The Neenah-based Winnebago Seed Fund LLP has closed on an $11 million funding round.
[caption id="attachment_320418" align="alignright" width="329"] Trotter[/caption]
David Trotter leads the fund, created last year by the Badger Fund of Funds, which is working to bring together trained venture capitalists and early-stage companies seeking funding across Wisconsin.
Winnebago raised the $11 million from 31 investors statewide, some of whom are based in Milwaukee, as part of a maximum $12 million offering, according to an SEC filing. The Badger Fund of Funds contributed $4 million.
“There was a few from the Milwaukee area, business owners, but primarily northeast Wisconsin was where we got most of (the investors),” Trotter said.
Winnebago will be invested in 10 to 14 promising startups across Wisconsin over the next four years, Trotter said. It is using the Badger Fund of Funds' "Money for Minnows" strategy, seeking to be the first investor in a startup and even helping inventors form new companies, with the aim of providing investor returns through rapid growth.
“My job basically changes from raising funds to sourcing deal flow full-time now – as fast as I can find them,” he said. “Being a seed fund, our focus is at the seed stage. We have a few (companies) I’ve talked to, but no companies that we’re ready to pull the trigger on just right now.”
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. The fund of funds was launched in June 2016, and given two years to create six to eight venture capital funds across the state. So far, it has established Winnebago, the Idea Fund of La Crosse and in April formed Rock River Capital Partners Fund I, which is based in Madison.
The Badger Fund of Funds, which contributes about 40 percent of each fund and has $15 million left to deploy, also would like to establish a fund in Milwaukee, but has not been able to find a partner to do so, according to Ken Johnson, a partner in the Badger Fund.
Trotter listed Milwaukee’s gener8tor as a promising contributor to the state’s goal to create and grow more new companies.
“It takes more than just money to start companies,” he said. “We are excited about the interest other groups have shown in the region. They share our vision of a better startup ecosystem. Some of the groups that see potential in the area include Concept Loft, Third Floor Accelerator, T2 Accelerator, gene8tor’s gBETA program, and the Grind.”