Spansive’s first wireless charger powers multiple phones simultaneously and works through thick cases

When Pi Charging (winner of TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2017) rebranded as Spansive last month, the company also dropped plans for its previously shown cone-shaped charger capable of charging phones placed within a few inches around it. That charger would’ve required special cases for each device — and as the world quickly adopted built-in wireless charging standards like Qi, that no longer seemed like the right move.

They did say, however, that they were working on a different, Qi-centric wireless charging device with a “few tricks” of its own, and that it’d arrive by summer. This is that charger.

Called the Spansive Source, it’s a base station capable of wirelessly charging four phones at once. Unlike their cone-shaped charger, you’ll need to set your phone pretty much right on top of the Source — but unlike most pad-based wireless chargers, you won’t need to fuss with getting it aligned just right. Built using some of the same concepts they’d figured out with the cone-shaped charger, Spansive tells me that Source can determine where your phone is placed on the pad and adjust its array of magnetic charging coils accordingly. It’s also able to charge right through many brands of phone cases.

Spansive CEO and co-founder John MacDonald brought a few of his chargers to our office — and, while it’s tough in a short demo to gauge how well something like this works, it seemed to do what they promised. He placed one phone after another onto the base station, and each one’s screen lit up, its respective battery percentage ticking upward. He placed a phone with a thick Otterbox on the charger; it started juicing right up. The last phone he added to the pile had an Otterbox and a PopSocket on it, and it seemed to work all the same.

Spansive says Source charges at a rate of up to 5W for each phone being charged wirelessly, while the USB ports push up to 12W. MacDonald tells me that the wireless charging rate isn’t impacted by the number of phones on the pad; in other words, the first phone won’t charge slower just because you’ve added another phone or two to the charger.

MacDonald was careful to note that the Source is built to charge phones, specifically. The angled design would make resting something like an Apple Watch on it a bit awkward, for example — so Source also has two USB ports on its side, meant to help charge your various other devices. Even within the phone category, Spansive isn’t promising full compatibility across all Qi phones right off the bat; MacDonald tells me they’ve focused on getting it to work with Samsung’s Galaxy phones (beginning with the S7) and iPhones (beginning with iPhone 8), with certification/compatibility with other phones likely coming down the road via over-the-air software update. It has Wi-Fi built-in for pulling down those updates, with a button on Source’s base for wiping your Wi-Fi credentials with a tap if you don’t want yet another IoT device on your network indefinitely.

Source goes up for sale today at $189, shipping immediately in two colors: white and charcoal.

EFounders backs Yousign to build a European e-signature company

French startup Yousign is partnering with startup studio eFounders. While eFounders usually builds software-as-a-service startups from scratch, the company is trying something new with this partnership.

Indeed, eFounders wants to create all the tools you need to make your work more efficient. The startup studio is behind many respectable SaaS successes, such as Front, Aircall and Spendesk. And electronic signatures are a must if you want to speed up your workflow.

Sure, there are a ton of well-established players in the space — DocuSign, SignNow, Adobe Sign, HelloSign, etc. But nobody has really cracked the European market in a similar way.

Yousign has been around for a while in France. When it comes to features, it has everything you’d expect. You can upload a document and set up automated emails and notifications so that everybody signs the document.

Signatures are legally binding and Yousign archives your documents. You also can create document templates and send contract proposals using an API.

The main challenge for Yousign is that Europe is still quite fragmented. The company will need to convince users in different countries that they need to switch to an e-signature solution. Starting today, Yousign is now available in France, Germany, the U.K. and Spain.

Yousign had only raised some money; eFounders is cleaning the cap table by buying out existing investors and replacing them.

“We can’t really communicate on the details of the investment, but what I can tell you is that we bought out existing funds for several millions of euros in order to replace them — founders still have the majority of shares,” eFounders co-founder and CEO Thibaud Elzière told me.

In a blog post, Elzière writes that eFounders has acquired around 50% of the company through an SPV (Single Purpose Vehicle) that it controls. The startup studio holds 25% directly, and investors in the eFounders eClub hold 25%.

Yousign now looks pretty much like any other eFounders company when they start. Of course, founders and eFounders might get diluted further down the road if Yousign ends up raising more money.

Using full-body MRIs, Ezra can now detect 11 cancers in men and 13 in women

When Ezra first launched about six months ago, the company was using magnetic resonance imaging machines to test for prostate cancer in men.

But the company’s founder, Emi Gal, always had a larger goal.

“One of the biggest problems in cancer is that there’s no accurate, fast, painless way to scan for cancer anywhere in the body,” Gal said at the time of his company’s debut.

Now he’s several steps closer to a solution. Rather than having to do painful biopsies, which often come with significant side effects, Gal’s software can now be used to slash the cost for a full-body MRI scan designed to screen for 11 different types of cancer in men and another 13 types of cancer in women (who have more organs that are likely to develop cancer).

The scans take about an hour and cost just $1,950, compared with the $5,000 to $10,000 that a full-body MRI scan can cost.

That’s still a steep price for customers to pay out of pocket. Insurance companies won’t pay for Ezra’s screens… yet. The company is in talks with some insurance companies and expects to have some pilot projects up in the last quarter of 2018 and first quarter of 2020. The goal, says Gal, is to have Ezra covered by insurers and self-employed insurers.

It’s hard to overstate how vitally important early cancer screening is for patients.

The American Cancer Society estimates 1.7 million new cases of cancer diagnosed in the U.S. in 2019. For 600,000 people that diagnosis will be a death sentence. Roughly half of cancer patients are detected in the late stage of the disease and only two out of 10 late-stage cancer patients survive longer than five years.

Gal knows the toll that can take on patients and families all too well. The serial entrepreneur, who started his first company at 20 and sold it at 30, volunteered at a hospice in his hometown of Bucharest, and became determined to come up with a screen to detect cancer earlier.

Gal started working on Ezra’s cancer-screening toolkit last year, with patient data taken from the National Institute of Health and supplemented with 150 cancer screens from additional patients.

Ezra initially came to market with a single test to screen for prostate cancer using machine learning to diagnose the screens coming off of an abbreviated MRI scan that takes 20 minutes.

All of the MRI sequences that Gal’s company uses are FDA approved, but the machine learning algorithms the company has developed have not been cleared yet.

While Ezra can screen for different cancers, the firm’s technology doesn’t offer a diagnosis. That’s still up to a physician and requires additional testing. “We’re turning MRIs from what is a diagnostic test into a screening test,” says Gal.

“What we’ve done is removed the sequences not necessary for screening and brought the liver scan down to 15 minutes [and] the total scanning time down to an hour,” Gal says.

Rather than building out its own network of MRI machines to conduct the tests, Ezra has partnered with the MRI facility network RadNet on testing. The company also offers post-diagnosis consultations to help direct patients who are diagnosed with cancer to seek proper treatment.

The company is currently working in nine centers across New York and intends to expand to San Francisco and Los Angeles later this year.

Gal’s vision for early cancer screening was appealing enough to rake in $4 million in financing from investors, including Founders Future, Credo Ventures, Seedcamp, Esther Dyson and other angel investors, including SoundCloud co-founder Alex Ljung.

Ultimately, Ezra’s success will hinge on whether it can continue to drive down costs with its direct-to-consumer pitch, or become a diagnostic tool that insurers embrace.

“Over time, our goal is to build different AIs for different organs to decrease the cost even further,” says Gal.

Indiegogo hires Reddit’s Andy Yang as new CEO

Indiegogo has a new chief. Andy Yang will take over for outgoing CEO David Mandelbrot, who is stepping down. According to sources close to the company, several other Indiegogo employees are also leaving. Indiegogo has yet to confirm this claim or state the number or reason for their departure.

Mandelbrot announced the move on LinkedIn, citing “personal reasons” as why he’s leaving. He was at Indiegogo for six years, starting as SVP of Operations in August of 2013.

Andy Yang comes to Indiegogo from Reddit, where he was most recently leading its product team. He was previously the CEO of 500px.

Yang comes to Indiegogo at a critical time for the company. Consumers are increasingly becoming jaded by crowdfunding projects that leave backers without their promised product. Under Mandelbrot’s leadership, he helped Indiegogo net several key partners, including General Electric and Lego. The company also enlisted the help of several manufacturing and marketing professionals to help backers make projects into products.

TechCrunch requested an interview with Yang, but has yet to be granted that request.