Optoro Is Building A Billion-Dollar Business Helping Companies Cope With A Glut Of Rejected Stuff

In Optoro’s 300,000-square-foot warehouse outside Nashville on a stiflingly hot afternoon in late August, Susan Cohan scans the bar code on a cardboard box holding 97 pink crocheted bikinis. The tops were priced at $27.99 and the bottoms at $19.99 at one of America’s best-known big-box retailers. But the suits had failed to sell. Optoro’s software tells Cohan to route the box to Bulq.com, a website run by Optoro that sells in bulk to mom-and-pop dollar outlets and online discount stores. The bikinis will fetch 20% of retail, says Tobin Moore, Optoro’s 35-year-old cofounder and CEO. “People aren’t going to be buying bikinis in September,” he notes.

Those bathing suits and the 50,000 other boxes of returned and rejected stuff sitting in Optoro’s warehouse represent a pounding headache for retailers and manufacturers. Of the $3.3 trillion Americans spent on merchandise in 2015, they returned 8%, or $260 billion worth, according to the National Retail Federation’s most recent figures. That doesn’t count items, like the pink bikinis, that never leave store shelves.

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Aledade and Founder Farzad Mostashari Featured in NYT

Winfield, Kan. – If you watched the drama in Washington last month, you may have come away with the impression that the American health care system is a hopeless mess.

In Congress, a doomed plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s health care law, has turned into a precarious effort to rescue it. Meanwhile, President Trump is still threatening to mortally wound the law — which he insists, falsely, is collapsing anyway — while his administration is undermining its being carried out.

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Weather Analytics Raises $17 million in Series B Funding

Washington, DC – Weather Analytics, the leading provider of weather and predictive risk software for the insurance industry, announced today that global insurers Tokio Marine HCC and W. R. Berkley Corporation together have funded a $17 million Series B financing round. With the new capital, Weather Analytics’ total funding now exceeds $30 million.

“This financing will accelerate scientific and technical innovation that vastly improve decision support in risk selection, pricing and policyholder services for insurance companies across the globe,” said Bill Pardue, Chairman & CEO of Weather Analytics. “Established providers are charging insurers too much and delivering too little. Weather Analytics is disrupting that equation.”

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Aledade Raises $20 Million to Grow Value-Based Care Network

Bethesda, Md. – Aledade, Inc., a national leader in value-based care, today announced it raised an additional $20 million in funding. This funding will accelerate Aledade’s efforts to grow its provider network and expand partnerships with commercial and Medicare Advantage health plans. The round is led by Biomatics Capital, with participation from new investors including GV (formerly Google Ventures) and the Maryland Venture Fund, and existing investors Venrock and ARCH Venture Partners.

Aledade’s Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) are at the forefront of the shift to value-based reimbursement across both public and private payer health care markets. After doubling last year, the Aledade ACO network now includes more than 200 independent, physician-led practices across 15 states that together represent more than 240,000 covered lives and $2 billion in health care spending. In addition to its work with the Medicare Shared Saving Program (MSSP), Aledade has expanded its payment contracts with commercial payers (such as Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas and Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield) and public payers (such as the West Virginia Public Employees Insurance Agency).

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BrainScope Launches the Ahead 300 for Objective Assessment of Mild Head Injury, Including Concussion

Ahead 300 Offers Objective, Configurable Panel of Capabilities at the Point of Care

Company’s First Commercial Product to Ship in Q1

Bethesda, MD – BrainScope Company, Inc. announced today the market release of its flagship Ahead 300 product, and will initiate a limited launch to a select group of thought leadersthrough its Centers of Excellence program later in the first quarter. These institutions will represent a cross-section of market segments including Urgent Care Clinics, Concussion Clinics, Emergency Medicine Departments, and University and Professional Sports. BrainScope will also be selling the Ahead 300 to various branches of the U.S. military and government.

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Fugue Raises $41 Million in Funding to Solve Cloud Operations Complexity

Fugue, Inc. announced it has closed an approximately $41 million Series D financing round, bringing the company’s total funding to more than $75 million. The company’s flagship product, also called Fugue, radically simplifies cloud infrastructure complexity at scale with its dynamic, software-defined cloud orchestration and enforcement system. The round was led by New Enterprise Associates (NEA), with participation from previous investor Maryland Venture Fund and new investor Future Fund, the sovereign wealth fund of Australia.

The funding comes as Fugue prepares to launch new enterprise-grade cloud infrastructure automation products that provide enhanced capabilities for team collaboration, dynamic infrastructure control, and continuous enforcement of regulatory compliance. The company plans to use the newly raised funds to fuel its go-to-market strategy and accelerate product development to meet the requirements of enterprise customers needing an end-to-end approach to reducing deployment friction, automating the cloud lifecycle, and mitigating risk in the cloud.

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Optoro Signs Strategic Alliance with UPS and Closes $30 Million Funding

Optoro, the leading platform for returned and excess inventory, today announced that it has closed a $30 million Series D funding round. The round included participation from new investor and alliance partner UPS, as well as additional financing from existing investors Revolution Growth, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Generation Investment Management, Tenfore Holdings, SWaN and Legend Venture Partners and the Maryland Venture Fund.

In connection with the investment, UPS and Optoro have also formed a strategic alliance, providing a one-stop shop solution for retailers and manufacturers to optimize the transportation and disposition of returned and excess inventory.

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BrainScope scores FDA clearance for smartphone-based device for TBI

BrainScope got FDA clearance for its handheld medical device for diagnosing traumatic brain injury (TBI). The news is a feather in the company’s cap as it builds out its offerings and preps its latest device for commercialization.

The Bethesda, MD-based company’s Ahead 300 device uses electroencephalography (EEG) technology to pinpoint TBI in patients with head injuries. The system runs through a smartphone and includes a disposable electrode headset, allowing doctors to quickly assess whether an individual has TBI.

BrainScope’s device responds to a prevalent healthcare issue. More than 5 million U.S. patients are seen each year with closed head injuries, and millions more do not have their injury evaluated, the company said in a statement.

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The Maryland Venture Fund (MVF) Appoints Parag Sheth as Director and Chief Marketing Officer

Sheth is the Final Strategic Hire Tapped to Build Upon MVF’s New Vision

September 26, 2016–COLUMBIA, MD–The Maryland Venture Fund today announced the final senior hire of its new management team, Parag Sheth. Parag brings to the table decades of sales, marketing, and business development experience at multi-nationals and venture-backed startups, including most recently at Radius Worldwide. After the Maryland Department of Commerce spun the Maryland Venture Fund (MVF) out to TEDCO in 2015, the Fund has been assembling a team that will provide more than just capital to the entrepreneurs with whom it partners. Sheth’s hire completes the initial phase of this plan.

“MVF is committed to the success and growth of the companies it supports, and that means building a team that is capable of understanding and responding to the unique challenges that entrepreneurs face,” stated Sheth. “I am excited to join a team with not only extensive operational and venture capital experience, but also the passion to go the extra mile for our entrepreneurs.”

Sheth joins Managing Director Andy Jones, Moss Amer, Phil Jung and Arti Santhanam who together are setting the refined strategy for investing opportunities. They will continue to focus on early stage Maryland-based companies, but will also support and engage the ecosystem of the entire Metropolitan DC region.

The change in management reflects a desire to actively support and engage high-growth companies that require more financing than angels can provide, but are capital-efficient enough to fundraise less than what traditional institutional funds seek to invest. The Fund is industry-agnostic, and is looking to back exceptional founders with a history of success.

“Parag and I have known each other for over 15 years,” stated Jones. “We have worked together twice, and made money for our investors in both of those ventures. We expect to deliver similar results working together for the third time. Parag has a phenomenal track record of delivering results and can assist our portfolio companies with pragmatic guidance.”

About the Maryland Venture Fund

The Maryland Venture Fund is an early-stage, evergreen venture capital fund dedicated to funding and growing the next generation of outstanding businesses in Maryland. They are an experienced team with significant venture and operating experience whose focus is on making entrepreneurs successful. With slightly more than $100M in assets under management, they partner with exceptional entrepreneurs and help them build valuable companies that last.