Ben Franklin Tech Partners (BFTP), which earlier this year established the blockchain-enabled Global Opportunity Philadelphia Fund — aka the GO Philly Fund — has announced that the fund has made its first two investments in local tech companies.
The GO Philly Fund, formed in conjunction with EPAM Systems, a global product development and digital platform engineering services company headquartered in Newtown, was established as another means of investing in early-stage tech ventures and has so far raised about half of its original $50 million goal, BFTP’s CIO Scott Nissenbaum said. The fund will remain open through the end of the year, he added.
The inaugural investments for the fund are a $1 million investment in performance marketing firm Sidecar and $750,000 investment to customer marketing platform Clutch. These first commitments are follow-on investments to earlier investments made by BFTP.
The $1 million invested in Sidecar was part of $7.5 million Series C round this year that the company is adding to its $11 million round of fundraising in 2017. BFTP was involved early on with Sidecar, investing in the digital marketing company four times since 2010, it said in a statement.
“Sidecar would not be where it is today without the early support of Ben Franklin,” said Andre Golsorkhi, founder and CEO of Sidecar, in a statement.
Clutch received its $750,000 from the GO Philly Fund after BFTP invested in the company’s Series B round in 2012. The current investment will go toward a $2.5 million senior preferred note ahead of a larger Series C round.
“We are looking forward to utilizing the new capital as we seek to accelerate growth, grow our brand, and expand into new markets,” said Ned Moore, cofounder and CEO of Clutch, in a statement.
The fund’s purpose is to be able to reinvest in select ventures out of BFTP’s portfolio of about 250 companies; Sidecar and Clutch were chosen because of their continued growth and smart leadership, Nissenbaum told Technical.ly.
“They represent shining stars of the [BFTP] portfolio,” he said.
EPAM, with 35,000 employees around the world, engaged in the partnership on the GO Philly Fund as a way to get back to its local roots while still giving a nod to its global status, Nissenbaum said.
“We are excited to see the first GO Philly Fund investments proactively fueling the growth of innovative companies like Sidecar and Clutch,” said Elaina Shekhter, CMO and head of strategy at EPAM, in a statement. “We see our partnership with Ben Franklin Technology Partners as a way to connect diverse technology companies in the region to the larger-scale, global innovation economy.”
And how about that invest-via-blockchain option?
One investor has participated that way so far, “and we are using the technology for U.S. regulatory compliance obligations,” said comms VP Jason Bannon, “but the vast majority of the investors are participating the old-fashioned way.”
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