More than a decade ago, most dresser drawers and laundry hampers were stuffed with (formerly) white, dystopian-esque piles of socks. Largely a cheap commodity at the time, socks were relegated to the function-over-form bin, and were most certainly void of any actual fun. That is until a few mold-breaking founders set out to transform the category into a beacon of self-expression and creativity.
Inspired by Skullcandy—Mercato’s first ever investment, and one of Utah’s most successful brands—and its revolution of the consumer headphone landscape, Stance was founded in 2009 with plans to similarly upend the $20B+ sock market. By focusing on infusing creativity and relentless technical innovation—think anatomical cushioning and targeted compression—into the design process, Stance managed to not only turn an everyday item into functional art, but also build a loyal, loud community of enthusiasts and brand ambassadors along the way.
From Dwayne Wade to Rihanna to Jimmy Chin, an eclectic, forward-thinking following of athletes, artists, and cultural icons were attracted to the company’s unique approach to brand building—free-spirited, fun, and a bit rebellious. Collectively known as "Punks & Poets," this group helped to elevate Stance socks from footwear to fashion, and consequently, propel the company into the pop culture zeitgeist of the late 2010s.
Today, Stance has sold over 110M units, opened dozens of brick and mortars, been named the official performance sock for both the NBA and MLB, and expanded beyond footwear into athleisure apparel, underwear, and headwear. While its offering has grown, every product line—from socks to snapbacks—still carries the same unmistakable Stance DNA that was born with the brand: a commitment to toe-to-head quality, creativity, and individual expression that is “Stitched Different.”
Think back to the last time you started a new job. Whether it was your first or fifteenth time going through the new hire onboarding process, it was most certainly riddled with paperwork. From setting up direct deposit to benefits management to employment verification, just the act of starting a job is…well, a job. This lengthy, tedious, and prone-to-error process is in large part due to the lack of interoperability of legacy payroll and benefit providers, and to be speak plainly—it isn’t working. Atomic is changing that.
Founded in 2019, Atomic Financial serves as an essential API bridge between consumer data and financial solutions by allowing unparalleled access to payroll, HRIS systems, and merchants. This connectivity empowers and enables employees to not only decide when, how, and with whom their data is shared, but to seamlessly access their own financial data at will. That means consumers don’t have to worry about their banking credentials being shared with a third party, or the friction and fraud risk associated with employment and income verification. It also means they can easily manage direct deposits, subscriptions, and bill payments, and even unlock year-round tax refunds.
Known as open banking, this framework provides permissioned access to customers’ data in order to provide innovative, and more transparent and inclusive financial products and services—and it is ushering in a transformation of the American banking landscape. By shifting the paradigm, open banking is demystifying the once opaque operations of the banking industry, providing customers with enhanced control over their financial data.
Open banking isn’t just a value proposition for consumers, however. For employers, it means streamlined operations, and for financial institutions, it means rich data points on their customers. Atomic, specifically, delivers on both of these fronts through a combination of its EmployerLink and PayLink products.
Our goal is to build a fintech infrastructure that enables a new generation of bank accounts and transforms banking applications into consumer-centric platforms.
– Jordan Wright, CEO
EmployerLink, a scalable solutions suite for human resource administrators, delivers companies a connectivity solution that enables real time access to payroll and HRIS systems, resulting in the delivery of best-in-class financial wellness benefits and performance management, and streamlined commission and compensation payouts. In conjunction with its UserLink product, the addition of Employerlink made Atomic a first-to-market provider of both consumer and business connectivity solutions.
Atomic’s newest product, Paylink, further expands this interconnected financial ecosystem to both the traditional and neo banking industries. This unified solution accelerates account primacy by allowing financial institutions an unparalleled opportunity to dive deeper into their customers’ financial behaviors and preferences while facilitating frictionless, user-permissioned access to merchant accounts, streaming services, and recurring bill payment switching. As a whole, the product represents a shift in the power dynamic of retail banking from the institution to the individual.
This shift is central to Atomic’s core belief that data has the power to unlock new financial opportunities for consumers. By enabling and promoting a more open banking system, and empowering millions of Americans to take control of their financial data to improve their own financial outcomes, Atomic is, undoubtedly, building better.
🎶 Nausea, heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach, diarrhea 🎶
This iconic, cheeky chorus line—a product of Publicis North America for Pepto-Bismol—was introduced by Procter and Gamble in 2002, and has since become permanently embedded into American pop culture. While most assuredly an attempt to grab attention, the jingle was also an attempt to break down American’s proverbial bathroom doors and normalize gastrointestinal (GI) issue relief. It was revolutionary at the time, and helped destigmatize internal dialogues around gut health. Unfortunately, it couldn’t solve for the psychological discomfort associated with seeking access to GI-related healthcare.
Fast forward to today. The GI care options and access available to us far surpass those of the early 2000s thanks, in large part, to a tsunami of digital health adoption. Bolstered by the COVID-19 pandemic, the adoption of digital healthcare has experienced an unprecedented surge, revolutionizing the medical services landscape. Telemedicine, remote patient monitoring, and virtual consultations have swiftly emerged as cornerstones of patient care. This rapid integration of technology not only helped to address immediate health concerns during a global pandemic, but also set the stage for a more patient-centric and accessible healthcare future. The flexibility and discretion provided by this healthcare revolution was particularly impactful for GI digital health—a $78 billion market.
Today, over 70 million Americans grapple with the challenges of managing GI issues, resulting in 8.3 million annual ER visits, and upwards of $136 billion in spend—a number greater than heart disease, trauma, or mental health. The dollars lost to GI issues, however, are only a fraction of the problem plaguing the patient population. Lost time, productivity, and quality of life are, undoubtedly, the more damaging side effects.
Enter Vivante Health, our latest Traverse Fund IV investment, and a leading provider of digital GI care that is working to solve this problem. Led by their marquee virtual digestive health program, GIThrive, Vivante is reinventing the management of chronic gut conditions through data-driven technology, advanced science, and on-demand human support. Currently, the program is provided to patients free of charge as an employer benefit, and has been wildly successful. Members who work for Vivante customers—including, Walmart and US Foods—report consistent improvements in their quality of life, and satisfaction rates in excess of 90%.
We have proven that our scalable technology platform paired with our comprehensive care team results in better health, lower costs, and a much better experience for the members we serve.
– Bill Snyder, CEO
Following our lead investment in their $31M Series B, Vivante is well positioned to be the category leader that solves for the digital consumer delivery blind spots that plague the entire health system. Their team of talented industry veterans, led by healthcare leader and CEO Bill Snyder, have set an ambitious vision for Vivante’s future, and are primed to be key contributors to the next era of U.S. healthcare.
It is our firm belief that by reducing healthcare costs for employers, and increasing employee productivity and quality of life, Vivante is, undoubtedly, building better.
For over 15 years we have had the privilege of partnering with visionary entrepreneurs and teams as they build transformational companies. Founded on the belief that capital champions change, we strive to invest diligently and equitably, deploying capital outside of venture-dense coastal cities and over-saturated technology hubs. By championing—what many consider to be— “flyover” founders and funding their visionary ideas, we believe that venture and growth capital have the power to transform the technological and economic landscape of middle America. No place is a better example of this than Mercato’s home, Salt Lake City, Utah.
In 2007, Greg Warnock and Alan Hall founded Mercato with the singular goal to bring local growth capital to the Wasatch valley. Rooted in a mutual passion for entrepreneurship, both founders understood that investing in local companies at the growth stage—and not just the venture stage—was a critical component of fueling the momentum of Utah’s start-up economy. By not having to rely on Bay Area or Big Apple VCs for later stage funding, Utah companies could partner with local investors that not only had deep community connections, but shared the common business values of service, stewardship, and sacrifice.
Out of their first fund—a $52M private equity vehicle–Greg and Alan made investments into six Utah-based companies: MediConnect Global, Fusion io, Control 4, Untangle and Skullcandy. In total, the investments yielded a 51.0% IRR, and established Mercato as a champion of the state’s startup community and a pillar of its budding venture economy.
While much has changed across the venture landscape since we opened our doors, Mercato’s commitment to fund the extraordinary has not wavered. In the decades since, local venture capital has continued to be an important driving force in fueling the expansion of Utah’s resilient startup ecosystem, in attracting top-tier global talent, and in enhancing the state’s capacity for innovation. As a result, Utah is one of the nation’s fastest growing technology hubs, and has one of the highest rates of billion-dollar startups.
With our fourth and most recent raise—a $400M growth capital fund—we are more energized than ever to replicate Utah’s success, and seek out the next generation of great American companies that will disrupt the status quo and solve today’s complex problems by changing the way we live, learn, and work—for the better.
The year is 2023, and the age of artificial intelligence (AI) is upon us. Much like a Hollywood remake, however, it feels like we’ve seen this movie before. While the technology feels fantastically new, the recent hype cycle feels eerily similar to that which preceded the AI winter of the 1990s. The key difference this time around, however, is that—like Dune—we believe the remake is better than the original.
More than any other technology that preceded it, the recent release of ChatGPT and the public consumption of large language models (LLMs) re-launched AI onto the world stage in an explosive manner. While the technology behind the boom of LLMs—known as machine learning (ML)—is incredibly exciting, it is all but certain that we have barely uncovered the tip of the AI iceberg and the world-changing opportunities that it will inevitably unearth. Deep learning, specifically, holds immeasurable promise.
A subset of ML, deep learning is distinguished by its use of neural networks that—unlike traditional data processing algorithms—learn directly from data without requiring manual feature extraction. This revolutionary technology has (so far) enabled autonomous vehicles, medical imaging for disease detection, real-time language translation, and neural artwork—things that, just a few decades ago, would have been considered science fiction fodder. In the not-too-distant future, however, deep learning will be a fundamental component of nearly every line of software, every piece of press, and every digital interaction. Regardless of the end application, the world will run on AI, and AI will run on Lambda.
Lambda is going to be the #1 GPU cloud in the world.
– Stephen Balaban, CEO
The Deep Learning Company ™, Lambda builds the workstations, datacenter servers, and cloud services that power the engineers and researchers at the forefront of human knowledge. As the only hybrid AI compute company, it provides deep learning engineers with an AI development environment pre-configured with common ML frameworks that simplify and accelerate the training and deployment of deep learning models. From sharing saved models and data sets to letting engineers easily spin up new virtual machines, Lambda is an AI infrastructure power player, and in the realm of vertically integrated deep learning compute power, no one company is building better.
In 2004, the introduction of high deductible healthcare plans (HDHPs) changed the insurance payment landscape in the United States for patients, but not for the better. Over the course of the following two decades, HDHPs—which typically only cover preventative care—would become the norm. Consequently, reactive care—such as medical emergencies and accidents—began to result in higher out-of-pocket costs. The outcome? Americans were frequently made to choose between visiting a doctor or going into debt.
In addition to the increased personal financial liability associated with seeking healthcare, the underlying cost of that care has been on the rise over the last two decades. Between 2010 to 2020 alone, the cost of healthcare in theUnited States rose by 37% on a constant dollar basis. Unsurprisingly, the prevalence of medical debt also rose to 58% over this same period according to a study byThird Way.
All of this is even more concerning when taking into consideration that the $98B (as of 2021) held in Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)is not solving for this liquidity issue. Paytient, on the other hand, is.
Founded in 2018, Paytient created the Health Payment Account(HPA), a new asset class and employer-sponsored benefit that provides covered members a way to pay for medical-related expenses without fees, interest, or credit checks. Designed to help provide relief to the increasing number of patients who struggle with high deductibles and empty HSAs, Paytient is a sponsored, interest-free line of credit that works in coordination with insurers and health systems, and allows members to pay for care over time through customizable payments plans that come directly out of their paychecks.
Few people plan on getting sick, and even fewer are immune to the financial impact of unexpected out-of-pocket healthcare costs
– Brian Whorley, CEO
In addition to selling into an employer as a part of its benefit package, Paytient partners with insurers and health systems to help minimize balance sheet risks and liabilities, reduce administrative burdens, and improve patient quality and experience. By integrating across the provider and payor spectrum, Paytient is helping to ensure more equitable, accessible, and predictable care. After all, when patients have the power to pay and the dignity of choice, they make better decisions, leading to improved provider NPS scores and increased volumes of commercially insured patients.
Today, Paytient serves over 1,000 enterprise clients in partnership with most of the Fortune 100’s major payors, and is developing new product features in pursuit of the company’s mission to not only ensure people have the power to pay for healthcare, but also to help them more easily access quality care for better prices.
By building towards a healthier future, Paytient is, undoubtedly, building better.