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Wednesday, Jun 19, 2024

McClure-Backed Incubator NumberOne AI Adds Partner

Business Incubator Lands Another ShiftLeft Exec

NumberOne AI Inc., a Newport Beach AI-focused business incubator which came out of stealth mode last year, appointed Chris Hatter as operating partner last November.

Hatter counts over 10 years of experience working in data and technology. In his new role, he will advise NumberOne AI’s portfolio companies, which use AI and machine learning, on strategy development, operations, fundraising and growth.

“That was super appealing to me … and the primary reason why I joined the company,” Hatter told the Business Journal. He will also work to identify new investment opportunities for the incubator.

Hatter “brings a unique depth and breadth of experience in technology and security from one of the world’s preeminent data companies,” NumberOne AI CEO Stuart McClure said in a statement. “His technical acumen and operator experience will be instrumental in helping NumberOne AI launch innovative, new AI companies every year.”

Hatter previously served as chief information security officer (CISO) at data analytics company The Nielsen Co. He currently works as the CISO for Santa Clara-based cybersecurity company ShiftLeft Inc. and as an adviser at technology-focused VC firm YL Ventures.

Hatter has known McClure for years, having met him while he was one of McClure’s early customers while McClure still led Cylance at the time.

NumberOne AI currently counts over six companies at the incubator, with two nearing launch this year, McClure said.

“All of them are leverage predictive AI to solve big problems in large markets,” McClure told the Business Journal.

The incubator’s companies span a variety of industries, including medtech, marketing and advertising, cybersecurity and HR technology.

Founded in 2021, NumberOne aims to build out new company ventures using AI and machine learning. The company has raised $13 million to date. McClure, the company’s CEO, is an Orange County cybersecurity pioneer who co-founded Irvine internet security company Cylance and sold it to BlackBerry for $1.4 billion in 2019. McClure currently serves as the CEO of ShiftLeft, where Hatter also works as CISO, but remains an OC resident.

Agricultural Upstart Onit
Sciences Grows Exec Team

Onit Sciences LLC, an Irvine-based agricultural company founded in 2018, said this month it hired plant geneticist and molecular biologist Eric Mathur as chief science officer.

Mathur, who counts over 45 years of experience in biotechnology, will develop and oversee a team of experts in plant physiology and molecular biology. His team will further analyze the mechanisms behind the company’s flagship product, the Onit Grow, an additive to nutrient and fertilizer solutions, that aims to “maximize the genetic potential of each plant,” Mathur told the Business Journal.

“Right now, we know it works,” President and Chief Marketing Officer Jeff Moses told the Business Journal. “But what we can’t answer is: Why does it work? We understand some of the science, but we really want to drill down and demystify it.”

Onit Grow is a non-GMO, organic formulation that enhances a crop’s ability to absorb nutrients, yielding healthier, disease-resistant crops in less time and reducing the amount of resources used per crop. Company officials say that on most crops, farmers see a 15% to 20% cost benefit when using Onit Grow.

The company is planning to offer Onit Grow in markets beyond the U.S., as foreign governments put more regulatory pressure on organic farming and place more restrictions on chemical farming.

“There’s increased demand domestically for healthier, organically grown food, while, internationally, it’s more of a pollution issue,” Moses said.

For instance, “if you’re in a small country and there’s one river system that flows through the middle of the country, the people at the end of that river system, have the most polluted water, and it’s primarily agricultural runoff,” he said.

That’s why, overseas, organic farming is being “legislated into existence,” according to Moses.

Onit is currently looking into Thailand, Canada as well as some Central and South American countries as new markets for Onit Grow.

“There’s quite a bit of interest from a number of different countries for deploying this across a broad range of agricultural products,” Mathur said. He also serves as the chief science officer of biotechnology company Diomics Corp.

Onit has raised $1.3 million to date and is looking to raise $10 million by the end of the year. The company is led by Gerry Martin, who counts over 35 years of finance and executive-level experience. Martin, who started his career in real estate, holds active real estate broker licenses in California, Georgia and Mississippi. He also provides financing for real estate and business loans and has closed over $500 million in equity and debt transactions.

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