March was a big month for little deals—at least when it comes to investing in New England’s startups.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the venture investing deals worth $1 million and up for March, which totaled to $194.5 million across 17 deals, according to data provided to us by private company intelligence platform CB Insights. That made March the slowest month this year for $1 million-plus deals, but at the other end of the spectrum New England companies inked 16 deals under $1 million, by far the biggest list this year. (There were 10 such “under-the-radar” deals on the January list, and nine on February’s.)
Not only did the number of under-the-radar transactions increase in March, so did the proportion of them that were based in equity. March’s list had a dozen equity-based transactions, and four debt-related financings. As far as February under-the-radar deals go, there were five equity-based transactions, three debt-based fundings, and one sale of securities to be acquired through the exercise of options and warrants.
We like to look at our under-the-radar list as helping to paint a richer, more complete picture of startup investing in the region, and I think March’s list revealed that the startup investing for the month was much more diverse than one would conclude from the $1 million-plus deals. The healthcare industry accounted for more than half of the big-dollar deals, and nearly 75 percent of the total money invested, but the under-the-radar list includes companies working in a vast array of sectors. In addition to the few medical device and health IT companies, March’s under-the-radar list included companies in online learning, marketing automation and customization, solar energy, energy auditing, water treatment, and mobile travel guides.
Also, for the first time this year, Massachusetts companies didn’t take the majority of New England’s smaller transactions. Connecticut took the top spot with seven deals, and Massachusetts followed with six. (My allegiances are conflicted here; I’m a Connecticut native but have been in the Bay State for about five years.) Two startups grabbed under-the-radar funding in New Hampshire, and Vermont inked a sole deal.
The biggest deal still went to a life sciences company, with $900,000 in equity-based funding to Anterion Therapeutics. The Salem, MA-based company is making what it calls “bioerodible” implants—small drug delivery devices that don’t have to be surgically removed from the body after use. But there were some sizeable under-the-radar deals that went to non-healthcare companies. The second biggest, for example, was a $842,981 debt-based transaction that went to Newton, MA-based inStream Media. The company provides targeted, point-of-purchase advertising on sales receipts at major retailers. The inStream service uses factors such as location, payment method, date of purchase, and items purchased to choose the ad that best suits each customer.
The energy sector—a no-show on the list of bigger venture investments—accounted for several entries on list of smaller deals: $650,000 in equity-based funding for solar power dish maker PowerPlay Solar, $364,221 in an equity offering for solar-powered refrigeration developer Promethean Power Systems, and $135,000 in debt-based funding for kWhOURS, a maker of software for energy auditors (yes it’s technically a software startup, but it’s focused on energy efficiency).
Check out what other types of companies nabbed deals under $1 million, with the complete under-the-radar list below.
|A developer of bioerodible implants for delivering drugs||Equity||$900,000|
|inStream Media||Newton, |
|A provider of targeted advertising on sales receipts||Debt||$842,981|
|A maker of software for measuring customer interaction with online video||Equity||$788,809|
|A developer of ballast water treatment systems for removing invasive species and pathogens from water||Equity||$681,543|
|PowerPlay Solar||Ridgefield, |
|A developer of solar energy power dishes||Equity||$650,000|
|Whaleback Systems||Portsmouth, |
|Developer of hosted voice services for small and medium-sized companies||Debt||$600,000|
|Digital Brand Connections||Wilton, |
|An interactive marketing company||Equity*||$550,000|
|An online bookstore for used college textbooks and course material||Equity||$500,000|
|Interactive Mobile Advertising||Norwalk, |
|A provider of mobile travel destination guides||Equity||$375,141|
|Promethean Power Systems||Cambridge, |
|A maker of solar-powered refrigeration systems for food-distribution networks||Equity||$364,221|
|A maker of software for diabetes patient information management||Equity*||$350,000|
|FMP Products||Greenwich, |
|A developer of laboratory automation products for pharmaceutical and clinical research||Debt*||$300,000|
|Insur I.Q.||Shelton, |
|A maker of software for managing information on doctors’ fees and insurance information||Equity||$275,000|
|Adelja Learning||Concord, |
|A stealthy learning technology company||Equity||$220,000|
|A marketplace for live online courses||Equity||$200,000|
|kWhOURS||South Hamilton, |
|A provider of digital workflow automation software for energy auditors||Debt||$135,000|
*includes options or warrants
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