Urban Innovation Fund, VMG Catalyst among women-led companies raising new funds – TechCrunch

Venture capitalists continue to raise new funds, at what seems like lightning speed. Two companies have stood out in recent days, including Urban Innovation Fund, which closed with commitments of $101 million for its Fund III and $20 million for its Opportunity Fund, and Fund II of $400 million. from VMG Catalyst.

Both companies are led by women, Clara Brenner and Julie Lein at Urban Innovation Fund, and Brooke Kiley at VMG. What was unique about these two funds was the narrow focus of each fund. As its name suggests, Urban Innovation Fund invests in companies developing technologies to shape the future of cities, while VMG targets commerce.

Before starting Urban Innovation Fund, Brenner worked in commercial real estate development and met Lein, who did polling and policy advice at MIT’s business school. In their first two years, they founded and led the largest women’s event on the MIT campus at the time.

They each tried to recruit the other to start a business in their respective industries before coming together over a love of startups and the urban tech space. The company invests in companies working on issues of habitability, sustainability or economic vitality and which often have numerous regulatory and political challenges.

According to Brenner, having such a narrow thesis and other unique characteristics was beneficial when the fund raised its third installment earlier this year.

“I think it’s a combination of us looking different, investing with a very different strategy, and having a strong track record,” she told TechCrunch. “It means the round went much faster than expected. We were shocked at how quickly it happened.

Urban Innovation Fund is 100% women-owned and 77% of the companies it supports have had a woman or person of color on the founding team.

According to Cambridge benchmarks, Urban Innovation Fund is one of the best performing 1% funds and has invested in companies such as electric vehicle charging software company Electriphi, which was acquired by Ford in 2021 , ESG asset management firm Ethic, which has $2 billion in assets under management, and small business lending platform Jeeves, which was valued at $2.1 billion earlier this year.

Brenner and Lein set out to raise $80 million in January and eventually hit their cap of $101 million, with 95% of its new capital coming from institutional investors. It’s not a bad problem to have, but Brenner said they have a large base of previous fund sponsors and have had to turn away investors.

Thus was born the $20 million Opportunity Fund, the first Urban Innovation Fund in this category. The company previously used special purpose vehicles to invest in a single deal and had raised several over the past few years to later invest in smaller companies in its portfolio.

“Now that we have our new Opportunity Fund, we no longer need to do SPVs,” ​​Brenner said. “We can make all of our late-stage follow-on investments with the new vehicle.”

Urban Innovation Fund just activated the third fund in July, so it’s been diligent with a few new startups, but hasn’t made any investments yet. The average check size for previous funds was around $1 million, and the new fund will reach $1.5 million. The fund seeks to lead or be a second major check in about 30 seed rounds.

VMG Catalyst

At VMG Catalyst, founding partner Brooke Kiley had been in venture capital since graduating from Wharton, starting at Insight Partners. She told TechCrunch via email that she had “always had a passion for entrepreneurship and the idea of ​​working side-by-side with startups seemed like a dream career.”

Kiley left Insight in March 2020 to join VMG Catalyst. The company’s first fund was worth $250 million, and it recently closed on a $400 million fund II. VMG typically conducts Series A and Series B rounds ranging in size from $8M to $50M. She has made 22 investments to date, and her thesis revolves around commerce and marketplace enablement software.

Her second fund is 60% larger than her first, and most of the growth is coming from existing limited partners, she said.

Within the second fund, the firm made three investments in vertical supply chain, a category it said the firm was “particularly excited about.” Among them was Milk Moovement, which provides supply chain tools for the dairy industry.

“We believe innovative software and sophisticated supply chains will define the next generation of great brands and retailers,” Kiley said. “We have a unique perspective on the consumer industry through VMG’s history as CPG investors, which allows us to invest with conviction and speed, serving as committed strategic partners across the landscape. today’s competitive and fast-paced environment.”

Even more new funds

As we’ve reported before, venture capitalists have more dry powder than ever before, and the past few weeks have been no exception:

  • Upper90 achieved a first closing of its first $180 million fund.
  • South Col, an e-commerce accelerator, has launched a $50 million accelerator fund to provide capital, guidance and operational resources to industry founders. South Col is a joint venture between SellersFunding, Global Wired Advisors and Escala.
  • FRAMEWORK, which invests in Series A and Series B companies, said it achieved an initial close of more than $100 million for its Fund II and expects to close the fund, targeting $250 million, by the end of the year. end of the year. It also unveiled its new Activity Capital Model that uses proprietary data, growth and operational frameworks “to reinvent the early-stage investment ecosystem and to facilitate smart startup hyper-growth.”
  • CEI Ventures, which manages socially responsible venture capital funds, closed its fifth fund – known as “The Good Jobs Fund” – in July with $21.5 million, the largest fund in its history. depending on the firm.
  • Silversmith Capital Partners closed its fourth fund after two months with $1.25 billion in commitments limited partners. Silversmith’s team will also inject $90 million to make Fund IV the company’s largest to date and bring total capital raised to more than $3.3 billion since its inception in 2015.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.