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Thursday, Oct 6, 2022
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STARTUPS & INNOVATIONS

FINANCING

Monet Networks Inc. of Irvine recently raised a $500,000 bridge round of financing led by India’s SenseAI Ventures.

The six-year-old company uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to analyze and provide insight into consumers’ emotional reactions to various forms of digital content such as movie trailers and brand advertisements.

Monet is “the first technology platform to humanize data in the service of creativity” and helps its customers optimize their messaging for specific audiences, the company said.

HBO, MTV, NBC Universal, Viacom CBS, Warner Brothers and HBO are Monet customers.

Monet, led by Chief Executive Anurag Bist, will use the bridge round to expand its platform to other industries including gaming and online learning.

Bist has a Ph.D. in electrical engineering and holds more than 30 patents. He was a co-founder of VxTel, a semiconductor company that Intel acquired for $550 million.

LunarCrush Inc., a Costa Mesa-based cryptocurrency platform, raised a $1 million seed round this month from Draper Goren Holm and Manutara Ventures. 

Both investment funds belong to the Draper Venture Network, which connects 24 venture funds in more than 60 cities with some $2 billion in assets under management. 

LunarCrush describes its platform as a “social listening tool” for cryptocurrencies. It includes a dashboard for users to track their holdings and provides analysis of social metrics that affect market prices. 

The one-year-old company plans to expand its platform and open a new office in Chile, which is where Manutara Ventures is based.  

LunarCrush has seen rapid growth since March and has more than 20,000 monthly active users. About 60% of its user base comes from outside of the U.S.

iPourIt Inc., a maker of self-serve beverage dispensers, raised nearly $1 million in a Series B round this month.

Tech Coast Angels’ Orange County chapter led the oversubscribed round; its the fifth investment the angel investor network has made this year through its OC chapter fund.

Three of iPourIt’s larger customers also participated in the round.

The company will use the capital to develop its next-generation technology and make “self-serve beverage systems a key method of dispensing beverages across the hospitality industry,” said Chief Executive Carl Mostert.

iPourIt has installed more than 5,800 taps in over 200 locations since inception in 2016.

The company says its technology has poured more than 189 million ounces—or nearly 12 million pints—across beer, wine, seltzer and spirit products.

One of its newest customers is Barrel & Stave Pour House, the first and only self-serve taproom in downtown Fullerton, which opened last month. It has 32 RFID taps, which allows customers to use the dispensers hands-free.

LAUNCH

Qmerit Inc., an Irvine-based supply chain software platform, recently announced its electric vehicle division will spin off into a separate company to take advantage of the $2.5 billion electrification service market. 

The electric vehicle platform connects electric vehicle buyers to certified contractors for charging installation and management services. Automotive manufacturers that offer certified contractors through the platform include Chevrolet, BMW, Jaguar and Land Rover. 

The new company will retain the Qmerit name and its founder and chairman Tracy Price will take the top spot. Price is a seasoned entrepreneur, who spun Qmerit out of New York conglomerate ABM Industries in 2016.

Meanwhile, Qmerit will rebrand under the leadership of Brett Knox, who was named chief executive after serving as chief operating officer since 2017.

The new company is being supported by an undisclosed investment from Lime Rock New Energy and Schneider Electric, the latter of which participated in Qmerit’s $11.7 million financing round in 2016.

Schneider is a French conglomerate and a leader in energy management and automation services, operating in more than 100 countries, with annual revenue surpassing $30 billion.

Tustin-based Gerber Labs recently launched its printed circuit board (PCB) platform for engineering students and small businesses.

PCBs are used in a variety of engineering products such as computers and unmanned aerial vehicles.

It’s difficult for smaller entities and individuals to find reliable sellers because most large manufacturers sell in bulk to other large companies, said Kyle Sheng, co-founder of Gerber Labs. 

Third-party sellers are often unreliable and lack expediency, resulting in a two to three-month waiting period before a PCB arrives, Sheng said. 

By contrast, Gerber Labs allows users to upload their PCB design (known as a Gerber file), tweak the design, place their order and receive a PCB within seven to 14 days, depending on specifications. 

Gerber Labs offers both two-layer and four-layer PCBs starting at $79.95 per board. 

The company, which has five employees, spun out of PCB manufacturer PalPilot International Corp. in Tustin last month.

MERGER

Ambulatory surgery center software providers Casetabs Inc. of Irvine and HST Pathways of Lafayette, Calif., recently merged under new ownership.

Bain Capital Tech Opportunities acquired a majority stake in the two companies on undisclosed terms. Casetabs backer Nexxus Holdings will remain a minority investor. 

Bain Capital typically makes investments between $50 million and $250 million in companies with a valuation of $500 million or less, according to PE Hub. 

The companies, whose software products help outpatient centers manage scheduling for patients, physicians and other personnel, began integration of their products in 2019 and entered a revenue-sharing agreement this year.

Together they will offer practice management software, care coordination, revenue cycle optimization, patient communication an electronic health record system and analytics.

The companies will take the name HST Pathways, which is the larger and older of the two companies, and which has about 800 facilities using its products. It had about $22 million in annual revenue in 2019, according to PE Hub.

Casetabs, which has about 750 facilities using its software, launched in Santa Monica before relocating to Irvine last year.

Current offices in Lafayette, Boston and Irvine are expected to remain in operation; they hold move than some 140 employees.

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