Bold Coast Capital Fund launches in Milwaukee

Badger Fund of Funds to invest up to $6 million


Venture capital fund Bold Coast Capital Fund I L.P. has officially launched in Milwaukee.


The fund, managed by angel investor and former trader Ross Leinweber, is part of the Badger Fund of Funds program, which is working to establish new venture capital funds across the state that will, in turn, invest in startup companies. Badger Fund of Funds I L.P. will make the anchor investment in the fund and has committed up to $6 million to Bold Coast. The target range for Bold Coast is $12 million to $15 million.

Ken Johnson, founder of Stoughton-based Kegonsa Capital Partners LLC and a partner in the Badger Fund, said he expects it will take about six months to raise the capital and close the Bold Coast Capital Fund.

“My hope is to be investing in portfolio companies potentially by mid- to late summer,” Leinweber said.

Leinweber plans to hire additional employees as Bold Coast grows. He has established an investment committee, which includes: Brian Birk, founder of Sun Mountain Capital and a Badger Fund partner; Beth Donley, chief executive officer of Madison-based Stemina; Greg Borca, co-founder and owner of Menomonee Falls-based Skygen USA; Ezra Galston, founder and venture capitalist at The Starting Line; and William Caraher, chief information officer and director of operations at Milwaukee-based von Briesen & Roper S.C.

“I’ve looked for people with varied experiences from different geographic locations to try and provide complementary and strategic elements to my team and counsel,” Leinweber said. “I think we’ve done a fantastic job of bringing those types of skills and resources into Bold Coast.”

“Ross’ relationships and knowledge of both the Milwaukee and Chicago communities will be an advantage to the fund – we were delighted when Ross made both a career and financial commitment in the Milwaukee area,” Johnson said.

This is the fourth Badger Fund of Funds Johnson and Birk have helped form in Wisconsin. The state of Wisconsin awarded $25 million in 2013 to establish the Badger Fund of Funds, which raised another $10 million from the private sector and agreed to create six to eight venture capital firms across the state. Santa Fe-based Sun Mountain Capital, which specializes in regional investment programs, and Kegonsa Capital Partners plan to have all of the regional funds established by the end of 2018. The fund managers they have selected have so far established the Idea Fund of La Crosse, Winnebago Seed Fund LP in Neenah and Rock River Capital Partners Fund I, which is based in Madison.

Johnson said he and Birk have also identified two other fund managers, who are going through its due diligence process, and he declined to name them because they are still employed elsewhere. One will manage an entrepreneurial university student-focused pre-seed fund in the Madison area, and the other will run a venture capital fund focused on the Racine and Kenosha areas, driven by the Foxconn Technology Group project there.

Johnson said Milwaukee has a lack of available seed capital, so the Bold Coast fund should increase startup investments here. The fund is aimed at participating in the seed round, which it defines as the first $500,000 a startup raises.

“Madison, yeah, there’s a lot of startups but there’s a lot of other venture funds looking over those investments,” Johnson said.

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