Glasswing Ventures

Glasswing Ventures

Glasswing Ventures is raising $150 million to invest in early-stage companies working on artificial intelligence and cybersecurity technologies. Pictured above (left to right) are Rudina Seseri, co-founder and managing partner; Rick Grinnell, co-founder and managing partner; and managing director Sarah Fay.

Photos courtesy of Glasswing.

Liberty Mutual Strategic Ventures

Liberty Mutual Strategic Ventures

Liberty Mutual’s personal insurance business launched a venture capital arm last year called Liberty Mutual Strategic Ventures. The $150 million early-stage fund targets startups working on technology and services related to the insurance industry. Its first investment was in San Francisco-based August Home, a maker of smart locks and other home access products. Pictured above (left to right) are managing director Dan Robinson, managing director Russ MacTough, associate Josh Cohen, and senior analyst Annabel Yee.

Photos courtesy of Liberty Mutual.

The Engine

The Engine

MIT is raising $150 million for a venture fund that would be part of a broader entrepreneurship initiative called The Engine. The plan is to back young companies working on complex technologies in biotech, robotics, energy, and other areas. MIT is investing $25 million in the fund, which is still in the early stages and doesn’t have a leadership team in place yet, a spokeswoman says. In the above photo, MIT President Rafael Reif speaks at The Engine’s launch event in October 2016.

Photo by Andy Ryan, courtesy of MIT.

Pillar

Pillar

Pillar is raising $100 million for its fund, and backers include a group of 16 local tech entrepreneurs and executives who serve as mentors and board members for the firm’s portfolio companies. Pillar’s investments so far include PillPack, Desktop Metal, and Talla. Pictured above are partner Sarah Hodges (left) and founder and managing director Jamie Goldstein.

Photo by Marcy Rolerson Photography, courtesy of Pillar.

Underscore.VC

Underscore.VC

Underscore.VC, formerly known as Assemble.VC, raised $85 million for a fund investing in open-source software and “cloud intelligence” companies at the seed and Series A stages. The firm has assembled a network of tech executives and experts in various sectors to provide expertise and support to portfolio companies and, if they choose, invest in them. Underscore’s investments include Salsify, Mautic, and Zaius. Pictured above are (left to right) Michael Skok, co-founder and investing partner; John Pearce, co-founder and operating partner; Cory Bolotsky, community manager; C.A. Webb, co-founder and community partner; Richard Dulude, principal and investment manager; and Rob Wu, internal operations manager.

Photo courtesy of Underscore.VC.

Vestigo Ventures

Vestigo Ventures

Vestigo Ventures invests in early-stage financial technology startups. The firm is targeting $50 million for its first fund, but that amount could reach as high as $75 million, says co-founder and managing director Ian Sheridan. His firm’s first investment was in Boston-based LifeYield, which makes software tools to help manage money. Vestigo is led by Sheridan, managing director Mike Nugent, general partner Dave Blundin, and general partner Mark Casady. [This paragraph updated with more fund info.]

Stock photo by scanrail, courtesy of depositphotos.com.

G20 Ventures

G20 Ventures

G20 Ventures raised $63.45 million for its first fund that backs East Coast enterprise technology startups. Similar to Pillar and Underscore.VC, G20 formed a network of around 20 seasoned entrepreneurs, executives, and advisors to back the fund and support its companies. G20’s investments include Fuze, 128 Technology, Evergage, and Mautic. Pictured above are G20 co-founders Bob Hower (left) and Bill Wiberg.

Photo by Porter Gifford, courtesy of G20 Ventures.

Tectonic Ventures

Tectonic Ventures

Tectonic Ventures invests in early-stage software and hardware startups, primarily those working on medical devices, financial technologies, and the Internet of Things, says managing partner Matthew Rhodes-Kropf (pictured above, right). He and his partner, Morris Miller (above, left), have raised $40 million for Tectonic, but are targeting $50 million, he says. The firm is based in the Boston area, where Rhodes-Kropf lives. Miller lives in San Antonio, TX, where he runs Xenex Disinfection Services, a company that sells robots that sanitize hospital rooms. Tectonic’s portfolio includes Xenex, Kymeta, 55 Capital, and Humatics, according to its website. [This photo and description added after initial publication.]

Photo courtesy of Tectonic Ventures.

InTeahouse

InTeahouse

InTeahouse has raised a $30 million fund to invest in early-stage companies spanning robotics, cleantech, life sciences, fintech, new media, and telecommunications, a spokeswoman says. The firm is trying to build a global network of entrepreneurs and investors. It runs a co-working space in Cambridge, MA, and also has an office in Hangzhou, China. Pictured above is InTeahouse founder Xin Liu.

Photo courtesy of InTeahouse.

Massachusetts Innovation Catalyst Fund

Massachusetts Innovation Catalyst Fund

The Massachusetts Innovation Catalyst Fund has $25.8 million to invest in digital health companies located in the Bay State. The fund is being managed by an affiliate of Leerink Holdings. It’s part of a broader initiative backed by government and industry that is aimed at boosting the Massachusetts digital health sector. (A spokeswoman declined to comment on the fund for this article.)

Stock photo by Esbenklinker, courtesy of depositphotos.com.

Companyon

Companyon

Companyon is raising $20 million for a seed fund to invest in consumer technology, software-as-a-service, and other technology firms, says Companyon Capital managing director Tom Lazay. Its investments so far include GetHuman, Disruptor Beam, and Smartvid.io. The fund’s affiliated Companyon Foundry provides business services and expertise to help startups get funded, bring products to market, and grow their businesses, Lazay says. Pictured above (left to right) are Lazay; Parthib Srivathsan, the foundry’s managing director; and Companyon founding partner Andy Coughlin.

Photo courtesy of Companyon.

LaunchByte

LaunchByte

LaunchByte is part incubator and part micro-VC fund. Its team provides services to startups---such as developing software and helping with budgets---and the companies have the option to compensate LaunchByte with an equity stake in the startup, or a combination of cash and equity. LaunchByte also makes direct investments in companies from a $5 million fund, which is fueled by revenue from its services business and returns from portfolio companies that exit, says founder and managing director Tan Kabra (pictured above). He says LaunchByte has had two exits so far, but he says he can’t disclose more information about those deals.

Photo by John Lee, courtesy of Tan Kabra.

The Graduate Syndicate

The Graduate Syndicate

The Graduate Syndicate is a $2.4 million fund managed by Flybridge Capital Partners general partner Jeff Bussgang, according to Flybridge marketing partner Kate Castle. The fund invests in “pre-seed” and seed-stage startups led by graduates of Harvard. Bussgang (pictured above) is also a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School. The Graduate Syndicate has backed Lovepop, Camino Financial, Baroo, and others, according to its website.

Photo courtesy of Flybridge.

Hyperplane Venture Capital

Hyperplane Venture Capital

Hyperplane Venture Capital invests in seed-stage machine intelligence and data technology startups. The firm isn’t commenting on how much funding it has raised, but it has made 16 investments so far, says founder and managing partner Vivjan Myrto. Its portfolio companies include Vesper, Indico, TellusLabs, Talla, and Sentenai. Pictured above (left to right) are Myrto; Hyperplane associate Dan Hurwitz; co-founder and managing partner John Murphy; managing partner Jack Klinck; and co-founder and venture partner Brendan Kohler.

Photo courtesy of Hyperplane.

Good Growth Capital

Good Growth Capital

Good Growth Capital creates early-stage venture funds for universities “and other affinity-based groups,” according to its website. (Founder Shereen Shermak declined to comment for this article.)

Photo "Money!" by Flickr user Tracy O used under Creative Commons 2.0 and 4.0 licenses.

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larger, more established firms like Andreessen Horowitz and Sequoia Capital. One example, he says, is that CRV and others have hired staff members dedicated to providing services to portfolio companies, such as help with recruiting talent.

“I think the venture model has changed,” Armony says. “But I respectfully disagree with the notion that the venture model is broken, and also that seed funds will be the ones that will change it from below.”

And perhaps it’s not imperative for every fund to have some sort of calling card or feature that sets it apart from other VCs. Vivjan Myrto—founder and managing partner of Hyperplane Venture Capital, one of the new Boston firms—says the important things for investors are to stay focused on their “core thesis and strategy,” execute on that vision, stay ahead of trends, and put entrepreneurs first. (Myrto’s firm invests in seed-stage machine intelligence and data technology startups, and all but one of its 16 investments to date have been made in Boston-area companies, he says.)

“At the end of the day, every VC firm is only as good as their entrepreneurs and their investments,” Myrto says.

Indeed, Founder Collective’s Paley says one of the keys for the new funds will be to stick to their stated missions and truly support entrepreneurs. “There are a lot of reasons VCs compromise on their model over time. I hope these VCs won’t,” Paley says.

He also cautions the new venture funds to “stay disciplined” and “resist the urge” to raise more capital than they need to invest in early-stage companies, which he argues can lead to decisions that end up hurting entrepreneurs. Founder Collective’s debut fund was $40 million. It went bigger on its second fund—about $75 million—but kept the third one roughly the same size as its predecessor.

“There’s always incentive for VCs to raise bigger funds if they can,” Paley says. But “there’s a whole narrative of why it’s terrific that I don’t think bears out in reality. … Let’s not repeat the mistakes of the past.”

That’s a familiar refrain if you talk to the younger generation of VCs. And leaders of the new funds certainly have ideas for shaping the future of venture investing in Boston.

Hyperplane’s Myrto says it’s important “to be more inclusive, risk-taking, and take bigger bets” on entrepreneurs and their vision.

And part of Glasswing Ventures’ approach, Seseri says, involves giving fast, candid feedback to entrepreneurs pitching her firm, which focuses on companies in artificial intelligence and cybersecurity.

“We’re going to do it right,” she says of Glasswing. “It’s about building a platform that’s not stodgy.”

Xconomy’s Greg Huang contributed to this report.

Slideshow photo “Money!” by Flickr user Tracy O used under Creative Commons 2.0 and 4.0 licenses. Photo cropped to fit Xconomy publishing system standards.

Jeff Engel is a senior editor at Xconomy. Email: jengel@xconomy.com

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