The Term Sheet: Startup funding roundup for June 2020

Colorado startup funding attempted a comeback in June with 29 companies raising a collective $197.6 million, according to a review of Form Ds filed with the SEC.

That is a steep jump from May, during which 32 startups raised $64.5 million.

Denver businesses led the way with $171.4 million, and Boulder-based startups followed with $16.5 million in funding. Startups elsewhere in the state raised $9.7 million.

BusinessDen defines a startup as a company that’s 10 years old or less and excludes funds, real estate ventures and publicly traded companies.

Overall, Colorado startup funding in the first half of 2020 was lower than the same period last year. Startups raised $505.6 million in the first quarter, compared to $546.5 million in 2019. In the second quarter, startups raised $315 million compared to last year’s $454 million.

Here are some highlights from June:

DispatchHealth: $136 million

DispatchHealth health care professionals travel to patients’ homes for non-emergency care. (Courtesy DispatchHealth)

DispatchHealth, led by Dr. Mark Prather, raked in $135.8 million in June and plans to expand its services, market and team.

The Series C round was led by Optum Ventures and included participation from existing investors Alta Partners, Questa Capital, Echo Health Ventures, and new investors Oak HC/FT and Humana Inc., as well as others.

The Denver-based mobile checkup startup, founded in 2013, dispatches nurses and EMTs directly to patients’ homes and has had a growing number of patients since the pandemic hit.

To date, the company has raised $212 million.

“This is the largest capital raise for DispatchHealth to date,” Prather told BusinessDen last month. “We received a little bit more than we anticipated.”

Akerna raised $17 million in June. (Courtesy Akerna)

Akerna: $17 million

Akerna, a Denver-based provider of enterprise software for the cannabis industry, closed on a $17 million debt financing round in June.

Established in 2010 and led by CEO Jessica Billingsley, Akerna has tracked more than $18 billion in cannabis sales, according to a press release. It is the first cannabis compliance technology company to be traded on Nasdaq.

The company plans to use the funds “to support Akerna’s ongoing growth initiatives, continued investment in technology infrastructure and general corporate purposes,” the release reads.

Spark Grills, which are available for pre-order, raised $3.5 million. (Courtesy Spark Grills)

Spark Grills: $3.5 million

Based in Boulder, Spark Grills makes instant-light charcoal grills, which are currently available on the company’s site.

The startup secured $3.5 million last month, bringing its fundraising total to more than $12 million. The funding round was led by Lerer Hippeau with participation from previous investors, including Global Founders Capital, Bullish and Precursor Ventures, according to a Spark Grills news release.

The money will be used “to advance innovation and commercialization,” the release said.

Spark Grills, led by CEO Ben West, launched in 2017 to redesign the experience of charcoal grilling. The company said the grills fire up in seconds and have oven-like temperature control.

Company Six: $3 million

Company Six CEO Jim Booth. (Submitted)

Company Six, a new Boulder-based spinoff company from Sphero, raised $3 million in seed funding to develop robots and artificial intelligence for first responders.

The funding round was led by San Francisco-based Spider Capital and joined by Foundry Group, Techstars, Gan Ventures and Shasta Ventures.

Company Six, which launched in May, is the second sister company of Sphero, which designs programmable robotic toys. The first sister company, Misty Robotics, which makes robots that customers can program themselves, launched in 2017.
The new spinoff uses Sphero’s technology to commercialize intelligent robots and AI-based software applications for first responders, the military and others who work in dangerous situations.

“The name is a nod to the saying ‘Check your six,’ which is basically, ‘We’ve got your back,’” Company Six CEO Jim Booth, former chief operating officer of Sphero, told BusinessDen last month.

Shinesty’s “Quarantine Collection” features pajameralls for working from home, women’s underwear, and “ball hammock briefs” for men.

Shinesty: $600,000

Boulder-based apparel company Shinesty, maker of denim swimsuits, loud holiday-themed clothing and ski suits in a variety of boisterous designs, raised $600,000 as part of a $1.5 million round in June.

The company, founded by Jens Nicolaysen alongside CEO Chris White and Michelle Frey-Tarbox, director of operations, in 2014, recently launched a “Quarantine Collection” when they noticed a 50 to 60 percent sales decline in their mainstay items.

Shinesty also was recently named a 2020 NFL Players Association Licensee of the Year for its player-themed Hawaiian shirts, which feature hand-drawn caricatures of athletes.

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