The next leg of our series on women-focused venture capital firms — which has already trekked to venture capital firms for women on the East Coast and female VC firms on the West Coast — takes us to the Midwest. What does Midwestern venture capital financing look like?
Victor Gutwein, founder and managing director of VC firm M25, says that VC funds are taking off in the Heartland. More funds are being formed in large and small cities. Many of these funds are financially doubling in size, too.
Gutwein believes that the growth may be thanks to an increase in Midwest startup exits and the Midwest as a major space for tech industry growth. In 2018, 7 percent of all United States venture deals were from the Midwest. This compares to 4 percent of all venture deals from 2002!
5 top venture capital financing options for women in the Midwest
As Midwest VC firms continue expanding, which ones should women entrepreneurs seeking venture capital financing have on their radar? Start with these five:
- Jane VC.
- Moderne Ventures.
- Ceres Venture Fund.
- KCRise Fund.
Let’s take a look at the funds making waves in the Heartland.
1. Jane VC
Leadership + Location: Jane VC is based in Cleveland, Ohio and led by founding partners Jennifer Keiser Neundorfer and Maren Thomas Bannon.
Who’s in their portfolio? Proformex, Sown to Grow and Hatch Apps are a handful of “the stars of Jane” in their portfolio.
What do they do? Jane VC is devoted to helping women-led businesses. Quotes on their site acknowledge that women-led companies are big performers, but women worldwide receive just 2 percent of venture capital dollars. Ergo, investing in women is good business and one that Jane VC dedicated its mission to.
Beyond investment, Jane VC also provides additional opportunities in the form of guidance, thought partnership, and introductions.
Leadership + Location: Led by founder and managing partner Constance Freedman, Moderne Ventures is located in Chicago.
Who’s in their portfolio? Businesses are listed on the site in alphabetical order, from home security platform Abode to Zaarly, where individuals may hire home service providers that deliver on what they promise.
What do they do? Moderne Ventures invests in early-stage companies in industries that include insurance, finance and real estate. Why these industries specifically? According to Moderne’s website, they’re trillion-dollar markets that represent 20 percent of the U.S. GDP, making them ripe for innovation.
Beyond capital, Moderne Ventures is working to put disruptive businesses on the path to success.
They offer a membership program called the Moderne Network comprised of executives who serve as mentors and advisors to the fund and its portfolio companies. A seven-month immersion accelerator, known as the Moderne Passport, gives applicants the chance to take their businesses to the next level. Businesses that join the program receive mentorship opportunities and the chance to refine strategies for their startups.
And their fund seems to have the Midas touch: In 2018, Crain’s Chicago Business reported that Moderne Ventures closed its first fund at $33 million.
Leadership + Location: Based in Northfield, Illinois, Ceres Venture Fund is led by three managing directors: Sona Wang, Donna Williamson and Laura Pearl, who each boast more than 20 years of experience in venture capital financing.
Who’s in their portfolio? A wide range of businesses, including event commerce market leader Eved, LLC, manufacturer of the world’s first total artificial heart SynCardia Systems, Inc., and biotechnology company SynTherix, Inc.
What do they do? Ceres Venture Fund believes in early-stage Midwestern businesses with high growth potential. Will they invest in these businesses, especially those that specialize in IT and healthcare fields? Yes!
They partner with entrepreneurs and provide portfolio companies with resources, like valuable contacts, that can take their companies onward and upward.
4. KCRise Fund
Leadership + Location: Founder and managing director Darcy Howe is at the helm of this venture capital investment firm in Kansas City, Missouri.
Who’s in their portfolio? It’s a who’s who of the Kansas City startup scene, with businesses like Payit, Life Equals and Blooom in their portfolio.
What do they do? Promising startups in the greater Kansas City area have an ally in KCRise Fund. The co-investment fund specializes in financing high-growth startups that need $1 million or more.
KCRise Fund has a four-step investment process. Interested applicants must complete an introduction form and meet certain eligibility requirements, go through an initial screening, and connect with institutional investors. From there, the final decision to invest is voted on by the KCRise Fund Board of Directors.
Leadership + Location: Hailing from Minneapolis, Minnesota, Capita3’s leadership includes founding general partners Pamela York and Sara Russick.
Who’s in their portfolio? While the Capita3 website does not include a list of companies in its portfolio, the firm will reportedly provide seed-stage funding over the next two years for seven to 10 Midwestern businesses run by women.
What do they do? “From her to there” is the tagline for the early-stage VC fund. Capita3 invests in companies — especially women-led startups in the B2C and B2B markets — that emphasize living healthier lives.
There’s one distinctive way Capita3 stands out from the typical VC firm pack: They invest in the company and its CEO.
This is part of the “new standard” that Capita3 hopes to establish for VC-financed businesses. Their team is full of entrepreneurs and investors who have been there, scaled that startup, and got the company exit T-shirt, so you know you’re in trustworthy hands.
From the looks of these burgeoning funds, venture capital financing is definitely on the grow across the Midwest, with women poised to reap much of the harvest.
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