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STARTUPS & INNOVATIONS

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People

Marwit Investment Management LLC has exited essentially all of its investments, giving Managing Partner Matthew Witte more time with family—including backing startups created by two of his kids.

The Newport Beach-based private equity investor is husband to Lizanne and father of Benjamin, Carolyn and Sammy. His brother Bill leads Irvine-based multifamily developer Related California, which is part of Related Cos. in New York.

Marwit’s invested in 40 companies since the mid-1990s and decided to stop a few years ago.

Past holdings include nutrition products maker ProMax, part of which was sold two years ago to Kellogg Co.-owned Kashi. Granite Seed Co. in Salt Lake City is about to be sold.

Witte’s personal buy-ins include geriatric medical service firm CareConnect Health Services Inc. in Huntington Beach and telecom messaging company Ytel Inc. in Foothill Ranch; non-OC plays are in behavioral health, facial-recognition software, biotech and beverage-dispensing technology.

“I had some capital to invest, could serve on boards, and wanted to help younger entrepreneurs,” he said.

Mentors

He’s not alone.

Recent Forbes and Wall Street Journal items said more baby boomers are pursuing passions via startups, and that high-level ex-execs, including former Cisco Systems Inc. Executive Chairman John Chambers and former General Electric Co. Chief Executive Jeff Immelt have started investment funds and counsel young entrepreneurs.

Matthew Witte’s late father, Martin, founded Marwit Capital Corp. in 1962, and Matthew has mentored others. He and Chris Britt took the Marwit reins in 1994. Britt now invests in companies via Britt Private Capital LLC.

Bubbles

Now Witte’s kids have roles in a multigenerational saga.

His son Benjamin is behind Recess, a CBD-infused carbonated water. CBD is short for cannabidiol, a nonpsychoactive compound of marijuana said to have medicinal qualities. Witte said it’s well-positioned.

“Ben’s catching a growing wave,” he said.

Heineken sells hop-flavored cannabis seltzer via its Lagunitas Brewing Co. in Petaluma; Constellation Brands—brewer of Corona, Modelo, and Ballast Point—invested $5 billion to buy 38% of a Canada-based marijuana grower; Molson Coors in August formed a joint venture with another Canadian company to make similar drinks.

Cannaki Beverage Co. in Aliso Viejo is shipping 3 million bottles a month of its CBD waters, including for pets.

Witte said Recess will launch this fall in New York.

Acorns

Two years ago, his daughter Carolyn began Ask Tia—a “tia” is a wise aunt, Witte says, and the Spanish word has come to mean “creative, amazing, beautiful,” according to Urban Dictionary.

“It started out as pure technology but has evolved into full-stack women’s health services,” he said, and plans a “bricks-and-mortar clinic” in New York early next year.

The website describes services for “all things female health,” including same-day appointments, “integrated gynecology, primary care and wellness under one roof and one health record,” and personalized healthcare.

Witte said it’s backed by three venture capital firms in San Francisco and New York.

“I’ve invested and helped [the kids] in other ways, as well.”

Related Notes

Witte’s wife has her own sort of startup via the Witte Distinguished Speakers Series at Newport Beach Public Library that she helped launch 21 years ago. Libraries are one of Lizanne’s passions, he said.

The venture has brought more than 80 speakers to Newport Beach.

“It occurs four to five times every spring and almost always sells out,” Witte said. “Our family was the founding sponsor, but many others also contribute.”

Sammy studied at Berklee College of Music in Boston and is “in L.A. working for two Grammy award-winning producers,” Witte said.

— Paul Hughes

Capital

Funding

• Irvine-based Capillary Biomedical closed a $2.9 million seed financing. Proceeds will support clinical trials and commercialization of its first device, SteadiSet, a continuous subcutaneous insulin-infusion catheter designed to improve the predictability of an insulin pump and “more than double the duration of use,” according to the company’s website.

The Cove Fund, a seed-stage venture fund based at The Cove at UCI Applied Innovation, led the round with participation from angel groups and accredited investors.

Capillary’s device is pending Food and Drug Administration clearance. The diabetes-management device maker plans to launch its product commercially next year.

• Irvine-based NuEyes Technologies Inc. is tapping crowdfunding to support expansion of product offerings. It’s seeking $5 million to develop NuLoupes, a tiltable camera system with stereoscopic imaging and video fed to a display for the user.

It will soon start fundraising on RedCrow Crowd Inc., a platform made available in January through La Palma-based Innovation Institute’s recently formed partnership with the online equity investment portal. The for-profit LLC is owned by six nonprofit health systems and serves as an incubator to commercialize internal medical innovations by doctors, nurses and other medical workers in its network. It also has a cash-generating enterprise arm and a fund to invest in outside opportunities.

Co-founder and President Justin Moore said NuLoupes is designed to prevent doctor burnout and poor ergonomics in bending over patients.

NuEyes, founded in 2016, started with camera glasses that help the legally blind adjust magnification and contrast using a remote or by voice commands.

Moore said NuLoupes’ market size is significantly larger, from surgeons to doctors in practices such as dental and veterinary. It plans to build software on the device allowing doctors to perform many tasks, such as call colleagues to provide guidance during surgery.

It’s raised $1.75 million and employs five people.

— Sherry Hsieh

Expansion

Consumer

Consumer

• Irvine-based boutique fitness brand operator Xponential Fitness LLC is opening its first OC StretchLab in Laguna Niguel this month.

The stretching studio has three locations in Los Angeles—Santa Monica, Venice Beach and Beverly Hills—StretchLab President Lou DeFrancisco said the OC location is important because it serves as a prototype for other U.S. franchises.

“Venice Beach, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, these are unique real estates in unique parts of the country,” he said. He believes the Laguna Niguel location allows interested franchisees to see firsthand that it’s possible to open a stretching lab in a local plaza with tenants such as CVS and Albertsons.

Xponential owns six brands, each functioning separately with its own team of president, chief marketing officer, real estate director, construction project manager and sales force.

— Sherry Hsieh

• Aliso Viejo-based company Soft Health Technologies LLC has secured a patent for its Finess product, an over-the-counter disposable patch that prevents bladder leakage in women.

Co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer Jenna Anderson told the Business Journal in an earlier interview that the “whole massive category has had no innovations since the 1920s”—solutions comprised of pads and adult diapers.

Chief Executive Thomas Berryman founded the company in 2013. He brought on Anderson and named her co-founder last year as it pivots to target younger women, ages 28 to 55.

The company has raised $3.3 million per Crunchbase and is seeking $3 million to support expansion.

— Brian Alvarado

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