A year after two prominent venture capital firms announced their merger, the consolidated Firebrand Ventures II is officially closed — reaching its $40 million target and having already invested in startups from Detroit, Seattle and Toronto.
“Several years ago we raised our first funds — Boulder-based Blue Note Ventures and Kansas City-based Firebrand Ventures I — because we each saw a huge opportunity to invest in authentic leaders based in emerging startup communities,” said John Fein, managing partner at Firebrand, and Chris Marks, managing director, in a joint statement from the Kansas City firm. “By the time we joined forces in 2020, the ‘work from anywhere’ trend was in full swing and was validation of our approach. In addition to geography, it’s been a top priority to invest in founders who share our core values such as integrity, transparency, and partnership.”
Some of Firebrand I’s notable, previously announced investments include such companies as Kansas City-based Replica and Des Moines’ Dwolla. Other Kansas City investments include Super Dispatch, Zohr and FitBark.
Click here to read more about Replica, one of Startland News’ Kansas City Startups to Watch in 2021. The company announced a $41 million Series B round in April.
Firebrand Ventures’ investment criteria
- Team: Firebrand invests in exceptional teams obsessed with solving a big problem in a better way. Top-notch technical and domain expertise. Strong, authentic leaders capable of attracting world-class talent.
- Location: Firebrand meets founders where they are. There are exceptional companies based all across the US and Canada. The fund focuses on up-and-coming communities that are underserved by venture capital.
- Stage: Firebrand invests between $500,000 and $1 million into seed stage rounds. The fund both leads rounds and co-invests, and takes board seats when appropriate.
- Traction: Firebrand likes to see an early indication of product-market fit, so some revenue traction is strongly preferred.
Source: Firebrand Ventures
Joining Firebrand in the second fund, Leo Morton is taking an advisory board role with the firm following decades in a wide range of engineering, manufacturing, education, financial, and civic leadership positions. He currently is president and chief operating officer of DeBruce Companies, a private investment firm managing a diverse portfolio of private equity and other asset class investments across a broad range of industries, including biotech, energy, manufacturing, technology, and real estate.
Firebrand also announced the opening of a new Austin office, led by a new principal at the firm. Claire Hansen is a leader in the Austin startup community and has worked alongside startups and investors there since 2015, Fein and Marks detailed. She also previously served as the investment director of the Central Texas Angel Network and as the coordinator for Capital Factory’s accelerator program.
“Prior to joining Firebrand, Claire worked for the U.S. Army as a founding member of Army Futures Command’s Corporate Ventures unit,” Fein and Marks said. “There she was not only responsible for deal flow but also introducing and deploying startup diligence strategies among Army stakeholders.
The Austin office gives Firebrand a third presence outside Fein’s office in Kansas City and Marks’ homebase in Boulder. As was the case for the Firebrand I fund, the majority of the limited partners in Firebrand II are based in Kansas City, Fein said.
“The final closing of Firebrand II reflects the trusting relationships we have built with our existing LPs, as well as the track record of success created by our respective first funds,” Fein and Marks said. “Like many successful startups, a venture capital firm’s journey is a long one. While we’re still at the beginning, we’ve been very deliberate about the people we surround ourselves with. We’ll always be attracted to high-integrity, high-EQ people and we hope the feeling is mutual.”