State Rep. Jason Fields (D-Milwaukee) has launched fundraising for a $10 million venture capital fund aimed at investing in underserved entrepreneurs in the state.
Dark Knight Capital Ventures LLC was established in January, according to state records.
“I’m looking to see what we can do to increase the diversity in minority, women entrepreneurs and how we can start getting access to capital among those underrepresented founders,” Fields said.
Fields said underrepresented founders are often steered toward loans, which is not the most sustainable system.
“We’re in the process of doing this raise now and we’re just getting in front of everybody,” he said. “I would like to have the $10 million…by the end of this year.”
Some investors in the fund would like to focus their investments on Wisconsin startups, but Fields said the fund will also invest outside the state.
“To be successful, we can’t limit ourselves to just Wisconsin, because I think then you run into a question of, ‘Will we have adequate deal flow…to be successful?’” Fields said.
Dark Knight Capital is still defining its focus industries, but Fields said technologies including artificial intelligence, blockchain, software as a service, financial technology and health care are of interest.
Fields is the only full-time employee of Dark Knight. He has previously taken part in angel investing, and is a former stock broker and portfolio manager, he said. This is his first foray into venture investing.
He started the firm because he sees an untapped market in Wisconsin, at an earlier stage than most traditional venture capital funds target, Fields said. Dark Knight will seek “diamonds in the rough” among underrepresented founders and invest between $50,000 and $100,000 in their companies.
“People say, ‘Well, can you get money from friends and family?’” Fields said. “If you’re one of those underrepresented founders, that’s kind of tough to do. That’s a tough thing to ask in a place like Milwaukee or Wisconsin if you don’t have the right connections.”