Promising tech startups are still getting funded despite coronavirus pandemic
There is no doubt that coronavirus is the worst pandemic of our time. The virus, which started late last year in Wuhan, China, could cost the global economy $82 trillion, according to one estimate. Latest forecast published by the Centre for Risk Studies at the University of Cambridge Judge Business School, estimated the potential economic toll of the virus outbreak could range from what it called an “optimistic loss” of $3.3 trillion to $82 trillion over the next five years.
The pandemic is also affecting the tech sector, especially technology startups. As of the end of April, a total of 280 startups have laid off 21,609 employees since the coronavirus was declared a pandemic, according to layoffs.fyi, a layoff tracking website run by startup executive Roger Lee.
However, as investors shift cash from stocks to startups, promising and innovative tech startups continue to attract investment despite coronavirus pandemic. Angel investors are actively investing in startups, despite growing uncertainty in public markets. Many angel investors (individuals with either income exceeding $200,000 per year or with a net worth of $1 million or more) have taken some of their money out of the markets in anticipation of coming declines in stock prices. In many cases investors are using Self-Directed IRAs or 401Ks that allow them to invest a portion of their retirement funds in promising startups.
One of the angel investors investing in tech startups during this crisis is Rockies Venture Club (RVC), the longest running and one of the largest Angel Groups in the U.S.A. RVC has closed multiple deals in the months of April and May. Founded in 1985, RVC’s mission is to advance economic development by actively connecting the most promising entrepreneurial companies with Angel investors, venture capitalists, and other community members. Every year Rockies Venture Club offers HyperAccelerator sessions, over 140 educational programs, mastermind groups, Angel forums, and two major conferences for both investors and entrepreneurs.
“This is a great time to be investing in startups” says Peter Adams, Executive Director of the Rockies Venture Club (RVC), the longest running angel investing group in the U.S. “Historically, angel investors and venture capital funds that invest in economic downturns have outperformed investments made during bull market years. In the 2008-2009 period companies like WhatsApp, Venmo, Instagram, Uber, Pinterest, Slack and Square were founded and went on to be multi-billion dollar companies.”
Below are some of the startups that have received investments during the current coronavirus pandemic.
Vaporox uses Vaporous Hyperoxia Therapy (VHT), which involves a proprietary combination of vapor, oxygen, and an antimicrobial to promote wound healing that far exceeds current solutions on the market. While the VHT product has a broad range of use cases, Vaporox plans to initially target the diabetic foot ulcer (DFU) market due to its Medicare reimbursement potential.
Nymbl Science has developed a smartphone application to assist in identifying and correcting balance deficiencies in, typically, older adults. Nymbl was created on a foundation of over 30 years of balance research that combines both physical and cognitive challenges to address fall related symptoms with a focus on older adults age 65+. Nymbl operates within the health and wellness sector initially targeting Senior Living Communities but vying to move into the home-care facility and healthcare provider market. The company currently generates revenue through subscriptions with Senior Living Communities while exploring different pricing structures as more healthcare providers are signed as customers.
Mi Padrino is a bilingual, online marketplace that makes planning and paying for Hispanic celebrations easy and effective, saving users significant time and money. With Mi Padrino’s crowd-gifting and event-planning platform, event organizers can share their events with guests, and buy and accept gifts/funds from their loved ones all around the globe within minutes. In addition, Mi Padrino provides both an advertising and sales platform for service vendors looking to tap this large and growing market. Mi Padrino’s full e-commerce marketplace allows users to purchase items, or add them to a wishlist of items (i.e., a variety of quinceañera and bridal accessories for their big event) which, once ordered, are conveniently drop shipped by Mi Padrino’s wholesale partners. Mi Padrino launched in June 2017 with an annual user-goal set at 600 users. Their actual 2017 users totaled over 50k. By 2018 the company had grown to over 200k users. Most recently Mi Padrino has surpassed 1M users in 2020 and remains focused on growing both the number of users and vendors on the platform.
Cerahelix has developed a new class of ceramic filters to provide an efficient water recycling solution for industrial process conditions. Their first product, the PicoHelix, is a ceramic membrane filter that achieves ten times higher purity than today’s best commercially available ceramic filters. The unique combination of incredibly small pores in a durable ceramic material make the PicoHelix the ideal choice for challenging molecular separations. Applications include industrial water-reuse, organic solvent separations, and concentration of bio-based chemicals and pharmaceuticals.
TermScout is a SaaS platform designed to reduce the friction between buyers and sellers and help companies quickly and affordably understand contract terms and conditions. Whether you intend to negotiate a contract with a vendor or not, it still needs to be reviewed to make sure there are no “gotchas” in the terms. You also need to know how they compare with your contracting playbook. TermScout does this much faster and for a fraction of the cost of what an attorney would charge. Founded in 2018 after winning the Global Legal Hackathon, TermScout is a Techstars-backed company that offers data-driven contract intelligence.
EnVision is bringing the success tool of visualization to the world through an easy to use mobile app. Visualization is a science-backed success practice widely used by business leaders, athletes, entrepreneurs, celebrities and speakers to increase their performance, achieve their goals, make internal changes and create the levels of success they aspire to. EnVision offers 10-minute guided visualizations to help people perform at their best and create the life they truly desire. The audio guided sessions are delivered through a free mobile app that is monetized by paid subscription to unlock premium content. This guided visualization is delivered through a mobile application that is monetized by paid subscription to unlock premium content. The company launched the app in February 2018 and participated in RVC’s June 2018 Impact HyperAccelerator program. Since launching, the company has amassed 6200 downloads, created over 800+ minutes of content, and acquired nearly 1800 active monthly users.
Rockies Venture Club Operations Director, Dave Harris, added, “we are seeing a mix of both new companies getting their first investment this month, and others that have continued to grow and gain traction who are pursuing follow-on, second or third round investments. Having a good mix of new and more mature investments is an indicator of a healthy investment portfolio.“