Startups

Money Moves: Quona Capital just launched a $322M VC fund for fintech companies

Plus, misinformation tech company Alethea raised $10 million and Georgetown's Bark Tank named its two winners.

(L to R) Quona Capital cofounders Jonathan Whittle, Monica Brand Engel and Ganesh Rengaswamy. (Courtesy photo)

Money Moves is a column where we chart the funding raises of tech companies across the region. Have a tip? Email us at dc@technical.ly.


Quona Capital, a DC venture fund with locations worldwide, announced today that it closed its Fund III at $332 million.

The fund exceed the initial target of $250 million and was fueled by new and existing investors. Quona has already made 21 investments from Fund III, according to a statement. The firm did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publishing.

Quona primarily invests in tech companies looking to expand financial services for consumers and businesses in South and Central America, the Caribbean, India, Southeast Asia, Africa and the Middle East. It’s made 65 investments since the firm’s inception in 2015.

“Since our earliest days, Quona has been dedicated to expanding the frontiers of financial inclusion — investing with conviction in markets and technology-enabled models improving access and quality of financial services for the masses,” said cofounder Monica Brand Engel in a statement. “Our prior fund performance, robust pipeline of inclusive fintechs and growing LP interest in our offerings are ringing endorsements of our view on the prospects of impact-oriented venture investing in emerging markets.”

Misinformation tech company Alethea raised $10M

Alethea, a DC tech company that created technology to detect and mitigate disinformation, recently closed a $10 million Series A. Ted Schlein and Kevin Mandia of Ballistic Ventures led the round.

Alethea will put the funds toward building up its SaaS platform, Artemis, which is currently in closed beta. It also plans to grow its engineering and data science teams to support the scaling of the platform.

“Disinformation is the next iteration of information security, and communicators and risk professionals are on the front lines of protecting their organizations from the information that exists outside their systems,” said Lisa Kaplan, founder and CEO of Alethea, in a statement. “We’ve earned our record of alerting customers to the unknown unknowns to help avoid crises. Our incident response capabilities during high-stress periods, such as short-seller attacks, protects our customers. To provide this protection at scale, we created the system that didn’t exist – Artemis – to provide tailored insights into the disinformation, misinformation and social media manipulation ecosystem.”

Bark Tank has its winners

Georgetown University has named the winners of its annual Bark Tank competition for startups.

Eight finalists competed in the Leonsis Family Entrepreneurship Prize competition, which has $100,000 in prizes. This year, Ted Leonsis and his family increased the prize money to $145,000 after hearing pitches from the finalists.

“Every single pitch was fantastic. We want Georgetown to be able to hold the mirror up to the best of our students and alumni, and you’ve made us unbelievably proud,” Leonsis said to the founders at the event.

Homemade in DC, led by Mackenzie Loy, and Proxy Foods, led by Panos Kostopoulos, tied for the grand prize and won $30,000 each. Homemade in DC is an online marketplace for food entrepreneurs while Proxy Foods developed an AI-based B2B platform for alternative proteins.

The six remaining finalists also received funds for their startups:

  • Global Pal and LUCIO won $20,000
  • Tessen took home $15,000
  • Chestr, Dreame and Budeli all received $10,000

Here’s who else nabbed fresh funds (and chances to grab some):

  • Glenn Allen, Virginia-based Decisiv raised $15 million from Morgan Stanley Expansion Capital. The company provides solutions in service relationship management and plans to use the funds to grow in size and offerings.
  • Alexandria, Virginia-based Edgesource Corporation acquired Ashburn, Virginia-based Auspex, a tech company providing data analytics and cybersecurity to the intelligence community.
  • The Quantum World Congress, which will be held in DC at the end of the month, has opened registration for its startup pitch competition. Quantum companies can apply by midnight on Wednesday, Nov. 9 for a chance to win $25,000 in funding.
  • DC-based VR startup Floreo raised $10 million in a Series A round led by Tenfore Holdings. The company uses virtual reality to help those with autism, ADHD, anxiety and more.
  • Arlington, Virginia-based software developer Cosmonic raised $8.5 million in a seed round led by Vertex Ventures.
  • DC’s Howard University has surpassed its goal of raising $100 million in research grants and contracts by 2024. The university raised $122 million in 2022, which is a record sum for historically Black colleges and universities.
  • Sepio, a Rockville, Maryland asset risk management software company, closed on a $22 million Series B round. US Venture Partners led the round alongside Bess Ventures, Citi Ventures, Stanford UniversityWorld Trade Ventures and others.
  • Limber Health, a hybrid musculoskeletal care provider based in DC, closed an oversubscribed $11 million Series A round that was led by the Blue Venture Fund.
  • Maryland funding agency TEDCO invested $750,000 in Datakwip, an analytics company in Frederick, Maryland.
    • Earlier in the month, TEDCO also invested in Bethesda-based Flexnode, a digital infrastructure company that builds products for data centers.
  • DC’s Gallaudet University was awarded a $1 million grant from the LEGO Foundation for its Motion Light Lab to develop technology for deaf children and their families in accessing sign language and visual communication. The lab was one of 10 finalists in LEGO’s Build a World of Play challenge.
  • EdgeConneX, a data center service company based in Herndon, Virginia, received a $150 million loan for its expansion in Chile and Colombia. The funding follows the $1.7 billion the company received in financing transactions in 2022.
  • Birdie Everything is the winner of the Loudoun County Economic Development Authority’s 2022 Innovation Challenge competition for startups. Birdie, which develops products for golfing, won $40,000.
    • Worm Works, Gigasheet, Fuel and Tire Saver Systems and FireBot also won $25,000 apiece, with Worm Works receiving an additional $10,000 as the People Choice award winner.
  • DC-based Engaged MD, a solutions company for the fertility industry, raised $11 million in a round led by MonCap.
  • Reston, Virginia-based Modus Create acquired Philadelphia, Pennsylvania software company Promptworks for an undisclosed amount.

Government Contracts

  • Reston’s Empower AI, an AI-based govtech company, won a five-year task order supporting the Executive Office of the President and the Office of Management and Budget. If all options are exercised, the task order has an estimated value of $16.9 million.
    • Empower AI was also selected for a recompete contract supporting the 7th Signal Command valued at $11 million.
  • BAE Systems, a McLean, Virginia govtech provider, was selected for a $143 million, five-year contract for the U.S. Navy’s Surface Combat Systems Center.
  • Tysons, Virginia-based DEFCON AI, was awarded a $1.2 Million Small Businesss Innovation Research Contract.
Companies: Georgetown
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