Just months after Milwaukee-based Xena Workwear Inc.
went to market with its first steel-toed work boot
for women in STEM fields, the startup has completed its seed round and is preparing to expand its product line.
Xena Workwear has closed on a $750,000 of investor funding. The round was led by Ezra Galston, founding partner of Chicago-based venture capital fund Starting Line, said Xena founder and CEO Anastasia Kraft.
The startup, which designs work boots women could wear from an office environment to a manufacturing floor, will use the funding to launch a new boot design this fall. It will also bolster marketing efforts and hire a new team member, she said.
In addition to Starting Line Ventures, the investor team includes Brian Spaly, co-founder of New York-based men's retailer Bonobos; Cleveland, Ohio-based Comeback Capital; Indianapolis, Indiana-based HG Ventures; and angel investors such as Artem Mariychin, co-founder of New York-based Zodiac; Austin Ramirez and Patrick Masterson, CEO and VP of Waukesha-based Husco International; Holly Baumgart, an executive at Plymouth-based Sargento Foods Inc. and Paul Hedrick, founder and CEO at Austin, Texas-based Tecovas.
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Kraft founded the company in 2018 with her husband, Dmitry Krivochenitser. In June, Xena completed gBETA, a seven-week accelerator program run by Milwaukee-based startup accelerator gener8tor.
The company had not planned to raise capital so soon after its May soft product launch and graduation from gBETA, but it had already garnered enough interest from investors, Kraft said.
"The last week of the (gBETA) program is pitch week and we wanted to build relationships with potential investors, but received so much interest from the very beginning that we decided to raise the seed round now and focus completely on growing the business and developing new products," she said.
Xena has so far sold its Gravity Low Cut Boot to customers in 35 states and four countries, including the U.S., Canada, New Zealand and Australia, Kraft said.
Its new design features a lower heel, ankle coverage and is electrical hazard resistant, which Kraft said is "perfect for manufacturing and construction work."
"We gathered feedback from women in different industries, in construction, manufacturing and the STEM field in general, and based on their feedback and input we developed a new design that will launch this fall," she said.