(University of Pennsylvania by f11photo via Shutterstock)
Enter Chestnut Street Ventures, the latest Penn-focused investment fund, which looks to provide growth-stage startups with investments in the $200,000 range. Although the firm is not affiliated with the University, it’s rallying cash from Penn alumni and will invest exclusively in startups founded by Penn students, alumni and professors.
The fund is currently raising its first fund, which aims to be in the $3 million to $4 million range. A projected 25 investments will be made over the course of the next two years.
For founder and managing director Gail Ball — former COO of Bancorp and herself a Wharton grad — the investment firm will be coming in to back companies once the early-stage investors have helped startups prove their model.
Ball thinks there will likely be some interaction between her firm and Pennovation-based Red and Blue Ventures, which focuses mainly on IT companies. “We hope that our two funds will have great deal sharing,” Ball told Technical.ly. “We’d love to refer companies to each other.”
Another key difference with the available options for capital: the firm will be sector agnostic.
“Our commitment is to build a portfolio that is expressly diverse in stage, sector and geography,” Ball said. “We’re focusing on extraordinary entrepreneurial efforts that offer solutions to widespread problems.”
But industry diversity isn’t the only kind of diversity the fund is aiming for. Racial and gender diversity are also key, as the company seeks to be representative of the community it belongs to.
“In our overall investment process, which includes building an investment committee that brings the deepest diligence and investment expertise from the diverse Penn ecosystem, we expect it to also be diverse in all respects,” Ball said.
Ball, based in Delaware, is working out of Wilmington, Del.-based coworking space The Mill, but she can be frequently be found on Penn’s campus and in Philly. Though she’s currently the only full-timer, a VP of Investments will be coming aboard later this month to help manage the deal flow (look out for that announcement in our Power Moves column.)-30-
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