Artemis Fund, TechStars Impact, Robin Autopilot, & More TX Tech

Let’s catch up with the latest innovation news in Texas.

Mark Cuban and Serena Williams are among investors to fund maternal health startup Mahmee. The Los Angeles-based startup announced Monday it has raised $3 million from the Dallas Mavericks owner and the tennis star (through her firm Serena Ventures) in a round led by ArlanWasHere Investments, according to a press release. Steve Case’s Rise of the Rest Fund also participated. Mahmee has developed a HIPAA-secure online platform that links a mother’s and her baby’s health history. It also offers data services that monitors and engages patients with maternity coaches. The system can escalate matters to the mother’s health care providers if red flags come up, Mahmee says.

—Houston’s Artemis Fund has closed on its first investment, putting $500,000 into U-Nest, a mobile app designed to create a 529 college savings plan with as little as $25 and in under five minutes. Artemis, which focuses on funding women founders, led the round, which came to a total of $2 million and included other investors such as the Draper Dragon Fund, Band of Angels, and Pasadena Angels. U-Nest founder Ksenia Yudina has spent a decade in the financial services industry, most recently managing more than $1.2 billion at Capital Group American Funds, according to a press release.

Robin Autopilot, a robotic lawn-mowing subscription startup, has been acquired by Ohio-based Fahey Group, according to a Fahey blog. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The Dallas-based startup says it uses battery-powered mowers that are programmable and energy-efficient. Automated mowers can help lawn services fulfill orders despite a lack of available workers in many markets, Robin Autopilot says. The startup was founded four years ago and operates through 15 franchisees in 12 states with more than 1,000 customers. Robin Autopilot will move its headquarters to Cleveland, OH, from Dallas.

—The Techstars Impact accelerator in Austin has announced its 2019 class, which includes startups from the United States as well as Mexico, Brazil, Ghana, and Nigeria. (Two of the teams — MR Presta and Omaiven Health — are from Austin.) The startups will participate in a three-month program at Techstars Impact, which focuses on businesses trying to solve social and environmental problems.

John Entwistle, co-founder and CEO of Austin startup Coder, is one of 22 individuals named as the class of 2019 Thiel Fellows, according to a press release. The two-year program comes with $100,000 for the founders and includes mentorship from the Thiel Foundation’s network. The fellowship was started by PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel in 2011 to encourage young tech talent to forgo college and instead work on their ideas. The Thiel Foundation says that Thiel Fellows together are worth more than $8.2 billion.

—Rene Dominguez, who has been the director of San Antonio’s Economic Development Department since 2010, has been hired as the president and chief operating officer of the Texas Research and Technology Foundation in the Alamo City. Known as TRTF, the foundation is a bioscience and tech economic development group that in 2017 created VelocityTX, a group that to support and promote local startups. VelocityTX is developing an “innovation district” that is focused around a three-building industrial space meant to house various tech, life science, and other businesses. Dominguez will work along with CEO Randy Harig on that project and executing TRTF’s economic development mission, according to a press release.

—Lastly, we came across a couple of articles you might find interesting. One is this Pitchbook interview with Lance Armstrong about his new venture fund, Next Ventures. With a $25 million inaugural fund, Next is looking to invest in startups focused on “human optimization” and has already invested seed money into Amp Human, which has developed a lotion used by athletes to neutralize lactic acid buildup.

Also, retail-focused publication Chain Store Age takes a look at Waybuy, a Houston-based ecommerce site trying to take a bite out of Amazon. Waybuy sells a variety of consumer products, including groceries, office supplies, pet food, cosmetics, and other household essentials. The retailer offers free shipping on all orders of $25 or more in Texas and $39 or more in other states. Waybuy also offers free same-day delivery in Houston and surrounding suburbs and free next-day delivery in Texas, with the same $25 minimum purchase. Deliveries outside of Texas take one to three days. There is no membership fee.


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