Money Moves: DC's Please Assist Me received $100k from Google for Startups' Black Founders Fund - Technical.ly DC

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Money Moves: DC’s Please Assist Me received $100k from Google for Startups’ Black Founders Fund

Plus, HUNGRY is now valued at over $200 million following a Series C and Sorcero raised a $10 million Series A round.

Stephanie Cummings, founder of Please Assist Me.

(Photo by Michelai Graham)

DC’s Please Assist Me landed a $100,000 investment in non-dilutive capital from Google for Startups’ Black Founders Fund, the company announced today.

The news comes just a few months after the home management platform nabbed $500,000 from Atlanta’s Collab Capital in July, which was more than double the total funding it had raised to date.

Please Assist Me partners with local buildings and apartment complexes to offer assistant services to residents for tasks like cleaning, laundry and grocery pickup. Stephanie Cummings cofounded the company in 2018, though she alone was selected as a founder for the Google funds, which she said will be used to continue building out its tech platform and hiring.

“The Google for Startups Black Founders Fund will have a considerable impact on the growth of Please Assist Me,” Cummings told Technical.ly. “This capital and support comes at a critical time and will help us improve the UX/UI experience of our app, hire operational staff to help us continue to scale, and partner with new apartments in our pipeline.”

Cummings was one of 50 founders across the US selected to receive funding, and the only recipient from the DMV area. In addition to the funding, founders will attend weekly meetings to connect and share resources as well as receive technical support from Google and its team.

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HUNGRY raises $21M Series C

HUNGRY cofoudners Eman and Shy Pahlevani.

HUNGRY cofoudners Eman and Shy Pahlevani. (Courtesy photo)

Rosslyn, Virginia-based catering startup HUNGRY nabbed a $21 million, celeb-backed Series C round, placing the company’s valuation at “well over $200 million” according to cofounder Eman Pahlevani.

Actors Issa Rae and Terry Crews; Arizona Cardinals player DeAndre Hopkins; Chicago Bulls player Lonzo Ball and boxer Deontay Wilder all participated in the round, plus local funds Sands Capital Ventures and Motley Fool Ventures.

Pahlevani said that the funding will primarily be used for hiring, and expanding the company’s model into new cities following its virtual pivot in 2020. After receiving a $20 million investment in January of last year, Pahlevani said the company had great success moving to a virtual model, which featured cooking classes with celebrity chefs. In fact, HUNGRY doubled its revenue from the previous year.

“That’s what helped us not just survive the pandemic but thrive,” Pahlevani told Technical.ly.

HUNGRY has already grown from about 55 employees pre-pandemic to 85, Pahlevani said, and likely will exceed 100 by the end of the year. The company is also expanding into Los Angeles, San Franciso, Seattle and Chicago this fall into the new year. Going forward, it’s hoping to continue with digital offerings, adding more celebrity chefs and even becoming a touchpoint that helps companies with their return-to-office plans.

“Hungry would love to provide the incentives to come back to the office and create that camaraderie,” Pahlevani said.

Sorcero raises $10M Series A

Sorcero cofounder and CEO Dipanwita Das (Courtesy photo).

Sorcero, the Adams Morgan natural language processing startup, raised a $10 million Series A round, the company announced last week.

Harmonix Fund and CityRock Venture Partners led the round, with additional investment from Rackhouse, Mighty Capital, Leawood VC, Castor Ventures and WorldQuant Ventures. To date, the company has raised $15.7 million since its founding in 2018.

Sorcero uses AI and language software to help life sciences companies interpret data and make decisions.

Cofounder and CEO Dipanwita Das told Technical.ly that the raise follows a huge boom for Sorcero, as the company has grown 300% year-over-year.

The funding will be used to expand its customer base, adding talent and expanding into adjacent markets, which includes building from a current base in life sciences into healthcare. It will also be investing in infrastructure, scaling its current products and adding a few new ones, while boosting marketing and adding new partnerships.

This will also mean adding members to the team, although the company has already expanded to 46 employees from 10 last May. Das said Sorcero is currently hiring in commercial, product, engineering and operations.

“These hires will be absolutely essential for us to hit every one of our goals and get us to the next stage of the company,” Das said. “We’re particularly looking for builders, folks who can take a blank page and make it into something real or rare and precious. We want as many of them as possible.”

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Here’s who else is raising around the DMV:

  • Satellite imaging company HySpecIQ, based in Herndon, Virginia, revealed that it had raised over $20 million from Paypal cofounder and prominent Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel.
  • Vienna, Virginia’s Aldrich Capital Partners closed a $450 million investment fund for tech companies still run by their founders.
  • Gardyn, a DC startup that lets people grow produce indoors and at home, just raised $5 million in fresh funding from JAB Ventures to further its technology platform. This is in addition to the $10 million it raised in February from JAB.
Companies: Sorcero, HUNGRY, Google
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