On the heels of a rollercoaster year, there are few things sweeter for a startup founder to hear than those three magical words: “It’s a deal.” This has been a common chorus around here lately, with an unprecedented four companies from our portfolio being acquired in less than two months: VizZle, PreEmptive, Wisr and MedPilot.
This flurry of activity has marked an incredibly exciting time for our portfolio companies and for the team at JumpStart, as the core of our mission is to help entrepreneurs turn their ideas into high-growth companies via advising services, venture capital investment and connections to resources. Our investing philosophy is centered around funding passionate founders who are dedicated to providing innovative solutions for real-world problems.
That’s exactly the ethos demonstrated by the four companies seizing exciting exit opportunities in early 2021. Exits are a rare commodity in the startup world, and industry data suggests that more than 50% of startups fail to return capital back to the investors. These four recent exits from JumpStart’s portfolio buck the trend and demonstrate the resilience of the founders, who have not only navigated through COVID, but also made necessary pivots and adjustments to scale their businesses and serve at an even higher level.
While JumpStart is always working closely with high-potential companies positioned for success, four exits in 60 days is extremely rare for any fund—signaling the strength of our portfolio and the Northeast Ohio startup landscape at large.
Learn more about these four companies:
Monarch Teaching Technologies (VizZle) is the result of a six-year collaboration between Monarch School for Autism and Children’s Hospital Boston/Harvard Medical School. The award-winning visual learning software helps facilitate effective online instruction across multiple learning styles. The Company experienced rapid growth through COVID as schools and teachers increased adoption of digital and interactive content. During this pandemic, the robust nature of Vizzle product meant that the transition from classroom to distance learning for students and teachers was seamless. Monarch Teaching Technologies was acquired by ReThink First, Inc in April 2021.
PreEmptive is a global leader of app protection and security tools for desktop, mobile, cloud and IoT devices. As the in-the-box solution in Microsoft Visual Studio, PreEmptive has built a reputation as an industry standard for in-app protection solutions. Thousands of corporate clients use PreEmptive’s solutions, including Fortune 500 names like GE, FedEx, Microsoft, IBM and Cisco Systems. Houston-based Idera Inc. recognized this and acquired PreEmptive in early March for its DevOps business unit, which provides a comprehensive suite of products to developers.
Wisr provides student engagement software for colleges and universities to digitally shepherd students throughout their life cycle in higher education. After its launch in 2016, the company experienced a significant amount of growth during COVID—when campus tours were no longer possible and schools sought new ways to connect with prospective and current students. In March 2021, Wisr was acquired by EAB, a Washington, D.C.-based education company.
MedPilot utilizes artificial intelligence to streamline and improve the patient billing experience. When the company initially launched in 2019, their primary focus was urgent care facilities, but during COVID, they pivoted to a broader customer base—having now served over one million customers to date. Vytalize initially approached MedPilot as a potential client, but ultimately saw its value and acquired the company in February 2021.
These acquisitions are good news not just for the companies, but for Northeast Ohio as a whole. A series of exits creates more momentum for us as investors, and the returns support more startups.
We also believe this type of activity coupled with other recent regional successes including Within3, RVShare, Boxcast firmly positions the region as a player on the national radar. Investors from outside the region are taking notice and seeing Northeast Ohio as a place to invest.
And with more than half of U.S. companies planning to increase their mergers and acquisitions investment in 2021, Cleveland’s startup scene is keeping pace with national trends that are driving economic recovery. That momentum will only be buoyed by the recent announcement of $19 million in early-stage investment funding awarded to JumpStart by the State of Ohio, which will be used to bolster JumpStart’s $8M Healthcare Collaboration Fund; the $30M Next II fund; and the $10M Evergreen III fund.