality industry insiders Tishman Realty Principles and the Founders of NeueHouse. Other investors in the round include 645 Ventures – a new VC founded by Nnamdi Okike, a former principal at Insight Ventures – as well as the founding team of Seamless Web: Jason Finger, Todd Arky and Paul Appelbaum.

ALICE was created in 2013 after its founders experienced consistent frustration with the low-tech methods that hotels used to receive and handle guest requests. “We started as a mobile concierge platform for guests, but quickly realized that there is an equivalent, if not greater, need in efficiently managing the fulfillment of that request. Placing the request was easy, but managing its lifecycle was surprisingly complex. Specifically, most hotel departments work across multiple systems that are not connected; therefore, we set out to create a single platform to deliver a more streamlined solution,” said Alex Shashou, co-founder and President of ALICE.

Leveraging their combined experience in hotel management and financial technology (FinTech) at some of the world’s leading financial institutions, ALICE team members created the first mobile service-on-demand platform in the hospitality industry. The platform allows guests to discover and request hotel amenities and services from their digital devices, while increasing the property’s operational efficiencies through a robust back-end task management and analytics platform. The request begins with a guest’s mobile device and ends on the staff mobile device, giving ALICE complete domain control to ensure quality fulfillment.

The technical team is led by Dmitry Koltunov, CFA, who spent a decade on Wall Street leading the build of real-time trading and analytics systems for some of the largest alternative investment management firms in the world. “We have assembled an expert team of developers who see a lot of analogues with FinTech and are excited to apply the technical and analytical rigor of trading technology to hospitality,” said Dmitry.

Leading hotel groups including Shangri-La’s Hotel Jen, Bespoke Hotels, The Setai, The Gansevoort Group, Standard Hotels and Sixty Hotel Group currently use the ALICE platform to deliver uncompromised service to their guests. “I believe the reason that we have been able to partner with such incredible brands is that they share our vision of creating one unified system to manage all of their hotels and are actively working with us to create the hotel operating system of the future,” said Justin Effron, CEO.

“After decades of managing hotels, I’ve experienced firsthand shortcomings that the industry faces in effectively utilizing technology,” said Alex Furrer, General Manager at The Setai. “ALICE has developed a revolutionary mobile solution to unify guest management across our entire hotel. The service that they help to provide is unparalleled; they enabled us to become the first hotel in the U.S. to allow our guests to order straight from our pool and beach chairs via their mobile devices. Our experience has been so successful with ALICE that we received an Inn Key Award in recognition of guest relations.”

Funds from this financing round will be used to advance product development, expand the team and enable the company to continue to scale. Karl Finegan, one of the founding investors and Board Members of Neuehouse, and an ALICE convert, said, “I was initially concerned about technology getting in the way of the luxury experience, but when I finally used ALICE at The Setai, I realized that this was the future. We were so inspired by the potential here that we tracked the team down and convinced them to take our investment capital.”

“ALICE provides software that is capable of transforming the hospitality industry,” said Nnamdi Okike, Partner at 645 Ventures. “Beyond its easy-to-use guest-facing mobile application, ALICE’s back-end technology is a game-changer, enabling hospitality providers to streamline their operations, provide improved customer service and utilize data to make smarter business decisions. We look forward to working closely with the Company to continue its impressive growth trajectory.”

About ALICE:

ALICE (AliceApp.com) has created the first mobile service-on-demand platform for the hospitality industry that empowers hotels and their staff to drive deeper, sustainable connections with guests using mobile technology, while increasing operational efficiency through a robust back-end task management and analytics platform. In an industry that utilizes fragmented, legacy technology, ALICE provides a streamlined mobile platform that simplifies a hotel’s internal operations and unifies interactions between guests and staff across every department into a single system. ALICE is partner-friendly and can integrate into existing hotel systems and workflows of various departments, such as housekeeping, concierge and F&B. It can also run as a standalone solution. ALICE has gained serious traction in the industry working many of the world’s leading hotel brands, including Shangri-La’s newly branded, Hotel Jen; Bespoke Hotels; Standard Hotels; The Gansevoort Group; The Setai Miami Beach; and Sixty Hotel Group. For more information, visit AliceApp.com.

Quantum Biosystems raises 2.4 billion yen in Series B

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Quantum Biosystems is a company that is developing a genome sequencer that has raised 2.4 billion yen ($20.5 million). This round of funding was provided by Innovation Network Corporation of Japan, Mitsubishi UFJ Capital, JAFCO, UTEC, and Mizuho Capital. Quantum will be setting up a research team in Silicon Valley.

Fetch Robotics raises $3 million in Series A funding

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Fetch Robotics is a company that builds robots for the industrial and logistics markets. Fetch Robotics has raised $3 million in Series A funding from O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures and Shasta Ventures. Fetch Robotics also recently named Melonee Wise as their CEO. Wise used to be CEO and co-founder of Unbounded Robotics. More details below:

PRESS RELEASE

SAN JOSE, Calif. — February 9, 2015 — Fetch Robotics today announced that it has raised $3 million in Series A financing from O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures (OATV) and Shasta Ventures. Fetch Robotics will use the funding to bring their inaugural robots to market. The robots will provide solutions for the logistics and light industrial markets, as well as for other human-robot collaboration opportunities.

Melonee Wise has been named CEO of the company. Prior to joining Fetch Robotics, Melonee was CEO and co-founder of Unbounded Robotics. Before that, Melonee spent approximately six years at the pioneering personal robotics company Willow Garage. All told, Melonee has nearly 15 years working in both entrepreneurial and engineering roles in the robotics industry, on both robotic hardware and software.

The first robots from Fetch Robotics will be introduced in Q2 of this year. To be notified when the robots are available, please email sales@fetchrobotics.com.

“It’s exciting to have the opportunity for Shasta to invest in Fetch, as I’ve been passionate about robotics for many years. The team, product, market opportunity, and timing are all in alignment for Fetch to be successful.”

Rob Coneybeer, Managing Director at Shasta Ventures

“Fetch is comprised of a top-notch team focused on a substantial problem. They have both the entrepreneurial and technical know-how in order to solve some pressing problems in the world of logistics and light industry.”

Bryce Roberts, Managing Director at O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures

“Businesses and economic forces are charging ahead to make the world all on-demand all the time. The implications to the logistics industry given this trend are substantial and my team and I look forward to helping businesses address those challenges.”

Melonee Wise, CEO of Fetch Robotics

Fetch Robotics is comprised of an experienced team of roboticists, spanning hardware, software, and design. The forthcoming robots will utilize and build upon ROS, the open source robot operating system.

About Fetch Robotics

Fetch Robotics is building robots for the logistics industry. The company was founded in 2014 and is headquartered in San Jose, CA. For more information, please visit www.fetchrobotics.com or follow the company on Twitter @FetchRobotics.

OrderUp names former Domino’s CIO Chris McGlothlin as COO

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On-demand food delivery marketplace company OrderUp has named former Domino’s chief information officer Chris McGlothlin as their chief operating officer. McGlothlin will be overseeing OrderUp’s online ordering and on-demand delivery infrastructure. More details below:

OrderUp, the most complete on-demand food delivery marketplace for hometowns nationwide, today announced the hiring of Chris McGlothlin as Chief Operating Officer. McGlothlin will oversee OrderUp’s operations. A key area of focus for McGlothlin is scaling OrderUp’s online ordering and on-demand delivery infrastructure, the company’s fastest-growing segment, which now accounts for over 30,000 weekly transactions and has grown 50 percent month-over-month.

McGlothin’s previous roles include Chief Information Officer and Executive Vice President of Domino’s Pizza and Vice President of Yum Brands, Inc. While at Domino’s, McGlothlin led strategic and tactical leadership of technology and business intelligence, fueling the growth of Domino’s digital channels to $1 billion in sales and leading the development of key advancements such as Domino’s mobile ordering and Domino’s Pizza Tracker™.

“Chris’ experience building Domino’s e-Commerce platform combined with his delivery operations experience, including creating systems and processes to support best-in-class delivery, will accelerate OrderUp’s rapid growth nationwide,” said Chris Jeffery, CEO and co-founder of OrderUp. “His extensive operational and restaurant knowledge in the food delivery space will help us take advantage of our biggest growth opportunities.”

“There is massive potential in the delivery market, and OrderUp’s platform and team provide a prime opportunity for operational excellence,” said McGlothlin. “I am very excited to join OrderUp to help propel the company through this tremendous point in its market growth.”

About OrderUp:

OrderUp is the most complete on-demand food delivery marketplace for local markets outside of the top metros. With feet on the street in markets nationwide, OrderUp provides easy access to great food from locals’ favorite restaurants. Headquartered in Baltimore, MD, OrderUp has a dual-distribution model, with some locations owned and operated by the company, and others franchised. Visit https://orderup.com/ or download the OrderUp app for iOS and Android.

Aventura raises $14 million in Series C funding

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Based in Denver, Colorado, Aventura is a healthcare workflow optimization software company that has raised $14 million in Series C funding. Safeguard Scientifics and Merck Global Health Innovation Fund led this round of funding with participation from previous investors like Excel Venture Management, HLM Venture Partners, and Memorial Care Innovation Fund. Aventura will be using the funding to expand sales and marketing, business development, product development, and customer support. More details below:

PRESS RELEASE

Denver, CO, February 9, 2015 ­– Aventura, a leader in healthcare workflow optimization software solutions, today announced that it raised a $14 million Series C financing in an oversubscribed round co-led by Safeguard Scientifics (NYSE: SFE) and Merck Global Health Innovation Fund (Merck GHI). Existing investors Excel Venture Management, HLM Venture Partners, and Memorial Care Innovation Fund also participated in the round. Aventura will use proceeds from the funding to expand sales and marketing, business development, and customer support, as well as accelerate product development.

Hospitals have invested heavily in electronic health records (“EHR”), driven largely by $36 billion in federal incentives. But, the clinical and economic benefits derived from EHRs are predicated on clinicians actually using the systems. Despite significant investments in health information systems, efficiency, data security, and workflow optimization, challenges around day-to-day access to patient data persist. The hunting-and-pecking amongst various applications in order to compile a complete view of the patient’s chart requires further investment to leverage the EMR spend. U.S.-based hospitals are estimated to spend $1.3 billion to optimize workflow for patient data access, and fewer than half of U.S. hospitals have implemented an optimization solution.

Through a patented process it calls awareness computing, Aventura’s workflow optimization platform delivers awareness of a user’s identity and role, their location within a facility, what device they are working on, and what patient they are treating. Traditionally, the approach to address workflow obstacles has involved utilizing identity and access management technologies such as Single Sign-On (SSO) for secure and fast access to applications. Whereas SSO technology authorizes a user to access a specific application, the beauty of awareness computing is that it builds upon SSO and gets the user to the exact data and functionality that they want.

“Awareness computing is the next generation in workflow optimization as it combines the security and speed benefits of SSO with deep intelligence to deliver clinical and business awareness to the point of care,” said John Gobron, CEO of Aventura. “This round of funding along with the addition of Safeguard and Merck as strategic investors, will allow us to accelerate the rate at which we can apply innovation to address the clinical, business, and regulatory needs of healthcare providers.”

“With innovative technology and a strong customer-centric leadership team, Aventura is well-positioned for rapid growth in an attractive market with favorable business and regulatory drivers for workflow optimization,” said Managing Director, Healthcare at Safeguard, Al Wiegman, who will be joining Aventura’s board of directors. “Providers are facing increased pressure to improve efficiency and quality of care. Aventura’s product portfolio is uniquely positioned to enable providers to better leverage EMR and patient data to accomplish this. We are excited to partner again with Merck GHIF, as well as existing syndicate partners, to support Aventura to improve the healthcare experience for providers and patients alike.”

About Aventura
Aventura is the leading provider of awareness computing for the healthcare industry. For decades, clinicians have had to adapt their workflow to the limitations of computers; with Aventura, computers can now adapt to how clinicians work. Through its patented technology, Aventura delivers awareness of a user’s identity and role, their location within a facility, what device they are working on, and what patient they are treating. Based on this awareness, Aventura immediately delivers a virtual desktop and dynamically provisions the applications and exact screens a user needs to care for that particular patient, eliminating wasteful clicks and keystrokes. As a result, Aventura helps customers achieve their important initiatives in the areas of EHR adoption and Meaningful Use requirements, PHI security, mobility, and cost containment. Aventura is headquartered in Denver with offices in Marlborough, MA. Visit www.aventurahq.com; follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook; or call 888-484-4643 to learn more.

About Safeguard Scientifics
Safeguard Scientifics, Inc. (NYSE:SFE) has a distinguished track record of fostering innovation and building market leaders. For six decades, Safeguard has been providing growth capital and operational support to entrepreneurs across an evolving spectrum of industries. Today, Safeguard is focused specifically on two sectors—healthcare and technology. Recent successful exits include Alverix (acquired by Becton, Dickinson for $40 million); Crescendo Bioscience (acquired by Myriad Genetics for $270 million); NuPathe (acquired by Teva Pharmaceutical Industries for $144 million); and ThingWorx (acquired by PTC for initial proceeds of $112 million). For more information, please visit www.safeguard.com or Follow Us on Twitter @safeguard.

About Merck Global Health Innovation Fund, LLC
Merck Global Health Innovation Fund, LLC (GHIF) invests in emerging companies that deliver breakthrough health care solutions, which advance Merck’s mission to discover, develop and provide innovative products and services that save and improve lives. For more information, visit www.merck.com/ghi.

UrbanStems raises $1.5 million

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UrbanStems is a startup that delivers hand-crafted bouquets on demand in Manhattan and Washington D.C. UrbanStems has raised $1.5 million in seed funding from investors like Middleland Capital, Sagamore Ventures, NextGen Angels and Great Oaks Venture Capital. More details below:

PRESS RELEASE

Washington, DC (PRWEB) February 09, 2015

UrbanStems, the start-up delivering hand-crafted bouquets on demand in Manhattan and Washington, D.C. and looking to disrupt the oft-maligned online floral industry, announced today that it has completed a $1.5 million round of seed funding, including investments from Middleland Capital, Sagamore Ventures, NextGen Angels and Great Oaks Venture Capital.

Since its launch in Washington, D.C. in February 2014, UrbanStems has elevated the process of sending same day flowers online and expanded to New York City in December 2014. Users order online in a few clicks – and starting this week through an iOS app – from a selection of exclusive seasonal bouquets, priced from $35 with free delivery and no fees. The long-lasting bouquets are delivered by bike couriers within an hour or at any specified time.

UrbanStems distinguishes itself from established players and other startups in the floral delivery space through its innovative vertically-integrated supply chain originating from eco-certified farms in South America, enabling it to provide an unparalleled customer experience. Flowers are cut off the stem and arrive in company owned delivery hubs in less than 48 hours, allowing for consistent quality and unparalleled freshness, in addition to cutting out some of the most significant costs associated with traditional flower delivery.

“Ordering flowers hasn’t really changed in the last couple of decades besides a crude addition of phone and web to the traditional neighborhood florist”, said Middleland Capital’s Alex Pessala, who will be joining UrbanStems’ board. “This industry is in dire need of an ecommerce brand that can scale quickly and efficiently, while providing a much needed improvement to customer experience.”

The company, which has nine full-time employees, was founded by former college roommates Ajay Kori and Jeff Sheely after both were fed up with underwhelming product quality and frustrating customer service when trying to send flowers via traditional online flower options.

“The urban consumer market is experiencing a tremendous amount of disruption. Higher quality for a lower price, and on-demand service is becoming the standard, not the exception,” said Sagamore Ventures Managing Partner, Demian Costa. “UrbanStems was particularly interesting for us, given our roots in the flower delivery business.” Sagamore Ventures is the investment arm of Under Armour Founder and CEO, Kevin Plank. As a University of Maryland undergraduate, Plank ran a flower delivery business on Valentine’s Day each year that earned him $17,000 – which eventually became the seed money for Baltimore-based Under Armour.

“As proud members of the Washington-Baltimore tech community, we look forward to doing our part to help our region continue to grow into a nationally-recognized hub for innovation,” said co-founder Ajay Kori.

With this funding, UrbanStems will continue its expansion into additional cities in 2015 and invest in marketing and key new hires. In the year since UrbanStems launched, it has enjoyed exceptional growth, increasing its sales by double digits month over month.

“We are excited by the opportunity to continue spreading happiness throughout DC and New York with our premium-yet-affordable floral arrangements, delivered at a moment’s notice,” said co-founder Jeff Sheely.

About UrbanStems

UrbanStems is a DC-based technology company that believes sending flowers should be easy and affordable. They offer long-lasting bouquets sourced from eco-friendly farms in South America, delivered within an hour from their website or forthcoming iOS app. Delivery is confirmed with a picture of each bouquet in front of the recipient’s building, and bouquets start at just $35, with free delivery and no fees – less than half the cost of a typical floral delivery. Since launching less than a year ago in Washington, DC, UrbanStems has seen explosive growth, increasing its sales by double digits month over month.

About Middleland Capital

Middleland Capital is a global private investment firm focused on early-stage technology opportunities. Leveraging a unique breadth of geographic and industry experience, the firm seeks long-term partnerships with exceptional management teams to commercialize innovative technologies, accelerate growth and build long-term value around the world.

\About NextGen Angels

Founded in Washington, D.C. NextGen Angels is a community of young and influential angels who invest in exceptional entrepreneurs in D.C. and in New York City. The group works together on behalf of their portfolio companies to help them build the next great companies of the future.

Start Garden triples cumulative investment limit to $1.5 million

Start Garden is a Grand Rapids, Michigan based investment company that has announced they are tripling their investment limit from $500,000 to $1.5 million. This means that Start Garden will now invest up to $1.5 million to an individual startup. Start Garden also announced that they have hired veteran venture capitalist Mike DeVries. More details in the press release below:

START GARDEN EXPANDS VENTURE CAPITAL FUND,

ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS TO THE START GARDEN SPACE

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., February 9, 2015—In fewer than three years, Start Garden, the unconventional, early-stage, venture capital fund, has transformed Michigan’s startup ecosystem. Today the organization announced it has increased the amount of its cumulative investment limit from $500,000 to $1.5 million. It has also opened the application process for startups to work in its new location at 40 Pearl St. in downtown Grand Rapids, nicknamed Start Garden Space.

Since its launch in 2012, Start Garden has provided financial capital and more to entrepreneurs in the region. During its first years, the organization focused its efforts on seeding hundreds of ideas that could become potential businesses. Having developed a portfolio of promising startups, Start Garden’s next phase will raise the maximum investment it can make in a single startup from $500,000 to $1,500,000, further cultivating the portfolio and playing a larger role in Midwest early stage deals.

“Start Garden needed to establish a volume of ideas, which we have done, but it’s now important for us to raise the amount of our cumulative investment, so we can play a bigger role in deals happening in Michigan and the Midwest region,” said Rick DeVos, CEO of Start Garden. “At the point a company has proven its viability and is ready to expand, it needs a significant capital injection from multiple investors, and we are now positioned to lead and manage those types of series-A or pre- series-A investment rounds.”

Michigan has historically been a difficult place to raise a large, early stage investment round. To help guide and develop Phase II portfolio companies, Start Garden has hired Mike DeVries, a veteran venture capitalist from EDF Ventures out of Ann Arbor. DeVries will work with the existing portfolio and investment team to build out a portfolio of companies into which more than $500,000 is invested.

Start Garden will continue to find great entrepreneurs and great companies, and not only connect them with financial capital, but intellectual and social capital for entrepreneurs in the region. The organization’s move to 40 Pearl is not just a relocation, but a change in how it helps Michigan’s startup ecosystem mature.

“In 2012, we set out to make a place where people in the region could take their ideas. With the Start Garden Space, we’re making a place where entrepreneurs take their companies,” added Paul Moore, director of marketing and communications at Start Garden. “It’s modeled as a neighborhood where entrepreneurs that know they’ll need to fundraise can bump into new investors, trusted consultants and, of course, other entrepreneurs.”

The Start Garden Space will be home to several startup companies, venture capital funds and corporate partners seeking to co-work and participate directly in the ecosystem. Any company, whether or not they are part of Start Garden’s portfolio are invited to apply for membership in the new space. Applications are available at startgarden.com.

Additional detail about Start Garden Phase II and the Start Garden Space can be found at startgarden.com.

About Start Garden

Start Garden is an unconventional venture capital fund that invests in over a hundred ideas a year in small increments. The program brings financial, intellectual and social capital to ideas at the earliest stage by connecting them to the resources of an entire region.  Located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, it is founded by Rick DeVos who’s past projects included ArtPrize, 5×5 Night, Momentum and Spout.com.

ORIG3N raises $3.1 million in funding

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Based in Boston, ORIG3N is a regenerative medicine and pluripotent stem cell storage provider that has raised $3.1 million in funding. This round of funding was provided by Hatteras Venture Partners, Harris & Harris Group, KTB and Mountain Group Capital. ORIG3N will be using the funding to expand their Life Capsule product, which gives everyone the opportunity to contribute to the advancement of medical research of rare genetic inherited diseases and neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, MS and ALS.