Startup fundings: Dance Church lands $4.7M to fuel online fitness platform, and other recent PNW deals
Here’s our latest rundown on recent funding rounds raised by Pacific Northwest companies.
— Dance Church, the Seattle-based creators of a high-energy, dance-focused movement class that also includes an online subscription platform, has raised $4.7 million in seed funding.
The gist: Founded in 2010 by Kate Wallich, Dance Church teamed with Pioneer Square Labs in June for help in taking the popularity of its in-person classes and bringing them online for a global audience with a dance-on-demand product called “Dance Church Go.” Users can get access to a library of online classes for $19 a month or $199 per year. A live-only option allows users to pay as they go for access to live classes.
RELATED: How Dance Church made a pandemic pivot and created a new online fitness subscription business
The people: Alongside Wallich, who serves as chief creative officer, Dance Church this year hired CEO Clara Siegel, a former Facebook product manager who led Messenger and Gaming teams at the social media giant. She was also previously a senior product manager at Tableau and Amazon. “The word of mouth growth over the last 11 years, from hundreds of people lined down the block to hundreds of thousands dancing together online, is astounding,” Siegel said in a news release.
The backers: Los Angeles-based MaC Ventures, co-founded by the former mayor of Washington D.C., led the round, with participation from PSL Ventures, Crush Ventures, Kid Venture Capital, Spike Ventures, and Graham & Walker — a new $10 million VC fund in Seattle that was formerly Female Founders Alliance. MaC also previously invested in Seattle-area startups Edge Delta, Stoke Space Technologies, and Starfish Space.
The take: When the pandemic hit, Dance Church began live streaming its workouts — and in the process discovered a brand new business. More than 144,000 people have streamed Dance Church classes online. Dance Church Go is part of a trend toward at-home workouts that grew in popularity during the pandemic. Apple also launched its own fitness subscription service called Apple Fitness Plus, while Peloton has seen membership grow. One key for Dance Church Go will be taking the broad appeal that comes from participating in Dance Church sessions in-person, and replicating that in a digital format.
What’s next: Dance Church is designed to offer a support system for the professional dance artists who serve as teachers on the platform. In the coming months, the company will launch artist-published content and tools for artists to build their communities. Dance Church has also partnered with the non-profit Dance for All Bodies, which will lead Dance Church teachers through comprehensive training to offer classes for people of all abilities. “This raise brings us closer to fulfilling our mission to bring dance to the people, while working towards our vision to be for Every Body,” Wallich said.
— Pani Energy, a Vancouver, B.C.-based startup that uses AI to help water treatment facilities improve yield and reduce costs, raised $8 million CAD. Founded in 2017, Pani uses machine learning to analyze data from a plant, and inform operators how to optimize performance. The global water treatment market is expected to grow to $211 billion by 2025. The seed round was led by California-based Blue Bear Capital, which invests in energy, infrastructure, and climate industries, and Blue Coast Partners. Mazarine Ventures; Humanitas Smart Planet Fund; Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC); and other government agencies also invested.
— Vimly Benefit Solutions landed an investment round led by Chicago-area VC firm MK Capital. The amount raised was not disclosed. The Seattle-area company provides enrollment, eligibility, consolidated billing, back office solutions, and more cloud-based tools to various customers including health plans, carriers, and third-party administrators. It raised $6.7 million in November.
— Portugal-based YData raised $2.7 million. Its software helps companies improve data quality for AI services. Seattle-based firm Flying Fish led the round. YData’s co-founders are planning to move to Seattle, the Puget Sound Business Journal reported. EDP Ventures and Real Ventures also invested.