Monday, June 10, 2019

“Student loan refinancing startup Splash Financial raises $4.3 million - TechCrunch” plus 2 more

“Student loan refinancing startup Splash Financial raises $4.3 million - TechCrunch” plus 2 more


Student loan refinancing startup Splash Financial raises $4.3 million - TechCrunch

Posted: 10 Jun 2019 03:31 AM PDT

Splash Financial, a Cleveland-based startup that has partnered with the Pentagon Federal Credit Union to refinance student loans, has raised $4.3 million in a round of venture financing.

The round was led by CUNA Mutual Group, a PenFed partner, and Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures, the corporate investment arm of Northwestern Mutual.

As student loan debt skyrockets, more financial services companies are looking for ways to cash in on the growing national problem.

Splash Financial provides an easy, online way for PenFed to originate loans that folks can use to consolidate their student loan payments.

Terms Splash Financial offers aren't terrible, according to NerdWallet. Through Splash Financial, borrowers can get loans with fixed interest rates ranging between 3.87% and 7.03% and variable interest rate loans ranging between 3.05% and 7.79%.

"Through this funding round, Splash has gained not only new investors but also strong partners in CUNA Mutual Group and Northwestern Mutual," said Steven Muszynski, founder and chief executive of Splash Financial, in a statement.

The company said it would use the money to bring on additional banks and credit unions as lending partners and expand its national footprint.

It's worth noting that while CUNA is a PenFed partner, Northwestern Mutual does not appear to be. As insurers look for ways to market other home, life and health insurance products to younger generations that are not buying, student loans are a opportunity, these companies said.

"We believe in the power of financial innovation to change lives, shape futures and build a better tomorrow," said Brian Kaas, president and managing director, CMFG Ventures. "Student loan refinancing is an important area of opportunity for financial institutions, so we're glad to invest in this innovative loan refinancing platform. It'll help millions of college students tackle student loan debt and connect them with financial institutions for long-term success."

Naples-based Catalyst OrthoScience closes $12.7 million round of financing - Naples Daily News

Posted: 10 Jun 2019 10:10 AM PDT

A Naples-based medical device manufacturer has closed on its biggest round of funding yet.

The company — Catalyst OrthoScience — raised $12.7 million in its third round of funding, millions more than it sought. The target? $8 million.

Offering a novel total shoulder replacement system with several patents, the homegrown business continues to see a growing demand for its product across the country.

The latest infusion of capital will help fuel the company's rapid growth, said Brian Hutchison, Catalyst's chairman and CEO, giving it the dollars it needs to increase inventory, expand distribution and develop new products. 

The money will also be used to hire more employees.

"We believe and our investors believe that we have a very novel, a very important product for patients, doctors and hospitals," Hutchison said.

The recent investment led by River Cities Capital Funds is one of the largest venture capital deals ever secured by a local company, said Timothy Cartwright, a partner at Fifth Avenue Family Office and chairman of Tamiami Angel Funds, an early investor in Catalyst.

In case you missed it: Angels invest in local medical device startup

More: Naples company takes top prize at VentureTech Showcase

A major milestone

After reviewing the venture capital database PitchBook, Cartwright said he couldn't find a bigger investment in a Naples-based business. 

"This is a major milestone for us and I would say it's the largest single round of venture capital that any of our portfolio companies anywhere to date has attracted," he said. 

It's also a milestone for Naples and Southwest Florida, Cartwright said, showing, that "while we may not be Silicon Valley, we can grow venture funds and venture-backed companies here." 

In total, investors with Naples-based Tamiami Angel Funds have put more than $1.4 million into Catalyst.

The angel funds allow high-net-worth individuals and families to invest in promising early stage and expansion-stage companies in the United States, with preference given to Florida-based businesses.

In 2016, Tamiami Angel Fund II, known as T2, invested $930,000 in Catalyst. The fund was the lead investor in a $3.3 million Series A capital raise needed to ramp up production of the company's break-through product.

Series A refers to the first significant round of capital raised from outside investors.

In 2017, Tamiami Angel Fund III, or T3, made a follow-up investment of $500,000 to help scale the business. 

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Economic diversification

Funding local companies such as Catalyst helps diversify Southwest Florida's economy, Cartwright said. 

"The region's need for economic diversification during the last recession was the driving force behind the creation of Tamiami Angel Funds 12 years ago," he said.

Although it didn't involve Tamiami Angel Funds, Catalyst's third capital raise is yet another affirmation that the funds' investors made a wise decision to bet their money on a start-up, Cartwright said.

"We still believe in the company and we think its best days are ahead of it," he said.

"We knew they would need additional capital. We see it as a great sign, a great indicator and verification of our initial bet."

Cartwright describes Catalyst as "a true homegrown success story," driven by Naples orthopedic surgeon Steven Goldberg, who developed its technology because he didn't like his other options for shoulder replacements.

With more financing "Catalyst is well on its way to becoming the global medical device company we expect it to become," Cartwright said.

In a news release, Carter McNabb, managing director at River Cities, said his group is excited to work with Catalyst to advance minimally invasive surgery in shoulder  reconstruction and replacement. 

A better option

Goldberg, chief of orthopedic surgery at Physicians Regional Healthcare System in Naples, started developing the idea for the Catalyst CSR Total Shoulder System in 2012 with an engineer and other surgeons. After hearing positive feedback from doctors, but getting no interest from the major orthopedic companies early on, Goldberg founded Catalyst OrthoScience in 2014 to develop the product independently with help from a team of consultants.

Today, the company has several patents for the device, with others pending.

The device, which can fit in the palm of a hand, is made of two components that mimic the natural ball and socket of the human shoulder.

The shape of the Catalyst implants better resemble the true shape of a human shoulder, unlike most other implants on the market, and are designed to give a more normal feel and movement to the patient, Goldberg said. 

Used with patented instruments and a new surgical approach, the implant requires less bone removal than other procedures for arthroplasty, or joint replacement. 

Early data has shown a reduction in the length of hospital stays, as well as less narcotic use for patients who have Catalyst's shoulder replacement.

The system has been used successfully in more than 1,000 surgeries.

A growing market

The fresh infusion of funding should give previous investors "a level of confidence that the company has the money to invest in the right people and programs to be successful," Hutchison said.

"Shoulders are the fastest growing market space in orthopedics," he said. "I think that the shoulder really did not get the same level of investment that the knee got 20 years ago, or the spine got."  

The shoulder is getting more attention nowadays thanks to inventions like Goldberg's, which minimizes bone removal and preserves the strongest, densest bone to support the implant.

With the new investment Catalyst's primary goal is to make the company "as big as we can" and to build the "best company we can," Hutchison said.

"We are growing very rapidly, far more rapidly percentage-wise than most companies are," he said.

The company is working on new shoulder-related inventions, but it's not ready to share any details yet. 

Catalyst has a very robust research and development program, Goldberg said, with the goal of developing more products and procedures that make shoulder surgery less painful and intrusive, while making recovery easier and faster.

The company recently introduced an uncemented version of its original break-through product.

Catalyst started with two patents in 2013, one for each of the core components of the shoulder replacement system, and that portfolio has since grown to 10, Goldberg said.

There are hopes of reaching an international market — once the required approvals can be secured.

Read or Share this story: https://www.naplesnews.com/story/money/business/local/2019/06/10/new-infusion-capital-fuel-naples-based-medical-device-manufacturers-growth/1358100001/

Disruptive Startups Are Key For U.K. Growth - Forbes

Posted: 29 May 2019 12:00 AM PDT

Female hands are hanging in protective gesture above a sprout planted in ground inside money structure. The concept of protecting the growth of funding .

Getty

Less than 5% of university graduates launch their own business after graduating from university, according to the latest data from HESA (the Higher Education Statistics Agency). This isn't surprising given many graduates are keen to secure a stable income after their university years, rather than 'go it alone'.

But startups have a vital part to play when it comes to contributing to the U.K. economy and it's widely recognised that much of U.K. economic growth will come from disruptive startups, rather than larger organisations. Indeed, a Virgin startup report, "The Start-up Low Down" tells us that they contribute £196 billion to the U.K. economy every year.

Startups are key to economic growth but they're being held back

Despite the enormous contribution startups make to the U.K. economy and its overall prosperity, there are numerous obstacles holding back our budding entrepreneurs, especially suitable ways of financing their businesses. Traditional financing routes are often not a viable option–entrepreneurs are unlikely to secure an equity investment from a traditional venture capitalist (VC) before the idea is de-risked significantly. Loans for companies with little collateral and cash flow are also not an option.

There are alternative funding models available for those looking to set up a business as they cross-over from the academic to the commercial world post-university, but people are not always aware of them.

Tapping into on-campus funding

Campus Capital, the U.K.'s first on-campus VC fund, enables students to present their early stage ideas to their peers for equity investment and operates in several universities across the U.K. Individual "Business Angels"–often alumni who have created and sold on businesses themselves and are keen on investing in the next generation from their alma mater–may also invest for equity.

When it comes to loan funding, traditionally, funding is normally associated with the "5 Cs of credit"—a framework used by many traditional lenders to evaluate potential borrowers—of which startups rarely fulfil the criteria. These include the character of the borrower, predicted capacity of the business to pay back the instalments, capital invested by the borrower, collateral available in case of default and conditions of the industry and economy. However, with government-backed startup loans, collateral is not required as they are underwritten by the government, so the lender will be repaid should the business fail. With an attractive interest rate of 6% to borrow up to £25,000, approximately 60,000 people had taken this up as of 2019.

Crowdfunding and the rise of social enterprise

Alternative funding, such as crowdfunding, is also proving a popular go-to funding mechanism. The motivation for investing today has evolved significantly–"thank you" was the most common reward for "crowdfunders" in 2018 and the rise of social enterprise has a huge part to play in this, with investors looking beyond financial rewards and really looking to get under the skin of the business and understand what else it has to offer. This works well with entrepreneurs offering early adopters a prototype or gig tickets, for example. You are appealing as much to people's philanthropic nature–and the desire to be part of something–than promising a guaranteed financial return. Some crowdfunding platforms are designed just for students and encourage alumni to invest, generally asking for around £1,500 - £5,000 with a reasonable success rate.

Lean Start up – bettering your chance of success

Students are also turning to Lean Start up as a business strategy to narrow the gap between available money and what's needed to get their business up and running. Focusing on creating a minimum viable product (MVP) – a product with just enough features to satisfy early customers – before committing money to scaling up means that ideas that fail to resonate with consumers can be screened out earlier on in the product's life cycle.

The Lean Startup approach suits students' lower budgets in this way and enables them to make use of tools around them to continually test their product or vision with an audience. Many students will have access the 3D printing and rapid prototyping at their university which means their product can also be tested at one of the many student markets throughout the country.

Lean startup can work well with reward-based crowdfunding - by offering an early version of a product to the crowd on a platform such as Kickstarter or Indiegogo, entrepreneurs can receive honest feedback from early adopters, as well as access financial support.

Large organisations have their part to play

Large organisations have good reason to help startups. It can often be more cost effective to buy out a company with a tried and tested product rather than have to develop a version in-house. For example, Facebook, Google and Apple have been recently been buying tech companies to utilise their AI applications. In fact, Apple has bought over 100 other companies in its history, including Beats Electronics and Shazam.

Google provides their "Campus" model in several cities around the world including in Shoreditch, London, where they help develop startups with workspace, networking and access to Google technologies. GlaxoSmithKline have a similar model nurturing biotech startups at their Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst campus.

There are more than 200 incubators and accelerators in the U.K. helping to develop early-stage businesses, and data suggests that businesses who have taken advantage of these have both a much greater survival rate and raise 40% more funding on average than those that do not.

Raising awareness of alternative funding models will get more startups off the ground

Too many innovative business ideas are quashed in the early stages of their development – or are not embarked upon at all – due to the belief that access to finance will hold startups back or cause them to fall at the first hurdle. While the number of new companies registered in the U.K. in the last year rose to 660,000, a study from the Enterprise Research Centre found that of the 239,649 firms started in the U.K. in 1998 only 11% survived the following 15 years.

To enable these startups to not only get off the ground but to thrive, we need to raise awareness of the alternative funding models available. More established U.K. businesses can lend their hand to these in order to give disruptive startups the chance to reach their full potential, and to equip the next generation with the means to play their part in bolstering the U.K.'s economy.

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