NEWS: Accelerator Announces Investment

Anderee Berengian, co-founder and CEO of CDL

An Irvine accelerator announced today a partnership with a software company focused on helping school districts streamline their school lunch programs.

CIE Digital Labs (CDL) invested in Titan School Solutions. Anderee Berengian, co-founder and CEO of the accelerator, declined to disclose the amount or the equity stake.

Titan is transitioning from early-stage to growth-stage, President Bradley Blankenship said. The partnership will help Titan grow and scale, based on CDL’s expertise, he added.

“As a first-time entrepreneur, it was important to me that we had the help and guidance to scale in an intelligent way,” Blankenship told OC Startups Now. “Working with CDL allows us to have an instant infrastructure to support our growth, as well as the strategic guidance and hands-on help that we need to really maximize our opportunity.”

Results of Partnership

As a result of the partnership, Titan has moved its HQ to CDL’s accelerator in Irvine. CDL also has a presence in L.A.

CDL will now work to bring its expertise in product development, engineering and general tech, as well as its back-office services, like human resources and accounting. Down the road, it will leverage its network of external investors to help Titan attract VC investment. CDL’s leadership team has served roles at various companies, including Amazon, Yahoo and Petco. Berengian is a board member of Petco, (with HQ in San Diego), a specialty retailer of pet food and supplies online and in brick-and-mortar stores.

Berengian and Justin Choi, another CDL co-founder and head of product strategy, joined Titan’s board of directors. Berengian is also a managing partner at RezVen Partners, a VC firm with HQ in Irvine.

This partnership is similar to the one CDL made with ASAP Tire (with HQ in La Habra). CDL helped launch the mobile tire installation company. After coming up with the concept and making sure there was a customer base, ASAP rolled out the first van in OC in 2015.

CDL helped organize a raise and structured the deal for the company, which netted $1.8 million, Berengian said. RezVen participated in the round, which closed in June 2017.

CDL has about six other startups it’s working on, Berengian said, adding that he cannot disclose info about them at this time.

“We’re planning on doing this more often,” he said. “We’re looking for more amazing entrepreneurs to partner with and accelerate.”

CDL also works with large companies to accelerate innovation internally.

About Titan

Titan started in Roseville, near Sacramento. It obtained its first customer in 2015. It was founded by school district IT veterans who wanted to help that industry enhance its operations, by offering management and communications tools.

Its software-as-a-service (SAAS) was designed to streamline the school lunch process. It does that in a few ways, including providing info about the nutritional value of school lunches to school administrators, students and parents. It also enables parents to apply for and pay for lunch services online. SAAS is a software distribution model in which a third-party provider hosts applications and makes them available to customers over the internet. SaaS is one of three main categories of cloud computing.

According to the School Nutrition Association, the rise of food costs and increased cost of producing a meal to meet updated nutrition standards has made it increasingly difficult for school nutrition professionals to keep their programs in the black.

Titan serves more than 350,000 students across 70 school districts nationwide. OC districts include the Irvine Unified School District, the Brea Olinda Unified School District and the Garden Grove Unified School District.

CDL Recognized

The Titan partnership comes as CDL is being recognized with an American Business Award, known as a “Stevie.” It was awarded a silver medal in the category of “Most Innovative Company of the Year,” for companies with up to 100 employees. The awards will be presented at a banquet in June in New York City.

“What I love is that we’re being recognized for a couple things, (including) innovation, which is the core of our DNA here,” Berengian said. “We’re always building innovative solutions and tech. The other thing we’re being recognized for is our (unique) hybrid business model – working with these large corporations and providing them startup-like, nimble-fast digital solutions. Separately we’re also building startups.”

In the same category, Cytellix, with HQ in Aliso Viejo, was awarded the gold. It’s a cybersecurity company.

About The Author

Deirdre Newman is a long-time journalist, who's covered OC startups for a few years.

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