Snap's 2021 Yellow Accelerator Startups Announce Raises, Products and Partnerships

Francesca Billington

Francesca Billington is a freelance reporter. Prior to that, she was a general assignment reporter for dot.LA and has also reported for KCRW, the Santa Monica Daily Press and local publications in New Jersey. She graduated from Princeton in 2019 with a degree in anthropology.

Snap's 2021 Yellow Accelerator Startups Announce Raises, Products and Partnerships
Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Six Los Angeles-based startups demoed apps spanning digital health care to a digital wine marketplace during Snap's Yellow Accelerator demo day.

The 14-week program — this year completely virtual — comes with a $150,000 investment to companies at the intersection of tech and creativity. It concluded Thursday with presentations from each founder team.

Here's what the L.A. companies have been up to since joining the program:

Elly Health, a digital health startup for patients with chronic disease, closed a $1.3 million pre-seed round led by Bayer, Google, Morgan Stanley and Snap. It's also in talks with pharmaceutical companies Johnson and Johnson and Bristol Myers Squibb about partnerships. The app was created by Simon Holland and Nikhil Pooviah, a former cancer doctor whose father struggled to sift through the piles of information about Parkinson's when he was diagnosed with the disease.

Pooviah's solution was a "smart content platform" delivering guided meditations, workout routines and clinician classes through a voice named Elly. The company licenses its platform and the API to life science companies at a monthly fee.

Buying gifts: it's stressful, time consuming and sometimes wasteful. Nicole Emrani Green and Been Green co-founded Givingli, a platform for sending gift cards and digital greeting cards designed by independent artists. The startup is wrapping up a $4 million seed round to build its platform for iOS, Android and desktop users.

Karla Valdivieso founded Kargoo for online shoppers in Latin America looking to purchase goods abroad. The company, founded in 2018, is raising a seed round for its platform that lets users "rent" the extra space in a traveler's suitcase. It connects buyers with verified gig-workers fulfilling deliveries via Kargoo's order tracking platform. The startup boats 16,000 users and a retention rate of 98% — and product requests have only grown during the pandemic.

Santa Monica-based StarNews helps video creators in Africa monetize content through a paid subscription platform offering a cheaper alternative for users online.

"Hundreds of millions of consumers are eager to enjoy this local content but they cannot because mobile data is still very expensive and so are high-end smartphones," said founder and CEO Guy Kamgaing.

StarNews has inked deals with pan-African mobile operators MTN and Orange as well as formed content partnerships with Sony and Universal. The company has closed a seed round and plans to raise a bridge round of up to $2 million by July.

Popcrn's social platform connects freelance creatives to clients and collaborators. About 75% of freelancer photographers use social media to display their work, a survey from the company found. But the process of booking sessions and managing payments remains piecemeal and unorganized, CEO Allan Muteti said.

Muteti has eyes on the $20 billion freelance market, specifically L.A. creatives working in photography, graphic design and modelling. The company — which is currently raising a $500,000 pre-seed round — takes a 10% cut of each in-app booking and down the line plans to sell a premium subscription.

Josh Entman calls himself "wine's biggest fan."

"I'm the friend you call when you're looking for undiscovered, value-driven wines that drink like they're two to three times the price," said the founder of Vinohead, a digital media platform for millennial and Gen-Z wine drinkers.

The app offers a mix of reviews, recommendations, guides and meetups for digital-savvy users to rate and purchase wine — what Entman labels an "e-comm media channel."

This article has been updated to reflect Elly Health's potential pharmaceutical partnerships.

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