Introducing Under-the-Radar Funding in San Diego: Four Startup Financings You Probably Haven’t Heard About

3/31/10Follow @xconomy

Since June we’ve been tracking monthly figures in bigger venture deals for our two other coverage areas, Seattle and Boston, thanks to data provided to us by our New York-based partner CB Insights, a private company intelligence platform. The company also supplies us monthly with a list of smaller deals under $1 million—what we dub as “under the radar”—in Southern California, the Northwest, and New England, which we like to examine for trends in startup investing.

This was the first month that enough San Diego-area companies made the list to merit a story, which could signal that pint-sized deals are picking up for the region’s startups. There were four San Diego deals, ranging from $201,132 to $689,500. Three were equity-based offerings, and a fourth was debt-related. While these four deals were all relatively small, they definitely signal bigger things to come, as three of the four transactions reflected pieces of larger planned offerings.

The startups that nabbed the funding cover the energy, medical devices, pharmaceutical, and agriculture spaces. That’s right, agriculture. Yes, it’s not typically an industry that we’d cover, but I kept the $201,132 in equity, options, and warrants for San Diego-based Cibus Global on the list because of the way the company has been innovating in the area of crop trait development.

Rather than using traditional genetic engineering technologies of introducing foreign traits to crops, Cibus works within plants’ own genomes to introduce genetic traits through the natural process of gene repair. I’m interested to see where they go, particular because their February deal was just a piece of a planned $2.6 million offering, according to the SEC filing.

The biggest deal on the list was $689,500 of a planned $1 million equity offering for Carlsbad, CA-based Catadon Systems. They’re engineering towers that raise wind turbines higher into the air without the need for cranes or concrete, according to the company’s website. The higher a turbine can be placed off the ground, the more wind energy it can capture, making wind investments pay off faster, the website explains.

The sole debt deal went to San Diego-based Aethlon Medical, in a $600,000 transaction that included options and warrants. Aethlon is developing a diagnostic and therapeutic device for infectious diseases. Their Hemopurifier is a cartridge that removes viral pathogens from the blood and can be used with portable pumps or dialysis machines.

If you ask me, these under-the-radar lists can be nicknamed the stealth lists, due to the fact that they almost always include at least one company that’s too stealthy to have a website. La Jolla’s Ampla Pharmaceuticals took on that role for the February list. The only information I could gather on them was from the website of their investor, Integra Ventures of Seattle. Integra’s website describes Ampla as a “stealth mode biotechnology company,” and says that Advent International and Crabtree Ventures also back the company. Ampla pulled in $295,271 of a planned $1.2 million equity-based offering.

I’m interested to see when these companies will complete their offerings, or roar out of stealth mode. In the meantime, check out the consolidated list below of February under-the-radar deals.

Catadon Systems Carlsbad,   CA A maker of towers for elevating wind turbines Equity $689,500
Aethlon Medical San Diego, CA A developer of a medical device to treat infectious diseases Debt* $600,000
Ampla Pharmaceuticals La Jolla,     CA A stealthy biotech company Equity $295,271
Cibus Global San Diego, CA A developer of environmentally friendly technology for producing crop traits Equity* $201,132

*includes some options and warrants

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