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Thursday, Oct 6, 2022
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STARTUPS & INNOVATIONS

FUNDING

The Kanvas Company Inc., a Newport Beach maker of vapes for nicotine, cannabis and CBD, has closed an investment round led by Btomorrow Ventures, the venture capital unit of cigarette manufacturer British American Tobacco.

Financial terms of the deal were not immediately disclosed.

The funding will support Kanvas’ research and development to commercial its proprietary “Vapetelligence” technology platform. It will also help scale Kanvas’ products, which are “designed to promote device safety in electronic vaporizers and regulated marketplaces globally” through its “patented and temperature-controlled dosing technology and hardware that provides a secure and controlled delivery system for brands,” the company said in a statement.

Kanvas marks the latest venture for founder and CEO Andy Fathollahi. He previously started smartphone case and accessory company Incipio Group in a garage in 1999.

Fathollahi eventually grew the Irvine-based business to $400 million in revenue and left his position as chairman of the board in 2020. He also serves as the chief executive of Newport Beach educational robots maker Ozobots.

Chargezoom, an Irvine billing software developer, has closed a $10 million Series A founding round led by Panoramic Ventures.

Participating investors included SaaS Venture Capital, Stout Street Capital and Okapi Venture Capital, which all previously invested in the company. Newport Beach-based Okapi, one of OC’s largest early-stage VCs, also increased its position in the company, Chargezoom, officials said.

The funding will allow Chargezoom to focus on product expansion by “doubl[ling]-down customer-focused development efforts, creating tools that modern businesses need to reduce payment friction and accelerate their growth,” CEO Matt Dubois said in a statement.

The company also plans to use the funding to double its staff by the end of the year.

Chargezoom provides businesses with payment tools that integrate common accounting applications, such as QuickBooks Desktop, Quickbooks Online, FreshDesk and Xero, to enable faster payment collection through the elimination of manual accounting tasks, according to company officials.

The company, founded in 2019, has raised a total of $12 million in funding to date. It’s headquartered at the Irvine Towers office complex.

InfeXtious Therapeutic, an Irvine subsidiary of drug development company AJK Biopharmaceutical, has received a Small Technology Transfer grant from the National Institute of Health for the company’s development of a treatment that can combat antimicrobial resistance.

InfeXtious, founded in 2018, is headquartered at wet lab incubator University Lab Partners in UCI Research Park.

Chapman University Assistant Professor Dr. Rakesh Tiwari will be a collaborator on the project. Financial details of the award were not immediately disclosed.

According to InfeXtious officials, the prevalence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria—fueled by the overuse of antibiotic drugs in agriculture, aquaculture, animal feed and medicine—has emerged a significant public health challenge. The CDC says antibiotic-resistance bacteria and fungi cause over 2.8 million infections and 35,000 deaths in the U.S. per year.

To address this, InfeXtious says it is developing a novel drug for people infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, who reportedly have limited options for treatment.

“Our mission is to evaluate, develop and invest in new and improved treatments that are urgently needed to tackle antibiotic resistance and generate drugs that are active against the antibiotic-resistant infections,” AJK Chairman and CEO Dr. Assad Kazeminy said in a statement. Kazeminy serves on the Dean’s Leadership Council at UCI’s Pharmaceutical Sciences school, among other positions.

LAUNCH

Good Culture LLC, an Irvine cultured dairy products maker, has unveiled an organic version of its lactose-free cottage cheese.

The product comes in 15-ounce tubs and 5-ounce single-serve cups, which will be available at Whole Foods this month. Expanded retail distribution will begin in 2023.

“Good Culture consistently receives so much praise from consumers for our lactose-free cottage cheese and sour cream,” co-founder and CEO Jesse Merrill said in a statement.

“According to the [National Institute of Health], approximately 65% of the population has a reduced ability to digest lactose which means lactose doesn’t break down, causing gastric discomfort. So, we knew it was important to provide an organic, lactose free cottage cheese option that is the same creamy taste and texture as our ridiculously good, organic cottage cheese.”

The company, founded in 2014, has raised a total of nearly $82 million in funding to date. It closed a $64 million Series C funding round in March, led by VC firm Manna Tree, with participation from growth equity investor SEMCAP Food & Nutrition and celebrity investor Kristen Bell. Good Culture earned the status of Certified B Corporation in 2020.

SimInsights Inc., an Irvine AI-based virtual and augmented reality developer, is offering its product to colleges and employers for educational and training purposes.

The software, called HyperSkill, has helped establish a virtual clinic for UCLA’s medical center for student training. After SimInsights improved HyperSkill’s technology with the help of the AI-driven speech-to-text and text-to-speech generator from software company Nvidia Corp. (Nasdaq: NDVA), the university plans to use the technology in training thousands of nurses on handling infectious diseases.

There was a quick uptick in the quality of HyperSkill, and students say it’s the most realistic training they’ve used, SimInsights founder and CEO Rajesh Jha told Nvidia.
SimInsights, founded in 2009, has raised nearly $1 million in funding through grants from the National Science Foundation. It is a member of Nvidia’s business accelerator, Nvidia Inception.

EXPANSION

Approved Providers Network, an Anaheim tech and marketing company also known as apnTech, says it exceeded $1.1 million in monthly revenue in August.

The milestone marks the first month the company has surpassed $1 million.

The company specializes in voice search optimization, blockchain, SaaS, directory listing data management, review generation, and more. It projects to exceed $12 million in revenue this year and $20 million in 2023.

Company officials chalk up its rapid revenue growth to the burgeoning software-as-a-service and blockchain markets.

The company plans to launch an NFT product next year and is currently entering the Web3, a term coined as the next generation of the internet. In theory, Web3 for apnTech will comprise of a decentralized and more community-driven version of the internet enabled by blockchains, which are digital ledgers that keep a record of participants while maintaining their anonymity.

Founded in 2019, apnTech is “focused on helping our customers grow their businesses into the next generation of internet technology,” said co-founder and CEO Anthony Busciglio, who counts a background in sales, direct marketing and digital marketing.

“We have a team of over 70 employees, all experts in helping small businesses grow their online brand and presence so they can attract more customers and dominate their market.”

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