Portfolio company Harmonic Bionics has closed additional funding

Harmonic Bionics aims to empower patients and their care providers by designing intelligent technology that facilitates data-driven treatment for neurological and musculoskeletal movement impairments. Their flagship product, Harmony SHR™, is a bilateral upper extremity exoskeleton dynamically designed to provide unique value in three areas of practice: neuroscience and movement science research, movement disorder assessment, and rehabilitation.

Harmonic Bionics has announced that they have raised $3 million of venture funding from South Korea-based medical robot manufacturer Curexo, Inc.   Harmonic Bionics will now assist with US promotion and business development for Curexo’s Morning Walk S200, a robotic gait rehabilitation system, and CUVIS-spine, a surgical spine robot.

Last year, the company raised a $7.42 million Series A from H Robotics, Bass Investment, and DSC Investment.

Weathering the Uncertain Investment Environment

A Perspective from Bob’s Desk.
Executive Director, SWAN Impact Network

Likely you have seen headlines, such as the Wired article, “The Bad Times are coming for Startups”. The article starts with these words, “Last week, the employees of Cameo, a startup that sells personalized videos from celebrities, gathered for an all-hands meeting. The news was not good: Nearly a quarter of the staff was being laid off.” And the article goes on to say, “Soaring valuations and booming IPOs made startups seem like a safe bet, inspiring hundreds of new venture funds. Now, the party seems to be over.”

Concerns about the economy (inflation, possible recession, delayed IPOs) are causing VC to give their portfolio companies tough-love advice. “Cut spending. Conserve cash.” These words are a complete turn-around from the Silicon Valley message to companies: “Grow as quickly as possible to create or disrupt a market. Gain market share by raising and spending as much as possible and don’t worry about getting profitable.”

This shift in mindset influences how we, who are most often the first investors in pre-seed companies, should think about investing.

How should early-stage startups think about all of this?
Starting a company during a time of economic uncertainty has a number of advantages. Fewer startups are created, so competition in your niche market may lesson. Hiring becomes less difficult when other companies have layoffs or hiring freezes. Service providers need to shore up revenue, and may be more accessible. And most importantly, when the economic outlook improves, which it always does, the VCs will have fewer companies at your stage of development to invest in, since your class of startups will be smaller.

How should early-stage angel investors think about all of this?
Since we think of a five-to-seven year window for return, companies starting today should exit in a much stronger economic environment. We should continue our search for promising companies. And we should place a greater emphasis on cash-efficient companies. And, we should require first closing investment amounts to be sufficient to carry the company for two years. Can the company make solid business progress in two years with limited funds? And we will need to work diligently at syndication to help the companies to get to the first close amount.

Announcing Changes in SWAN’s Leadership

After three years of dedicated service on the SWAN Board of Directors, Laura Hill is rotating off the board. She has brought to the board keen insights about angel investing, was instrumental in improving our deal flow process, has been the lead on planning and organizing SWAN social events, and most recently ably led the working group that nominated her replacement on the board.

Thank you, Laura!

 

 

 

 

SWAN is pleased to have Gwen Echols join our Board of Directors. Gwen brings a wealth of experience to the board and strengthens the Dallas representation on the board. Gwen is an experienced professional with a record of driving progress in the business and nonprofit community. Presently a nonprofit advisor and board member, she has supported Dallas agencies in leadership roles for over 20 years. Concurrently Gwen has provided mentorship and coaching to social impact leaders and entrepreneurs since 2018. Gwen is a frequent investor at SWAN, and has been active at  the Rockies Venture Club, one of the country’s oldest angel groups. Gwen was formerly a Senior Vice President with Bank of America, including career roles on the Bank’s merger team, in technology development, and through 2003, as Senior Vice President and relationship team leader in corporate treasury services.

 

 

SWAN is delighted to have Meagan Packard join our leadership as Director of Impact Reporting. She is tackling one of the most-challenging aspects of being an effective impact investing network, namely .quantifying the actual impact resulting from our investment dollars. We expect her efforts will make SWAN a recognized leader in reporting on the impact, and will position SWAN as a role model for other impact angel networks.

Quoting Meagan, “Our world needs novel solutions to critical conservation & sustainability issues now. My aim is to get cutting edge research into the marketplace quickly to start solving our global climate and biodiversity problems today”.

SWAN now has a Houston Chapter

The SWAN Impact Network’s new Houston chapter joins our Austin and Dallas chapters in investing and supporting impact companies focused on delivering social or environmental impact. SWAN is the fastest growing impact-focused angel network in the US.

The SWAN Impact Network has deep expertise in life sciences and clean energy, plus a history of strongly supporting founding teams that have been historically underrepresented in term of investments. This skill and focus provides great synergy with Houston’s strong life science and energy sectors, and with Houston’s status of a leading multi-cultural metropolis.

Additionally, SWAN’s senior leadership has close connections with Rice University.

To learn more SWAN’s Houston chapter, please contact Bob Bridge, Founder and Executive Director of the SWAN Impact Network, bob.bridge@swanmpact.org.

and

We are actively looking for an Executive Director for our Houston Chapter! Please share candidate names with Bob. The ideal candidate has strong connections with the Houston start-up and early-stage investing community, enjoys meeting people and does not require a full-time salary. Compensation is tied to the number of Houston members. APPLY

Binary Bridge technology is aiding Ukrainian refugees

Binary Bridge is honored to be a small part in helping the Ukrainian refugees. The company’s  new customer, Operation Blessing’s Disaster Relief medical team, is using the BackpackEMR medical record system in Poland. The simplicity of deploying and using BackbackEMR made it possible for Operation Blessing to start using the system in mere days after  requesting it.

Diesel-powered trucks can run on renewables

SWAN portfolio company Clear Flame Engine  Technology is in the news.

Diesel-powered trucks can run on renewables, thanks to this new Gates-backed tech. The fuel isn’t emissions free, but startup ClearFlame Engine’s retrofits could drastically cut the footprint of trucking right away.

The diesel big rig is starting to move into the carbon-free future: Electric semi trucks are already beginning to make deliveries around the country. But although they can work well for short trips—and Volvo’s newest electric semi will be able to travel up to 275 miles before charging—they still aren’t yet a viable alternative for the trucks that have to cross the country, which is how so much freight is moved. That’s why one startup is working on technology that can be put in use now: It tweaks diesel engines so they can use 100% renewable fuel, with no change in how the trucks run.

“Rather than trying to design an entirely new engine from the ground up, we said, okay, what is the minimum subset of parts and components we could swap inside this engine to make it fundamentally fuel agnostic, and to switch to something cleaner?” says BJ Johnson, CEO of the startup, called ClearFlame Engine Technologies, which recently raised $17 million from investors including Bill Gates-founded Breakthrough Energy Ventures.

In a new pilot test, the company converted the engine in a Class 8 truck—the largest class of trucks, weighing a minimum of 33,000 pounds—and tried driving it on 100% plant-based ethanol on a test track. There was “no loss of efficiency, no loss of power,” says cofounder Julie Blumreiter, who began developing the technology with Johnson when both were studying at Stanford University. “It sounds the same. It is a diesel engine in every sense of the word besides the fuel you use.” The key difference is the lack of pollution: Instead of black diesel smoke belching out of the tailpipe, the exhaust looks clear, and air pollution and climate emissions dramatically shrink.

Ethanol, which is typically made from corn, still has a carbon footprint, including the climate impact of fertilizer used to grow the crop. But current lifecycle data suggests that pure ethanol emits around 45-50% less greenhouse gases than diesel. And because the electric grid is still shifting to renewable electricity, the startup claims that a truck running on 100% ethanol is actually cleaner, at the moment, than an electric truck.

SWAN has invested in Psyonics

The SWAN Impact Network is pleased to announce an investment in Psyonics.

Psyonics is redefining what it means to be human through advances in biointegrated technologies, and has developed the world’s first touch sensing bionic prosthetic hand. With sensors in the fingertips, you can feel what you’re doing with the Ability Hand and use it with even the most delicate objects. It’s the first bionic hand with multi-touch feedback on the market.

SWAN experienced exciting growth in 2021

The bottom line:

  • In 2021 ,the number of angels in the SWAN Impact Network grew by 60%, making SWAN the fastest growing impact angel network in the country

  • In 2021, SWAN’s  Dallas chapter was created and became a vibrant community of impact investors
  • In 2021, the SWAN Impact Network invested over $4,000,000, in companies entering its portfolio and in follow-on funding to existing portfolio companies. The result is that the dollars invested in our current portfolio nearly doubled!

Portfolio company Acadeum is delivering impressive impact

Acadeum helps colleges and universities create course-sharing partnerships with like minded-institutions to boost student success, broaden access to educational opportunities, promote curricular innovation and operational efficiencies, and support institution success.

Their impact is driven by their impressive revenue and net income results.

Follow-on investments in Yotta Energy and ClearFlame Engine Technologies

The SWAN Impact Network is pleased to announce follow-on investments in clean-energy companies Yotta Energy and Clear Flame Engine Technologies.

As a world-wide energy shortage is poised to hit the U.S. this winter, Yotta Energy has raised $13 million to scale its unique, modular energy storage and microgrid technology, specifically designed to transform buildings into self-generating power plants. Led by WIND Ventures, the Series A round also includes follow-on investors Doral Energy-Tech Ventures, Riverstone Ventures, and returning investors, EDP Ventures, and SWAN Impact Network. Overall, the funding will allow Yotta Energy to expand product deployments in the U.S. and Latin America, increase company employment, open up energy generation revenue for commercial flat-roof buildings, and help North and South America meet decarbonization goals. The round brings the company’s total funding to $20 million.

SWAN previously invested in Yotta Solar in 2019.

ClearFlame Engine Technologies, a startup dedicated to the development of net-zero engine technology, announced today that it has secured $17 million in Series A financing, which will enable commercialization of the company’s innovative engine technology for the long-haul trucking, agriculture and power generation sectors. The financing was led by Breakthrough Energy Ventures with participation from Mercuria, John Deere, Clean Energy Venture and the SWAN Impact Network.

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