Startup Positivity — Week 16

Over the last few months we’ve highlighted the fantastic work that the City Light portfolio teams are doing to make the world smarter and safer. This week, we continue with three stories from companies on the frontlines of energy, education, and healthcare, including some from fellow travelers’ portfolios.

The entrepreneurs with whom we are fortunate enough to partner are working on solutions that the world needs now more than ever. They are still on the front lines providing care, reducing stress and anxiety, and increasing access to education and energy.

We are not the kind of people or firm that gets quiet or sits on our hands when things get tough. We do not let the news or the red on the stock screens discourage us. We will be smart, empathetic, patient and thoughtful, while also being present, helpful, active and open for business (while upholding all social distancing recommendations). We will be helping our existing companies navigate their new realities, both positive and negative. We will continue to make new investments and to provide follow-on funding as warranted.

Ohmconnect is a software based power plant. Instead of turning on a dirty coal or gas power plant during times of peak demand, Ohmconnect has hundreds of users reduce their electricity, thereby reducing carbon emissions.

Amid record heat and wildfires, rolling blackouts have affected millions of Californians. But millions more low-income households in California and nationwide face loss of service for a different reason: their electric bills have gone up in the pandemic, and they can’t pay them. Disadvantaged households in California’s Central Valley, for example, have seen their residential electric bills rise by a whopping 50 percent or more since the state’s shelter-in-place order took effect.

OhmConnect’s demand response solution not only helps stabilize the grid by reducing demand, but also helps low-income households generate additional income through reducing their energy usage during times of peak grid demand. OhmConnect paid out more than $300,000 to its California residential demand response users when temperatures soared, and the company’s virtual power plant supplied more than 200 MWh to California’s grid by harnessing the power of its fleet of energy-saving homes and smart devices across the state.

See CEO Cisco DeVries’ feature in Newsweek here!

Juni Learning is an online learning platform for K-12 students, providing weekly curriculum and digital tools which pair each student with top-notch instructors for one-on-one or small group-based video instruction.

Millions of students in the US have had to shift their “back to school” plans with school around the country going fully online or choosing a phased re-opening strategy. For many of the students who have to rely on virtual-only instruction, a de-personalized online classroom and self-paced homework assignments will not be enough to master their course material — setting them further behind.

Juni Learning is filling the gap by bringing personalized virtual learning into the home for math, computer science, and English. The company’s programs cover students from introductory to college-level, guided by instructors from top US universities. Juni’s 200 instructors are all vetted for their teaching experience and expertise in Computer Science, Mathematics, or English, and are selected from top-tier American universities like UC Berkeley, Johns Hopkins, and Vanderbilt University. Juni has seen a marked increase in interest from both students and instructors since the start of the pandemic, and expect to see a similar uptick in the fall semester.

Congratulations to Juni Learning for its Series A raise from our friends at Forerunner Ventures!

Hazel Health is a telehealth platform intended to improve the well-being of children by increasing access to great healthcare.

Before COVID sent millions of children home, many of them received most of their healthcare within the four walls of their school. Hazel Health was a key component for many schools, delivering telehealth services to all children, regardless of income or immigration status, right in the nurse’s office. At partner schools, 90% of eligible families chose to enroll in the program, and engagement spiked at over 70% in the first year. More than 40% of enrolled families indicate that they do not have a primary care physician.

With children out of school, Hazel has had to extend its offering outside of school walls. The company has been working closely with districts to provide support to families affected by school closures through Hazel at Home, an initiative mobilized quickly after access to healthcare, especially via schools, became limited for many people during the pandemic. Hazel currently works with U.S. districts representing over 1.5M students of the 60M students nationally.

Congratulations to the team at Hazel Health for their successful Series C fundraise from our friends at Owl Ventures!

These are just a few examples of why we are convinced that tomorrow will be better than today. It can help to take a moment to recognize the amazing work being done by entrepreneurs and their startup companies.

To that end, 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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