Impacked packs up $2.5M to give the packaging industry a greener tint

Packaging is a trillion-dollar-per-year industry that, by and large, has some sustainability challenges. Impacked is a B2B company that’s bringing green tech to the forefront for everything from jars, tubes and pouches to bottles.

The company raised a $2.5 million seed funding round led by TenOneTen Ventures, taking its total funding raised to $3.3 million. The new funding will be used to recruit more primary packaging suppliers to Impacked’s marketplace across North America and Europe, and also enhance its existing sustainability scoring system. The company declined to share its valuation or other details about the funding round.

“As a former global brand manager at Unilever leading product innovations, sourcing primary packaging was one of the biggest bottlenecks in my product launch process. The buying and selling process is long and inefficient with the industry still dependent on in-person trade shows, word of mouth and analog middlemen to generate new business. This frequently forces brands to overpay, delay product launches or deprioritize sustainability,” says Lisa-Marie Assenza, CEO at Impacked, in an interview with TechCrunch. “My goal with Impacked is to bring the tradeshow online 365 days per year, providing tools for suppliers to digitize their sales and marketing while instantly allowing brands to search, filter, sample, quote and buy packaging — all in one place.”

The founders at Impacked, Natasha Trueman (COO) and Lisa-Marie Assenza (CEO). Image Credits: Impacked.

“TenOneTen is the lead investor in this round. We wanted to bring on a strong stable of former operators who have successfully built and scaled companies themselves. David [Waxman] and the entire TenOneTen team have been amazing to work with, understand our mission and our vision, and as former operators have been incredibly helpful in helping us navigate the early stage journey,” said Assenza. “As sustainability regulations continue to change and become more complex for brands to navigate, our goal is to help more brands navigate these challenges by ensuring that every product listed in our marketplace is scored across a standard set of environmental sustainability criteria, empowering brand owners to make better sourcing decisions and ensure accuracy in the claims they make on their packaging.”

The company is broadening its appeal and supplier reach, both in terms of product lines, and geographically.

Impacked is joining a huge number of companies flowing into this space at the moment, biting off different slices of the market. Some companies, such as Olive, are focusing on reusable packaging, while others are exploring mycelium-based or plant pulp-based solutions.

Impacked’s ultimate goal is to “source every primary package on the planet, for the planet,” creating an ecosystem for packaging that will, the company claims, foster greater connectivity and collaboration between brands and suppliers in the packaging industry.

“The health of our planet is one of the most important issues of our time, and packaging is clearly a major contributor. In the next 10 years, Impacked will play a key role in surfacing the data and insights brands need to shift to more sustainable packaging, all while driving supplier innovation in packaging materials, design and production practices that do better for our planet,” said Assenza. “I personally have a love/hate relationship with the word ‘sustainable’ — it’s buzzy and the reality is that there is not a single way to be ‘sustainable’. It’s really about taking steps to reduce the beginning-of-life and end-of-life impact of a brand’s packaging. I believe that shifting our industry to more sustainable solutions starts with education. Brands need a better way to objectively assess the environmental impact of any packaging option they are looking at, early in the buying journey. For example, if a brand knew upfront that adding a frosted coating could make an otherwise recyclable 8 oz glass bottle no longer widely recyclable, they might consider a different decoration option to maintain recyclability and accurately claim ‘recyclable’ on-pack.”

Impacked packs up $2.5M to give the packaging industry a greener tint by Haje Jan Kamps originally published on TechCrunch

Strattic raises $6.5M to bring static WordPress to the masses

WordPress remains the juggernaut of content management systems, even though it now often gets used in ways it was never intended. And with that, managing the life cycle of WordPress sites has only gotten more complicated, too, all while hackers are trying to exploit any and all security issues to take control of a site. Strattic aims to make all of this a lot easier by turning WordPress sites into static sites that don’t query a database whenever a user looks at a page.

The Israeli company today announced that it has raised a $6.5 million seed round led by SignalFire and TenOneTen Ventures, with participation from Accel, Automattic, Seneca VC, Eric Ries and Village Global VC. It also announced that Zeev Suraski, who co-created PHP 3 and the Zend Engine that’s at the core of PHP 4, has joined the company as its CTO.

About 13 years ago, Strattic CEO and co-founder Miriam Schwab founded a WordPress web development company. At that time, WordPress was often still seen as a tool for running personal blogs, but that has obviously changed over time. But she realized that once her agency handed off the site to the customer, they would often come back to her to ask for maintenance as well — and the idea behind Strattic is based on that experience and trying to simplify that process by using static site generators. Schwab noted that those aren’t necessarily all that user-friendly, though.

“WordPress is still the best option out there, but it has these major issues, so I thought, all right, why not marry these two worlds? WordPress stays WordPress, but maybe we turn it into a static site generator. And that was the initial concept for Strattic,” Schwab told me.

“It was just such an obviously good idea,” co-founder and COO Josh Lawrence added. “It means that you don’t need to do maintenance anymore. It means that your site is 99.99999% more unhackable than before. It’s going to be faster, no matter what. Totally scalable. It’s just all these things and as long as you can make it work — which was not simple — it’s just obvious from a business perspective.”

With Strattic, users still get the usual WordPress experience, but the company only spins up a WordPress container when you are using it, which significantly reduces the attack surface, and then generates the static sites as you make changes. Those static sites obviously load very fast and also provide a smaller attack surface. To speed up the sites, Strattic also uses AWS’s CDN solution.

Lawrence, however, also told me, that getting funding wasn’t easy at first. VCs in Israel weren’t really looking to fund a WordPress company at the time, even though Strattic was growing (mostly organically) at a very nice pace and getting real customers. So in order to raise this round, the company went to Silicon Valley, looking to raise $2 million but came back with $6.5 million in an oversubscribed round.

The team plans to use the new funding to build out its product team and start rolling out new features quickly. Currently, for example, there are still a few types of sites that don’t work with Strattic, including those that use the popular WooCommerce system, because they rely on database connections. Support for these types of sites is in the works, though.

Ordermark, the online-delivery order management service for restaurants, raises $18 million

Los Angeles-based Ordermark, the online delivery management service for restaurants founded by the scion of the famous, family-owned Canter’s Deli, said it has raised $18 million in a new round of funding.

The round was led by Boulder-based Foundry Group. All of Ordermark’s previous investors came back to provide additional capital for the company’s new funding, including: TenOneTen Ventures, Vertical Venture Partners, Mucker Capital, Act One Ventures and Nosara Capital, which led the Series A funding.

“We created Ordermark to help my family’s restaurant adapt and thrive in the mobile delivery era, and then realized that as a company, we could help other restaurants experiencing the same challenges. We’ve been gratified to see positive results come in from our restaurant customers nationwide,” said Alex Canter, in a statement.

A fourth-generation restaurateur, Canter built the technology on the back of his family deli’s own needs. The company has integrated with point of sale systems, kitchen displays and accounting tools, and with last-mile delivery companies.

As the company expands, it’s looking to increase its sales among the virtual restaurants powered by cloud kitchens and delivery services like Uber Eats, Seamless/Grubhub and others, the company said in a statement.

Although the business isn’t profitable, Ordermark is now in more than 3,000 restaurants. The company has integrations with more than 50 ordering services.

Probably Genetic helps families identify genetic conditions early with AI and DNA tests

Children on the autism spectrum often suffer from other medical conditions. As many as one-fifth of those diagnosed with the neurodevelopmental disorder, which affects communication and behavior, have epilepsy, for example, according to research on the subject.

Probably Genetic, which recently graduated from the startup accelerator Y Combinator, wants to test the DNA of children with autism to provide them early diagnoses of more than 15 severe genetic diseases that are often grouped under the initial autism diagnosis. Using machine learning and direct-to-consumer DNA tests, Probably Genetic hopes to provide families of children on the spectrum with more complete and correct diagnoses and a path to appropriate treatment and therapy.

“There is really low awareness still in the medical community for a lot of these diseases,” Probably Genetic co-founder and chief executive officer Lukas Lange tells TechCrunch. “The actual testing happens really really late in the process … Even once you decide that you want to get your kid genetically tested, that process itself is really difficult because if you don’t have a physician in favor of it, patients spend months lobbying to get the test done.”

The startup, which plans to launch this summer, is backed with venture capital funding from Khosla Ventures, TenOneTen Ventures, the Oxford Angel Fund and angel investors. Lange, a current PhD candidate in bioinformatics and genetics at the University of Oxford, said the company is keeping the precise amount of capital they’ve raised private, citing a focus on building the best service for special needs families.

“We measure ourselves by how many families we’ve helped, as opposed to how much money we’ve raised,” Lange said.

Unlike 23andMe, which similarly provides genetic testing direct-to-consumer, Probably Genetic is patient-initiated physician-ordered testing, meaning a physician is in the loop throughout the entire process and a DNA test must be deemed “medically necessary” by a Probably Genetic physician — the company partners with several doctors — before it can be ordered.

Probably Genetic performs whole-exome sequencing, a process that can cost upwards of $5,000, to test for genetic disorders in children already diagnosed with autism. Lange said the team is still determining the price of its genetic tests, but assures it will fall under $1,000, or significantly less than other options on the market. Unfortunately, the tests will not be covered by insurance.

The company doesn’t perform genetic sequencing in-house, rather, it partners with a U.S.-based clinical sequencing provider accredited by the College of American Pathologists (CAP) and certified through Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA). Probably Genetic also partners with a bioinformatics service provider that’s plugged into the lab for data analysis purposes.

Parents of children with autism oftentimes have difficulty having their children tested, as Lange mentioned. Not only are these tests costly and infrequently covered by insurance, but they are also not offered by general care practitioners. A family has to receive a referral from their doctor to visit a specialist who will then have the test ordered. Using Probably Genetic, Lange and his co-founder, chief technology officer Harley Katz, hope to create a one-stop shop for complete and early diagnoses, access to genetic counseling services, and information and resources for families of people on the spectrum.

The genetic counseling services, which exist to help families better understand the results of their genetic tests, will be offered through an external service provider initially. In the long-term, Lange said, Probably Genetic will consider hiring their own full-time counselors.

Lange met Katz, a PhD in theoretical astrophysics from the University of Cambridge, six years ago. The pair quickly realized a common interest in accurate diagnosis, or lack thereof, before they decided to focus on autism and its associated conditions.

“We initially thought we are going to build a catch-all for 7,000 different rare diseases,” Lange said. “Pretty quickly we realized a whole lot of people coming to your door have undiagnosed diseases but not all are genetic in nature so if you try to build a catch-all you wouldn’t be able to help a lot of people. So we decided let’s focus on one area that has a much higher likelihood that the patients that come through your door actually have something genetic.”

According to a 2018 report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 59 children is diagnosed with autism. Boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed than girls.

“There’s a big opportunity here to focus on a category that we know already genetics plays a huge role but still an opportunity to find kids who don’t ‘just have autism’ but where there is actually something bigger at play and autism is only a part of their disease presentation.”