Refinery Ventures’ second fund aimed at getting startups to Series A

Refinery Ventures, a Cincinnati-based venture firm, announced the close of its second fund with $36 million, which was more than two times its first fund.

Fund II is backed by a group of LPs, including Cintrifuse, Great American Insurance, Western and Southern Insurance and The Cleveland Foundation.

The firm invests in enterprise and SaaS “early scale” companies, a term managing partner Tim Schigel likes to use to describe companies that secured a seed, but need that “oomph” to get to Series A.

“Plenty of companies in the Midwest are getting seed rounds, but many don’t make the gap from seed to Series A,” Schigel told TechCrunch. “You have product market fit, but instead of selling to friends and family, you are selling to organizations. Now you need forecasts and other projections you have never done.”

Most investors initially focus on the founder, but few founders, in Schigel’s opinion, have experience with hypergrowth. It was that lightbulb moment that led him to start Refinery Ventures nearly five years ago.

He says it is not always about being the founder, but if you were employee No. 2 or even 20, but took the company from 20 employees to 200, “you are well-suited to end up being the founder of a company.”

“That is where we want to go looking, for people who experienced hypergrowth and can navigate the gap,” Schigel added.

Schigel himself knows all about the challenges of hypergrowth in a company. An electrical engineer by trade, he worked in Cincinnati, but got his Silicon Valley connections early working with Apple to support P&G.

From there he went into venture capital before starting his own company, ShareThis, to keep track of online content that is shared — yes, he’s the one responsible for that little sideways “V” icon. He grew the company to $50 million in revenue in less than four years.

Then Schigel launched and managed Cintrifuse, a fund of funds investing in early-stage funds across the U.S. like Greycroft, Upfront Ventures and Techstars.

“It gave me a unique and different perspective into startups and one I bring to Refinery,” he added.

Prior to the global pandemic, founders were already leaving the coasts, but Schigel believes the timing was right for the new fund when the pandemic became “a catalyst like you couldn’t believe.” His inbox is now full of former Midwesterners looking for opportunities back home.

Refinery Ventures’ first fund went into nine startups, including Edgybees, Astronomer, Torch, Tealbook and Folio Photonics. Two of its portfolio companies, HALO Health and Engage, were acquired.

Schigel expects the new fund to invest in a similar number, between 10 and 12 startups. Refinery has already invested from the second fund into companies like Vantage Robotics, RedCircle and StoryTap.

It will also utilize part of the funding to discover and invest in dual-use technologies — companies going after both commercial and government, similar to Edgybees and Vantage Robotics.

Edgybees raises $9.5M Series A for its aerial video augmentation service

Edgybees, a company that helps businesses, first responders and military users accurately geotag and augment their aerial video streams in real time, today announced that it has raised a $9.5 million Series A round. The news comes almost exactly two years after the company announced its $5.5 million seed round. Seraphim Capital, which specializes in space tech investments, led this new round. New investors Refinery Ventures, LG Technology Ventures, Kodem Growth, as well as existing investors OurCrowd, 8VC, Verizon Ventures and Motorola Solutions Venture Capital also participated.

“Our mission is to ensure positive human outcomes during life-saving missions,” says Edgybees co-founder and CEO Adam Kaplan. “Our new partners will be key to continuing to push our mission forward. With their unique industry expertise, we are poised to expand our global footprint and drive innovation within the industry. We look forward to the next phase of growth, meeting the critical demands of the defense, public safety and critical infrastructure markets.”

Using the company’s Visual Intelligence Platform, users can easily register and track assets in video show by a drone, for example. The standard use case here would be to help first responders get an accurate picture of an evolving emergency on top of live images from the scene, with the ability to track all of their assets and personnel in real time. But Edgybees has also shown other use cases that range from tracking and visualizing golf games to insurance and defense use cases.

About a year ago, Edgybees, which had its start in Israel but is now based in San Diego, launches its Argus platform, which makes it easier for users to bring their own drone and other live video platforms to the service’s geo-registration engine.

Image Credits: Edgybees

“Edgybees solves a huge problem in spatial computing: how do you really know what you are seeing through fast moving airborne or other video feeds? Edgybees brings together the real and virtual worlds and helps first responders save lives, industrial drone users save money, and defense teams get the mission done,” Ourcrowd CEO Jon Medved explained.

Similarly, Seraphim managing partner and CEO Mark Boggett noted that he thinks of Edgybees as a Google Maps fused with live video. “Their geo-referencing capability is a breakthrough technology that brings a new level of insight and usability to video streams from space, drones or bodycams. We are very excited about Edgybees, not only for the innovation it brings to public safety and defense, but because its ability to be utilized in a wide range of industries,” he said.

Image Credits: Edgybees

Edgybees’s new developer platform brings situational awareness to live video feeds

San Diego-based Edgybees today announced the launch of Argus, its API-based developer platform that makes it easy to add augmented reality features to live video feeds.

The service has long used this capability to run its own drone platform for first responders and enterprise customers, which allows its users to tag and track objects and people in emergency situations, for example, to create better situational awareness for first responders.

I first saw a demo of the service a year ago, when the team walked a group of journalists through a simulated emergency, with live drone footage and an overlay of a street map and the location of ambulances and other emergency personnel. It’s clear how these features could be used in other situations as well, given that few companies have the expertise to combine the video footage, GPS data and other information, including geographic information systems, for their own custom projects.

Indeed, that’s what inspired the team to open up its platform. As the Edgybees team told me during an interview at the Ourcrowd Summit last month, it’s impossible for the company to build a new solution for every vertical that could make use of it. So instead of even trying (though it’ll keep refining its existing products), it’s now opening up its platform.

“The potential for augmented reality beyond the entertainment sector is endless, especially as video becomes an essential medium for organizations relying on drone footage or CCTV,” said Adam Kaplan, CEO and co-founder of Edgybees. “As forward-thinking industries look to make sense of all the data at their fingertips, we’re giving developers a way to tailor our offering and set them up for success.”

In the run-up to today’s launch, the company already worked with organizations like the PGA to use its software to enhance the live coverage of its golf tournaments.