M7 awards $475,000 in loans and grants to local startups

First round of Capital Catalyst fund distributed

Almost a year after it was created, the Milwaukee 7 economic development partnership has revealed which startups it has been funding via its Capital Catalyst venture capital fund.

The $1 million venture fund was started with a $500,000 grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. and $500,000 from the Milwaukee Economic Development Corp. It provides loans and grants totaling $50,000 to $125,000 to early stage companies, to be used for tasks like product development, market validation, new equipment, marketing and sales assistance. The fund is targeted to advanced manufacturing and technology companies.

The first round of funding went to four companies, and totaled $385,000 in loans and $90,000 in grants. The companies that received funding are: Milwaukee-based data center technology provider Securus Data Centers; Milwaukee-based e-commerce tool developer Okanjo Partners; Milwaukee-based HaloVino plastic wine tumbler manufacturer Cata LLC; and Cudahy-based high-end children’s clothing line The MINI Classy.

The amount of funding provided to each company was not disclosed, and M7 representatives could not be reached for additional information.

A group of business accelerators and startup support organizations advised the M7 on candidate selection. The M7 is also working to provide a clearer path for startups seeking funding through a larger initiative called “Marshaling our Resources.”

“We saw a need to directly support high-potential firms that have a great idea and are in the process of developing their product or taking it to market, but may need some additional funds to take the next step,” said Pat O’Brien, executive director of the Milwaukee 7. “These loans and grants will help position the companies for additional investment.”

M7 is now accepting applications for the second round of Capital Catalyst funding, which will be awarded sometime in 2018. The deadline to apply is Feb. 16.

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