Imara Inc., a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company in Cambridge, Mass., focused on sickle cell disease and other hemoglobinopathies, announced the closing of an oversubscribed $63 million Series B cross-over financing. It was co-led by new investors OrbiMed Advisors and Arix Bioscience plc. “This is a transformative financing for Imara – one that will allow us to greatly expand our sickle cell disease clinical development, widen our reach into thalassemia, and build an exciting pipeline,” said CEO Rahul D. Ballal. “We are pleased to be working with leading investors who share our vision for creating a company that helps change the lives of patients living with SCD and other hemoglobinopathies,” the Indian American executive said. “We look forward to our upcoming clinical data analyses, engaging our clinical investigators, and working closely with the SCD community to make a positive impact in this challenging disease.”

FrontdeskAI Raises Additional $2 Million Seed Funding

FrontdeskAI has closed an additional $2 million in seed funding, bringing its total seed funding to $4.2 million. This round of seed funding was led by pi Ventures, an India-based VC fund, and will help FrontdeskAI accelerate product development, increase customer acquisition and investigate new vertical markets. FrontdeskAI creates AI assistants specifically for small businesses that rely on appointment-based products and services for their revenue. The company’s current AI assistant portfolio serves the wellness market including the spa, salon and fitness industries. “We are laser focused on developing affordable and easy-to-use AI assistants for small businesses. The market traction we have already achieved is exciting. Our customers report a 30% increase in revenue, 20% increase in new client registrations, and a significant reduction in class drop-outs. With the additional funding and the partnership with pi Ventures we are now in a position to deepen our IP and competitive barriers to market entry,” said FrontdeskAI CEO Srivatsan Laxman. Added Abishek Surendran, pi Ventures partner: “We are excited about partnering with FrontdeskAI which has developed a world class AI assistant for the small and medium enterprise market. The FrontdeskAI deep learning-based AI engine means that companies can provide superior customer experiences at very low costs. We look forward to supporting Srivatsan and the FrontdeskAI leadership team to accelerate and expand upon the market advantage they have created.”

Kontakt.io Acquires ramp.digital

Kontakt.io, a location Internet of Things Infrastructure provider, has acquired ramp.digital, an industrial and manufacturing-focused IoT solutions company based in San Jose, California. As part of this acquisition, Prateek Gera, the founder and CEO of ramp.digital and a former executive at HP, Cisco and relayr, joins Kontakt.io as VP of product for Simon AI, Kontakt.io’s end-to-end IoT solution offering. "I am really excited about this opportunity to join forces with Kontakt.io and lead Simon AI, built specifically to address these challenges. The solution expertise of ramp.digital and Kontakt's success in IoT hardware and Infrastructure software are valuable assets that will help Simon AI succeed in creating frictionless IoT. I am looking forward to advancing the joint vision of simple yet powerful, scalable IoT solutions that solve real problems for business users,” Gera said.

Magento Innovations Lab Selects i95Dev as a Magento Innovator

i95Dev announced that Magento Innovations Lab has selected i95Dev as a Magento Innovator for our work on E-store Assistant. i95Dev’s E-store Assistant is selected as one of the most innovative and promising works on the Magento platform. i95Dev’s E-store Assistant helps customers interact with a Magento 2 e-commerce store and place orders using their voice. There is no longer a need to depend on voice-enabled devices like Amazon Echo, Google Home, etc. to leverage the rising popularity of voice commerce, the firm said. CEO of i95Dev, Vanit Kumar states, “As a team, we are constantly trying to redefine what is possible with Magento. This recognition is a testimony to our efforts.”

Warburg Pincus to Buy 80% of Wadhawan's Education Loan Arm

Private equity firm Warburg Pincus has agreed to acquire an 80 percent stake in the education loan arm of financial services group Wadhawan Global Capital Ltd. The planned primary infusion will increase the company’s net worth, Vishal Mahadevia, Warburg’s India head, said in a statement. The deal is the latest in a series of asset sales by Wadhawan and its flagship unit Dewan Housing to pare debt and ease investor concerns related to a liquidity crunch that plagued the broader non-banking financial sector after defaults by Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Ltd last year. Wadhawan Group chairman Kapil Wadhawan had said in February that the group planned to sell a stake in its education loan business and some units, including Dewan Housing itself, to cut debt. For Warburg Pincus, the deal adds to its growing financial services bets on Indian companies.

Tarana Secures $88 Million Financing with Khosla Ventures

Tarana Wireless Inc. announced a $60 million financing with Khosla Ventures and EchoStar Corporation, as a follow-on to financing of $28 million led by 1010 Holdings LLC, the family offices of Greg Wyler. In conjunction with the financing, EchoStar Chairman Charlie Ergen, Khosla Ventures partner Samir Kaul, and Greg Wyler, chairman of OneWeb, have joined Tarana’s board of directors. With total financing of nearly $200 million, Tarana has created a new class of radio technology with unprecedented immunity to obstructions, interference, changing conditions, and spectrum scarcity. Tarana’s fixed wireless access technology will drive a tenfold improvement in the network economics of gigabit broadband access at massive scale. Kaul said, “We’ve evaluated many companies who have tried to solve the world’s broadband problem with fixed wireless. We believe Tarana is the only one that has developed the technology required to consistently deliver the affordable gigabit bandwidth that both consumers and businesses worldwide are demanding.” Tarana plans to grow its organization, currently 165, by more than 35 employees by mid 2019, in a range of engineering, operations and outbound positions.

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