From Startland News
A newly closed, oversubscribed $41 million KCRise Fund II is poised to accelerate regional growth with an influx of talent and investment dollars for 20 high-growth technology companies benefitting Greater Kansas City, said Darcy Howe.
And the work has already begun, the fund’s founder and managing director added.
Before today’s closing announcement, Fund II had invested in 8 of the 20 companies targeted, all of which are located directly in the region or strategically accretive to the region, Howe said. Half of KCRise Fund II companies to date are led by female or diverse founders.
John Bertrand, Daupler
Riddhiman Das, TripleBlind
The eight KCRise Fund II investments include backstitch, Bungii, Cariloop, Daupler, Degree Insurance, Kenzen, Super Dispatch and TripleBlind.
Click here to read more about Daupler and TripleBlind, two of Startland News’ 10 Kansas City Startups to Watch in 2021.
“2020 brought talented former Kansas Citians back to the region, away from their higher-cost, coastal environments,” Howe said, referencing pandemic-era workplace shifts that brought unexpected benefits. “KC-based technology companies also learned that a distributed workforce can be highly productive. These two factors have increased the quality of talent joining our portfolio companies and accelerated traction.”
Investors include 17 corporations and universities headquartered in the Kansas City region, along with numerous families and family offices, many with next generation family members leading engagement and learning the discipline it takes to be a venture investor, according to Howe.
Click here to read why Blue KC joined the group of investors backing KCRise Fund II.
Today’s announcement follows the launch of the $19 million KCRise Fund I three years ago, Howe said, which helped bridge the high-growth technology funding gap in the KC region.
“Our goals for Fund II remain the same as in Fund I: educate and grow the number of venture investors who will invest in this region, connect large businesses seeking innovation with the innovative companies being built in their own backyards, and deliver financial results which will encourage doing it all over again,” Howe said.
“Additionally, Fund II has attracted investors outside of the region who believe our strategic regional thesis is a competitive advantage in building a venture pipeline and working toe-to-toe with founders and their teams.”
BacklotCars co-founders: Josh Parsons, Fabricio Solanes, Justin Davis, and Ryan Davis
The results of Fund I have exceeded expectations since fundraising first kicked off in September 2016 and closed a year later, said Ed Frindt, partner at KCRise Fund.
“The growth of our firm is a testament to the collaborative culture of Kansas City,” he said. “Our investors recognized the multiplier effect of how organized risk capital, hands-on mentoring, and opening of their personal networks could catalyze growth for KC’s entrepreneurs. Our hyper-local model brings a competitive advantage not only to our founders but to our financial returns.”
Out of KCRise Fund I’s 20 portfolio companies, five have exited, including BacklotCars, PayIt and Zego. Those five exits returned nearly 100 percent of investor capital called, with 15 investments still remaining, according to the fund.
To date, Fund I companies — since KCRise Fund’s investment — have attracted $358 million in investor capital, 78 percent of which was from outside the region, Frindt said.
Click here to read more about BacklotCars’ $425 million exit to KAR Global in 2020.
KCRise Fund builds syndicates with institutional investors around the globe who are attracted to the capital efficient, revenue-focused innovators identified and supported by the fund.
Jeff Jones, H&R Block
“Our partnership with KCRise Fund II fits perfectly with our transformation agenda, recognizing how critical it is to connect with and be inspired by the world outside of H&R Block,” said Jeff Jones, CEO and president of H&R Block, a KCRise Fund corporate investor. “Early-stage companies need market validation, counsel and customers, and we’re a good testing ground for one another. There is no question to me that investing in our own backyard improves our community and our economy.”
Click here for the full article from Startland News
From Startland News
Kansas City-worn Kenzen is rolling into 2021 with new funding and partnerships pushing the wearables startup into overdrive.
Heidi Lehmann, Kenzen
The company announced a $1 million injection of funding from Overland Park-based Examinetics — a portfolio company of New York-based Freedom 3 Capital — Wednesday.
“The Kenzen solution is gaining momentum. This alliance with Examinetics will broaden the team of safety experts who can work closely with clients to train teams and onboard employees to the technology before work heats up this summer,” explained Heidi Lehmann, co-founder and chief commercial officer of the smart personal protective equipment and Internet of Things company.
The injection brings Kenzen’s total backing to $10 million.
The company currently sits at No. 16 on the Kansas City Top VC-Backed Companies list — generated annually by Startland News’ independently-operated parent organization, Startland.
Beyond capital, Kenzen and Examinetics have agreed to a partnership in which the former will work to create introductions and partnerships for the startup, leveraging its network of existing clients, added Paul Fenaroli, Examinetics president and CEO.
Paul Fenaroli, Examinetics
“As a leader in the field, we have a responsibility to bring our clients new and emerging solutions that we believe advance their employee health and safety goals,” Fenaroli said. “With over 3,000 clients nationwide, we have the reach and access to health and safety executives in substantially every industrial sector.”
Kenzen headquartered much of its operations base in the metro upon its founding in 2016, setting its sights in part on accessible capital, Lehmann previously told Startland News.
Additionally Wednesday, Kenzen and North Kansas City-built Garney Construction announced a trial, which will put the company’s wearables to the test on 10 build sites nationwide.
The devices track and assess physiological indicators of each worker, including core body temperature, heart rate, and exertion level — potentially saving the lives of workers exposed to extreme weather, acting as a proactive prediction and prevention measure.
Kenzen safety tech
“We’re committed to continually evaluating new methods of protecting our employee-owners and incorporating the best solutions available,” said Ryan Smith, regional safety manager at Garney. “We’re looking to add more prevention approaches to our systems, which now include education and training, hydration, monitoring atmospheric and ambient heat, and cooling stations.”
While Kenzen works to collect sizable amounts of data, privacy and protection remain a driver for the company, Lehmann added.
“Garney is on the leading edge of bringing technology into the safety equation. Because Garney is owned by its employees, all were involved in the decision and all are interested in advancing their business through increased safety and productivity.”
Click here for the full article from Startland News
Smart PPE to help clients stay safe and avoid workplace injury
OVERLAND PARK, KS, January 19, 2021 – Examinetics, the nation’s leading provider of workplace safety compliance services, today announced a strategic investment in Kenzen, innovator of a wearable device to reduce workplace injuries by providing continuous temperature monitoring of workers. Examinetics is a portfolio company of Freedom 3 Capital.
Examinetics President and CEO Paul Fenaroli stated: “Examinetics is committed to working with our clients to keep America’s workers safe, healthy and productive. As the nation’s leading provider of occupational health solutions, we see wearable technologies as the next phase of protection for employees. has developed and tested an elegant solution for real-time employee safety through the detection of heat stresses to the body. This is the first of what we expect will be several investments in the wearable technologies space in the upcoming years.”
In addition to the investment, the companies have entered into a marketing agreement under which Examinetics will introduce Kenzen technologies to its clients. “As a leader in the field, we have a responsibility to bring our clients new and emerging solutions that we believe advance their employee health and safety goals. With over 3,000 clients nationwide, we have the reach and access to health and safety executives in substantially every industrial sector,” said Fenaroli.
Kenzen Co-Founder and Chief Commercial Officer Heidi Lehmann added: “The Kenzen solution is gaining momentum. This alliance with Examinetics will broaden the team of safety experts who can work closely with clients to train teams and onboard employees to the technology before work heats up this summer.”
As climates get more extreme, heat stresses to workers – which can lead to serious injury – are on the rise. Heat affects the worker’s health and productivity and a company’s safety and financial results. Safety professionals increasingly want real data to predict and prevent heat issues, while protecting workers’ personal health privacy; the Kenzen solution is designed to provide both.
Examinetics is the nation’s leading provider of occupational health solutions through mobile, onsite, and technology platforms. Our comprehensive suite of occupational health services delivers strategic value to more than 3,000 clients in over 15,000 locations annually. Leading companies partner with Examinetics to achieve regulatory compliance, minimize productivity loss, and acquire vital data required for optimal health outcomes. We call this “Insight x Onsite.”
About Freedom 3 Capital
Freedom 3 Capital (F3C) is a private investment firm, providing capital to non-sponsored middle market companies. Headquartered in New York City, F3C opened its Kansas City office in 2019 to better serve Midwestern-based family and entrepreneur owned businesses needing capital investment for strategic acquisitions, expansion or to refinance existing capital structures. For more information visit www.freedom3.com.
Founded in 2016, Kenzen is the premier physiological monitoring platform to keep industrial workforces safe from heat, over exertion and illness on the job. For more information about heat stress and how to integrate the system into a safety plan, visit Kenzen.com.
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Garney, a firm focused singularly on water and wastewater construction, is interested in keeping its employee-owners as safe as possible on the job. Recently, the company added a new element to its already robust safety programs by testing new wearable technology smart devices.
The devices, worn on the arms of 28 Garney workers at 10 worksites throughout the U.S., are manufactured by Kenzen. They monitor key physiological indicators of each worker, including core body temperature, heart rate, and exertion level. Detecting changes in these factors can lead to proactive prediction and prevention of heat injuries and illnesses, including fatalities.
“We’re committed to continually evaluating new methods of protecting our employee-owners and incorporating the best solutions available,” said Ryan Smith, regional safety manager at Garney who coordinated the proof-of-concept project with the company’s environmental health and safety (EHS) leaders and regional project supervisors. “We’re looking to add more prevention approaches to our systems, which now include education and training, hydration, monitoring atmospheric and ambient heat, and cooling stations.”
Data from the wearable sensors provide alerts to workers by sending vibrations to the device and notifications to their smartphones, and to supervisors via their phones and a web dashboard that provides real-time heat health status of all team members. Alerts escalate from an initial “stop work” message to rest and hydrate, to subsequent alerts for additional measures to avoid emergency situations. Follow-up alerts indicate when a person’s core body temperature has returned to a safe level for resuming work.
Cumulative data can be analyzed by EHS leaders at the company to detect patterns and customize heat stress prevention and treatment strategies at various locations – from the dry heat of Arizona to the extreme heat of the Texas sun, to the hot humidity of Florida, and heat conditions at Colorado altitudes. Garney used the location-specific information to adjust break times and educate employee-owners on steps they can take to protect themselves, such as how to acclimatize to warm working conditions when coming onto a worksite, and best clothing choices.
Although Kenzen collects large amounts of physiological data from each worker, varying levels of information are provided to different viewers to protect workers’ rights, especially with regard to the privacy of their personal health information.
“Garney is on the leading edge of bringing technology into the safety equation,” said Heidi Lehmann, co-founder of Kenzen. “Because Garney is owned by its employees, all were involved in the decision and all are interested in advancing their business through increased safety and productivity.”
Founded in 2014, Kenzen is the premier physiological monitoring platform to keep workforces safe from heat, fatigue, and overexertion on the job. For more information about heat stress and how to integrate the system into your safety plan, visit Kenzen.com.
Click here for the full article from garney.com