Venture capitalists have been busy in Seattle over the last several months, making seed investment after seed investment — and no doubt provoking happy dances and group hugs in garages and coworking spaces throughout the city. Raising a seed round of funding can be one of the most exciting moments of an entrepreneur’s career, a vote of confidence from folks who make a living backing good ideas and smart teams.
We checked in with six of those newly minted startups — working on everything from VR entertainment to cybersecurity — to take a look at how they’ll be using that first chunk of outside change.
How much: $772,000
What they’re up to: PupPod wants to educate your dog and — perhaps most importantly — alleviate their boredom while you’re out of the house. The company’s “Wobbler” toy uses lights, sounds and timing to create a puzzle for pups. Owners set the difficulty using an app, and when the dog touches the toy at the correct time, a bluetooth-connected feeder device releases a treat — and the difficulty increases. As lead investor and founder of The Company of Animals Dr. Roger Mugford explained in a press release, “Behavioral issues are often associated with boredom, but animals are sentient beings who need mental stimulation... The PupPod platform and products solve this issue by letting animals work for their food and exercise their minds.”
And the funding? “Now that our seed round has closed, we’re focused on designing and building version two of our product vision,” CEO Erick Eidus, PupPod’s CEO. “The next version of PupPod will enable new scenarios that treat dogs as participants of a connected home and allow pet parents to play with their dog remotely.”
How much: $2 million
Local investors: PSL Ventures
What they’re up to: In welcome news for the one-in-three Americans who suffer from hypertension, Sentinel Healthcare appears to be on its way into medical toolkits nationwide with a breakthrough piece of technology. The company’s blood pressure measurement device connects via bluetooth to a mobile app which enables communication between a patient and their doctor. By facilitating communication and feeding data between the two, physicians can remotely monitor their patients’ health, respond to emergencies in real time and adjust medication and treatment regimens.
And the funding? “We intend to use the funding from this seed round to scale both our customer base and our patient population,” founder and CEO Dr. Nirav Shah said. “As our patient base expands, we will also grow our remote monitoring team, which currently includes seven nurses. In addition, we will further develop our platform to ultimately extend our reach into additional disease areas, potentially including heart failure and post-op care.”
How much: $3.7 million
Local investors: Vulcan Capital
What they’re up to: Attunely’s machine learning platform helps debt collection agencies hone their strategies to recover payment from consumers. The platform assesses an agency’s data on consumer interactions and debt records to determine which customers are more likely to pay, with recommended methods to reach and communicate with them. The company scores each individual consumer across a wide variety of metrics, boosting revenue and recovery rates for its users.
And the funding? “Attunely will use the proceeds of its capital raise to hire more engineering and customer success talent,” founder and CEO Scott Ferris said, “and continue to scale the Attunely machine learning platform for the account receivables management industry.”
How much: $3.5 million
Local investors: Vulcan Capital, PSL Ventures, Keeler Investment Group, Family Angel Management Fund, Clear Fir Partners
What they’re up to: Sigma IQ’s SaaS offering uses machine learning to automate the often laborious task of account reconciliation. The company started at Pioneer Square Labs, which has been particularly active in the early months of 2019, and says it uses an artificial intelligence-enabled matching engine to save finance and accounting teams a ton of effort and heartache. In a press release, the company said it has several beta customers and is planning to launch publicly later in the year.
And the funding? In a statement, the company said it would “use the funding to expand its growing engineering team and bring to market its enterprise-scale, AI-powered account reconciliation matching engine.”
“This is an incredibly difficult technical problem across multiple engineering disciplines, “ CTO Rob McDaniel said.
How much: Yet to be determined, but up to $1 million
What they’re up to: HyperSpace builds life-sized terrains in which developers can set virtual reality experiences using a variety of techniques that allow users to feel the landscape and objects they’re seeing inside a headset. The company says developers can use their services to integrate sensations like wind, temperature change and rumbling vibrations into their experiences. The company’s first walkthrough installation is currently open to the public at the Pacific Science Center, and it has opened its seed round up to the general public through a Wefunder page, due to open later this week.
And the funding? “We’ll use this funding to building on the success of our first installation at Pacific Science Center,” CEO and Creative Director Jeff Ludwyck said. “We are utilizing the funds to continue building out our platform, create new experiences with our pilot developers and install in new locations.”
How much: $2 million
What they’re up to: Cloudentity helps separate pieces of software interact safely with one another, securing API traffic and taking care of cybersecurity and identity requirements in an effort to free up developers’ time. The technology provides businesses with an auditable “trail” that can trace each piece of software (including the odd rogue API) back to its origin. The company raised $2 million as part of a larger $5 million round, though it declined to reveal investors.
And the funding? “The funding will be used to accelerate our growth as we invest in sales and marketing catalysts,” CEO Nathanael Coffing said. “We see an emerging opportunity in API security as companies are very concerned about data abuse and customer privacy to ensure that a Cambridge Analytica-style revelation never happens to them.”