Kansas City has a new venture fund focusing on early-stage tech firms.
With $25 million in its coffers, Leawood Venture Capital has already made several investments in tech firms around the nation, including Kansas City-based Pepper IoT. Led by seasoned businessmen Brendan Fallis and Karl Gemperli, Leawood Venture Capital will provide equity investments and growth advisory services to tech startups around the U.S.
Fallis said that the fund opened at the beginning of 2017 and will average about 12 deals per year, ranging from about $500,000 to $1.25 million. Fallis said about two-thirds of the deals that Leawood Venture Capital makes will be alongside other venture funds on the East and West coasts.
“This fund gives people here in Kansas City access to deals they normally wouldn’t have access to,” said Fallis, managing partner of the fund. “It’s been a fun ride here in Kansas City getting the fund up and running, making investments and getting involved in the startup community.”
Gemperli was previously the CEO of Elecsys Corp., a publically-traded company in Kansas City that was sold for about $70 million to an Omaha-based firm in 2015. Fallis, who was raised in Silicon Valley and retains many connections there, previously served as a regional president for Verizon and as senior vice president for Elecsys.
The fund already has invested in five companies, including two firms in California, and one company each in Boston, Wichita and Kansas City. Most recently, the fund joined a $8.5 million series B round in Kansas City-based Pepper IoT. Fallis said Leawood Venture Capital will focus on disruptive tech firms, including IoT, cloud technologies, SaaS and others.
The fund is launching at a great time and will be able to support Kansas City’s entrepreneurial surge, he added.
“The startup community is incredibly important for job creation and the growth of Kansas City,” Fallis said. “The startup community is coming of age now and it’s fun to participate in.”
Leawood Venture Capital is among several new, area funds focused on investing in startups that have popped up in the last 18 months. Other funds include the KCRise Fund, Firebrand Ventures, Royal Street Ventures and others.
Fallis said he’s experienced an overwhelming amount of support for the fund and that Kansas City’s hospitable, “open-door policy” gives access to many growth opportunities.
“If there’s one thing that’s been the most surprising and fun part is the deal flow that’s here in our backyard,” he said. “There’s a vibrant startup community with a number of great opportunities here — that’s been the most exciting thing for me — to participate in some of the regional deal flow, to hear about all the great things that are happening in Kansas City and to fuel that growth.”