Savant Labs aims to bring analytics directly to line of business users

Too often over the last decade, line of business people have been forgotten when it comes to analytics. Even though these folks are the closest to what’s happening with customers, they tend to get left behind when it comes to tools, which are often geared for data scientists or at least people with a deep understanding of data.

Savant Labs is looking to bring analytics to line of business personnel and today the startup announced a healthy $11 million seed investment.

Chitrang Shah, founder and CEO at Savant Labs, says people charged with dealing with data spend too much time doing manual tasks to wrangle the data they need, and they do this repeatedly. He saw an area that was ripe for automation, which he sees as a key differentiator for the startup.

“So we are building a platform for [business users], and the main impetus behind it is the amount of manual work that goes on in doing analytics and reporting is staggering. You go and talk to these people and they will tell you that half their time, more than half their time sometimes, is spent just doing manual stuff over and over again. And that’s where we are out there to change. We are the first platform that brings automation to analytics,” Shah told TechCrunch.

If you feel like you’ve heard this before, Shah insists that his company is solving a problem for a group who are too often ignored by the tools vendors.

“There isn’t anything done for people who sit in the business functions and are doing the analytics…The analytics market is huge. It’s fragmented. There are a lot of different players — BI players, data analyst players — they are all building for either data engineering teams or for central analytics. Nobody is actually solving the problem for people that are sitting in the business functions,” Shah explained.

He launched the company in September 2021 as the economy was getting shaky, but he isn’t worried about the short-term macroeconomic environment. Shah says that he’s in it for the long haul and he can weather some turbulence to build a company.

He also believes in his solution is relevant in good times or bad because automation is always going to sell. The product itself is a typical no code workflow builder with built-in connectors users can drag and drop to connect to data sources, make certain actions and events happen and finally output the data to update sources like Salesforce and Snowflake, update the related dashboard and send a message to relevant employees Slack when new data is available.

Savant Labs data workfolw tool in action, connecting to data sources, doing a join, adding action and event triggers and finally outputting to dashboards, the data warehouse and Slack notifications.

Image Credits: Savant Labs

He has 20 employees so far, and he says as a startup founder, regardless of the tech company layoffs, the challenge remains finding employees who not only have the right skill set, but are committed to doing what it takes to build a startup.

He says that when it comes to hiring, he is trying to build a diverse workforce, but there are many challenges for an early stage technical startup. But he says one advantage he has is being fully remote and being able to hire from anywhere.

“We were born digital native, so we don’t have an office. We were a globally distributed company from day one. So we have that level of diversity,” he said. But he says that so far gender diversity so far has eluded him because the hiring market remains tight for engineers in spite of the layoffs we have seen.

Today’s $11 million seed was led Cota Capital with participation from WestWave Capital, Bloomberg Beta, Uncorrelated Ventures, Handshake Ventures and several industry angels.

Savant Labs aims to bring analytics directly to line of business users by Ron Miller originally published on TechCrunch

Farther, a wealth tech firm, banks $15M Series A as valuation hits $50M

Building wealth is a long process and can be complex, but Farther is bringing both technology and advisors to the table to make these kinds of services more accessible.

The wealth technology company was co-founded in 2019 by Taylor Matthews and Brad Genser, who say Farther is “a new kind of financial institution” catering to high-net-worth professionals building generational wealth but want the freedom of both an automated system and a professional.

Prior to Farther, Matthews, CEO, was an investment banker and management consultant before co-founding Essmart, a social enterprise company in India, and then moving over to a leadership position at fintech retirement advisory firm ForUsAll. Meanwhile, Genser, CTO, is a military veteran who previously worked at Goldman Sachs leading an artificial intelligence team in private wealth.

Capitalizing on their experiences, the pair created Farther to provide tools that are two-fold: one set for advisors to expand their businesses and one for clients to invest in ways that align with their goals using automation, artificial intelligence or one of the advisors. Advisors set the costs for using the platform.

Wealth management is big business with many startups bringing unique approaches. For example, PINA in Indonesia targets the middle class with investment services that don’t have high minimums and fees, while Tifin has both a consumer investment marketplace and one geared toward businesses.

Some new and unique features include what Genser called a “cash waterfall” that detects excess cash and enables clients to invest that into new vehicles. “As an advisor at Goldman, that was just something I couldn’t do,” he told TechCrunch.

There are also alternative investments that provide investment access in private equity and hedge fund portfolios, some with account minimums as low as $25,000.

In addition to quadrupling its AUM to more than $250 million this year, the company also grew its advisor count to over 20 after starting the year with six. Including those advisors, engineers and product team members Farther also doubled its staff size to more than 50 employees, Matthews added.

Farther closed a $15 million Series A round of funding in May that was led by Bessemer Venture Partners and included Khosla Ventures and MassMutual Ventures as new investors. They join existing investors Moneta Venture Capital, Context Ventures and Cota Capital.

The new capital gives Farther a total of $22 million in investments since 2019 and boosts its valuation to $50 million from $20 million, which was where the company was when it raised funding last year.

Matthews and Genser plan to deploy the Series A dollars into product development and hiring more talent ahead of demand.

“We’ve really come into our own this year in a way we are excited about,” Matthews told TechCrunch. “The growth we have experienced in the last two quarters, including quadrupling our assets under management, and closing on this investment, even in this tough fundraising environment, is a testament to the great stuff we have done so far.”

Platform9 raises $26M to help manage distributed cloud clusters

Platform9, which bills itself as an “open distributed cloud company,” today announced that it closed a $26 million funding round led by Celesta Capital with participation from Cota Capital, NGP Capital, and other investors. CEO Bhaskar Gorti said that the new cash will be used to drive Platform9’s go-to-market strategy and product research and development, particularly as the company seeks out larger-scale enterprise deployments.

Platform9 was founded by Sirish Raghuram, Madhura Maskasky, Bich Le, and Roopak Parikh, who worked together to create several virtualization products in the early aughts. Their hypothesis was that open source ecosystems would grow to offer a broad range of offerings in the cloud, but that enterprises needed a simpler way to operationalize them. A recent McKinsey report suggests that fewer than 25% of cloud initiatives meet their time to market and cost goals.

Platform9 ostensibly delivers this by allowing developers to run Kubernetes — the open source platform for managing self-contained workloads — and other cloud-native technologies on a distributed cloud services. It works with existing infrastructure to create cloud-native clusters that come with monitoring features and integrate with third-party tools. Here, “cluster” refers to a set of worker machines, called nodes, that run apps “containerized” with the dependencies and services necessary to run them.


Platform9 offers a number of tools to help manage clusters running in the cloud, whether in the public cloud or on-premises.

Using Platform9, developer can remotely install, operate, and maintain clusters via a software-as-a-service management plane. Its capabilities include automated security patching, on-demand upgrades, and “self-healing” clusters as well as multi-version support and audit logging.

Platform9’s service powers 40,000 nodes across private, public, and edge clouds, according to Gorti.

“To create a more open cloud experience, Platform9’s cofounders studied emerging open-source work in the infrastructure space, including Apache CloudStack, OpenStack, LXD, and Kubernetes,” Gorti continued. “They were inspired by the agility developers gained using public clouds, but wanted to challenge the assumption that this could only be achieved by limiting enterprises to a walled garden.”

While Gorti declined to discuss revenue, he said that Platform9 — whose funding to date stands at $100 million — currently has over 60 enterprise customers and 120 employees. The business grew 100% from 2021 to 2022 while net revenue retention, which calculates total revenue minus revenue churn (e.g., contract expirations, cancellations, and downgrades), increased 132%.

In addition to the financing, Mountain View-based Platform9 announced two appointments to the executive team: Emilia A’Bell and Ravi Jacob. A’Bell comes from sales executive positions at Oracle and Nokia, while Jacob was previously a CVP at Intel.

Tenyx raises $15M to build more intelligent voice-based customer service AI

Automating customer service tasks, particularly those that require agents to speak with customers on the phone, is something of a holy grail in the enterprise. According to a survey by OnePoll commissioned by call center software vendor TCN, customers are willing to wait on hold for six minutes on average when waiting to speak to a customer representative. But agents can only field so many calls.

That’s the common narrative among companies selling customer service automation software, at least, including Palo Alto, California-based Tenyx. Tenyx, which builds voice-based customer service apps, today announced that it raised $15 million in a seed round from AME Cloud Ventures, Cota Capital, Morado Ventures, Pathbreaker Ventures, Point72 Ventures and StageOne Ventures.

Tenyx is led by the founding team behind Apprente, which developed voice-based systems to automate order-taking at drive-thru restaurant windows. After testing its technology in select locations, McDonald’s acquired Apprente in 2019 and renamed it McD Tech Labs. Two years later, IBM purchased the division for an undisclosed amount.

Tenyx’s leadership team includes Itamar Arel, a former computer science professor at the University of Tennessee and CEO of Apprente, and Ron Chrisley, the head of the cognitive science program at Sussex University. The startup is pre-revenue, early stage, and reluctant to disclose much about its technology. But Arel said that Tenyx is tackling challenges including the ability to learn continually from new information and the need to reduce AI system development times.

“The … enterprise customer service market remains dependent on voice solutions even with the introduction of digital and self-service alternatives. Conversational AI adoption has been hampered by deployment complexity, challenges to scaling efficiently, and lack of consumer trust. Existing automation solutions for voice-based customer service remain brittle and lacking in their ability to understand and engage with customers,” Arel continued. “The COVID-19 pandemic has led to labor shortages at call centers, opening up opportunities for the adoption of conversational AI technology. Coupled with that, customers are expecting better and more consistent customer experiences, which can be accommodated with robust voice-based AI solutions.”

Even the most sophisticated AI systems today suffer from a key limitation: statisticity. Algorithms are trained once on a dataset and rarely again, making them incapable of learning new information without retraining. While some AI labs have investigated solutions, like giving systems access to search engines, these come along with their own hurdles. One is “catastrophic learning,” a phenomenon where AI systems fail to recall what they’ve learned from a training dataset and have to be constantly reminded.

Arel hints that Tenyx has something up its sleeve along these lines.

“Current AI models can learn from vast amounts of data that is made available at the time of training, but cannot learn incrementally as new data becomes available. That is a significant limitation of existing machine learning models, which Tenyx’s technology aims to overcome,” Arel told TechCrunch in an email interview. “In particular, based on its continually learning [AI systems], Tenyx’s technology will empower solutions that can improve their performance using human-in-the-loop interactive learning.”

If Tenyx has made significant progress in the continual learning domain, that’d be truly impressive. OpenAI research scientist Jeff Clune, who helped to cofound Uber AI Labs in 2017, has called catastrophic forgetting the “Achilles’ heel” of machine learning. With a focus on customer service, it isn’t tough to see how continual learning techniques could be of use to Tenyx, which might leverage them to, for example, supply an AI-powered, phone-answering system with up-to-date business information (e.g., store hours).

“By developing novel, continuously learning AI capabilities, we think Tenyx has the potential to revolutionize the enterprise customer service market, allowing a wide range of businesses to dramatically improve the efficiency and effectiveness with which they help their customers,” Point72 Ventures’ Dan Gawk said in a statement. “The company is led by technical experts that have already proven they can build AI voice solutions capable of assisting thousands of real-world customers each day.”

Arel says that the proceeds from the latest round will be put toward expanding the team, developing the company’s core technology for continual learning, and building and delivering the voice-based AI product. He claims that Tenyx, which has about 10 employees, is in talks with prospective customers in the contact center space.

Citcon raises $30M to make paying with mobile wallets ‘as easy as paying with a credit card’

Citcon, a mobile wallet payment provider, has closed on $30 million in funding in a Series C round co-led by Norwest Venture Partners and Cota Capital. 

Sierra Ventures and Sonae IM also joined the financing, which brings San Jose-based Citcon’s total raised since its 2015 inception to nearly $50 million.

Citcon’s mission is straightforward: to allow merchants to accept payments by mobile wallet and alternative currencies “with the same ease as they process traditional credit card payments today,” according to CEO and founder Chuck Huang.

Before starting Citcon, Huang spent four years as a lead systems architect at Visa, where he led the system architecture design and development for several products, including its mobile payment gateway and card-based rewards redemption platform.

Citcon was built on the premise that mobile payments provide a “more user-friendly, secure and safer” contactless shopping and payment experience for both consumers and merchants. And that was before the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the surge in contactless payments.

Clearly, Citcon is doing something right. As 2021 draws to a close, Citcon’s annualized payment volume is about $1 billion, representing over 300% year-over-year growth. Revenue, too, has grown by the same percentage, according to Huang.

The startup’s payment technology is integrated with POS and e-commerce systems such as Toshiba, Oracle, Cegid, Shopify and SAP. And it’s deployed at more than 30,000 merchants’ sites and locations, including L’Oréal, Tumi, Texas Instruments, Macy’s and Panda Express.

Citcon offers something that Apple Pay and Google Pay don’t, according to Huang. 

“Ours is software-based and so unlike with Apple Pay or Google Pay, you don’t need a bank or credit card attached to the wallets,” he explained. “We have a unified API for both mobile and alternative payment methods (APMs).”

Traditional payment infrastructure was not designed to accept mobile wallets so merchants had to deal with a lot of implementation, Huang said. Since Citcon does a single API integration for a merchant, it allows that merchant to accept over 100 mobile wallets around the world.

The trend of software-based wallets for payments has accelerated globally over the last couple of years, according to Huang. And Citcon is poised to capitalize on that trend.

“China is an almost cashless society and its residents use this kind of wallet extensively, but it is gaining momentum all over,” Huang told TechCrunch. For example, in the U.S. the startup is working with PayPal/Venmo to enable this software wallet for its users. It has also partnered with Klarna to create a “buy now, pay later” wallet.

Looking ahead, Citcon plans to use its new capital to add to its current headcount of 100, and expand globally. It already has offices in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Asia. It’s eyeing “rapid” overseas expansion with a particular focus on Latin America and the Asia-Pacific market.

Norwest Venture Partners’ partner Priti Youssef Choksi said her firm was first drawn to Citcon’s leadership team. She described Huang and president and COO Wei Jang as “thought leaders” in the world of payments. The pair, she noted, are both natives of China and can bring an international view into how mobile wallets can evolve within the U.S.

“This is important because there are several key themes converging around mobile payments both in the U.S. and abroad,” she wrote via email. For one, mobile wallets have eclipsed credit cards to become the most widely used form of payment globally, with active mobile wallets expected to grow from 2.8 billion in 2020 to 4.8 billion in 2025.

“In the U.S., they’re quickly gaining share given new wallets (such as crypto, buy now, pay later platforms and neobank wallets) are increasingly popular among younger consumers, and as the pandemic has pushed consumers/merchants towards contactless payments,” Choksi added.

She is also impressed by the company’s ability to have navigated compliance challenges surrounding each wallet and country in which it operates.

“This is particularly important given the regulatory scrutiny on payment flows in the U.S. and around the world,” Choksi said.

Cota Capital partner Ben Malka said his firm has been closely following trends in alternative tender-type usage, both globally and in the U.S.

“While we believe we are still in the early innings, there is a tremendous market opportunity to enable different payment types,” he said. “We were impressed with Chuck and his team. They have deep experience in the payment industry and the right acumen to build a global payments company.”

Fortify raises a $20M Series B for its composite manufacturing 3D printer

There’s been quite a bit of movement in the additive manufacturing space in recent months. If I had to pinpoint a reason, I would say that — much like robotics (another space I follow fairly closely) — the category has gotten a boost in interest from the pandemic. Medical applications are understandably of interest lately, as is alternative manufacturing.

Desktop Metal, Markforged and new-comer Mantel have all made pretty big announcements in recent weeks, and now Fortify is making the round with a significant raise. The Boston-based startup announced a $20 million Series B equity round, led by Cota Capital with additional participation from Accel Partners, Neotribe Ventures and Prelude Ventures.

Fortify is attempting to stake out a claim in material deposits. Using digital light processing (DLP) tech, the company can mix and print in a variety of different materials, with a wide range of properties. The list includes some useful traits, including electromagnetic and thermal.

Like Mantel, the company looks to be targeting manufacturing tools, including injection molding.

“Fortify has been focused on proving the viability of our product and market opportunity over the past 18+ months, and exceeded our goals set at the beginning of 2020,” CEO Josh Martin said in a release. “This next round will expand our go-to-market footprint in key verticals such as injection mold tooling while enabling us to capture market share in end-use electronic devices.”

Recent months have also found the company enlisting other 3D printing vets. Paul Dresens (ex Desktop Metal) signed on as VP of Engineering, while former GrabCad (a Stratasys acquisition) market exec Rob Stevens has signed on as an advisor. raises $15M to build a plug-and-play supercomputer for autonomous systems, a startup founded by some of the folks behind the once-secretive bitcoin mining operation “21E6,” has raised $15 million in a Series A round that will fund the development of a supercomputer designed for autonomous systems.  

The round was led by automotive Tier 1 supplier DENSO and its semiconductor products arm NSITEXE, which will also be one of’s customers for future electronic systems in all levels of autonomous driving solutions. Leawood VC also participated in the Series A round.

The company says it will use the injection of capital to build out its product, hire more people and business development. Quadric’s supercomputer will be assembled by an outsourced company.

PearUncork CapitalSV AngelCota Capital, and Trucks VC are seed investors in

The roots of grew from a seemingly disconnected mission to produce an agricultural robot designed to transform the way vineyards were managed. The company launched in 2016 by CEO Veerbhan Kheterpal, CTO Nigel Drego and CPO Daniel Siru — all co-founders of 21 Inc. The bitcoin startup, once known as 21E6, would later rebrand as before being acquired by Coinbase for $100 million.

Quadric’s original plan was stymied by some real-world fundamentals. The power-hungry ag robot was weighed down by batteries that became too unwieldy to move amongst vineyard rows and the processing time to turn loads environmental data into actual actions based on algorithms were too slow.

Quadric was looking for a chip designed for processing on the edge and that supported decision-making in real time — all while crunching data faster and sipping, not slurping power. That need grew into Quadric’s core product today: a supercomputer that the company says hits that sweet spot of increased computational speed and reduced power consumption.

Kheterpal noted in a recent post on Medium that Intel’s CPU’s work “very well for standard computer processing” and Nvidia’s GPU’s have “ushered in astounding new graphics processing for gaming and much more.” But he argued, that Quadric needed something neither of those companies could provide: a chip designed for processing on the edge.

The company created a single unified architecture in the supercomputer that enables high performance computing and artificial intelligence. The supercomputer, which is built around the Quadric Processor, is plug-and-play. This means people can plug in their sensor set and build their entire application to support “near-instantaneous” decision making, Quadric says. The company claims that early testing of Quadric’s system has shown up to 100 times lower latency and a 90 percent reduction in power consumption. 

Quadric argues this underlying technology is a prerequisite for companies developing autonomous systems that will be used in the construction, transportation, agriculture and warehousing industries. The underlying tech that supports autonomous machines used in these industries either lacks the performance or solves only a small part of the full application, according to Quadric.

The startup contends that machines with autonomous functions requires processing speed and responsiveness “on the edge” — meaning at the machine level, not in the cloud.   

Other companies, most recently Tesla, have opted to build their own chips to meet this specific need. But as Kheterpal notes, not all companies have the resources to build the tech from the ground up. 

“ Quadric is a plug and play option that eliminates the need for building heterogeneous systems with significant hardware and software integration costs — thereby taking years off of product development roadmaps,” Kheterpal wrote.

Failed meal-kit service Munchery owes $6M to gift card holders, vendors

Several weeks after a sudden shutdown left customers and vendors in the lurch, meal-kit service Munchery has filed for bankruptcy. In the Chapter 11 filing, Munchery chief executive officer James Beriker cites increased competition, over-funding, aggressive expansion efforts and Blue Apron’s failed IPO as reasons for its demise.

Munchery owes $3 million in unfulfilled customer gift cards and another $3 million to its vendors, suppliers and various counterparties, the filing reveals. The company’s remaining debt includes $5.3 million in senior secured debt and convertible debt of approximately $23 million. Munchery says its scrounged up $5 million from a buyer of its equipment, machinery and San Francisco headquarters.

The business had raised more than $100 million in venture capital funding, reaching a valuation of $300 million in 2015 before ceasing operations on January 22 and laying off 257 employees in the process. Munchery was backed by Menlo Ventures, Sherpa Capital, e.Ventures, Cota Capital and others.

The company, which failed to notify its vendors it was going out of business, has been scrutinized for failing to pay those vendors in the wake of its shutdown. To make matters worse, emails viewed by TechCrunch show Munchery continued aggressively marketing its gift cards in emails sent to customers in December, weeks before a final email to those very same customers announced it was ceasing operations, effectively immediately.

An email advertising Munchery gift cards sent to a customer weeks before the startup went out of business.

The latest court filings shed light on Beriker’s decision-making process in those final months, touching on Munchery’s frequent pivots, the company’s 2017 layoffs, its plans to scale sales of Munchery products in Amazon Go stores and failed attempts at a sale. Beriker is the sole remaining Munchery board member. He has not responded to several requests for comment from TechCrunch.

In the third quarter of 2018, Munchery, at the recommendation of its board, hired an investment bank to find a buyer for the startup, to no avail. Beriker suggests the lack of a buyer, coupled with industry trends like larger-than-necessary venture capital rounds and inflated valuations, were cause for the startup’s failure to deliver.

“The company expanded too aggressively in its early years,” the filing states. “The access to significant amounts of capital from leading Silicon Valley venture capital firms at high valuations and low-cost debt from banks and venture debt firms, combined with the perception that the on-demand food delivery market was expanding quickly and would be dominated by one or two brands– as Uber had dominated the ridesharing market– drove the company to aggressively invest in its business ahead of having a well-established and scalable business model.”

Increased competition from well-funded competitors drove the startup off course, too, and the epic failure that was Blue Apron’s IPO, which had a “material negative impact on access to financing for startups in the online food delivery business,” was just the cherry on top, according to Beriker’s statements.

Munchery’s vendors, who were not notified or paid following Munchery’s announcement, have provided outspoken criticism to the company and venture capital’s lack of accountability in the weeks following Munchery’s shutdown. Lenore Estrada of Three Babes Bakeshop, among several vendors owed thousands of dollars in unpaid invoices, orchestrated a protest outside of Munchery investor Sherpa Capital’s offices in January. She said she has spoken with Beriker and founding Munchery CEO Conrad Chu in an attempt to pick up the pieces of the failed startup puzzle.

“None of us who are owed money are going to get anything,” Estrada told TechCrunch earlier today. “But the CEO, after fucking it all up, is still getting paid.”

Beriker, indeed, is still earning a salary of $18,750 per month, one-half of his pre-bankruptcy salary, as well as a “success fee based on the net proceeds recovered from the sale of the company’s assets up to a maximum of $250,000,” the filing states.

View the full bankruptcy filing here:

After raising $125M, Munchery fails to deliver

On-demand food delivery startup Munchery is ceasing operations effective immediately, the startup announced in an e-mail to customers on Monday.

Founded in 2010, the San Francisco-based business had raised a total of $125 million in venture capital funding, reaching a valuation of $300 million with an $87 million round in 2015, according to PitchBook. Munchery was backed by Greycroft, ACME Ventures (formerly known as Sherpa Capital), Menlo Ventures, e.Ventures, Cota Capital, M13 and more.

“Since 2010, we have been committed to bringing fresh, local, and delicious meals into your homes along with all our customers across the country,” the company wrote in today’s e-mail announcement. “We’ve been delighted to work with world-renowned chefs, experiment with diverse and unique ingredients and recipes, and be a part of your holiday feasts and traditions. We have also enjoyed giving back to our community through meal donations, volunteer service, and so much more.”

The news comes as little surprise considering Munchery laid off 257 employees, or 30 percent of its workforce, in May after shutting down its Seattle, Los Angeles and New York operations. At the time, the company said it planned to double down on its biggest market, San Francisco, which would help it “achieve profitability on the near term, and build a long-term, sustainable business.”

Munchery, however, failed to deliver on those promises. On top of the 2018 layoffs, Munchery for years struggled to navigate the challenging plains of on-demand food delivery. To stay afloat, the startup shape-shifted quite a bit from originally launching as a ready-to-eat meal delivery service to delivering meal-kits to creating an $8.95 a month subscription plan for repeat customers and finally, opening up a shop inside a San Francisco BART station in a bid to win over the commuter crowd.

Munchery is just the latest in a line of food delivery startups to shutter. Doughbies, an on-demand cookie delivery business, closed its doors in 2018. Sprig, Maple and Josephine are amongst the others to falter under the pressure of a crowded market.

Companies tracking mutations in cancer cells can provide a key to unlocking better therapies

Investors and entrepreneurs are beginning to bring new diagnostic tools to market that promise better results for cancer patients through the identification of mutations in cancer cells that can create more targeted therapies.

Earlier this month, research using technology developed by the startup Mission Bio helped identify cellular mutations in acute myeloid leukemia cancer cells that could be indicators of potential relapse or recurrence of the cancer after therapy.

In the study, which was presented at the American Society for Hematology’s recent conference, a team from the MD Anderson cancer research institute in Texas, including Dr. Koishi Takahashi, sequenced more than 500,000 cells across 70 patients using Mission Bio’s “Tapestri” platform.

“These results demonstrate the power of analyzing heterogeneity for the study and treatment of cancer patients,” said Dr. Takahashi, in a statement. “Tapestri’s ability to precisely identify cancer subclones throughout treatment and disease progression brings us closer to delivering on the promise of precision medicine.”

Increasingly, researchers are coming to the conclusion that genetic mutations of individual cancer cells can lead to the persistence of minimal residual disease and therapy resistance. Other leading cancer centers at  universities including the University of California, San Francisco, University of Pennsylvania, and Stanford University have also released papers on the viability of Mission Bio’s approach.

That research may help explain why Mission Bio was able to land $30 million in new funding from a slew of investors including Agilent Technologies, Cota Capital, LabCorp, LAM Capital, and Mayfield.

The company said it will use the cash to increase the work it’s doing in blood cancer research while expanding its business into the analysis of CRISPR applications and potential mutations that can occur through the use of that gene editing technology.

“Cancer will kill 10 million people this year alone. We can beat cancer with more effective, dynamic therapies, but we first need to precisely understand its biology, starting with the varying genetic composition of each and every cancerous cell,” explained Charlie Silver, CEO of Mission Bio. “Minimal residual disease is a major cause of cancer relapse; overlooking even one cell could put a life at risk. With the Tapestri Platform, we can track every cell, every mutation, to better guide treatments and save patient lives.”

That mutation tracking is also what brought Agilent on board as the company takes its initial steps into monitoring the intended and unintended consequences of using CRISPR technology to edit genes.

“The Tapestri platform’s unique quality control capabilities are strenghtening our CRISPR R&D programs,” remarked Darlene Solomon, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of Agilent Technologies. “Agilent’s commitment to innovation and precision medicine are well matched with Mission Bio’s Tapestri platform as it has the potential to improve patient outcomes in the fight against cancer — and that’s the most meaningful benchmark of all.”

Mission Bio isn’t the only company making strides when it comes to cancer treatments and new targeted monitoring technologies.

Cambridge Cancer Genomics is another startup company working on bringing new technologies to blood sample analysis that can better identify cancer and target personalized therapies for the disease.

The company has raised $4.5 million to build what it’s calling one of the largest datasets of longitudinal cancer in the world

Like Mission Bio, CCG is hoping that its data can help map the ways cancer cells evolve in response to treatments and suggest new therapies to doctors.

Financing the companies rollout are investors including AME Cloud Ventures, Refactor Capital, Romulus Capital and Y Combinator. Additional capital has come from the company’s early partner, the Comprehensive Blood and Cancer Center in Bakersfield, Calif. who invested not only cash but provided 4,000 clinical samples for CCG to analyze and develop their monitoring and predictive solution.

Both companies are trying to tackle the “one-size-fits-all” approach to cancer therapy that exists for most patients around the world.

First line cancer treatment fails two-thirds of all patients and the realization that treatments aren’t working can take up to six months to recognize. Like Mission Bio, CCG is also working to identify whether a patient is at risk of relapse — something the company claims it can do 7 months earlier than standard practices.

“When you drill down into the DNA changes behind cancer, you quickly find that no two tumors are the same. To apply cancer therapies more successfully to any given tumor, we need a deeper understanding of what exactly has gone wrong in each case at a molecular level,” says Dr. Harry Clifford, a co-founder and chief technology officer at Cambridge Cancer Genomics. “This starts with effective tools to capture that information. The approaches we’re developing at CCG will have widespread applications, from identifying targets for new therapy development, to deciding which personalized approach is best for a given patient.”

That echoes the thinking of companies like Mission Bio, and like Mission Bio, CCG has published results from recent trials of its technology.

The company applied its predictive technology to the outcome of different therapies in over 2,500 breast cancer patients and used its machine learning technology to identify the same kind of variants that Mission Bio is working to call out in an attempt to understand when and how relapses can occur.


1) Interlacing Personal and Reference Genomes for Machine Learning Disease-Variant Detection

Summary: Differences in our DNA underlie many aspects of human health; from rare genetic diseases to cancer. In this paper, we build a new class of software for detecting DNA variants. Based on the same principles behind facial recognition, our technique can identify cancer variants with unparalleled accuracy. We hope that releasing this software for non-commercial use will lead to more successful targeted therapy and personalized cancer medicine.