A venture fund’s success is determined by its ability to find and evaluate the best deals.
And that job is a whole lot easier when you have a team with decades of technology investment experience guiding your decisions — as is the case with Kansas City-based Firebrand Ventures. Launched in July by John Fein, Firebrand is lining up an impressive group of advisors to help allocate its $7 million into startups around the Midwest.
The former managing director at the Techstars-led Sprint Accelerator, Fein recently added Brian McClendon, the vice president of maps and business platform at Uber, to the stable of advisors.
McClendon is a software engineer and was a co-founder and angel investor in Keyhole, Inc., a geospatial data visualization company that was purchased by Google in 2004 to produce Google Earth. A graduate of the University of Kansas, McClendon is also served as vice president of engineering at Google for more than 10 years.
“Firebrand is thrilled to welcome Brian as a new key member of our world class team,” Fein said. “His technical and entrepreneurial experience will be a huge asset to the fund, periodically helping to evaluate the teams and technologies we’re considering investing in. Brian also has very close ties to KU and Lawrence which is already helping Firebrand engage more closely with those important communities.”
McClendon joins a group of other high-caliber investors. Also on the Firebrand team is David Cohen, a co-founder and the managing partner of Techstars, and Kansas Citian Keith Harrington, who’s the managing director of Fulcrum Global Capital. Together, Cohen and Fein can both tap the vast Techstars’ network of investors and entrepreneurs that span the globe.
Fein previously said that Firebrand Ventures’ first fund will invest $7 million in about 30 Midwest startups over the next three years. The fund will target lean, “capital-efficient” software startups in the greater Midwest, which Fein defined as an area between San Antonio to Minneapolis and Boulder to Columbus, Ohio. Fein said that the fund will lead and co-invest in deals with an average check size of about $150,000.
Fein is helping to lead the charge in shifting Kansas City’s investment culture and wrote a piece for Startland News offering startups advice on how to hook a venture capitalist.