Startup Positivity — Week 17

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 frontline response, food & agriculture, and hiring, 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.

Ready is a team of highly trained paramedics, EMTs and nurses supported through telehealth and other technologies to provide care in the comfort of your own home.

The most vulnerable Americans have been hit the hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic. Low-income families and ethnic minorities are at a higher risk of contracting the virus, and are less likely to have a primary care provider on-hand to get help.

Ready’s Responders have been on the frontlines making in-home visits to patients who need COVID-19 testing in these hardest hit communities. The populations Ready serves primarily consist of Medicaid beneficiaries, and patients dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid. With a recent fundraise of $54 million, announced last week, the Ready model will grow to include mental health, expanded point-of-care testing, vaccinations and new approaches to improve care quality for patients and payor partners. Ready’s Responders and Clinicians combine to provide a convenient, safe and effective healthcare alternative for patients.

Ready currently serves patients in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Maryland, Reno and Las Vegas, Nevada, and New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Shreveport and Houma, Louisiana.

Iron Ox is an operator of autonomous robotic greenhouses used to grow fresh and pesticide-free farm products.

At some point this year, 54 million Americans — including one in four children — may not know where their next meal is coming from. Food insecurity is rising in every part of the United States as the COVID-19 virus spreads, and will continue to throughout 2020, according to projections from Feeding America. The problem is compounded by the fact that farmers are struggling to find sufficient labor as the movement of people has been curtailed.

Growing food locally removes these unnecessarily long supply chains, labor costs, and quality degradation. Last week, Iron Ox — an agricultural robotics company that makes autonomous greenhouses — announced the addition of a Gilroy, California-based farm with 10,000 square feet of growing area. The location has already begun delivering vegetables to a number of retailers and restaurants across the state, including some big names like Whole Foods and smaller operations like Bianchini’s Market, which operates two locations in California. Their plans entail a nation-wide expansion in delivery for next year.

BrightHire is a next generation interview platform for better, faster, more inclusive hiring.

With women and minorities still underrepresented in leadership positions, companies have been announcing initiatives aimed at promoting diversity even before the tragic death of George Floyd. But despite these commitments to diversity and inclusion, companies struggle to translate them into hiring outcomes. Teams often apply — consciously or unconsciously — different standards to candidates from underrepresented and non-traditional backgrounds.

BrightHire, which came out of stealth last week with a $3 million round, is looking to change that. BrightHire’s interview assistant can be integrated directly into software that companies are already using for candidate interviews like Zoom and the platform records, transcribes, and analyzes all interviews, providing a robust data set that provides transparency around a company’s hiring process and allows for collaboration in hiring through HR stakeholders. The company also offers data analytics that alert companies to patterns in their hiring process: perhaps Black women candidates are consistently less likely to make it into the final round of interviews, or interviewers are using language like “work hard, play hard” to describe company culture, which might send an unwelcoming signal to older candidates.

BrightHire does not automate decisions about who makes the cut; rather, its features are largely aimed at assisting flesh-and-blood interviewers and hiring managers during and after video calls with candidates — a particularly timely idea in the Covid-19 remote era.

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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