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Thursday, Feb 22, 2024
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STARTUPS & INNOVATIONS

FUNDING

BreezeML Inc., an Irvine machine learning deployment company, has secured $4 million in a seed funding round led by BlueRun Ventures (BRV) Aster.

Other investors included Embark Ventures, UpHonest Capital and Hat Trick Capital.

The funding will support BreezeML’s plans to scale and develop new machine learning products. The company aims to automate machine learning integration and development, in its mission to democratize AI by making machine learning more affordable and accessible, according to company officials.

“As AI is making its way into all sectors of the industry, we are excited to see that BreezeML touches upon a huge pain point that every AI user is suffering from—the high infrastructure costs unaffordable to a lot of small and medium-sized companies,” BRV Aster Venture Partner Jimmy Shi said in a statement. “We also believe that their research-backed technologies are way beyond those available on the market, with great potentials to make ML productization truly an easy and breezy experience.”

Harry Xu, BreezeML’s CEO, founded the company last year.

Xu previously worked as a computer science professor at University of California, Los Angeles. He also served as an assistant computer science professor at University of California, Irvine. Prior to that, he worked as a software engineer for the China R&D lab for IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM).

PARTNERSHIPS

Uneekor Inc., a Lake Forest golf simulator developer, will exhibit a VR golf booth at the PGA show this month in Orlando, Fla., marking the company’s fourth consecutive year at a PGA event.

The exhibit will feature Uneekor’s golf launch monitors as well as its newest innovation, the Balance Optix—a biomechanical system that focuses on lower body movement during golf swings.

The simulator will include renderings of notable golf courses, such as Rich Harvest Farms in Illinois and Castlex Seoul in South Korea.

Uneekor’s “technology is exceptional, and I trust the data I’m generating to reliably measure consistency and progress in all aspects of my game,” three-time PGA tour champion and Uneekor partner Cameron Champ said in a statement.

The company was founded in 2015.

ID Supply Co., a Costa Mesa merchandise company, is teaming up with country singer Kane Brown for a new apparel collection.

The collection, a collaboration between Brown, ID Supply and merchandise developer Futureshirts Inc., will be available for sale online and in-store at specialty retailer rue21 LLC, where Brown was recently named a creative director.

“It’s amazing, just because I came up through not really having any money to spend on clothes,” Brown said in a statement. “I had enough that I could afford rue21, and their clothes were cool. Just having this where it’d be affordable for everybody to swag out a little bit.”

“This collection serves as a proving ground as to where ID is headed,” ID Supply founder Brandon Ruddach added. “Our intention was to drive consumer engagement by aligning Kane with his fan base at a retail level through an experiential moment.”

Ruddach founded ID Supply in 2016. He previously worked as the director of sales and marketing at Costa Mesa ad agency Seaside Visual.

LAUNCH

Kaleibe, a San Diego gene therapy company founded by the former UCI Health CEO Howard Federoff, launched last month.

It’s the third company started by San Diego genome writing company Replay, which aims to target genetic brain disorders using its proprietary gene delivery platform that uses DNA herpes simplex virus (HSV) technology.

Kaleibe’s product, a gene delivery platform called synHSV, aims to offer safer and more durable gene transmission than standard gene therapy, company officials say.

The company “aims to illuminate genetic brain disorders that have a high unmet medical need and that are associated with a significant detrimental impact on the quality of life of patients,” Federoff said in a statement.

The company’s first projects will focus on Parkinson’s disease and Friedreich’s ataxia, a nerve disorder.

Federoff, who co-founded Kaleibe with two other scientists, previously worked as a neurology professor at UCI. He also served as the university’s vice chancellor of health affairs.

Lachlan MacKinnon, the CEO and co-founder of parent company Replay, started the genome writing firm in July last year. The company has raised $55 million to date.

MacKinnon previously worked as a founding principal at Oxford Science Enterprises, where he invested in multiple medical-focused startups.

AWARDS

Smarty Social Media Inc., a Santa Ana marketing agency, received a Power Partner Award from Inc. Business Media for its track record of supporting entrepreneurs and startups.

Smarty specializes in creating campaigns that leverage social media marketing for medtech companies. Its services include social media strategy advocacy and influencer marketing, content creation, analytics and customer care.

“It’s not unusual for us to be the first agency a startup hires at the point of commercialization when they need quick insights and proof of concept to drive market demand via social media,” Smarty founder and CEO Jami Eidsvold said in a statement. “We are especially proud of this award because our clients had a direct role in rating the value of our services and impact on their business.”

Smarty’s notable clients include dermatology genomics company DermTech Inc. (Nasdaq: DMTK), Invisalign, San Clemente-based medical device company ReShape Lifesciences Inc. (Nasdaq: RSLS) and Laguna Hills dental surgery device maker Sonendo Inc. (NYSE: SONX), which went public in 2021.

EXEC HIRES

Tessera Data Inc., an Irvine background data provider, has appointed Gilad Horev to lead the company’s product, design and analytics teams.

Horev previously worked as the VP of product at Eventbrite Inc. (NYSE: EB) and at PayPal Holdings Inc. (Nasdaq: PYPL) as the manager of the risk analytics team responsible for the Latin America region. He most recently served as the VP of product at AI-based background check company Checkr Inc., the parent company of Tessera.

“Bringing in a proven leader from a global product-led company like Eventbrite positions Tessera to continue accelerating our product innovation and creatively solve the global trust and safety challenges facing companies today,” Tessera CEO Matt Curl said in a statement.

Tessera, founded in 2017, offers databases that include an individual’s aliases and address history, criminal records and driver history.

Curl, who was appointed to CEO last May, previously worked as VP of revenue operations at parent company Checkr. He was also the senior VP of business operations at marketing-focused payment processing company Fivestars.

 

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