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Money Moves: Pittsburgh’s BlastPoint raised $5.25M after pursuing national funders

Plus, Diamond Kinetics announces new partnerships, Westinghouse Electric Company and Astrobotic are working on NASA tech, and Castle Biosciences is expanding its Pittsburgh presence.

Blast off. (Photo by Flickr user NASA Remix Man, used under a Creative Commons license)
Money Moves is a column where we chart the funding raises of tech companies across the region. Have a tip? Email us at pittsburgh@technical.ly.

BlastPoint raised seed funding

In 2021, then-five-year-old BlastPoint was gaining the region’s notice for its artificial intelligence-powered and data-driven insights for businesses looking to improve sales, customer engagement, revenue benchmarks and other goals. That year, the company closed a $750,000 seed round in convertible notes, followed by another $300,000 from women founder-focused Chloe Capital in 2022.

Now, the East Liberty-based company has crossed a significant milestone: raising $5.25 million in seed funding.

BlastPoint CEO Alison Alvarez told Techncial.ly the company’s new influx of cash means that it’s gone from surviving to being able to grow. Previously, Alvarez said, she and her cofounders often found themselves doing multiple jobs at once. They’ll now be able to hire more employees and therefore relieve some of the pressure on them.

“I think he [cofounder Tomer Borenstein] and I have had like eight jobs in this company, and I’m really looking forward to having like, maybe two or three,” Alvarez said.

Alvarez said the funding will also be invested in new technology BlastPoint is developing.

Whereas previously the company received funding from mostly local sources, this time around, the cofounders looked outside of Pittsburgh because they wanted their funding sources to reflect the desire for BlastPoint to reach a national audience. This round included participation from Muditā Venture Partners LLC and Ann Arbor, Michigan-based eLab Ventures.

“We are turning into truly a national brand,” Alvarez said. “And I wanted to make sure that we have funding sources that reflect that. I very much appreciate all of our local funders, they’ve all been extremely, extremely supportive. But I think for us strategically, it was a good idea for us to look elsewhere.”

In the way of hiring, Alvarez said, BlastPoint is seeking a director of marketing, a new salesperson, as well as a few technical positions. Moving forward, the company plans to increase its 21-person workforce by 50%, with as many as 10 new employees.

Diamond Kinetics announced new partnerships

North Shore-based sportstech company Diamond Kinetics promises to revolutionize the way young people practice softball and baseball. Among the company’s suite of products is its bat sensor attachment that pairs with a mobile app, allowing them a gamified method of practicing their swing.

Diamond Kinetics, which turns 10 this year, has been on a growth kick in recent years. As of spring 2022, the company had 35 employees and a Major League Baseball partnership. Before that, the company raised $12 million in 2021, which followed $5.7 million raised in 2018. In May, Technical.ly also spotted a $13 million raise via an SEC filing, though the company hasn’t yet responded to requests for confirmation and inquiries about what the funding would mean for its future.

Now, with two new or expanded partnerships, Diamond Kinetics’ leadership says it’ll have the chance to make the game even more accessible to young people.

For one, the Pittsburgh company will work with The Alliance Fastpitch, the California-based national league system for amateur fastpitch softball, to create “exclusive in-app content, missions, and gamified hitting lessons from the best in the game.” A press announcement said the orgs’ shared goal is to boost participation in the sport and provide young players with engaging experiences.

“Diamond Kinetics shares The Alliance’s commitment to growing and advancing the sport of softball,” Diamond Kinetics CEO CJ Handron said in the announcement. “With this collaboration, we aim to empower players to not only get better on the field but to have fun while they practice and foster an even stronger love for the game. We’re excited to offer kids unprecedented access to elite training content from D1 softball athletes whom they admire, and will be watching at home on their televisions during the Women’s College World Series.”

The company also expanded a partnership with the Baltimore-based Ripken Baseball and Cooperstown-based All-Star Village by launching “new in-app content, experiences, and on-site activations” with the two, such as the “Ripken Baseball Memorial Day Classic” missions and badges, per a release. Diamond Kinetics’s mobile app combined with the other orgs efforts aim to benefit the young players they serve.

Financial details were not disclosed for either partnership.

Westinghouse and Astrobotic are working on NASA tech

Cranberry Township’s Westinghouse Electric Company and North Side’s Astrobotic kicked off June by signing a Memorandum of Understanding which says they’ll “explore collaboration” on space technology programs for NASA and the Department of Defense.

Within the announcement, both companies’ leaders said the collaboration will focus on developing space nuclear technology and delivery systems. The two will also aim to strengthen both the space nuclear supply chain and workforce in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.

This isn’t either company’s first experience with NASA. In 2022 Westinghouse was awarded a $5 million contract to provide an initial design concept for a fission lunar surface power system; Astrobotic helped Westinghouse to secure the contract. The latter company made headlines in 2020 when it received $199.5 million to develop its Griffin lunar lander. And alongside Westinghouse’s contributions to the space race in the past sits Astrobotic’s participation in the present.

The companies’ leaders feel this partnership benefits their work as well as the region at large.

“Astrobotic and Westinghouse have deep roots in Pittsburgh, and we are excited to leverage both companies’ capabilities to pioneer the future of space power technologies and services,” Astrobotic CEO John Thornton said in a statement.

This comes on the heels of the plans for the Keystone Space and Defense Innovation District being revealed to the public. According to stakeholders, the district will be a space innovation cluster that will enable economic development while providing the North Side, Manchester and Chateau communities with educational and entertainment opportunities. As Astrobotic is one of the project’s anchors, the company’s leadership has been in conversations with the resident stakeholders to ensure the desire for development is balanced with the needs of the community.

Castle Biosciences is expanding its Pittsburgh presence

A Texas-based health tech company has announced it’s acquiring another laboratory facility in Pittsburgh.

The publicly traded Castle Biosciences, which specializes in molecular diagnostics for dermatological cancers like melanoma, is branching out with a 20,000-foot facility inside the Nova Place complex on the North Side. According to a press announcement, the larger facility will be used to process its proprietary diagnostic tests, and the company’s leaders expect to expand its workforce within the city from 35 jobs to as many as 70 by the end of the year.

“Our new state-of-the-art laboratory provides us with additional capacity that should allow us to continue to scale our operations in the future,” Castle Biosciences CEO and President Derek Maetzold said in a statement. “We are excited about the opportunities this new space provides for the growth of our business as well as for our continued impact on patient care.”

In October 2021, the company secured a $30 million acquisition of Harmar-based Cernostics. The local biotech firm used artificial intelligence and spatial biology on its proprietary TissueCypher platform to identify the presence or development of esophageal cancer or relevant dysplasia in tissue biopsies.

Currently, Castle is looking to fill positions including molecular technologist, laboratory operations, research and development, and information technology.

Atiya Irvin-Mitchell is a 2022-2024 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Heinz Endowments.
Companies: Diamond Kinetics / BlastPoint / Astrobotic
Series: Money Moves

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