MassVentures Continues Investing in uTest as Part of a $43 Million Series E Round Led by Goldman Sachs

Today MassVentures announced its continued investment in uTest as part of a $43 million Series E round of funding led by Goldman Sachs. This latest round brings the company’s total funding to more than $80 million since its founding in 2007.

The funding follows a recent announcement that uTest is rebranding to ‘Applause’ to reflect an expanded vision. Now, with the investment, the company plans to expand its offering to bring 360 degree app quality to brands around the world, expand its in-the-wild testing, grow its distribution channels, broaden the uTest community and consider M&A to help build out its offerings.

“From the beginning, it’s been exciting to watch a young Massachusetts-based startup create game-changing business model and become one of the dominant players in the app testing market,” said Jerry Bird, President, MassVentures. “The additional investment from Goldman Sachs and the continued support of other partners confirms Doron’s vision and our investment, and supports uTest/Applause as it continues to scale and meet the ever-increasing demands of app developers and end users.”

For more details on the announcement, read Doron Reuveni’s blog post here.

MassVentures Invests in Curoverse to Accelerate Development of Open Source Biomedical Big Data Platform

MassVentures today announced its investment in Curoverse.  Curoverse has raised $1.5 million to accelerate commercial development of the Arvados open source platform for genomic and biomedical big data and bring to market products and services based on the platform.

Arvados was released as a free and open source project in April 2013 at http://arvados.org. Today, the Arvados software powers a private cloud with 300 TB of storage and 500 cores that is used for genomic analysis at the Harvard Personal Genome Project and for research work at Harvard Medical School. The platform includes a content addressable distributed storage system and a computational management system designed to make complex analyses easily reproducible.

“MassVentures is pleased to see this type of large scale, big data IT opportunity pursued here in the state,” adds Jennifer Jordan, Vice President, MassVentures. “Curoverse has an opportunity to further Massachusetts’ leadership in biomedicine, bringing customers a unique solution to address the big data infrastructure needs of their biomedical research and clinical applications.”

For the complete Curoverse press release please click here.

MassVentures Crosses the $1B Threshold

This year marked a significant milestone for MassVentures. With its recent investment in Content Raven, we have now attracted over $1B of outside investment capital to our portfolio companies. Through its investment gains, MassVentures has leveraged $14M of state funding into $91M of its own investments. More importantly, because of the capital and commitment of over 50 venture funds and angel groups with whom we partnered, more than $1B has been invested in 138 portfolio companies, contributing to the growth of the Massachusetts economy.

Getting capital to these startups is a very important part of what we do. Another part is addressing capital gaps where the investment community may not be providing adequate capital. From our recent innovation economy survey, entrepreneurs and investors reinforced that it is very difficult for first-time entrepreneurs to raise money. In addition the gap remains from $50K to $1M but the surveyed showed that it is increasingly harder to raise from $1M-$3M; the Series A gap.

capital gap

With those results in hand that affirmed our mission, MassVentures accomplished the following over the year:Led the oversubscribed Series A funding round of more than $2M for Content Raven. The first investment in partnership with MassDevelopment’s Emerging Technology fund.

  • Led a $755K seed round of financing for online publishing startup Libboo
  • Continued with the second year of the SBIR START program, providing $2M of funding to fourteen companies.
  • Portfolio exits from Incentive Targeting to Google and Clarity to Turbon to replenish investment capital.

Since 1978 MassVentures has focused on getting companies started – companies like uTest, lifeIMAGE and OwnerIQ and further back, Concord Communications and Kronos, to help grow the local economy and position Massachusetts as a world leader in innovation.

We look forward to this continued success in the year ahead.

Best,

Jerry 

Red Sox nutritionist on MassVentures-backed company, Segterra

Excerpts from Xconomy:

Like a lot of people in New England, Tara Mardigan didn’t get much sleep Sunday night.

Unlike a lot of people, Mardigan is team nutritionist for the Boston Red Sox. Asked what she put in Gomes’s cereal yesterday, she jokes that it was “100 percent natural.”

And that’s about all Mardigan would say specifically about the players’ eating habits.  But she could talk freely about a startup that she’s involved with—Cambridge, MA-based Segterra, a personal health and wellness company. Mardigan sits on the startup’s scientific advisory board and serves as a consultant on nutrition.

Segterra makes a Web-based health platform called InsideTracker. Based on analyzing a blood sample, the company makes personalized recommendations on food and lifestyle to improve an individual’s health and performance. The company is led by CEO Rony Sellam and founder Gil Blander.

Read the full story….

 

Governor Patrick Celebrates State’s Thriving Robotics Industry

Governor Deval Patrick today celebrated growth and opportunity in the Massachusetts innovation economy during a tour of Harvest Automation’s onsite manufacturing facility and robotics testing area. Harvest Automation manufactures sophisticated robots to support the agricultural industry at farms across the nation. The company’s growth from two to 37 employees has been bolstered by state investment through MassVentures.

“Harvest Automation is an exciting part of a flourishing robotics industry here in Massachusetts,” said Governor Patrick. “Harvest and companies like it prove that our strategy of investing time, ideas and a little money in education, innovation and infrastructure is a winning strategy for the Commonwealth.”

In 2008, MassVentures invested $500,000 in Harvest Automation and, in 2009, joined their board of directors as an observer. MassVentures continues to be actively involved with the company, investing approximately $2 million to date. With its help, Harvest Automation has leveraged a total of $18 million in private investment.  Read the full story

MassVentures’ Companies Muzzy Lane, Vsnap and uTest Take Home Prestigious 2013 MassTLC Leadership Awards

Three MassVentures’s companies, Muzzy Lane, Vsnap and uTEST each received an award at the Mass Technology Leadership Council‘s prestigious leadership awards ceremony earlier this month. In front of a crowd of more than 700 technology executives, the companies took home some of the night’s most honored awards. The finalists for the 2013 MassTLC Leadership Awards program were chosen from almost 300 submissions for their exemplary leadership and excellence in the Massachusetts technology community.

Muzzy Lane: Winner of the Innovative Technology of the Year – Ed Tech award, Muzzy Lane’s Government in Actionis an award-winning educational game where students role play a member of Congress as a way of exploring American Government. Based in Newburyport, MA, Muzzy Lane was funded through the MassVentures’ START program.

Vsnap: Winner of the Innovative Technology of the Year – Sales & Marketing, Vsnap provides a more personal alternative to email, allowing for fast, easy B2B and B2C video messaging to engage with clients on a more personal level, drive customer action, increase customer advocacy and decrease churn.

uTestWinner of one of the night’s biggest awards, uTest received the Private Company of the Year award. uTest is the world’s largest marketplace for software testing services with 80,000+ QA professionals from more than 190 countries.In the past year, uTest has increased its headcount by more than 50% while growing revenue by 225%. Its launch of Applause, an application analytics tool that crawls some 70 million reviews of more than one million apps, has gained wide acclaim as a premier rating index for the apps economy.

“The community came out in full force to celebrate an all-star line-up of finalists and winners,” said Tom Hopcroft, President and CEO of MassTLC. “The depth and breadth of technology innovation on exhibit is a testament to the caliber of the Massachusetts ecosystem. This year’s winners are the driving force in our economy and deserve our accolades and praise.”

In addition, Matt Johnson, Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer at uTest was nominated for Emerging Executive of the Year and another MassVentures portfolio company, Harvest Automation, was nominated for Innovative Technology of the Year – Robotics. It was commendable to have them recognized in such a competitive environment.

“The nominees and award winners should all be applauded for their excellent work in the industry. The fields were competitive and having three MassVentures’ companies receive awards and two additional nominations, demonstrates MassVentures’ and the Commonwealth’s commitment to the technology industry,” said Jerry Bird, President of MassVentures. “We look forward to continuing to support the excellent teams at uTest, Vsnap and Muzzy Lane and watching them grow and prosper. Congratulations to all the winners!”

MassVentures is moving!

As of September 27, 2013, MassVentures will be moving to Boston’s new Innovation district! We look forward to being part of the vibrant technology community in the area.  Our new address will be:

MassVentures
308 Congress Street, 5th Floor
Boston, MA 02210

(In the same building as the Boston Children’s Museum)

Our phone numbers will remain the same.

617-723-4920

The Venture Forum Business Plan Competition is Open

Details and Registration

When: September 7, 2013

Where: WPI Higgins Labs, Room 116, Worcester, MA

Program Topics:

9:00 am
WHAT TO PUT IN AND NOT PUT IN YOUR FINANCIALS

DAVID FOGEL, CPA, Managing Director                
Swifton CFOs LLC

9:30 am
PERFECTING YOUR PITCH
ANNETTE REYNOLDS, Executive Director
128 Innovation Capital Group

10:00 am
COMPETITION AND COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE

LUIS BARROS, Co-Director, Industry, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, MIT Portugal Program, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
10:30 am
BUILDING YOUR IP PORTFOLIO

MARIA L. CEDRONI, ASSOCIATE
Hamilton Brook Smith and Reynolds11:00 am
BUILDING YOUR MANAGEMENT TEAM

BRIGID OLIVERI SIEGEL,Partner, Polachi
 
11:30 am
GO TO MARKET STRATEGY

MITCH SANDERS, CEO
ECI Biotech & Lobstagen, LLC
12:00 pm 
CLOSING REMARKS AND TVF BUSINESS PLAN COMPETITION TIPS

LORI JONES, Founder & CCO
New Venture Evolution

2013 Innovation Economy Survey Results Show….

Over the past few months MassVentures has conducted research with the goal to gain a broad perspective on the state of the funding market for early stage technology companies in Massachusetts – what’s working well, what are the gaps, and how has it changed since we last conducted this research in 2011. We received over 300 responses to the survey; 55% were entrepreneurs, 15% from the VC community and 15% service providers.

A Shifting Gap to the Series A Round

Respondents continue to indicate that the capital gap in funding entrepreneurs is between $0-$3 million. However there is a noticeable shift from seed to Series A over the past two years. This may be indicative of it being easier to raise seed money, which means more companies are running into the challenge of raising the Series A round. Additionally, most agree that funding for 1st time entrepreneurs and underserved industries and regions of Massachusetts continues to be a challenge.

the capital gap

Raising the Series A Round

There is much discussion regarding the Series A capital gap and the difficulties in raising follow-on funding. We posed the question to our entrepreneurs and received positive news that 67% of respondents were able to raise follow-on funding in less than 12 months. Most found the process efficient, although many are still looking for a better understanding and a consistent process for how to navigate it.

 Follow-on funding

Boston You’re My Home

There is significant debate throughout the community in regards to the best place to launch a startup. For all the “threats” that entrepreneurs are leaving in droves, the majority think it is overstated. However, for those that are leaving, they are primarily heading to California and New York for access to capital, capital for new markets and the speed and efficiency of the investment.

leaving the state

Industries on the Rise

It was great to see that according to respondents, healthcare IT continues to thrive in the state, and mobile and biotech have improved greatly. Consumer funding is still thought to be lacking although hopefully there is positive momentum with funding of companies such as LevelUp, Gemvara, DisruptorBeam and SessionM.

industries

MassVentures Role in the Ecosystem

From the survey, most respondents agree that the State should play a role in identifying in-state opportunities, developing a talent pool and VC financings. It is the primary goal of MassVentures to focus on the identified capital gap – Series A investments and occasional and opportunistic seed rounds. We provide capital for first-time CEOs, including our recent investment in Content Raven, and look towards industries underserved by the venture community.

state role

For the full survey results, please click here. Thanks to all those that shared their insights. We look forward to working with you to continue to support the Innovation Economy in Massachusetts to create new sustainable companies and job growth. If you would like to talk with us about the launch of your new idea and company, please feel free to contact me.

Best,

Jerry Bird
617-723-4920
@jbird14

First-time CEO Leans on MassVentures for Guidance

“The MassVentures team is willing to take a risk and invest in first-time CEOs and leading-edge emerging market segments not typically served by the Massachusetts venture community. They have been an active supporter of our strategy, growth and continued success.” Read the full story..