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Summersalt raises $6M for its direct-to-consumer line of eco-friendly swimsuits

Founders Fund has led the $6 million Series A for Summersalt, an early-stage e-commerce startup embracing the next-gen consumer’s penchant for inclusivity and affordability. Headquartered in St. Louis, the 1-year old company sells swimsuits designed in-house with eco-friendly fabrics directly to consumers. Like other D2C brands, Summersalt cuts out the middlemen to give its customers access to its swimsuits for $95 or less. What sets it apart is its data-focused fit system. With a patent on recommending garments based on body type and consumer preference, it uses more than 10,000 scans of real women’s bodies and some 1.5 million measurements to create what it says are designer-quality garments. Co-founder and chief executive officer Lori Coulter and her team design all the swimsuits and source the fabrics directly with factories in the U.S. and Asia. With the latest investment, Coulter says the company will launch a line of travel wear and expand its inventory to offer more sizes. “A core value of the brand really is inclusivity and we know from an economic perspective that by moving up to size 22, we really can acquire a broader set of consumers,” Coulter told TechCrunch. Reshma Chattaram Chamberlin, co-founder and chief brand officer, said their strategy is to cater to women like them. Chamberlin herself is an immigrant, originally from Mumbai, while Coulter, a mother of two, was born and raised in Missouri. “We were both tired of seeing the oversexualized approach to swimwear,” Chamberlain told TechCrunch. “We wanted a brand to appeal to women like us so we could feel sexy on our own terms. We wanted to appeal to women across the country, whether that’s a mom in Missouri or a stylish girl in Brooklyn.” “Women like us are immigrants. Women like us are moms. Women like us are size 2 and women like us are size 22,” she added. The pair said the move to incorporate a travel line is in keeping with their wanderlust-themed brand, which appeals to younger consumers. “It’s a unique time in retail; women prefer experiences over things,” Coulter said. “We really see this as the next frontier in retail.…

China is funding the future of American biotech

Silicon Valley is in the midst of a health craze, and it is being driven by “Eastern” medicine. It’s been a record year for US medical investing, but investors in Beijing and Shanghai are now increasingly leading the largest deals for US life science and biotech companies. In fact, Chinese venture firms have invested more this year into life science and biotech in the US than they have back home, providing financing for over 300 US-based companies, per Pitchbook. That’s the story at Viela Bio, a Maryland-based company exploring treatments for inflammation and autoimmune diseases, which raised a $250 million Series A led by three Chinese firms. Chinese capital’s newfound appetite also flows into the mainland. Business is booming for Chinese medical startups, who are also seeing the strongest year of venture investment ever, with over one hundred companies receiving $4 billion in investment. As Chinese investors continue to shift their strategies towards life science and biotech, China is emphatically positioning itself to be a leader in medical investing with a growing influence on the world’s future major health institutions. Chinese VCs seek healthy returns We like to talk about things we can interact with or be entertained by. And so as nine-figure checks flow in and out of China with stunning regularity, we fixate on the internet giants, the gaming leaders or the latest media platform backed by Tencent or Alibaba. However, if we follow the money, it’s clear that the top venture firms in China have actually been turning their focus towards the country’s deficient health system. A clear leader in China’s strategy shift has been Sequoia Capital China, one of the country’s most heralded venture firms tied to multiple billion-dollar IPOs just this year. Historically, Sequoia didn’t have much interest in the medical sector.  Health was one of the firm’s smallest investment categories, and it participated in only three health-related deals from 2015-16, making up just 4% of its total investing activity.  Recently, however, life sciences have piqued Sequoia’s fascination, confirms a spokesperson with the firm.  Sequoia dove into six health-related deals in 2017 and has already participated in 14 in 2018 so far.  The firm…

In-car commerce startup Cargo raises $22 million led by Founders Fund

Cargo, the startup that helps ridesharing drivers earn money by bringing the convenience store into their vehicles, has raised $22 million in a Series A round led by Founders Fund. Additional investment came from Coatue Management, Aquiline Technology Growth and a number of  high-profile entertainment, gaming and technology executives that include Zynga founder Mark Pincus, Twitch’s former CSO Colin Carrier, media investor Vivi Nevo, former NBA commissioner David Stern, Def Jam Records CEO Paul Rosenberg, Steve Aoki, Maria Shriver and Patrick and Christina Schwarzenegger. To date, Cargo has raised $30 million in venture funding. As part of this latest round, Founders Fund partner Cyan Banister is joining the board. Cargo provides qualified ridesharing drivers with free boxes filled with the kinds of goods you might find in a convenience store, including snacks and phone chargers. Riders can use Cargo’s mobile web menu on their smartphones (without downloading an app) to buy what they need. Cargo has previously partnered with Kellogg’s, Starbucks and Mars Wrigley Confectionery — companies looking for ways to market their goods to consumers. “In just a few years, ridesharing has evolved from a niche service to an indispensable element of our global transportation system,” Banister said in a statement. “Founders Fund is excited to support Cargo in driving the next evolution: a better on-trip experience for riders and new revenue generating opportunities for drivers.”  The round follows Cargo’s partnership with Uber and an international licensing deal with Grab. The company, which was founded in 2017, has activated more than 12,000 drivers across 10 cities. Cargo says it will use the capital to scale its business in the U.S. and internationally. It’s also working on new digital services — a development Banister eludes to — that will improve users on-trip experience. The strategic investments from gaming and entertainment executives is designed to help Cargo develop those digital services for riders. “Our default behavior in an Uber is to shop, play games and listen to music on our phone. Riders have ordered more than two million products and today transact with us every five seconds,” Cargo founder and CEO Jeff Cripe said in a statement. “We brought riders…

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