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Happy Tuesday!

The countdown continues to Friday’s inaugural Greppy Awards. You should register now for the virtual event, which will be Friday at noon for roughly an hour. Meanwhile voting continues in each category until Thursday at 5pm. Read up on all the nominees here, and then vote here. More than 1,100 people have already cast ballots and most races are still way too close to call.
The Greppy Awards will pre-empt The Friday Nooner this week. But don’t worry, that will simply give you more time to savor last week’s edition.

Masked Up

Serial entrepreneur Chris Evans launched three successful software startups before the 20th century flipped to the 21st and then spent years as the executive chairman of Raleigh-based biomaterials company Tethis, but until last year it had been two decades since he’d run a company on a day-to-day basis. You might recall what happened last year: the world was struck by a global pandemic. Not long after the lockdowns started, Chris learned that NC State’s textile scientists had designed a synthetic fabric that could help make a better facemask—combining the breathability of cotton with medical-grade filtration of tiny pathogens.
Soon, Chris put together a team and raised $1.3M in angel funding—a round he led with his own personal investment—to launch Aries, the rare startup that hopes its addressable market will actually decrease in the coming months and years. Aries is shipping its first masks this week; I’m literally wearing one right now, and quite comfortably. The masks are pitched to businesses who want their employees to be safe as well as direct to consumers, with packets of five retailing for $15. Each mask is designed to be worn for a full 40-hour work week. As for Chris, he’s happy to be once again working 40-plus hour weeks as a startup CEO: “There’s nothing like putting a team together to do something that’s never been done before,” he said. “It’s the greatest thing in the world.
Read our full story on Chris and Aries here. (And TechWire also has coverage here and here.)


The Download

Velvet Nelson, this week’s subject of The Download Q&A, relocated to the Triangle and took over as the director of Launch Chapel Hill in December 2019. Oh, and did we mention that she has two toddlers who are now 2 and 3 years old? So don’t blame Velvet if she couldn’t come up with a favorite local restaurant or happy hour, since she had barely gotten settled when the whole world shut down. Ahh, someday soon we will all be dining indoors again and the biggest impediment to eating at your favorite restaurant will be landing a reservation.

Speaking of reservations: book your (virtual) space now for the showcase of Cohort 15 of Launch Chapel Hill’s accelerator, plus the release of LCH’s 2020 Annual Report this Thursday at 5pm. And read the full Download with Velvet here.


Good Vibrations

Greppys nominee Revibe Technologies—which is one of five companies vying for Best Medium-Sized Startup—has raised $3M to develop a digital therapeutic smartwatch powered by AI. Carolina Angel Network (CAN) led the round. The watch aims to assist children with ADHD and autism in maintaining focus by sending vibrations that help keep them on task. TechWire has more details.


More For Muuk

Raleigh startup MuukLabs, which we wrote about in August 2019, has landed a $750K investment led by New York-based Contour Venture Partners. That relationship arose out of the virtual Demo Day that came from MuukLabs’ participation last year in the Techstars Kansas City accelerator. MuukLabs offers a no-code testing platform for software development that’s powered by AI. See TechWire for more details.


Pill Popper-Outers

Exhibit Z that the healthtech sector is booming: Morrisville-based Spencer Health Solutions has raised $1.8M for its at-home medication “smart hubs.” Picture a kiosk that reminds you when and which meds to take—and then actually spits them out. Spencer claims its devices have a 97% medication adherence rate and a patient engagement rate of more than 77%. TechWire and TBJ have more details.


Tiny Tools

RTP-based Trio Labs has raised $3.8M towards its goal of creating a “micro-manufacturing” facility in the Triangle. Trio Labs has developed a digital technology aimed at manufacturing small, precision metal and ceramic 3D-printed components. So if you need some replacement parts for your Easy-Bake Oven, you could be in luck. TBJ has more details, though for some reason it doesn't play up the market for tiny appliance repairs.


Same Old Story

At this point I feel like I should have a keyboard shortcut for “insightsoftware makes another acquisition.” Because the Raleigh-based, PE-backed insightsoftware just made its 18th acquisition in three years by acquiring Atlanta-based Izenda. Izenda is an application-based “intelligence provider” that will be rolled into Acquisition No. 17, Logi Analytics. See TechWire for more details.


Teaming Up

Two past GrepBeat story subjects are combining for a unique internship program for young women working toward tech degrees. Rewriting the Code will supply and vet female tech students for Durham-based Allobee (which we wrote about last April when it was called MOMentum Marketplace) to place in internship roles. The program has received 300+ quality applicants, so right now there’s a bigger need for businesses nationwide who could use tech interns this summer. If your company fits the bill, apply here.


Build Better

Dualboot Partners is a software development firm that helps ventures at all stages build great software and great companies. Founded by serial entrepreneurs, Dualboot Partners comes to each project with deep expertise in technology and business, as well as a commitment to supporting its clients well beyond the development process. The team offers advice and perspective—built over the course of hundreds of projects—and leverages its vast network to connect clients with investors, future hires and other resources critical in turning a concept into a successful venture. Intrigued? Email them here!


Extra Bit

At 4pm today, RIoT is hosting a virtual event on the advances made in RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) that are helping power the Internet of Things. The speakers include John Cowan, the Founder and CEO of red-hot Raleigh-based edge computing startup EDJX. Register here.


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