NEWS: SoCal Startup Funding Roundup May 25-29: Workspace, Jcyte, Fernish, Stackin’, Datch, Qualigen Therapeutics, Ascus Biosciences, Platform Science, Apeel Sciences…

Here are startups throughout SoCal that announced receiving investments this week.

Newport Beach (commercial real estate software): Workspace received an undisclosed investment. The funding comes from ASG and its affiliates, a collection of vertically focused Software-as-a-Service companies. Workspace built a cloud-based platform for commercial real estate companies, enabling teams to expedite property and portfolio level decisions, while driving workflow across their entire sytem. By combining information across systems of record – from accounting to underwriting, leasing, and debt – WorkSpace connects data, teams, and processes.

(From a press release)


Newport Beach (ophthalmology): Jcyte received a $252 million licensing deal for its Jcell, a human retinal progenitor cell therapy initially aimed at treating retinitis pigmentosa. The deal was negotiated by ophthalmology specialist, Santen Pharmaceutical.

The agreement includes $50 million in up-front cash for Jcyte plus potential milestone payments and royalties. (From Jcyte’s website)


Los Angeles (curated furniture rental): Fernish received an investment of $15 million in a Series A round, led by Khosla Ventures. Fernish is a premium furniture rental service that enables a curated selection of furniture essentials and knick-knacks. Clients can pay monthly, and decide later what they want to keep, return, or swap out. (From Crunchbase)


Los Angeles (fintech): Stackin’ raised $12.6 million. It operates a text-based, financial messaging platform – providing information to subscribers on how to save money, reduce debt, and start investing.

The funding was led by Octopus Ventures, and also included Techstars, Mucker Capital and Wavemaker Partners.

Stackin’ said it will use the new funding to enhance personalization, simplify financial product on-boarding, and broaden its marketplace of financial products and services, as well as expand to the UK later this year. The startup is led by co-founder and CEO Scott Grimes. (From SoCalTech)


Los Angeles (AI for industrial environments): Datch raised $3.2 million in seed funding for its industrial voice-visual AI platform. Blue Bear Capital was the lead investor, along with support from Stage Venture Partners, Tuhua Ventures, Lorimer Ventures, Predictive Venture Partners and Plug-and-Play Ventures.

Datch’s AI tool uses conversations to alleviate business process constraints, like time spent on work orders, logging information, and fixing equipment.

Datch’s voice-visual interface enables employees to capture high-quality, real-time knowledge data, recording live sequence-of-events in granular detail.


Carlsbad (pharma): Qualigen Therapeutics,in a reverse merger, raised $4 million. The company develops products for the treatment of cancer and infectious diseases.

It completed its merger with publicly traded Ritter Pharmaceuticals

The companies said the newly merged company will operate under the name Qualigen Therapeutics Inc., and the newly- merged company has begun trading on the NASDAQ Capital Market.

(From SoCalTech)


San Diego (animal health/nutrition): Ascus Biosciences closes $46 million in a Series B round. The animal health and nutrition startup focuses on next-gen innovation in animal microbial products. The funding was led by global investment company Temasek, with participation from other leading investors, Anterra Capital, Formation 8 and Cavallo Ventures (the venture capital arm of Wilbur-Ellis), as well as angel investors.

The company selects native microorganisms that are then isolated from animal samples and developed into products.

These multi-strain and naturally occurring whole microbe products are shelf-stabilized and compatible with standard in-feed delivery systems. The biosciences startup deals with animal microbiomes.


La Jolla (fleet management): Platform Science closed its Series B round, raising $42 million. It’s a developer of fleet management software.

The funding was led by Prologis, and also included Daimler Trucks AG, 8VC, NewRoad Capital Partners, Schematic Ventures and Cambridge Capital.

Platform Science had announced a partnership with Daimler Trucks North America, along with Daimler’s participation in its Series B, at the beginning of May.

Platform Science said at that time, that the deal with Daimler will make it the primary on-vehicle fleet management software development and distribution partner for Daimler Trucks.

(From SoCalTech)


Goleta (agtech): Apeel Sciences raised $250 million with investors including Oprah and Katy Perry. Apeel is a materials tech startup that’s developed edible coatings that reportedly keep produce fresher longer.

Other investors include GIC, the sovereign wealth fund of the government of Singapore, and several other VC and investment firms.

The three purposes of extending the shelf life of fresh fruits and vegetables are: to reduce the amount of food wasted globally, help small farmers sell produce to markets that are farther away geographically and help the impoverished avoid food insecurity.

With this funding, Apeel is now worth more than $1 billion.

James Rogers founded the company while pursuing his doctoral degree in materials science at the UCSB.

The company says some of the funding will expedite its efforts to use Apeel as for cold-chain infrastructure for the first time in places that don’t currently have this tech. Like parts of sub-Saharan Africa and Central and South America, where crops can spoil in the heat before being sold internationally.

(From Food Tank)

About The Author

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

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