TPM Featured in Champaign News-Gazette

The Product Manufactory (TPM), a Serra Capital I portfolio company, was featured in the Champaign News-Gazette on July 14. TPM offers professional design and engineering services for customers performing product development. The services side of TPM works on a contract basis and engages with customers to develop concepts and prototypes based on their specifications and requirements.

Out of all the products that TPM has created since the company's inception, the focus of this particular article was a new smart oven - one that automatically knows how to cook healthy, fresh ingredients into multi-course meals simply by reading a bar code.

"We received lots of incredible feedback and suggestions," Bryan Wilcox, CEO of TPM said. "Because we make a lot of use of technology and software elements, we're able to update the behavior of the appliances."


Serionix Featured in Crain's Chicago Business

Serionix, a Serra Capital I and III company, was recently featured in Crain's Chicago Business on July 6. Serionix develops high performance, affordable technologies for water and air purification. Using fibrous activated carbon and ion-exchange materials, Serionix purification is differentiated by rapid rates of contaminant uptake, well-defined selectivity for targeted chemicals, and potential for low-cost production. The inventors of this air filter continue to find new uses for it, from purifying the air astronauts breathe to eliminating the smell of cat urine.

Highlights from Serionix include a $750,000 contract from NASA to continue to develop filters for potential use in next-generation spacesuit life-support systems. The company has also received a total of $3 million in grants as well as more than $500,000 from its lead investor, Serra Ventures.


Farmlead NameD to 25 Most Innovative Ag-Tech Startups by Forbes

Farmlead, a Serra Capital III portfolio company, was recently listed among Forbes "25 Most Innovative Ag-Tech Startups." Farmlead is a digital marketplace that allows buyers and sellers to list, negotiate and finalize grain deals. Available online and as a mobile app,  FarmLead increases market reach, provides 24-7 access and reduces brokerage fees. The FarmLead Marketplace facilitates greater efficiency in grain marketing. 

To find the 25 ag-tech startups that carry the most potential, Forbes surveyed the agricultural technology landscape by speaking with experts, venture capitalists and accelerators; then examined financials and each company’s agricultural credentials. 


12 Labs CEO Featured in Tech.Co

Ashu Dubey, Co-Found of 12 Labs, a Serra Capital II company, was recently featured in a blog piece on Tech.Co. The article was titled "How to Build an In-House Data Science Team From Scratch." 12 Labs' flagship product is the Applause health app. Applause is the most effective tool in your battle to lose weight. (And unlike other weight loss programs, Applause fits in the palm of your hand). Applause uses data science algorithms and behavioral psychology to make suggestions and predictions specifically for you. 

Ashu Dubey is a product guy, hacker and data scientist all rolled into one. He is the co-founder of 12 Labs’ Applause, a data science powered weight loss application. At 12 Labs, he crunches data to help Applause users lose weight smartly and scientifically.


Tunespeak Featured in Forbes

Tunespeak, a Serra Capital II portfolio company, was recently featured in an article on Tunespeak is a musician-to-fan reward platform that is the brainchild of two St. Louis musicians. Tunespeak connects bands to their most loyal and influential fans, rewarding fans for listening, sharing and promoting bands on their existing social media networks.

The article outlines just how Tunespeak wants to help modernize the idea of a street team to assist musicians at all points in their careers to spread the word about what they are up to and help increase their fan base. Tom Pernikoff, CEO and co-founder of Tunespeak, explained the goal of his company is “as much about keeping artists top of mind and selling things as making sure fans are being recognized."


Homebay Successfully Completes $5M Funding

HomeBay, a Serra Capital III portfolio company, announced on June 26 that it has successfully completed a $5M round of funding. HomeBay, a San Diego based company, provides consumers a smarter way to buy and sell homes with data-driven intelligence, complete transparency and an on-demand customer experience. Home Bay’s sophisticated technology platform expedites the transaction with efficient, seamless systems that save consumers and real estate agents time and money.

The company plans to use the financing for expansion into new markets. Serra Capital III participated in the round. 


Serra Capital III Invests in WhiteFox Defense Technologies

Serra Capital III is pleased to announce its 13th investment in WhiteFox Defense Technologies. Drones pose a present and evolving danger to people and property. Mitigating a drone threat in any protection mission requires a dynamic and reliable kill chain response to ensure a controlled landing. WhiteFox Defense Technologies, Inc. has developed a comprehensive, intuitive, portable drone threat mitigation device—the DroneFox.

Luke Fox, CEO of WhiteFox, says “WhiteFox is at a point of growth where our technology is critically needed and in high demand. Every DroneFox we sell will represent an entity being equipped to protect people and property from threats to security, safety, and even loss of life posed by drones. Our partnership with Serra will help us further accelerate delivery of this critically needed technology.”

“The team at Serra Ventures is honored to be partnering with Luke Fox and the executives over atWhiteFox Defense Technologies” says Steve Beck, Managing Partner at Serra Ventures. “WhiteFox has cracked the code on some seriously deep technology challenges to elevate protection capabilities for both the Department of Defense and the private sector in response to the ever growing threat of reckless and dangerous drone incursions. This technology is essential for both public and national security as well as the appropriate expansion of commercial drone use.”

Clarify Medical Receives FDA Clearance

Clarify Medical, a Serra Capital III portfolio company, has received FDA clearance for its main technology - The Clarify Medical Phototherapy System, which is the core technology of its Clarify Home Light Therapy service. Clarify’s proprietary technology allows patients with chronic skin diseases to receive UVB phototherapy in their homes, linked to their physicians and to Clarify support services through their smartphones. The company plans to start offering the technology in November of 2017.

“This is a major milestone,” said James M. Sweeney, Clarify Medical’s CEO. “We look forward to offering Clarify Home Light Therapy to patients throughout the country, beginning in November. It offers an in-office therapy proven effective with skin diseases such as psoriasis, vitiligo, and eczema in a convenient form.”


Inprentus Demonstrates its Diffraction Gratings at Brookhaven National Lab

Inprentus, a Serra Capital II portfolio company, demonstrated its diffraction gratings at NSLS-II SIX Beamline at Brookhaven National Lab on May 9, 2017. The newly completed SIX beamline, a flagship experimental end-station at Brookhaven National Labs' cutting-edge NSLS-II synchrotron, turned on for the first time in February, reporting sharp imaging and high fluence of the X-ray light source - both properties made possible through the integration of an Inprentus blazed diffraction grating which was custom designed and manufactured for the SIX beamline.

Joseph Dvorak, an Assistant Physicist in the Beamline Research and Development Section at Brookhaven National Laboratory, stated the following: "High quality gratings are essential to our technique of soft x-ray energy loss spectroscopy.  Inprentus is supplying gratings for our advanced spectrometer at NSLS-II."


Spatial Named Among Top 10 Artificial Intelligence Companies to Watch

Spatial, a Serra Capital III portfolio company, was recently named to the "Top 10 Artificial Intelligence Companies to Watch in Transportation" list by Disruptor Daily. Transportation is one of the biggest aspects of infrastructure that keeps the modern world functioning efficiently. With artificial intelligence, roadways become safer, smarter places through the use of personal assistants, AI vehicle maintenance help, and even autonomous, self-driving commercial vehices. integrates social data into a navigation system based in the user’s smartphone, their platform is called Xero. Xero uses natural language processing and artificial intelligence to provide real-time information about local events. Xero integrates with AI personal assistants to offer drivers information according to their tastes.


Sabia in Fertilizer International

Sabia, a Serra Capital I portfolio company, had its X1-XP OnPipe Slurry Analyzer featured in the March issue of Fertilizer International. Sabia, Inc. designs, manufactures, markets, sells and services PGNAA (prompt gamma neutron activation analysis) instrumentation systems that provide customers with process improvements based on real-time materials analyses. PGNAA provides an analysis of element composition of bulk materials and is heavily used in industries such as cement manufacture, coal mining, and minerals mining. 

A case study summary block titled “PGNAA boosts phosphate plant efficiency” provides details of the SABIA slurry analyzers installed at a phosphate plant. This slurry case study is part of an article titled “Phosphate Process Analyzers” which offers an educated description of various technologies used for phosphate analysis including operational benefits.


Serra Capital Invests in Madison-Based Asto CT

Serra Capital has invested in its 12th company - Asto CT, LLC, of Madison, WI. Asto CT is the developerof Equina™, a novel multi-slice computed tomography (CT) system to image the limbs of standing horses. Serra is participating in the company’s $1.5M round with an initial commitment of $250,000. Asto CT plans to do a Series A preferred round later in 2017.
David Ergun, CEO of Asto CT says, “Asto CT is thrilled to have Serra Ventures as an investor. This is another huge step towards our goal of bringing safe, affordable CT imaging to the equine veterinary community.”
“The Serra team is very excited to be investing with the Asto CT team. We are excited about what they have built and with the reaction from the equine marketplace. We look forward to assisting the management team as they build this company” said Dennis Beard, a Managing Partner at Serra Ventures.

Chicago and the Midwest establishing themselves as best-of-class in agriculture

Orlando Saez, former CEO of Serra Capital I portfolio company CityScan, recently published at article in Crain's Chicago Business titled "Can Chicago Own Innovation in Big Agriculture?" While the Midwest region and Chicago has increasingly established leaders in the fields such as nanotechnology, robotics, digital and financial tech, material science and advanced manufacturing, they are now becoming best-of-class in agriculture. 

The International Association of Agricultural Economics projects worldwide population will grow 35 percent by 2050, leading to a 59 to 98 percent increase in demand for food.  One way to meet this demand is to find new ways through bioengineering and precision farming to increase yields from existing farmland. Serra Ventures was named among several venture capital firms and other initiatives that are active in this endeavor. 


Serra Ventures CEO Tim Hoerr Featured on Expedition Midwest

Tim Hoerr, CEO and Managing Partner with Serra Ventures, did an interview with Expedition Midwest on April 28. The article outlined Tim's past and what led him to found Serra, as well as what involvement he has in the Midwest ecosystem. Tim shared a few economic factors that make investing in the Midwest favorable. "Deals tend to be more economically priced in the Midwest", he says, "with a capital imbalance currently standing as a major driver of financing activity in the twelve-state area."

Expedition Midwest was developed to document the entrepreneurial ecosystem of the Midwest's twelve-state region.




Serra Adds John Giuliani and Karin O'Connor as Venture Partners

In the first quarter of 2017, Serra announced two new additions to the team - John Giuliani and Karin O'Connor, 

John Giuliani joined the Serra team as a Venture Partner in February. In addition to taking the helm of Dotomi and building the company until it was sold for $295 million, John most recently led Conversant to significant growth and an exit to Alliance Data in December, 2014 for $2.3 Billion. John comes to Serra Ventures with over 30 years of experience helping and growing successful businesses. He is a Champaign County nativewho presently resides in Las Vegas, NV. 

Serra added Karin O’Connor to the team as a VenturePartner in March. Karin O’Connor is founder of Chicago-based Perimeter Advisors, an advisory firm that assists owners of promising mid-market companies with planning and execution of value enhancement strategies.  She is also an active investor in and advisor to early- and growth-stage companies and entrepreneurs. Serra partners have known and worked with Karin for over 10 years. With the addition of Karin, Serra is expanding its presence in the Chicago market where it has nine portfolio companies. 

“These three exceptional additions make Serra Ventures much stronger. Our reach is broadening and our strength is deepening,” commented Dennis Beard, Managing Partner. 

Smart Tags for smart cows on the fast track with Herddogg

Herddogg, a Serra Capital III portfolio company, is a revolutionary Internet of Things technology for remote monitoring of animal herd genetics, health and key environmental data.

Featured on The Fence Post, the company explained how they are currently developing 'smart tags for smart cows,' which monitor cattle. The devices record body temperature, environmental data, location and ambient temperature - without ever running them through a chute, also helping with herd management and offering precision livestock, similar to precision crop management.


Spatial a Finalist at Google Demo Day; Aims for Silicon Valley

Spatial, a Serra Capital III portfolio company, was chosen as a finalist at Google Demo Day on March 30. This was the fourth annual Demo Day, which is a competition for up and coming tech companies in the US. Spatial combines machine-assisted analysis and human-driven data like social media content to provide a cultural map of cities.  Spatial's cultural overlays make maps more useful for many industries including automobile navigation, real estate, apartment search, vacation rental and many more.

Spatial was one among three finalists, and google will give one finalist the chance to visit Googleplex headquarters in Silicon Valley in California and meet with investors and mentors for a chance at funding.


How Opendorse is Offering More Efficient Athlete Endorsements

Opendorse, a Serra Capital III portfolio company, was recently featured in Forbes on March 29. Opendorse connects marketers with athletes to secure sponsored social media activations from the world's most influential athletes.The company is releasing a software as a service (SaaS) solution for sports properties, allowing them to turn athletes with ties to the properties into social media advocates.

Some may ask, why are these athlete voluntarily handing over their social media accounts without any direct compensation provided in return? Opendorse Marketing Coordinator Sam Weber explains, "They're just very busy and don't have time to create quality content. Fans care about what they're doing on the field, the team's successes and the alma mater's successes. In turn, the athletes are more marketable for paid sponsorship deals."


Serra Invests in farmlead; Part of $6.5M Series A Round for company

Serra Capital III announced that it has invested in its 11th company, FarmLead. FarmLead is a digital marketplace that allows buyers and sellers to list, negotiate and finalize grain deals. Available online and as a mobile app,  FarmLead increases market reach, provides 24-7 access and reduces brokerage fees. The FarmLead Marketplace facilitates greater efficiency in grain marketing.  Farmers find more buyers and identify the best possible deal, while grain buyers easily identify the grain for sale in their desired location.

The investment is part of a $6.5M Series A round led by Monsanto, and also includes Canadian agtech venture capital firm Avrio Ventures and Canadian government-backed commercialization agent MaRS Innovation Accelerator Fund. With this round of funding, FarmLead is expanding to the US where 5% of its customer base are already based. It is opening a headquarters in Chicago and already starting to hire new personnel to fill it. The funding will also go towards building out new product capabilities such as enabling payments through the platform.


Serionix Awarded NASA Phase II Grant

Serionix, a Serra Capital I and III company, announced on March 14 that it has officially been awarded a NASA Phase II grant. Serionix, the startup fundamentally changing the way we look at air, received a $750,000 contract from NASA to fund continued development of filters to remove toxic gases from next-generation spacesuit life support systems. The same technology is on its way into consumer products expected to launch within the year. 

NASA has awarded funding to evaluate ColorfilTM technology for incorporation into the next generation of spacesuit and Personal Life Support System (PLSS), which is used during spacewalks to keep astronauts safe, healthy, and comfortable. Jim Langer, President of Serionix enthused, “We are excited for the opportunity to work with NASA to send our Colorfil technology into space!”