Kansas City-based Firebrand Ventures is kicking off the summer with a series of startup investments.
Led by managing director John Fein, Firebrand has signed a quartet of new deals supporting two pairs of tech startups in both Boulder and Austin.
“We’re just incredibly excited to invest in these companies,” Fein said. “We think they’re the best at what they do in their industries and that’s why we invested in them. We’re also incredibly excited to invest alongside amazing co-investors.”
A $7 million seed fund, Firebrand Ventures launched in July of 2016 with the goal to invest in about 30 Midwest firms by 2019. The fund targets lean, “capital-efficient” software startups in the greater Midwest, which Fein defined as an area from 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.
Here’s a bit more on each of Firebrand’s new portfolio companies.
inKind is a Boulder-based firm that created a finance platform providing high-end restaurants with capital up front and then selling gift cards upwards of $500 to pay itself back. Firebrand’s investment is part of a $1 million round and is led by Techstars Ventures and Firebrand.
Threatcare is an Austin-based cybersecurity firm that provides an intrusion simulation platform enabling organizations to continuously fine-tune and audit their cybersecurity stack. Customers include Ernst & Young and Marsh & McClennan. Investors in the round are Firebrand, Gula Tech Adventures and Don Douglas from Geekdom Fund.
Automox is a Boulder-based data security SaaS firm that provides a cloud-based patching platform that automates the patch remediation process for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, and every third party software. Firebrand’s investment is part of an oversubscribed $1.3 million round that includes Blue Note Ventures, v1.vc and Tahoma Ventures.
ScaleFactor is an Austin-based finance and accounting firm that integrates with existing cloud software to provide automation tools for bookkeeping, tax compliance and financial analysis. Firebrand’s investment is part of an oversubscribed $2.1 million round that includes Next Coast Ventures, Techstars Ventures, Edison Factory and Matchstick Ventures.
The former managing director of the Techstars-led Sprint Accelerator, Fein said that he’s been thrilled with Firebrand’s progress thus far. Since its launch in 2016, Firebrand has invested in seven Midwestern startups, including past deals in FitBark, Sickweather and Dwolla.
“We’re on pace to be one of the most active seed funds in the Midwest, which was part of our mission,” Fein said. “We were confident we could do that because of the network we have and the access to deal flow. It’s been great.”
Fein said that since launching the fund about one year ago, it’s grown thanks in part to its “founder-friendly” focus. He said he prioritizes transparency, responsiveness and a quick answer for entrepreneurs. As a former founder himself, Fein said he understands the importance of a clear, quick answer on whether an investor will get involved.
Furthermore, he said that his approach of being accessible for founders also has paid dividends. To that end, he’s established open office hours for Kansas City area firms. His next office hours is set for Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Plexpod Westport Commons, and will offer more on a periodic basis.