Startup Database Blog

Ultranauts' Series A Funding Round A Win for Neurodiversity

Ultranauts Inc, formerly known as ULTRA testing, is an engineering startup that employs talent on the autism spectrum. The company just announced a $3.5 million Series A Funding round.

Providing data engineering services and software to both startup clients as well as the Fortune 500, Ultranauts has built the first-ever remote workplace for neurodiverse talents.

The funding was made possible and led by The Disability Opportunity fund and SustainVC. They have been joined by a renowned group of investors that includes the philanthropist and advocate Lisa Yang, Chief Talent Officer of Bain and Company Russ Hagey, Vice Chairman of Cognizant Frank D'Souza, Moai Capital (run by Founder of Emergence Capital Brian Jacobs), The Libra Foundation (facilitated by the Candide Group), the Wasabi Ventures, and Social Venture Network.

Ultranauts was founded by two MIT engineers, Arthur Schectman and Rajesh
Anandan, in 2013. Right from the start, Ultranauts looked to prove that autism and
other kinds of Neurodiversity could actually be a significant advantage in terms of business outcomes.

With 75% of staff on the Autism spectrum, Ultranauts' employees have unique abilities, which is ideal for projects requiring high levels systems thinking, logical reasoning, pattern recognition, and focus. 

The model is working. Ultranauts has experienced 50% plus annual growth since it started, with over 65% of year-over-year (YOY) growth in the fourth quarter of 2018 and 100% YOY growth in the first quarter of 2019.

Web and app accessibility, analytics, data accuracy and hygiene, as well as API and UI
test automation are just some of the specialized services that has fueled this company's success.

In terms of client results, Ultranauts' customer IBM has seen 56% less defects for a Fortune 100 financial service firm, while another Ultranauts team has displaced CapGemini and improved test coverage by orders of magnitude.

The CEO of Ultranauts, Rajesh Anandan, says that ML, AI, and big data offer various opportunities for driving value across an enterprise; however, these technologies also bring
hidden risks and complicated challenges.  So, to ensure the compliance and quality of current platforms and products, Ultranauts provides customers advanced tools.

Ultranauts' funding will be used to accelerate both the impact and growth of the company, which includes investments in research and development. Also, there will be sales and training
to help the company expand in terms of data quality engineering.

Backbone Completes Series A Financing with $18mm Total

Backbone, a next-generation workflow platform for consumer goods companies, just hit $23 million in total funding. Securing an additional $10 million in Series A financing led by Foundry Group, Backbone has gathered an impressive $18 million in funding in a year. The company's first funding was a Seed round of $250k back in 2016.

From August of 2018 to August 2019, Backbone has mainly partitioned their proceeds to expand their niche within consumer-based industries such as textiles, furniture, etc. The Boulder-based company now is in collaboration with several companies such as Warby Parker, Uppababy, Betabrand, Allbirds, and Outdoor Voices. Additionally, Backbone says that by the end of 2019 they'll be taking in a Chief Operating Officer and will be increasing their workforce 2x by the second quarter of the year 2020.

CEO and co-founder of Backbone Matthew Klein says the recent financing will aid Backbone in advancing to the middle market. "It allows us to enable today's leading disruptive brands further to make products better, faster, and more efficiently. Since the beginning, we've never thought of ourselves as being up against our legacy incumbents. Instead, we are competing against a fast-growing direct to consumer economy with a customer demand that is greater than ever." said Matthew. 

The Spine of Backbone PLM

Backbone is a cloud-based platform that provides PLM solutions for consumer goods companies. PLM stands for product lifecycle management, which provides an analytical and technical approach in managing the entire lifecycles of products and goods in the industry. Backbone eliminates extreme pain point during the development process of products.

Also, Backbone improves the total efficiency and overall growth of a company through cross-functional visibility. This increases revenue opportunities while decreasing the totality of revision cycles and waste. What's more, Backbone seamlessly connects workflows and can be integrated to top work-related applications such as Shopify, Slack, and NetSuite. 

The Faces behind Backbone

Backbone was founded and spearheaded by two prominent brothers, Matthew and Andrew Klein. With 30 years of experience in fashion and consumer goods behind them, they have developed Backbone to automate the design and production process, reduce lead times during the course of the supply chain and have products get to market faster. 

The company says traditional and outdated Product Lifecycle Management infrastructures are slow and rigid. For this reason, the brothers developed Backbone to help minimize the work process of each product development. "The platform eliminates friction and complexities while increasing speed to market. We are thrilled to partner with such a prestigious group of investors, who will be instrumental in helping us bring our solution to even more innovative brands seeking to meet the on-demand needs of consumers," adds Andrew Klein, Chief Operating Officer of Backbone.