Funding / Startups

Raynier Seed Fund picked 4 Philly startups for its second cohort

The Drexel and Science Center-managed fund invests in startups with underrepresented founders.

SnapRefund cofounders Anis Taylor (left) and Cody Eddings. (Courtesy photo)

The Raynier Institute and Foundation continues to support the Philadelphia startup community from across the country with the announcement of the second cohort for the Raynier Seed Fund for Underrepresented Entrepreneurs.

This fund is a partnership between the Seattle-based foundation, Drexel University and the University City Science Center to support founders in the Philadelphia region. The $500,000 fund was first established in 2021, and the first cohort was announced in the fall of 2022. In that round, Vital Start Health, Tribaja, Knowledge to Own and TDR Ideas each got $25,000.

Shintaro Kaido, Drexel’s vice provost for innovation and a co-administrator of the Raynier Seed Fund, said they learned from the first cohort how hard it is to narrow down just four companies to receive investments because of how much talent is in the region.

Like the first, each company in this new cohort will receive a $25,000 investment and mentorship from Raynier Seed Fund community partners. The fund received 36 applications for this round, and six finalists were chosen to pitch their companies to a panel of judges. Here are the four startups chosen:

  • Vasowatch — This company is developing a wearable monitor that provides risk assessment for postpartum hemorrhage after people give birth; the company also won Invention of the Year at the Awards 2022
  • SnapRefund — A fintech company with a platform to make the insurance claim payment process faster
  • Hidden Gems — A beverage company that uses upcycled ingredients to make its products, such as its Reveal beverage, made of avocado seeds
  • Naturaz — This company produces a line of vegan, non-GMO haircare products called the Moisture Burst System that is supposed to help curly hair stay moisturized and healthy

“We know that the biggest capital gap, access to capital, is in the very early stages for many of those underserved founders to get started, their option for fueling their entrepreneurial endeavors often is quite limited,” Kaido said. The Raynier Institute and Foundation “really wanted to do something, and elevate entrepreneurs from underserved groups in our region. So we’re very, incredibly grateful for the opportunity to do what is really, really needed here in Philadelphia.”

Christine Rohan, CEO of Vasowatch, said the Raynier Institute and Foundation’s mission to better humanity aligns with Vasowatch’s mission to improve maternal mortality rates and improve health equity. She said the company hopes to use some of the Raynier Seed Funds to potentially work with the Accelerate Health Equity Initiative in Philly and build and test a budget impact model and a reimbursement model for Vasowatch’s product with that initiative’s stakeholders.

The Raynier Seed Fund will be accepting applications for its third cohort later this summer, and Kaido said he looks forward to choosing four more startups later this fall.

Sarah Huffman is a 2022-2023 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 Lenfest Institute for Journalism.
Companies: SnapRefund / Drexel University / University City Science Center

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