The Badger Fund of Funds has raised more than $10 million from private investors, doubling the amount it needed to raise under state law.
The fund, launched under the state’s 2013 venture capital law, is using those funds and $25 million in state money to help launch smaller local funds, which will in turn provide seed money to startups across the state. So far, it’s announced the launch of Idea Fund of La Crosse and Winnebago Seed Fund in the Fox Valley, each of which are raising more money from private investors.
Over the next two years, the Badger Fund will help launch more local funds with young managers who are “the same generation as the entrepreneur,” said Badger Fund partner Ken Johnson. And in doing so, it’s hoping to build a network of young fund managers who are “true Wisconsinites [and] not going to leave.”
“If they succeed on the first fund like we’re helping them to do, my expectation is they’re going to build two, three, four funds in their lifetime — all in Wisconsin,” he said.
The investors in the Badger Fund were largely individuals and institutions from across the state who want to boost the state’s startup activity, though there were some out-of-state investors, Johnson said. The funds will focus on investing smaller amounts of “seed” money into a larger pool of pre-revenue startups, rather than investing large amounts into a few companies.
And it wants to do so in every corner of the state, Johnson said, trying to combat a perception that all the good ideas are in large metros like Madison and instead recognizing that “entrepreneurs are per capita.”
“You go where the entrepreneurs are, and they’re everywhere,” he said.
— By Polo Rocha,