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    614Startups Watchlist – Upwage and Ulevo Health Announce Funding Rounds

    In this addition of 614Startups Watchlist, we explore two companies that raised a round of funding this past June and July in Columbus, Ohio. Upwage, a transformative job search platform, and Ulevo Health, a medtech company, reported investing rounds from venture capital firms in Columbus.

    In the following article, we provide an overview of each Ohio startup, then break down their recent funding rounds. In addition, we’ll explain how companies like Upwage and Ulevo Health are solidifying Columbus as an emerging ecosystem for innovation and attracting venture capital firms.

    Rise in AI, Medtech, and Other Technology Startups in Columbus, Ohio

    While Austin and Miami are widely known as alternative tech hubs to Silicon Valley, the Midwest is emerging as a viable destination for startups.

    In recent years, Columbus, Ohio, has emerged as one of the most promising ecosystems for entrepreneurs, tech founders, top talent, and venture capital investors. As the cost-of-living skyrockets in coastal cities, Columbus has retained its affordability, with the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment at only $1,389, according to Zumper.

    In addition to affordability, Columbus has an impressive talent pool because of the high density of universities as well as a business-forward tax policy, central location, and collaborative culture. While technology leveraging AI are at the forefront of innovation in the region, there’s a unique diversity of industries pushing Columbus forward as a growing hub for startups.

    As a result, venture capitalists have pumped over three billion into the city over the last 20 years.

    Recent Seed Round Finding from Venture Capital in Columbus, Ohio

    Upwage

    Upwage

    Upwage is a groundbreaking job posting platform headquartered in Powell, Ohio, co-founded by industry visionaries Diana Tsai and Greg Call. Rooted in a mission to uplift hourly workers and democratize job opportunities, Upwage has reimagined the traditional job search process by harnessing the potential of big data and artificial intelligence.

    With a focus on transparent wage information and innovative search functionalities, Upwage strives to bridge the gap between job seekers and employers, fostering economic growth and empowerment for the millions of Americans earning less than $16 per hour.

    Since its inception, Upwage has attracted over $9 million in funding from forward-thinking investors who recognize the platform’s potential to reshape the job search landscape. This funding has fueled the development of innovative features, expanded the platform’s reach, and allowed Upwage to make significant strides toward its mission of empowering hourly workers.

    Seed Round Funding Information

    On July 1, 2023, Upwage achieved a significant milestone in its journey toward empowering hourly workers and transforming the job search landscape. The company announced the successful closure of its most recent seed round funding, securing an impressive $7.3 million investment. This infusion of capital is a testament to Upwage’s groundbreaking vision, innovative technology, and the unwavering belief of its investors in the platform’s potential to effect positive change in the job market.

    The funding round was led by prominent venture capital firms such as Vitalize Venture Capital and Precursor Ventures, known for their track record of identifying and nurturing transformative startups.

    Joining these industry leaders was a consortium of forward-thinking investment partners, including Moai Capital, Maveron, J4 Capital, GC&H Investments, Core Innovation Capital, Bloomberg Beta, BBG Ventures, and AlleyCorp. Their participation in this funding round underscores Upwage’s potential to create meaningful job market changes and drive economic empowerment.

    Perspective on the Funding Round from Founder Diana Tsai

     Diana Tsai

    For Diana Tsai, the latest seed round funding isn’t just a financial milestone; it’s a pivotal step forward in a journey guided by a profound mission. As a co-founder of Upwage, Diana’s perspective on this funding round is intricately intertwined with her commitment to addressing one of the most pressing and entrenched issues in American society – the staggering wealth gap.

    The inception of this transformative vision can be traced back to a pivotal moment when Diana pondered a powerful question after engaging with the founders of billion-dollar ventures for social good. “What is the problem you want to spend the next ten years of your life solving?” This question resonated deeply with Diana, igniting a spark of inspiration that would eventually lead her to embark on a mission to bridge the vast economic disparities in the United States.

    Ulevo Health

    Ulevo Health is a pioneering healthcare technology company headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, dedicated to enhancing the lives of individuals with neurological diseases, spinal cord injuries, and other conditions that often lead to debilitating muscle spasms. At the heart of Ulevo Health’s mission is a groundbreaking wearable device designed to automatically detect and reduce muscle spasms through the power of personalized vibrations. This patented technology represents a transformative approach to tackling the most distressing aspect of spasticity. These constant and involuntary muscle contractions adversely impact daily activities, rehabilitation, and overall quality of life.

    Ulevo Health was established on April 26, 2022, driven by a deep-seated commitment to make a tangible difference in the lives of those grappling with the debilitating effects of muscle spasms. Rooted in compassion and a desire to alleviate pain and suffering, Ulevo Health’s dedicated team of experts embarked on a journey to create a solution that empowers individuals to regain autonomy, embrace rehabilitation, and enjoy improved overall well-being.

    Pre-seed Funding

    On June 9, 2023, Ulevo Health proudly announced its pre-seed funding round, securing a notable sum of $150,000 in investment. This initial injection of capital is a testament to Ulevo Health’s innovative approach, unwavering vision, and the belief of its investors in the potential impact of its groundbreaking wearable technology.

    The $150,000 raised during the pre-seed funding validates Ulevo Health’s patented medtech product and its potential future application. The financing will empower Ulevo Health to accelerate its path toward clinical trials, further optimize the device’s design, and ultimately bring the solution closer to the hands of those in need.

    The Future for Investing in Columbus, Ohio

    Startups like Upwage and Ulevo Health are far from outliers. Investments in new office buildings, technology manufacturing, and the city’s infrastructure have positioned Columbus as a thriving ecosystem for new businesses and America’s legacy companies alike. As the market develops, we expect to see more venture capital invested in Columbus, Ohio.

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