Startup Positivity — Week 11

Over the last few weeks we’ve highlighted the fantastic work that incredible startup teams are doing to make the world smarter, safer, and more sustainable.

This week, it is not enough to share these stories.

We are grieving the loss of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless other black Americans to violence. We stand alongside those who are fighting to combat the effects that institutional racism and police brutality have on communities of color.

We believe that Black Lives Matter. We believe in black founders and creators. We believe that we have a responsibility to build a tech industry and community that is equitable and just for everyone. And we know we must do better.

We commit to continuing to collect data on diversity at City Light and amongst our portfolio companies. We will continue to fund Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) founders — and make our commitment to do so public. We will continue to invest in businesses that serve BIPOC communities by improving access, affordability, and outcomes for the people in them.

This week, we want to highlight some of the incredible black founders we have the honor to work with.

Varuna aggregates and analyzes water utility data, and provides recommendations and actions to help operators deliver clean water, and optimize their operational and financial performance.

In Q4 2019, more than 53 million Americans drank contaminated water. More than 42,000 water systems had water quality violations. While water utilities are an essential service, manually monitoring water quality is increasingly difficult; the drinking water industry is seeing i) job losses ii) increased requirements to provide clean water, and iii) billions of dollars of reduction in (mainly) commercial revenues.

Varuna uses a combination of hardware (sensors) and software to help water system managers make optimal operations decisions, enabling them to deliver clean water efficiently. The company gathers data from within the water distribution system and other data repositories, runs deep analytics using our proprietary algorithms and presents the insights, recommendations and actions in simple dashboards. That means a quicker view into sudden water quality problems, allowing utilities to respond faster, and visibility into where a problem is coming from. Varuna has signed up several utilities across the country, and has even managed to close several new deals during lockdown.

Varuna CEO Seyi Fabode has written a resource guide for those looking to take action — please read it here.

Campuswire is a real-time messaging app for college classes that streamlines class discussions, Q&A, and announcements.

With colleges and universities closed for in-person classes around the country, millions of students are relying on virtual instruction to complete their courses. Unfortunately, Zoom classrooms do not easily facilitate discussion, and lack of access to instructors and teaching assistants means students do not have the ability to work through gaps in their understanding of materials.

Campuswire enables students and teachers to connect virtually in real time with an engaging, easy-to-use platform. Professors can communicate directly with students to answer questions, share announcements, and post notes; students can chat with each other before, during, and after classes to work through problems; and instructors can host virtual office hours or review sessions. For the students currently relying on online learning, Campuswire is essential for an effective, engaging learning environment.

Juno brings the best of high-quality pediatrics, adult primary care, women’s health, and same-day care under one roof — with labs, x-ray, and ultrasound also on-site.

The coronavirus crisis has exacerbated an already deep divide in the access to and affordability of care in the United States. Low-income families and people of color have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, and many lack affordable, accessible care in the best of times.

Juno delivers convenient and affordable essential care to these communities right where they live. The company recently opened their first location in Harlem, NYC, where they have begun to deliver services in women’s health, same-day care, and adult primary care. They accept all major insurance plans and are currently in-network with most major insurers, with prices for all services listed directly on their website. By providing these services where they are most desperately needed, Juno is actively helping to close the access and affordability gap in healthcare.

This is just a small sample of the incredible work being done by black entrepreneurs that we work with and admire. If you have inspiring stories about entrepreneurs making a difference that you would like to share, please send them to us at info@citylight.vc. We are sure that our community of investors, entrepreneurs and change makers could use a smile and a reminder that we are not alone.

City Light is a Venture Capital firm that invests early in impactful companies. https://citylight.vc

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