FirstMile Ventures, a seed-stage venture capital firm, is announcing its second fund with $21 million in committed capital. FirstMile plans to make 30 initial investments between $150,000-$600,000 into pre-seed and seed-stage technology companies over the next three years. Since the initial close last summer, the new fund has already backed 12 companies. The fund will invest primarily in technology companies across North America, but the portfolio has historically been two-thirds Colorado-based.
Of the $21 million raised, $7 million came from Colorado’s Venture Capital Authority (VCA), a program designed to fill a gap in private capital markets and spur investment in Colorado startups. “FirstMile Ventures, the VCA’s fourth fund, is another example of the State’s deep commitment to Colorado’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Not only will the VCA’s capital continue to fund local entrepreneurs and innovators, but we are fortunate to be able to support a local venture fund dedicated to funding seed-stage companies in Colorado” said Eric Drummond, Chair of the VCA.
Comprised of two partners, Bill Miller and Aaron Stachel, FirstMile began investing in 2015. Their inaugural fund of $6 million invested in 31 companies and includes success stories such as Hedera and pax8.
Regarding the partnership with the VCA, Miller states, "I moved to Colorado in the mid-'90s for a startup that didn't work out, but we never left. Aaron and I both came from the Midwest but decided to raise our families and build our firm here, and we couldn't be happier to have the state as a partner."
Miller was also a founder of Storage Networks, a pioneer in cloud infrastructure. After a successful IPO in 2000, he began angel investing alongside his network of coastal funds and colleagues. As time went on, Miller witnessed the rise of Colorado's startup ecosystem and the need for more local capital. So, in 2011, he put together a small investment fund called PV Ventures that focused on backing local companies like Altia and Axellio.
Stachel spent 10 years as an Army helicopter pilot before getting stationed in Colorado and deciding to stay. After getting an MBA from the University of Denver and gaining experience with both startups and a Fortune 500 company, he joined Miller in 2013 to help build FirstMile. The new, larger fund enables the firm to lead more rounds and be a more meaningful partner to the founders they back. Stachel remarked, "The rise of the Colorado startup ecosystem has been stunning, but it can still be hard to find an investor to lead your earliest round. We’re comfortable in that stage, and having a larger fund gives us the capacity to catalyze those rounds."
Although most comfortable with B2B software, the pair have not been afraid to step out of their comfort zone when they meet well-positioned teams pursuing big opportunities. Some of their past investments include other areas such as blockchain, consumer-tech, robotics, engineered foods, and digital health.
FirstMile is currently considering investments. Learn more at https://www.firstmilevc.com/ and follow them on Twitter at @FirstMileVC. The existing portfolio companies are growing fast and hiring, see open positions on the FirstMile Jobs Board.
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