Winnow Fund makes inaugural investment in Wisconsin-based startup

Last updated on August 3rd, 2021 at 02:48 pm

The Winnow Fund, a venture capital fund led by Richelle Martin, made its first investment in KaPloint Inc., a Middleton-based entertainment and marketing startup.

KaPloint collects and gamifies real-time slot machine data from partner casinos to increase customer acquisition, engagement and loyalty through app-based interactions. The startup has already established a partnership with a Wisconsin-based casino for pilot testing.

“The (Winnow) fund’s investment committee was impressed by their sound business plan, experienced team and the fact that they already have an industry partner on board,” Martin said in a statement.

The investment amount was not disclosed.

KaPloint was founded in 2020 by Grant Stousland and Brett Rimkus. Stousland, KaPloint’s CEO, was previously with Gaming Informatics where he led its acquisition of Kobetron in 2016 as president and CEO. Rimkus serves as CFO and advisor to KaPloint and is also a co-founder of Singlewire Software.

KaPloint plans to use Winnow Fund’s investment for software development, with a planned product launch to take place in the third quarter of 2021, according to a press release.

“We are excited to have Winnow Fund’s visionary investment and support as we work to launch our first-in-class player app that is sure to make waves in the casino industry,” Stousland said in a statement.

The Winnow fund is one of five Wisconsin-based venture capital funds with the Badger Fund of Funds, Wisconsin’s 8-year-old state-backed venture capital program designed to invest in Wisconsin-based startups.

Winnow Fund manager Richelle Martin.

The Winnow Fund began its investment phase in January after Martin raised $10.2 million over a two-year period. The VC fund aims make $250,000 to $500,000 investments in early-stage companies, but also has the capacity to make $50,000 to $100,000 investments for smaller companies at the proof-of-concept stage.

The fund’s investing strategy is based on sourcing deals from Wisconsin colleges and universities and product ideas developed by students. However, the Winnow Fund can invest in any startup so long as it is based in Wisconsin.

“We do still want to invest in universities, but when a good opportunity comes up, we can’t ignore it,” Martin said. “We are still seeing other promising things coming from universities and that remains a focus area for us.”

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Brandon covers startups, technology, manufacturing. He previously worked as a general assignment and court reporter for The Freeman in Waukesha. Brandon graduated from UW-Milwaukee’s journalism, advertising and media studies program with an emphasis in journalism. He enjoys live music, playing guitar and loves to hacky sack.

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