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Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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STARTUPS & INNOVATIONS

LAUNCH

ATM.com Inc., a Newport Beach fintech, has unveiled a new targeted paid surveys platform.

The platform, which features over 1,200 of ATM.com’s partner brands, matches users to paid surveys based on their data, which users provide to ATM.com by answering daily questions.

The company then creates an “anonymized but rich data profile” based off users’ answers.

ATM.com takes small a cut of the money users earn from surveys, delivering the “vast majority” of the payment to the user, the company said.

ATM.com aims to “treat [a] user’s data as a property they own and can profit from directly,” a concept the company calls “data dignity.” The company’s app currently offers brand matching, location rewards, linked card rewards and cash back.

The company—founded in 2019 by Walter Cruttenden, co-creator of Irvine micro-investing company Acorns Grow Inc., CEO and serial entrepreneur Mike Gleason and CTO and software engineer Inderpreet Singh—has raised over $20 million to date from firms such as Franklin Resources Inc. and Roth Capital Partners LLC in Newport Beach, which Cruttenden formerly led and founded.

Gleason previously founded Newport Beach internet and TV provider database InMyArea.com and Newport Beach energy drink maker Purps, among other ventures.

Leonid, a Huntington Beach government contract financing company, is offering advance financing options—such as term loans and revolving credit lines—to U.S. contractors.

Other options include financing up to 90% a contractor’s invoice value and provision of up to 75% of a Small Business Innovation Research Award upfront with no personal guarantees, the company said.

Leonid, founded in 2019, is one of two non-dilutive government financing companies in the U.S. Department of Defense’s Trusted Capital Provider program, according to company officials.

The company primarily supports startups, small- and medium-sized businesses “that are the backbone of our nation’s economy,” Leonid co-founder James Parker said in a statement.

Parker currently serves as a board member for the Veterans Education Project, the military advocacy group Special Operations Association of America and investigation firm Justice Solutions Group LLC. Parker’s co-founder, Christopher Lay, is also a board member for the same organizations.

Assistantly, an Irvine virtual staffing company, has unveiled its 10-hour virtual assistant service.

The service, which offers virtual assistant services 10 hours per week, is a “budget-friendly alternative” to hiring for full- and part-time assistant positions, the company said.

“The growing demand for virtual assistants continues to skyrocket,” Assistantly founder and CEO Laith Masarweh said in a statement. “With fears of burnout reaching a fever pitch, ensuring that professionals have the flexibility they need in their day-to-day work is our top priority.”

The company’s virtual assistants are college educated, count more than five years of virtual assistant experience and are assigned to work in clients’ time zone, officials said.

Assistantly, founded in 2020, has not held any funding rounds to date. Masarweh started Laguna Niguel 3D virtual tour company Immursiv Inc. the same year he founded Assistantly. He also serves as the CEO of Irvine specialization-focused staffing company VIP Days LLC, which he founded this year.

ELECTRIC VEHICLES

Mobius.energy Corp., a Tustin electric battery maker for aircrafts, has secured an agreement with Dovetail Electric Aviation to supply Dovetail’s zero-emission, electric aircraft with Mobius’ Husky battery module.

The Husky battery modules will power 65 aircraft in Dovetail’s backlog, including Cessna Grand Caravans and other commuter aircraft, company officials said. The deal supports Dovetail’s plan to introduce converted battery electric aircraft commuters by 2025.

Dovetail’s converted electric aircraft will be quieter and have reduced operating costs of about 40% than their fuel counterparts, officials said.

“Dovetail and Mobius are well aligned in our practical approach to bring zero emissions aviation to the mainstream with the best technology solutions available now while making provisions for future innovation,” Mobius CEO Eugene Choi said in a statement.

Choi founded Mobius in 2020. The company has had no reported funding rounds to date. Choi also serves as the CEO of Korean aviation service company MintAir.

FOOD

Elevated Foods Inc., a Costa Mesa produce supplier, has secured a $20 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The funding will allow the company to accelerate its efforts to restore existing farms and grow more “nutrient dense” fruits and vegetables.

The funds “will help to usher in greater transparency to the fresh produce supply chain and return more profit to the farmers growing our food,” Elevated Foods founder and CEO Steve Brazeel said in a statement.

The grant marks a portion of a $2.8 billion USDA project to invigorate markets with climate-smart agricultural practices, such as cover cropping, water management, low- to no-till and nutrient management, among others. The practices aim to conserve and protect the biodiversity and natural resources of the land.

As part of the project, Elevated Foods aims to enhance hundreds of farms with climate-smart practices.

Brazeel founded Elevated Foods last year. He also serves as the CEO of Costa Mesa produce distributor SunTerra Produce Traders, which he founded in 2000 and as a managing member of temperature-controlled shipping company Prime Cooling LLC, which he founded in 2012.

GTFO It’s Vegan LLC, a Lake Forest vegan and plant-based retailer, has kicked off GreatFoods Research & Advisory Services, an advisory arm for companies in the vegan and plant-based sectors.

The plant-based market is projected to reach 7.7% of the global protein market by 2030, with a value of $162 billion, according to market research firm Bloomberg Intelligence.

GreatFoods offers a proprietary market analytics platform, called Veganalytics, that offers quantitive and qualitative market research and services to assist with innovation, testing, launch and expansion of plant-based offerings, company officials said.

“In prior research and consulting endeavors, I would have had to outsource one or all of these components; now we have the full end-to-end solution to help companies learn what it takes to succeed … or alternatively make the tough decisions to regroup or exit, saving companies and investors from misplaced investment and costly mistakes,” CEO and co-founder Marc Pierce said in a statement.

Pierce, who founded GTFO It’s Vegan in 2020, has previously held consultant roles at EY and PwC. Pierce also serves as the CEO of Newport Beach software company Stonegate Advisors LLC.

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