Astia Companies Show Record Q1 Momentum Despite Tough Economy: 11 secured funding!

Learnvest, Astia companyAligning with U.S. trends showing a rise in venture funding in the first quarter of 2010, Astia, a premier venture accelerator that targets exceptional start-ups with women on their founding teams, today announced that 11 of its member companies have secured funding and one has had a successful exit in Q1. Additionally, several Astia clients have demonstrated exceptional growth and revenues.

Astia member companies that have secured funding in 2010 include Arcxis Biotechnologies, Avaxia Biologics, HarQen, LearnVest, Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc. (MBI) and Renewable Fuels Technology. The cumulative investment total exceeds $25 million. DNA Direct, the leader in providing guidance and decision support for genomic medicine to patients, providers, payors and employees, was acquired by Medco Health Solutions, Inc (NYSE:MHS) in February.

"We are committed to the growth of each of our companies and are thrilled with the strong momentum we’re seeing from our clients in a very tough 2009 and thus far in 2010ach of these management teams has worked exceptionally hard to achieve success. Astia firmly believes innovation requires gender diversity and our companies’ long history of successes are proof  epoints of this reality", said Sharon Vosmek, CEO of Astia.

The exposure to and commitment from the Astia Advisor Community has been an integral part of getting us to where we are today. From start to finish, we were able to close our most recent Series A raise in just six weeks from a top tier firm with the perfect DNA for LearnVest.
In today’s, or any, economy, spot-on execution is essential to the success of an emerging company Astia provided Arxcis with the seasoned, objective guidance we needed to not only secure funding, but to continue to forge strategic partnerships that would enhance our long-term business prospects, enable us to commercialize our product and technologies and thrive as we head into the next phase of our company’s development.

Among the Astia clients demonstrating strong business momentum, Blurb and MBI saw significantly increased revenues. Blurb recorded $45 million in revenue in 2009, was profitable for the second straight year since launching in 2006, and shipped 1.2 million books to over 60 countries on five continents. MBI’s first quarter 2010 sales exceeded all of its 2009 revenues.

“We are committed to the growth of each of our companies and are thrilled with the strong momentum we’re seeing from our clients in a very tough 2009 and thus far in 2010,” said Sharon Vosmek, CEO of Astia. “Each of these management teams has worked exceptionally hard to achieve success. Astia firmly believes innovation requires gender diversity and our companies’ long history of successes are proof points of this reality.”

According to a growing body of research, innovation requires diverse groups. Most notably, Scott Page from the University of Michigan has proven “that diverse groups of problem solvers outperformed the groups of the best individuals at solving problems. The reason: the diverse groups got stuck less often than the smart individuals, who tended to think similarly.” Astia leverages this science and commits to sourcing the best of the best diverse start-ups for the investment community.

“The exposure to and commitment from the Astia Advisor Community has been an integral part of getting us to where we are today,” said Alexa von Tobel, founder and CEO of LearnVest.com, an award-winning personal finance website for women. “From start to finish, we were able to close our most recent Series A raise in just six weeks from a top tier firm with the perfect DNA for LearnVest.”

About the Funded Astia Member Companies

* Arcxis Biotechnologies entered into an agreement to further expand its collaboration with IQT, the independent strategic investment firm that identifies innovative technology solutions to support the missions of the U.S. Intelligence Community. This investment is linked to Arcxis’ November, 2009 funding round led by Claremont Creek Ventures and Kaiser Permanente Ventures and supports Arcxis’ continued development and commercialization efforts.

* Avaxia Biologics, Inc., a biotechnology company developing oral antibodies for diseases of the GI tract, was awarded a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research grant for approximately $213,000 from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), National Institutes of Health, to support the development of a novel antibody therapeutic for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). If early results are promising, the Company could receive an additional $750,000 in Phase II funding.

* HarQen, a company that combines telephony, web and social networking to provide smart, easy-to-use business applications, raised $2.7MM in funding.

* LearnVest, a personal finance site for women, raised $4.5MM from venture capital firm, Accel, and its seed investors, who previously put in $1.1MM.

* Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc. (MBI), a company that discovers, develops and markets effective and environmentally responsible natural products that focus on unmet needs for weed, pest and plant disease management, raised $7.1MM.

* Renewable Fuels Technology (RFT), which converts waste biomass into a high performance fuel that replaces coal, completed development of a demonstration BioCoal processor and closed a round of seed financing. RFT is preparing for a commercial test burn with GWF Energy and is in negotiations for pilot projects in California and Nevada.

* Astia Client, Undisclosed Consumer Financial Tech Company, Raised $700K Seed

* Astia Client, Undisclosed Consumer Tech Company, Raised $2MM Seed

* Astia Client, Undisclosed Clean Tech, Raised over $1MM Seed

* Astia Client, Undisclosed Risk Analysis Technology Company, Raised Undisclosed Series A

* Astia Client, Undisclosed Consumer Web Service, Raised Undisclosed Seed

“In today’s, or any, economy, spot-on execution is essential to the success of an emerging company,” said Chris Meda, president and CEO of Pleasanton, CA-based Arcxis Biotechnologies. “Astia provided Arxcis with the seasoned, objective guidance we needed to not only secure funding, but to continue to forge strategic partnerships that would enhance our long-term business prospects, enable us to commercialize our product and technologies and thrive as we head into the next phase of our company’s development.”

About the Acquisition

* DNA Direct, leader in providing guidance and decision support for genomic medicine to patients, providers, payors and employees, was acquired by Medco Health Solutions, Inc (NYSE:MHS).

ABOUT ASTIA

Astia is a global not-for-profit organization with a distinct focus and mission – to uniquely source innovation by propelling women’s full participation as entrepreneurs and leaders in high-growth businesses, fueling innovation and driving economic growth. Guided by a proven philosophy that gender diversity is an essential element of innovation, Astia works with start-ups around the world as they access capital, grow their businesses, and hone the leadership skills of their founding teams. The Astia model of engaging a community of experts to the benefit of the select start-ups it serves has resulted in an exceptional success rate: since 2003, 60 percent of companies that have participated in the Astia Investor Forums have secured funding or achieved an exit within one year of presenting, totaling more than half a billion dollars raised and 17 exits, including two IPOs. Headquartered in San Francisco, Astia delivers programs for entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, New York, London and India. For more information, visit www.astia.org.

ABOUT ASTIA SPONSORS

Astia is generously supported by global sponsors including Microsoft; Cisco; SVB Financial; The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation; Fenwick & West; Moss Adams; Wells Fargo; The Three Guineas Fund; Osborne Clarke; Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky & Popeo, P.C.; Deloitte; The Althea Foundation; Morrison & Foerster LLP; Iron Creative; Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal; Reed Smith; Tier One PR; AngelSoft; IF Communications; US Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management; as well as a number of premier venture capital firms including, Hummer Winblad Venture Partners, Asset Management Company, Intel Capital, Alloy Ventures, Apex Venture Partners, Opus Capital, Prolog Ventures, Illuminate Ventures; Garage Technology Ventures, Hamilton Lane, Levensohn Venture Partners; and the angel investment group GoldenSeeds.

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