Infant warmers maker Embrace raises funding from Khosla Impact, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, others | VCCircle
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Infant warmers maker Embrace raises funding from Khosla Impact, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, others 

BY  Sainul K Abudheen
Khosla Impact is a $30-million ‘frontier markets fund’ focusing on companies operating in education, agriculture and healthcare.

Bangalore-based Embrace Innovations, a for-profit social enterprise which manufactures low-cost infant warmers targeted at premature and low birth-weight babies, has secured an undisclosed amount in funding from Khosla Impact, an impact investment firm founded by veteran Silicon Valley investor Vinod Khosla and  Capricorn Investment Group, set up by former eBay president Jeff Skoll. 

Biocon’s Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Manipal Hospital’s Ranjan Pai and former Zynga general manager Steven Lurie also participated in the round. The company will use the money to expand its sales force and R&D, its co-founder Rahul Alex Panicker told VCCircle.

Founded in 2008 by four Stanford graduates – Panicker, Jane Chen, Linus Liang and Naganand Murty, Embrace makes infant warmers which look similar to a sleeping bag. An MBA from Stanford University and a master’s in Public Administration from Harvard University, Chen (CEO) previously worked with various HIV/AIDS non-profit organisations. Prior to working in the social sector, Jane was a management consultant at Monitor Group. Murty holds an MS degree in Management Science & Engineering from Stanford University. He earlier worked with in strategy consulting and venture financing in various firms. Panicker (president of products) holds MS and PhD in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University and a B Tech from IIT Madras. He worked in Silicon Valley before starting Embrace. An MS in Computer Science from Stanford University, Liang is a serial entrepreneur and earlier founded two technology companies. Previously, he also worked at Microsoft.

The company claims its product is easy to use and portable and is cheaper compared to the traditional incubators which can cost as much as Rs 10 lakh.

The company offers two versions of the product: Embrace Nest and Embrace Care. The former is designed for the clinical settings and can work with intermittent supply of electricity, while the latter works without electricity and is meant for home use.

The company claimed that Embrace Nest, which is priced at around Rs 15,000, has already sold hundreds of units in India, and has pilot projects running in many countries across the globe. Currently, the market pilot for Embrace Care in underway in India.

According to Embrace, around 20 million low birth-weight and premature babies are born each year, globally. In India alone, every year about 8 million babies are born premature or with low birth weight. This means that about one-third of infant births in the country are premature.

Embrace Nest is currently available at 600 hospitals and clinics across India. These include Mahaveer Jain Hospital, Bangalore; MS Ramaiah Medical Teaching Hospital, Bangalore; and Kovai Medical Centre, Coimbatore.

Embrace started off as a non-profit entity and it moved into a hybrid structure in January 2012. The non-profit entity donates infant warmers to the neediest clinics, while the for-profit unit sells the products to clinics which can afford to pay for them.

Founded in 2011, Khosla Impact is a $30-million ‘frontier markets fund’ focusing on companies operating in education, agriculture and healthcare.  The company has so far invested in seven companies in India and Africa.

(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)

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