Cool Companies August Spotlight

Aug 30, 2023

Featuring Abterra Bio, PrivacyHawk, and VECKTA

With Innovation Day upon us, we want to highlight some of the incredible companies you can find exhibiting at the event which are all paving the way for the future of innovation. Let’s take a deeper look at a few from this year’s cohort who will be at Petco Park on September 14th.


Abterra Biosciences

Abterra Biosciences began as Digital Proteomics LLC, a spin-out of the University of California, San Diego. Founders Pavel Pevzner and Vineet Bafna are professors in the Computer Science and Engineering Department and leading researchers in bioinformatics.

Abterra has developed a drug discovery platform that delivers the next generation of antibody therapeutics by directly mining the immune systems of real patients.

Their platform, Alicanto, delivers antibody therapeutics that have been sourced from patients who overcame infectious diseases and cancer. They have commercialized two predecessor technologies, Reptor and Valens, that they offer as services to support drug discovery at pharma and biotech companies.

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Abterra Bio at Connect's 2023 Summer Social


Natalie Castellana, CEO


The Abterra team pioneered methods in antibody analysis, and they combine the needed expertise in immunology data generation and data analysis to deliver better antibody therapeutic candidates.

Abterra has the ability to directly mine the human immune system, the original pharmaceutical company. Antibodies developed by humans have already been optimized and proven effective against a disease, and therefore, make the best drugs.

They are the only company that focuses directly on the antibody protein which is the optimized end product of our immune response and the bioactive molecule that keeps us healthy in the face of disease. 



PrivacyHawk is disrupting the $80B consumer anti-fraud industry. Backed by TCA, FFVC, Gaingels, and Duro, and based in Los Angeles, PrivacyHawk protects consumers’ personal data from falling into the hands of scammers and cybercriminals. It’s an app that reduces consumers’ digital footprint and removes personal data exposures automatically, helping reduce their risk of being targeted by fraud.

Within two months of its launch, the company reached $50K in monthly app store sales with a 4x conversion rate compared to industry benchmarks. Promising conversations took place with insurance, banks, and telcos about distributing PrivacyHawk to their customers to protect their personal data.

PrivacyHawk is the only personal data manager that addresses the root of fraud, consumers’ personal data being used against them. They use patent pending proprietary technology to identify and remove personal data risks.

PrivacyHawk recently completed its seed round led by FFVC with participation from Nufund, here in San Diego. 

Aaron Mendes

Aaron Mendes, CEO

“I used to be on the other side of the consumer data trade and I know all the terrible things going on behind the scenes with our personal data. As an experienced product leader and consumer marketing executive, I felt uniquely qualified to solve this problem for consumers.”

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VECKTA at Connect's 2023 Summer Social

Energy is the lifeblood of everything they do.

Utilities and the centralized grid are failing businesses. Energy costs are going up, reliability is going down, and businesses want to reduce their emissions – and are rewarded for doing so with stock price increases, access to cheaper capital, more contracts and brand, customer and employee loyalty.

Business leaders know they want to act, but they do not know what is possible, who to turn to, or where to begin. Instead of being sold to by a supplier in the market who wants you to buy their service, VECKTA supports business leaders to take control of the process and use its technology platform to assess and manage their energy transition.

VECKTA simplifies and accelerates the energy transition to create more sustainable and profitable outcomes for businesses globally.

VECKTA recently completed its seed round led by Tech Square Ventures.

“After the second gulf war I worked in Iraq; I lived on the US army base in Basra and experienced regular mortar attacks, extreme heat, and couldn’t go anywhere without armed security teams and checking every footstep for unexploded ordinances. It was a highly stressful but brilliant experience. It was during this experience that I started to realize some of the broader energy industry issues – Iraq has some of the largest energy reserves in the world, and yet communities and businesses were surviving on 2-4 hours of power per day. I saw firsthand the impacts of expensive and unreliable power could have – energy is the lifeblood of everything. This was the initial catalyst for needing VECKTA – but I didn’t know it at the time.

Thereafter, I gained experience in the power industry and ultimately took over leading a power consulting and engineering practice – where I saw an increasing number of businesses globally needing better energy solutions. The solutions available to business leaders were slow, inefficient, biased and too expensive. Business leaders had pain points to address (increasing costs and outages) and emission reduction targets to achieve, though there were no enabling technologies available to support them.

In 2019, after a few years of planning, testing and waiting for the right market conditions, with an amazing team, we created VECKTA.”


Gareth Evans, CEO

Interested in learning more about these companies? Join Connect at Innovation Day to see them and so many more.