In 2010, then-President Barack Obama instructed NASA to provide grants to private companies to let them develop spacecraft. This shift in space policy from government-controlled has created a flurry of massive opportunity for the private sector to fully get involved in space aviation for the first time without NASA involvement. In the subsequent years, satellites have become more accessible and fueled an entirely new segment that services the growing and varying needs of satellite operators and deployers. Morpheus Space is a satellite mobility provider that is reducing the barriers to entry for space and the ongoing costs of space exploration. The company’s core product, Sphere Go, a cutting-edge in-space propulsion system for satellites. The company has also built a complementary suite of software that serve as an operating system to manage the lifecycles and needs of small satellites that include piloting, network management of satellites, hardware as a service, and design support. Morpheus launched in 2018 and has grown the team by 8x since 2020 while supporting a 250% increase in contracts year-over-year. LA TechWatch caught up with Morpheus Space Cofounder and President Istvan Lorinz to learn more about the business, the company’s strategic plans, latest round of funding, which brings the total funding raised to $29.6M, and much, much more…
From their purchase of Instagram and WhatsApp in 2012 and 2014 respectively, Facebook has always demonstrated a real understanding of going where the attention is. I think their most recent move is no different. While the name switch seems random to some, it made perfect sense to me for the times we’re in. With their entrance into the VR space through innovations like Oculus Quest, and of course the current surge of NFTs and Web3 technology, rebranding as Meta is a timely decision that makes a lot of sense for where the company — and society — is ultimately headed.
“All kinds of automation are great, BUT a city is about satisfying the quality of life of its residents before everything. Integrated dashboards with AI and robots, and tech-supported decision makings are a life-long technical dream of all generations of urban professionals, engineers, architects, but most of the people would agree that there would not be worse governance than the one of scientist government. For the simple reason that humans are sensitive entities more than rational ones, highly unpredictable and so far never completely understood by any science.”
The use of industrial robotics has been growing steadily since the 1960s when robotic-assisted automation was first introduced into manufacturing in the automotive industry. The advent of the internet and connected devices is now fueling a new uptick in robotic sales as applications are more sophisticated and specialized. Today’s environment with labor shortages, high labor costs, and decreasing hardware costs ensure that the future of manufacturing will be reliant on robotic automation. GrayMatter Robotics is a platform that powers smart robotic assistants that focus on specialized surface finishing tasks in manufacturing like sanding, polishing, and spraying. The platform serves as an operating system that seamlessly integrates with commercially available robots, sensors, and tools to give manufacturers the ability to introduce automation in a timely manner without friction, significant training, or excess cost. Founded in 2020, GrayMatter allows manufacturers to be flexible and more competitive at a time when manufacturing is slowly returning to the states. LA TechWatch caught up with GrayMatter Robotics Cofounder and CEO Ariyan Kabir to learn more about the use of industrial robotics in manufacturing, the company’s strategic plans, recent round of funding led by Stage Venture Partners and Calibrate Ventures.
Grubhub is piloting the use of delivery robots, manufactured by self-driving startup Yandex, at Ohio State University this academic year. The convergence of autonomous vehicle technology and robotics is bringing a future that we only saw in movies to us today, and rapidly. However, the accuracy of autonomous technology aspect has always been the stumbling block that has prevented widescale deployment in the case of delivery. This LA startup has found the answer. Coco is a last-mile delivery service that uses remote human-piloted robots to power deliveries. The technology is versatile enough to be used by restaurants, groceries, convenience stores, and pharmacies; basically, all the essentials that you have become accustomed to ordering on-demand. These industries have been forced to adopt technology in a rapid fashion to address the pandemic and Coco makes local delivery faster, smarter, and more cost-efficient. In fact, Coco estimates that it is able to save up to 30% on delivery times while reducing the environmental footprint. The company, founded in 2019, already has 50+ customers using the technology and has scaled the team to 120. LA TechWatch caught up with CEO and Cofounder Zach Rash to learn more about the state and future of the delivery market, the inspiration for the business, the company’s strategic plans, latest round of funding from investors that include Sam Altman, Silicon Valley Bank, and Founders Fund.
Brands and marketers are always looking for new and innovative ways to reach target audiences. The convergence of technology and mobility solutions like rideshares has enabled a new wave of ad units. For example, taxis for several years have had ads in cars and on top of vehicles, which now have become digitized from analog. This LA startup takes it one step further. Adway is a digital advertising platform that uses proprietary projection technology to display ads on the side of any vehicle without any major modifications. The projectors are affixed to a vehicle’s mirrors and ad buyers can purchase slots based on geography in real-time, enabling sophisticated targeting. The platform also tracks the number of cellular devices in and around the vehicles through Bluetooth to provide measured reach metrics. Adway drivers are given a share of the advertising revenue based on the number of hours they drive. LA TechWatch caught up with CEO Sasha Krylov to learn more about how the idea for the business came to fruition, the company’s strategic plans, latest round of funding from investors that include Upfront Ventures, Revel Partners, Watertower Ventures, and Inflection Capital.
The pandemic has propelled the adoption of NFC-powered contactless technologies for retailers and restaurants with everyone focusing on public safety. With the public now familiar with these technologies, new use cases will emerge post-COVID. Popl brings the benefits of NFC technologies to the general public. The product lineup of stickers keychains, and bands all enable the seamless sharing of information. The company focuses on making it easier for people to exchange contact information wirelessly, reducing the need for business cards in a contactless world. The software allows you to include social media profiles, payment info, links, etc., making the use-cases versatile.. LA TechWatch caught up with CEO and Cofounder Jason Alvarez-Cohen and COO and Cofounder Nick Eischens to learn more about the company’s offering, traction, and future plans.
Most entrepreneurs believe that they are going to change the world. However, there are very few that actually will have such an impact. Meet Doug Bernauer, a former SpaceX engineer that left the company to launch Radiant, an LA startup developing the world’s first portable, nuclear microreactor. The company’s vision is grand and if they are successful, they will be able to seamlessly bring energy to many places that need it the most. LA TechWatch caught up with Bernauer to learn more about the company’s vision, future plans, and recent funding round from investors that include Charlie Songhurst, Hank Vigil, Josh Manchester, and Tom McInerney.
California recently passed regulations requiring that over 50% of all commercial trucks sold in the state must be zero-emissions by 2035 and other states have signed a memorandum to phase out all diesel-burning medium- to heavy-duty truck and bus sales by 2050. These new laws signal promise and opportunity for companies like Xos Trucks, the LA company building state-of-the-art OEM electric trucks that forge together battery packs, chassis, and software. Xos Trucks’ flagship X-Platform 1 is fully electric and compatible with a variety of medium-duty bodies, wheelbases, and range requirements up to 200 miles. The X-Platform 1 is often customized into Class 6 medium-duty bodies that fulfill short-range deliveries, which have been used by UPS. Xos Trucks is also developing the ET-One, a Class 8 heavy-duty truck that can carry 80,000 pounds and can travel 150 miles per charge. 65% percent of trucks on the road travel less than 150 miles per day and Xos is addressing this market with its solutions to make last-mile delivery sustainable and efficient. COO and Cofounder Giordano Sordoni shares more about Xos Trucks is disrupting an $8T industry from the ground up with saavy engineering and software.
Loneliness and isolation are heightened in the midst of the pandemic. Can robots fill a void? Expper’s founder Karén Khachikyan says the company’s robot Robin changes a kid’s perception of medical treatments, where they will no longer feel isolated, lonely, and scared. The innovator explains how his whimsical four-foot robot employs digital facial expressions to form lasting bonds with its young users.
Through what it calls “storyhacking”, Whatifi offers numerous plotlines, character arcs, and endings, and even critical points where the watch party is faced with a problem and the movie cannot continue until everyone unanimously decides what decision to make. Using methodology from interactive theater, Cofounders Hardi Meybaum and Jaanus Juss are putting social audiences in the Director’s seat from their phones. The duo shared some insight into the company’s engaging platform for developing movies, future plans, and recent funding round led by Andreessen Horowitz.