Rock River Capital Partners closes fund at $23.5 million

Plans to complete first startup investment this week

Andy Walker, Ross Leinweber, Jonathon Horne, Richelle Martin, Dan Brooks and David Trotter discuss the Badger Fund of Funds with Tom Still.

Rock River Capital Partners has closed its first venture capital fund at $23.5 million.

Andy Walker, left, discussed his early-stage investment strategy during a panel discussion in June at the Wisconsin Entreprenreurs’ Conference..

The Madison-based venture capital fund, part of the Badger Fund of Funds initiative, now will begin investing the funds in 12 to 15 Wisconsin companies.

Rock River fund manager Andy Walker and partner Chris Eckstrom launched Rock River Capital Partners Fund I LP in spring 2017, and hoped to raise $25 million and close the fund by the end of summer.

“We’re happy with $23.5 million,” Walker said. “Fundraising for anything is hard, but I think fundraising for a first-time fund in the Midwest, which we’re not exactly the venture capital mecca of the world, it was not easy.”

About 50 investors contributed to the fund, some from as far away as Texas and London.

While he was completing the venture capital fund, Walker began spending about 30 percent of his time meeting with more than 150 startups this year to evaluate future funding opportunities. He is now working on a list of 10 potential investments, and plans to complete a syndicated investment later this week on the first one. He declined to disclose information about that startup.

Walker expects to have invested the entirety of the $23.5 million in four to five years. He is seeking technical disruptors in Wisconsin.

“We’re essentially industry agnostic, geographically focused,” he said. “We’re planning to invest in our own backyard.”

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Molly Dill, former BizTimes Milwaukee managing editor.

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