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March 17, 2021
SkyDeck Alumni Startups Raising Series A to join Batch 11 Demo Day

Rich Lyons, former Dean of UC Berkeley Haas, at the Feb. 2020 SkyDeck Demo Day. (Photo Credit: Marla Aufmuth)

SkyDeck’s Batch 11 Demo Day is right around the corner!  On April 7th from 3-6pm, 17 startups will be sharing be pitching to investors from around the world. Five of the startups are SkyDeck alumni startups that have been thriving and are now raising Series A. Accredited investors that would like to join this invite-only event can apply to receive an invite here. Prior attendees who have already received an invitation do not need to apply again.

Founder Spotlight: Iris Wedeking
From starting a national non-profit to becoming a CEO of a medtech startup
Harnessing the power of 3-D technology, iDentical (Fall '19 Cohort) works to develop drill-free dental implants for safer, faster, and more affordable implants for patients worldwide. Iris Wedeking, CEO of iDentical, shares her journey as a female founder.

SkyDeck: What is the origin story behind your startup, iDentical?  

Iris: My husband Todd has had a bunch of startup ideas after being a dentist for 18 years. He was always into technology and had ideas for improving the lives of his patients. Meanwhile I was in the nonprofit space, but one thing we both wanted was to create something with global impact. As it turns out, we had a complementary skillset to make that positive change by way of improving dental implants and people’s lives. With our technology, we offer drill-free dental implants that take one-third of the time.
 

SkyDeck: You came to the table with unique experiences, having founded and scaled an international nonprofit. What was the transition to becoming a medtech startup founder like?  

Iris: I took a page from my nonprofit experience: I started that when I was 23 and when I had zero experience in the world. One of my mentors recommended I surround myself with people who have the skills I don’t have. When it came to getting my startup off the ground, SkyDeck was one of the first places I went because I knew I needed a home where I have advisors and people around me who know how to do this. I networked 24/7 for the first year, and I’ve been able to surround myself with an amazing team. That’s the strength of iDentical because we have a team that can actually bring that vision to a reality.

 

SkyDeck: As a female founder, where have you drawn the most inspiration to help you along in your journey?

Iris: Other female founders for sure. I’ve heard the most phenomenal speakers at seed fundraising bootcamps who are such amazing role models who I take inspiration from. At SkyDeck, there’s definitely strength in numbers. I find that women are so collaborative in nature, and truly in their heart want to help each other. It’s this idea that we’re all in this together, and it’s so inspiring to me to rise alongside each other.

 

SkyDeck: What advice would you give to a young founder who’s at the early stages of getting their startup off the ground?

Iris: It's all about the network. I'm all about finding people who have done what I’m trying to do and asking them what tools they used. I've really benefited from a network of peers who have been in medtech for decades. Those relationships are everything. Also, stay true to your mission. I start every board meeting with our company vision, and it’s the most intangible tool as I try and remind everyone around me why we’re doing this.

4 SkyDeck Companies Accelerating to Meet a New Normal

The past year has been the ultimate test on small businesses, startups, and even large corporations. However, the turbulent year has also opened the space for new investments and innovations. Let’s take a look back at some SkyDeck companies that have not only adapted during the pandemic, but have also found success in their unique solutions.

  1. Krisp: The Work From Home Must-Have 
    Krisp (Spring ‘18 Cohort) is on the way to becoming a household name in the digital era, an AI-powered app that removes background noise from online meetings in real time. Krisp has nearly tripled its original $5M A round with another $9M this February, and has been named as one of Forbes AI 50 and Time’s 100 Best Inventions of 2020.
  2. HiGeorge: Data Visualizations for Public Health Safety
    HiGeorge (Fall ‘19 HotDesk) creates streamline data visualizations for news articles, a feature showcased in their new collaboration with SFGate and Tribune Media. Not only do HiGeorge’s visuals make public health data more accessible, but also the easy-to-deploy solution also increases engagement with the power of AI. 
  3. RJH Biosciences: Biotech Solutions in a Time of Need
    RJH Biosciences (Fall ‘20 Cohort) has just announced a partnership with CasZyme LLC and Kernal Biologics to develop novel reagents for COVID vaccine development, cancer treatments, and CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing systems.
  4. The SBMX: Supporting Small Businesses
    The SBMX (Fall ‘18 Cohort) makes it easy for everyday people to invest in small businesses, putting finance in the hands of the people. The platform currently supports 15 small businesses in food services, childcare programs, and even trucking.
SkyTeam News
NuPort Robotics
NuPort Robotics (Fall ‘20 Cohort) is working with Canadian Tire to launch Canada’s first automated heavy-duty trucking technology project. This automated trucking company will pave the way for safer, greener and more efficient transport of goods by semi-tractor trailers.
upSWOT
Revolutionizing the way banks interact with their business clients, upSWOT (Fall ‘19 Cohort) recently raised a $4.3M seed round backed Common Ocean Ventures, CFV Ventures and ICBA, First Southern National Bank, SpeedupVenture Group, and 50 other financial industry leaders, visionaries, and operators.
Action Face
After closing an oversubscribed round of $7M, Action Face (Fall ‘20 HotDesk) is soft launching with 94 high schools this month, turning students' likenesses into digital avatars and action figures from their cell phones.
Flourish
Flourish (Spring ‘19 HotDesk) just announced a $1.5M raise with investors from both the US and Latin America, strengthening their goals of empowering people to build positive money habits, and helping banks, credit unions, and fintechs engage and retain customers.
Next-Ion Energy
Congratulations to Next-Ion (Fall ‘20 HotDesk) for winning the Audience Choice Award at UC Launch! Next-Ion works to innovate car batteries to charge in 6 minutes.
Play Engine
PlayEngine (Fall ‘20 HotDesk) just won $0.5M in pre-seed funding to streamline the B2B Betting Software industry. Founded by two UC Berkeley alumni and based in SF, PlayEngine is a B2B sports betting software provider that uses data-driven solutions to empower sports betting operations.
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