Motivo, Rockwell, Snippet & More: This Week’s Wisconsin Watchlist
Keep up with news from Wisconsin’s innovation community with these recent headlines:
—Motivo, a New Berlin-based company that sells wheeled, collapsible walkers for people who need help with mobility and balance, said it raised $950,000 from investors to ramp up sales of its Motivo Tour Walker product line. The walkers, which are currently available for pre-order on the company’s website, come in a variety of styles and start at $499. Motivo said its Series A funding round was led by Justin Mortara, who was CEO of the Milwaukee-based medical device maker Mortara Instrument until its sale to Hill-Rom (NYSE: HRC) in early 2017. Motivo, which launched in 2012, has now raised a total of $4.8 million in outside funding, the company said.
—Milwaukee-based Rockwell Automation (NYSE: ROK) said it has joined the corporate partnership network of Plug and Play Tech Center, a Sunnyvale, CA-based organization that runs training programs for startups. Rockwell develops software and provides services for customers in several industries, including semiconductors and biotechnology. The company said it plans to work with Plug and Play to find and assist early stage businesses developing new Internet of Things technologies. “With access to hundreds of startups and developers in Silicon Valley, we can positively impact the future of our industry,” said Elik Fooks, Rockwell’s senior vice president of corporate development.
—Snippet, a startup that had been developing an app allowing people with mobile devices to send each other clips of popular songs, shut down late last year, said Zach Vander Velden, one of Madison-based Snippet’s co-founders.
“We decided to close Snippet down. Some competitors beat us to market and were months—if not years—ahead of us,” said Vander Velden, who now works as a software engineer at Verona-based Epic Systems.
—Gravy, a Madison-based startup whose livestreaming platform hosts shows about cooking, fashion, fitness, and other topics, has created a new live mobile game show and complementary smartphone app, TechCrunch reported. Users—or “contestants,” in game show parlance—compete in an environment similar to the QVC shopping channel, and can reportedly win cash for guessing when a particular item will sell out.
Asked if the new game show format represents a pivot away from Gravy’s initial livestreaming model, a company spokesperson said, “Gravy beta-tested a live creator platform last year before landing on what Gravy is today. They never took that first beta test platform … out of beta and officially launched it, so they don’t consider this a pivot.”
—Exact Sciences’ (NASDAQ: EXAS) shareholders got a nice bump last Wednesday, when the Madison-based company’s stock price increased more than 11 percent on the day following the American Cancer Society’s announcement that it’s lowering the recommended age when people should start getting screened for colorectal cancer from 50 to 45. Exact Sciences’ only product on the market is Cologuard, a DNA-based, non-invasive screening test for the disease. The company “is currently working on the trial design for an FDA supplement to expand the indicated age on Cologuard’s label, but hasn’t started the trial yet,” Catherine Schulte, a senior analyst at Robert W. Baird & Co., wrote in a research note breaking down the ACS’ decision.
—Madison-based Propeller Health, which develops sensors and software for Internet-connected inhalers, raised a $20 million round of financing. Aptar Pharma, which has been working with Propeller since 2016 to build a connected metered dose inhaler form scratch, led the funding round. Now, the two organizations say they’ll develop digital health products to treat conditions other than asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.