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STARTUPS & INNOVATIONS

INVESTMENTS

Sports video tech company Trace of Austin, Texas, which has had an operational presence in Orange County since its founding, announced April 12 securing $47 million in a Series C round.

The funding, which was led by Salt Lake City-based Pelion Venture Partners with participation from Newport Beach’s Toba Capital, brings Trace’s post-money valuation to $190 million, according to officials.

According to Forbes, over 1,000 soccer clubs use Trace’s platform, called Trace_Bot, which leverages proprietary wide-angle cameras, AI and GPS technology to create short, personalized videos of club and youth-league matches.

Groups reportedly using the product include Huntington Beach youth soccer academy Trojan FC.

Trace subscribers “trust our product to capture and save their most important moments,” Trace founder and Chief Executive David Lokshin, a Southern California resident, said in a statement.

The company, founded in 2011, said the funds will grow its soccer, baseball and softball verticals and expand its staff of about 100 currently to nearly 170 employees by the fall.

A portion of those 100 employees reside in Orange County.

Trace isn’t the first soccer-related investment for former tech exec Vinny Smith, who started Toba Capital, OC’s largest VC. He previously owned a professional soccer club in Croatia.

Pelion’s team includes General Partner Jeff Kearl, co-founder of San Clemente apparel company Stance; see page 1 for more on another Stance co-founder.

Ohio medtech company Blue Spark Technologies Inc. reported April 18 raising $40 million in debt financing.

The funding—led by Irvine-based Ghost Tree Partners with support from London-based Aon plc (NYSE: AON)—will help scale Blue Spark Technologies’ sales and marketing functions, and continue the development of its wearable, remote patient monitoring solutions, officials said.

Blue Spark “has leading-edge technology backed by clinical research and results,” Ghost Tree Managing Partner Mark Fox said in a statement.

Founded in 2021, Ghost Tree is an alternative asset management firm led by Fox, Scott Warner, Jeff Willardson and David Byrne.

The team brings investment experience from local firms like PAAMCO Prisma, as well as Goldman Sachs, Bain Capital Credit and Fidelity.

“Hospitals are seeking to improve patient care, reduce readmissions, optimize reimbursements and gain competitive advantage,” Blue Spark Chief Executive John Gannon said. “Having Ghost Tree’s support and expertise will be invaluable as we continue to expand our remote patient monitoring solutions to the market.”

CROWDFUNDING

Irvine public benefit corporation Equity Platforms Inc. announced opening its first $1 million crowdfunding campaign on April 14.

Equity Platforms is the developer of EquityCoin, the first digital token on the blockchain backed by affordable housing, according to company officials.

“Lack of affordable housing and the widening wealth gap are the crises of our time, and something must be done,” Equity Platforms CEO Vernon Jay said in a statement.

“Equity Platforms Inc. and the EquityCoin token were developed to tackle these two societal issues.”

Jay created EquityCoin after renting one of his available units in New York to a single mother living in a shelter.

“Once I handed her the keys to the apartment, she wept with tears full of joy. That feeling of fulfillment was inexplicable. It was at that moment I knew my purpose was to dedicate my life to helping thousands of other families in need,” he added.

According to its crowdfunding page, Equity Platforms will use the funds to first acquire multifamily real estate in Brooklyn. Another portion will help develop the minimal viable product for EquityShare, a real estate token generator and exchange.

Shareholders are expected to ultimately receive dividend payouts.

PARTNERSHIPS

HealthCues, a preventative healthcare platform in Newport Beach, announced its partnership with EverythingHR of El Segundo on April 13. The alliance enables “fully comprehensive HR services” at a lower cost for employers, according to officials.

“When any company adopts a new health program for their workforce, this often places additional stress and workload on the Human Resources department,” HealthCues CEO Doug Frederick said. “Through our partnership with EverythingHR, we are able to offer our clients over-the-line value to support HR departments and make their jobs easier and better supported.”

Founded in 2019, HealthCues offers workplace health solutions with no out-of-pocket costs for employers and employees, according to officials. Offerings include hospitalization plans, increased take-home pay for employees and telehealth services.

The company reports its clients save about $600 per employee per year.

“The overarching goal is to empower employers with affordable resources, tools and ongoing support from field experts and easy-to-use resources accessible by their respective Human Resources department,” EverythingHR Chief Executive Mark Wilbur said in a statement.

LAUNCH

Software firm Alchemy has unveiled an automated platform for financing cosmetic and elective procedures, the Irvine-based fintech said April 14.

“We added speed and functionalities like never before to cater to both medical lenders and medical providers” Alchemy founder and CEO Timothy Li said about the launch in a LinkedIn post.

A graduate of Harvard Business School, Li is also a part-time lecturer of information technology at the University of Southern California.

He previously founded finance companies Kuber and MaxDecisions.

Alchemy, which Li founded in 2018, provides lending software for several industries, such as retail, construction, solar and most recently, health and beauty.

Alchemy’s medical financing platform is one of several tools the startup has released this year. Earlier this month, it launched a financing platform for the solar industry and a lending platform for commercial and small businesses.

Alchemy’s newest medical financing platform allows doctors to onboard clients, request disbursement from lenders, take down payments, and upsell clients with additional products and services, the company said.

Nathan Sports, a Fountain Valley maker of apparel and accessories for runners, recently announced that it will open its flagship retail store in Costa Mesa on April 29.

The store will be in Westport Plaza, at 369 E. 17th St.

Nathan Sports, founded over 40 years ago, is best known for its running gear, such as vests, hydration packs and belts. It launched its first apparel line last year. It’s a unit of United Sports Brands, whose other units include sports mouthguard maker Shock Doctor.

According to officials, the Costa Mesa store will serve as a hub for local runners and outdoor adventurers by offering community events, as well as showcase its recent expansion into performance apparel and sunglasses.

“We want the Nathan store to be a local hub for our community. Everything we do will be with the runner or outdoor adventurer in mind, therefore, we will be providing a variety of community events such as group runs, fitness classes, fit sessions, athlete talks and more,” Nathan Sports’ Marketing Manager Marssia Buyck said in a statement.

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Audrey Kemp
Audrey Kemp
Audrey Kemp is a staff reporter and occasional photojournalist for the Orange County Business Journal. Her beats include — but are not limited to — healthcare, startups, and education. While pursuing her bachelors in literary journalism at UC Irvine, she interned for New York-based magazine Narratively Inc., wrote for Costa Mesa-based lifestyle magazine Locale, and covered the underground music scene for two SoCal-based music publications. She is an unwavering defendant of the emdash and the Oxford comma.
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