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Frontdesk and Elephas Bring a Boost to Madison

Over the last two weeks, Wisconsin has seen two large raises from two companies that have been growing rapidly over the last couple of years.  Frontdesk provides short-term rental properties to corporations and individuals working remotely.  The focus of the company is to acquire property around the country to provide their corporate partners opportunities to reduce housing costs in key markets.  Elephas is a cancer drug company that has its origins at Madison-based Exact Sciences.  The company raised a whopping $41.5 million last week.  Check out the two press releases below.

Elephas Biosciences Raises $41.5M in Series B Funding

Elephas Biosciences Corporation, a Madison, Wis.-based oncology diagnostics company, raised $41.5m in Series B funding.

The round was led by ARCH Venture Partners, joined by new investors, Moore Strategic Ventures and Tao Capital Partners, as well as and current backers Northpond Ventures, Sands Capital, and WARF Ventures. ARCH Venture Partners’ Paul Berns will join the Elephas board of directors and ARCH’s Keith Crandell will be joining as a board observer. This follows the recent appointment by the company of Steven Galson, the former director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research at FDA, as independent director. 

Led by Maneesh Arora, founder and CEO, Elephas is developing an oncology diagnostics platform to predict response to immunotherapy. The platform utilizes live fragments from a patient biopsy and treats those fragments with potential therapies and combinations. The latest advances in cancer biology combined with multi-modal imaging are used to assess how patients will respond before beginning treatment.  

Elephas is launching two human clinical trials on the platform in the next quarter and plans to share initial clinical data in 2023. The company also plans to make the platform available to biopharma researchers next year.

Prior investments include $20m from the Series A and $8m from the founder and early seed investors.

JetBlue invests in Frontdesk’s $13m in Series B funding round

Milwaukee-based short-term rental property management startup Frontdesk, which seeks to provide flexible stays for the ‘modern traveller’, has announced the closing of its $13 million Series B funding round.

The round was led by Stormbreaker Ventures with support from JetBlue Technology Ventures, Veritas Innovations, Motivate Venture Capital, and several strategic investors.

It brings Frontdesk to $22 million in total equity financing to date, after securing $7 million in a venture capital round last August.

Founded in 2017, Frontdesk manages one of the largest collections of short-term rental units in the United States. The startup now operates in over 30 US markets with more than 1000 units across 150+ buildings.

Frontdesk helps real estate owners to maximise the potential of their multifamily assets and provides modern spaces for today’s travellers. The company’s proprietary software powers its “efficient and scalable” model, allowing Frontdesk to better serve guests and automate and scale internal operations, as it seeks to redefine hospitality for a new generation of travellers and property owners.

Mark Freed, Frontdesk board member and partner at Stormbreaker Ventures, said: “Stormbreaker has been a long-time believer in Frontdesk’s capital-efficient approach to transforming the way we live, work, and explore new communities. Supported by strong leadership and best-in-class technology, Frontdesk has built a sustainable, scalable business, and we are thrilled to continue being a part of their growth.”

Jim Lockheed, partner at JetBlue Technology Ventures, said: “At JetBlue Technology Ventures, we are always on the lookout for companies that are building differently from their peers. Frontdesk’s vision to redefine hospitality for the modern traveller – grounded in strong business fundamentals – is exactly the type of business we believe will be a great partner for JetBlue Technology Ventures and our existing portfolio of early-stage startups improving the future of travel and hospitality.”

Jesse DePinto, the newly-announced CEO of Frontdesk, said: “As the world becomes more digital and more flexible, the need for our product has never been greater. We are grateful to be joined by partners who support our vision to power the future of dynamic living and meet the contemporary needs of living, working, and travelling.

“As we look towards the future, we are now even more excited about the generational opportunity ahead, and Frontdesk’s leadership position within our category,” he added.

The company is continuing to acquire new properties to add to its portfolio and plans to use the capital to expand into existing markets and buildings. In the last 12 months alone, Frontdesk has increased its portfolio by 42 per cent, including taking over the management of 33 units left vacant by now-defunct property management company WanderJaunt in Tempe and Phoenix in Arizona and Austin in Texas.

Frontdesk previously purchased 277 units in 2020 after three of its lodging competitors – Stay AlfredDomio and Lyric – either shuttered or pivoted their offerings.

Despite the pandemic, Frontdesk has so far served more than 400,000 guests and earned an average satisfaction rating of 4.7 out of 5.0, although the startup underwent a “restructuring” earlier this year which saw around 3.5 per cent of its workforce laid off.


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