Posts Tagged ‘#VentureCapital’

Walmart and Plenty Partner To Lead the Future of Fresh Produce

Posted on: January 28th, 2022 by Kirenaga Partners

Retail leader and indoor farming company enter into a long-term strategic partnership with an equity investment to bring fresh, peak-flavor produce to shoppers year-round

BENTONVILLE, Ark. & SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Walmart andPlenty Unlimited Inc. today announced Walmart signed an agreement to invest in Plenty, an indoor vertical farming company, as part of their $400M Series E funding round subject to a regulatory approval. Walmart’s equity investment is part of a broader strategic partnership to utilize Plenty’s indoor vertical farming technology platform to deliver fresh produce to Walmart retail stores. As part of the investment, at closing, Walmart will also join Plenty’s Board of Directors.

Together, Walmart and Plenty will work collaboratively to create a new, market leading product category in vertical farming by delivering the freshness and quality that Walmart customers expect, year-round. The long-term commercial agreement allows Walmart to source Plenty’s leafy greens for all its California stores from Plenty’s Compton farm beginning later this year. Walmart is the first large U.S. retailer to significantly invest in vertical farming.

“At Walmart, we are focused on identifying and investing in innovative food solutions to bring our customers the freshest, highest-quality foods at the best prices,” said Charles Redfield, chief merchandising officer, Walmart U.S. “We believe Plenty is a proven leader in a new era of agriculture, one that offers pesticide-free, peak-flavor produce to shoppers every day of the year. This partnership not only accelerates agricultural innovation, but reinforces our commitment to sustainability, by delivering a new category of fresh that is good for people and the planet.”

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Violet Defense Partners With First Responders for UV Disinfection Public Education

Posted on: September 20th, 2021 by Kirenaga Partners

Disinfection technology firm encourages communities to learn how to disinfect their businesses and facilities using UV technology

With the resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic, Violet Defense, a Florida-based UV technology company, looks to expand its partnership with several businesses and work with first-responders to educate the public about the power of UV disinfection technology. 

Violet Defense already works with several businesses in and around its headquarters city, Orlando, including Orange County Convention Center, Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention, the Jewish Academy of Orlando, and Shepherd’s Hope medical clinic. It also works alongside public safety officials to provide UV disinfection technology for their own facilities and educate the public about how to safely disinfect their own spaces. Fire departments have adopted this technology for use in the back of ambulances and for emergency management command centers. A fire department in Caldwell, Idaho, built the technology into their newest fire station in break rooms, bathrooms, bunk rooms, and weight rooms.

“UV disinfection technology will be a key tool in overcoming the prevalence and spread of COVID-19 and other dangerous viruses in public places,” said Terrance Berland, CEO of Violet Defense. “Violet Defense looks forward to continuing and expanding its partnerships with first responders to help protect those that fight every day to keep us all safe.”

UV technology harnesses the power of the sun to disinfect indoor places. For more than 140 years, research has proven that UV and violet-blue light is effective at destroying germs. It does so by producing electromagnetic energy that can destroy the ability of microorganisms to reproduce and by causing photochemical reactions in the crucial nucleic acids, DNA and RNA.

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Phenix Announces Issuance Of U.S. Patents For Stream Sync And Real-Time Adaptive Bitrate Streaming For WebRTC

Posted on: September 20th, 2021 by Kirenaga Partners

Phenix issued patent for Dynamic Real-Time ABR Encoding and Multi-stream Sync

Phenix Real Time Solutions, the leading provider of real-time streaming video technology and experiences, today announces that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has issued patents, US 11,051,049 and US 11,019,368, further strengthening the company’s intellectual property position and leadership for real-time streaming technologies. The two new patents further extend the existing portfolio of assigned and provisional patent protections, including the company’s SyncWatch™, real-time advertising insertion, and automated scalability for flash-crowds.

The ‘049 patent titled “Simulating a local experience by live streaming sharable viewpoints of a live event,” enables streaming organizations to deliver real-time, augmented and shared experiences of live events from multiple video feeds (events, camera angles and locations) synchronized to a universal timecode. From live sports to multi-venue music festivals, or multi-camera angle streaming, the patent technology powers applications that allow viewers to switch to alternate streams and views, all without interrupting the stream or causing latency buildup from compiling new playlists.

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NFL names Verizon 5G partner in 10-year deal, promising enhanced fan experiences at stadiums

Posted on: September 20th, 2021 by Kirenaga Partners
  • The National Football League and Verizon said their new 5G partnership will allow fans to see seven different live camera angles of the season kickoff game.
  • “Verizon will help us capitalize on the promise of 5G technology, paving the way for the future of the game,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said.
  • The alliance also has the “potential to improve player training and overall venue operations,” Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg said.

The National Football League and Verizon on Thursday announced a 5G partnership that they say will allow fans to see seven different live camera angles of the season-opening game between the Super Bowl champion Tampa Buccaneers and the Dallas Cowboys.

The companies the 10-year deal will provide next-generation 5G mobile technology for applications including innovative methods of player training, team scouting, venue operations and health guidelines.

“Verizon will help us capitalize on the promise of 5G technology, paving the way for the future of the game and delivering incredible experiences for millions of NFL fans,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement detailing the alliance. “Verizon has been one of our key technology partners, helping with everything from digital distribution of NFL content, engaging our fans at the NFL’s biggest events, enhancing communications throughout the NFL ecosystem and upgrading technology within stadiums.”

“Our longstanding relationship, and swift delivery of 5G connectivity in 90% of stadiums, has created new ways to bring fans even closer to the action,” Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg said in the announcement. “Our work with the NFL will continue to enhance and transform not only the fan viewing experience, but also has the potential to improve player training and overall venue operations.”

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The Grand Tour? It’s not Europe anymore

Posted on: September 20th, 2021 by Kirenaga Partners

It was a rite of passage for young and wealthy British men from the mid-1600s to the mid-1800s. Having finished college, they would, accompanied by a knowledgeable chaperone, complete their education (and acquire status) on a Grand Tour of architecture, antiquities, art and music found only on the Continent.

But technology, in the form of trains and steamships, did the Grand Tour in. Once commoners (and, good heavens, women!) could, on an affordable Thomas Cook package, duplicate the experience en masse, it lost its appeal.

The upper class would find other ways to enjoy Europe, but that particular ritual faded away.

I believe we’re witnessing the renewal of the Grand Tour. It has many of the same trappings as the original: It is, for the time being, only available to the wealthy; it can be justified on the basis of personal growth; it bestows bragging rights.

I’m talking about space travel. Virgin GalacticBlue OriginSpace AdventuresAxiom Space. Space Perspective.

There are, of course, significant and important structural differences. It may last only six hours instead of six months. The experience often confines movement, rather than encourages it; and attention is focused narrowly rather than broadly.

But despite the brevity and limited experience, I’m convinced that a trip to space (or near space) is no less life-changing for the traveler than a six-month Grand Tour, and perhaps in ways the traveler never expected.

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Germ-fighting Orlando tech firm Violet Defense raises another $6M

Posted on: September 20th, 2021 by Kirenaga Partners

A disinfection technology firm undergoing a big growth spurt just raised millions of dollars for more hiring and international expansion. 

Orlando-based Violet Defense Group Inc. raised $6 million, according to an amended U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission document filed Sept. 14.

The maker of ultraviolet light systems for disinfection and agriculture has raised at least $20 million since it was founded in 2012, landing customers across the country and growing its staff to 20 employees. 

The funds will help Violet Defense grow in multiple areas, Vice President of Marketing Jessica Jones told Orlando Inno. That includes further research and development at Violet Defense, agriculture lighting subsidiary Violet Gro and ecoSPEARS, an Altamonte Springs-based water and soil decontamination startup Violet Defense is partnered with. 

“This round will be used to support expansion of the team, international expansion of Violet Defense Group and increased research and development efforts across the portfolio,” Jones said. She did not specify how much the company plans to expand its staff. 

The company raised the money as part of an ongoing Series B round that’s expected to close by the end of September, Jones said. Kirenaga Partners LLC, an investment firm co-headquartered in Orlando and Bronxville, New York, led this portion of the round. Kirenaga is a longtime investor in Violet Defense, and Kirenaga Managing Partner Terry Berland is also Violet Defense’s CEO. 

Investment capital often is critical for startups since it funds companies as they scale up while also providing business expertise and industry connections.

This deal may mean more growth at Violet Defense. Between January 2020 and March 2021, the firm’s revenue increased 10-fold, Berland previously told Orlando Business Journal. 

Meanwhile, the company has landed big-name partners and customers. Violet Defense technology will be used in the Orlando Magic AdventHealth Training Center that will open in 2022. Plus, the company in 2020 landed a licensing agreement with lighting giant Acuity Brands Inc.

Interest in disinfection technology surged as a result of public health concerns spiking amid the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2021, the focus in that industry shifted to long-term solutions, such as the implementation of disinfection technology into the design of new buildings, according to Rob Panepinto, co-founder and managing partner of clean tech advisement firm ForgeGreen Bio. “Will there be another Covid, or something different?”

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Startup scene needs more investors. Here’s why they should get involved.

Posted on: September 20th, 2021 by Kirenaga Partners

Jim Thomas didn’t hesitate when asked about the Central Florida startup investment ecosystem’s biggest need. 

“Nothing is missing, in my opinion, except investor dollars,” said Thomas, partner at Orlando-based investment firm Kirenaga Partners. “The amount of quality deals that are coming to us on a daily basis from Florida, much less across the country, is astonishing. These are brilliant kids that want to stay in Florida. We just need to fund them and keep them.” 

Thomas and representatives of three other startup investment firms in Orlando and Tampa sounded off on the opportunities available in local startup investment during the Inside the Investor’s Mind event on June 30. The streamed event was hosted by Upsurge Florida, a partnership between Orlando-based Starter Studio and Tampa-based Tampa Bay Wave to boost early-stage startup investment in the region. 

Although Florida is the third-largest state by population and was ranked the No. 1 state for early-stage entrepreneurial activity by a 2020 Kauffman Foundation report, it ranked 15th in the U.S. for venture capital investment in the first quarter. Growing investments in early-stage tech companies can help those businesses grow, creating local jobs and innovative solutions along the way. Plus, these companies can create returns for their investors. 

Here’s more from the investors on why and how more people in Central Florida can become startup investors. 

It is a big opportunity for your portfolio 

“I think there’s a lot of people who are coming out of the woodwork to invest who were in traditional investments like commercial real estate. What I saw a lot of during the pandemic was some of those traditional businesses really took a hit, like Class A office spaces and big real estate investment groups. The companies that surged during the pandemic were the tech-enabling companies. Having tech investments is good to diversify the portfolio where traditional investments sometimes can fail.”

— Charlie Lewis, founder, BlueWave Investment Partners  

There are plenty of investment opportunities in the region

“DeepWork started investing because we saw that Florida and the surrounding areas have a very strong pipeline of companies but a capital gap. The very first investment we did ended up doing tremendously well. It was a Central Florida company by the name of Fattmerchant, and the exit did really well for a lot of investors.”

— Kathy Chiu, managing partner, DeepWork Capital 

Be selective in your investments 

“As an investor, you need to take a mentality and not do any deal that comes across your table. Be selective. For us and most investors, first and foremost, are looking at the founder. Is that founder the right founder to take this company and scale it? Are they going to quit when things get tough? If you’re an investor, consider what’s right for you. Are they going to be able to scale quickly without taking on a tremendous amount of capital they may never be able to get?”

— Ryan Whittemore, chief investment officer, Florida Funders

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Central Florida Tech fund invests in 7th startup. Here’s what’s next.

Posted on: September 20th, 2021 by Kirenaga Partners

When venture capital firm Kirenaga Inc. prepped the launch of its Central Florida Tech fund nearly two years ago, some investors asked the same question. 

The investors kicked their money into the fund, primarily focused on early-stage investments in tech companies between the Gulf Coast and Space Coast, but they were curious if they would get their money back if Kirenaga failed to find enough investable firms, Kirenaga Partner Jim Thomas told Orlando Inno. “I said ‘Are you kidding me?’”

Instead of struggling to find companies, the fund is going strong. The Central Florida Tech Fund announced July 25 it made its seventh startup investment, and sixth in Florida, into Gainesville-based Mattrix Technologies Inc. The rollout of the fund was delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic, but it since has moved quickly: Millions of dollars were invested into seven companies in less than a year. 

That’s just the start for the fund. Kirenaga plans to raise $100 million and invest in 15-20 startups over three years. In fact, Kirenaga is seriously eyeing six more companies to invest in the near future, Thomas said. 

Space balloons, drone tech and more

In addition to Mattrix, Central Florida Tech fund’s investments include: 

  • Censys Technologies Corp.: Daytona Beach-based firm enabling drones to fly faster and further 
  • ecoSPEARS Inc.: Altamonte Springs-based company with tech that removes contaminants from soil and water
  • Phenix: Chicago-based firm with real-time video streaming technology 
  • Space Perspective Inc.: Based at Kennedy Space Center, the company will send tourists to the edge of the atmosphere in a balloon capsule.
  • StemRad Inc.: Headquartered in Tampa and Israel, the firm makes personal protective equipment to protect against radiation. 
  • Violet Defense LLC: Orlando-based developer of ultraviolet light-based disinfection systems (Company CEO Terrance Berland also is a Kirenaga managing partner) 

These investments are important because the money can help the companies grow, creating jobs and innovative solutions and technologies in the process. For example, ecoSPEARS expects to grow its staff from 15 people to 40 or more by the end of 2022 as a result of its growth, Executive Vice President Ian Doromal previously told OBJ.

Plus, Thomas said the deal highlights the Central Florida Tech Fund’s thesis: There are investable, scalable tech firms in Florida but a lack of early-stage capital. “Florida and Central Florida are the most undercapitalized places in the country that also have the most opportunities.” 

Last quarter, venture capital activity in metro Orlando lagged behind other regional metros, according to data from PitchBook and the National Venture Capital Association. Local companies raised $84.3 million in the second quarter, compared to $990 million in Atlanta, $831 million in Miami, $251 million in Charlotte and $239 million in Nashville. Orlando did surpass the $25 million invested in Tampa companies. 

Priming the pump 

However, venture capital deals are up in all of Central Florida’s metros as 2021 is on pace to be a record year for nationwide startup investments, according to PitchBook and the National Venture Capital Association. From second-quarter 2020 to second-quarter 2021, venture capital investment is up 103% to $84.3 million in Orlando, up 2,000% to $10.6 million in Melbourne and up from zero to $9.8 million in Daytona Beach. 

More big startup investments may be on the way to the region, said Ben Patz, managing partner of Orlando-based venture capital firm DeepWork Capital LLC. Central Florida is home to plenty of investable technology, but it takes time and money to build toward a larger, more plentiful investment scene, he said. “It’s like priming a pump.”

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Posted on: September 20th, 2021 by Kirenaga Partners

Our Neptune One test vehicle successfully launched from the Space Coast Spaceport, adjacent to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, on June 18 2021, the first in our robust test flight program for Spaceship Neptune. Space Perspective is the first space launch operator to fly from the Space Coast Air and Spaceport.

The un-crewed Neptune One flew its planned flight, similar to the one our Space Explorers will fly. It reached over 100,000 feet, traversed the Florida peninsula and splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico where it was met and brought ashore.

See the full article and pictures from the flight here

Sports Streaming Startup Phenix Is Looking to Grow After $16.7M Series B

Posted on: September 20th, 2021 by Kirenaga Partners

Sports fans are lucky enough to live in a time when they can watch almost any game instantaneously on their TV, computer or phone. But it turns out “instantaneous” isn’t as fast as we may think.

There’s a small delay — anywhere from fractions of a second to almost a minute — between when something happens on the field, and when viewers at home are able to see it. On top of this delay, some streaming platforms experience what’s called “audience drift,” which happens when people watching the same content on the same platform, but on different devices, are out of synch. This can account for more than a minute in delay between viewers.

While the delay may seem small, it’s not always insignificant. This can lead to potential spoilers, or worse. In the 2010s there were several instances of “courtsiding” — where people would electronically place bets from a sports venue in the moments before bookkeepers knew what happened.

In order to negate this delay, sports broadcasters, agencies and rights owners will have to revamp the technology behind sports streaming. That’s where companies like Phenix come in.

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