After the Launch: McDermott Rise Helps Take Businesses to New Heights - McDermott Will & Emery

After the Launch: McDermott Rise Helps Take Businesses to New Heights


Black, indigenous and all entrepreneurs of color have historically faced discrimination in securing funding to launch and scale their business ventures.


In 2020, our Firm pulled together across practices and departments to create McDermott Rise, an initiative that provides a set of free legal and business services to companies founded and run by entrepreneurs of color. We onboard 20 new participants each year.


After receiving more than 200 total promising applicants between the program’s July 2020 launch and the end of 2021, we inducted nearly 40 participants into the program on a rolling basis. In that time, our lawyers collectively spent hundreds of hours partnering with McDermott Rise members.


Securing seed funding:
Clinify, a cloud-based platform that combines healthcare expertise and analytics to help healthcare providers deliver individualized care to underserved communities, turned to our team for legal guidance as it entered its seed funding round. We represented the company in the closing of its oversubscribed $3.1 million Series Seed financing. The new funding will allow Clinify to take its startup business to the next stage, building out its platform and go-to-market strategy.

Raising capital and winning grants:
For Tynt Technologies, which is developing the next generation of smart windows that automatically darken with the push of a button to reduce glare, save energy and even provide blackout privacy, our team has been busy with a variety of tasks. We worked with Tynt to simultaneously finalize a seed investment round, negotiate a joint development agreement with a strategic partner, review two IP license agreements from different universities and negotiate a lease on a new office and lab space.

“We have marveled at how much we’ve been able to accomplish with help from McDermott,” said Tynt CEO Ameen Saafir. “Whenever we need to find a new lawyer to help with a new area, they’re always available within a day or two, and it’s always someone at the top of their field. We wouldn’t be here without the team’s support.”

In 2021, Tynt raised $7 million from angel investors and venture capitalists, along with receiving a $1.5 million grant from the Department of Energy.

Turning ideas into reality:
Tukes Ayangbile, CEO of LionHead Real Estate Designs, credits McDermott Rise with helping him drive forward his ideas for serving the construction industry by making a proprietary type of oriented strand board.

“McDermott Rise has helped teach us what we didn’t know and worked us toward solutions to new challenges,” he said. “I can’t sing enough praises of the level of support they have offered. They hear you, they believe in you and they break their backs as you break yours to help you realize your dream.”

LionHead will now turn its attention to securing funding, which will provide the company with the capital required to “change construction for the better at a global scale.”

Building company value:
Clear Eye Test, which pioneered the world’s first digital optical prescription for accessible and affordable eye care, required patent protection to stay competitive and build the company’s value. Our IP lawyers’ counsel allowed the team to execute a secure product launch, protecting the Clear Eye Test invention as it moves through its lifecycle. Our partnership also helped the company accelerate its fundraising efforts.

“Working with McDermott Rise was a turning point in our credibility,” said Dr. Brandon Zimmerman, CEO and founder of Clear Eye Test. “Having McDermott’s support in fundraising and in presenting ourselves to the market when we’re talking to big corporate partners has been what’s accelerated and legitimized those relationships and our path forward.”

Clear Eye Test announced its product launch in 2021, along with its first corporate partnership—an agreement with SelectSpecs, one of the largest online eyewear retailers in the UK.

We remain committed to continuing our work. Learn more about McDermott Rise.