SmartForest Ventures Launches First FundImpressive Array of Limited Partners to Help Build Companies, including Madrona and IBM
September 8, 2001 (Portland, OR) - SmartForest Ventures announced today the launch of its first seed-stage venture capital fund and a move into its new offices. The managing partners, Debi Coleman and Hugh Mackworth, will use their new fund coupled with active coaching in a business accelerator to help create the next generation of the Pacific Northwest's fast-growth, high-tech companies.
When originally announced as Rainy Day Ventures, SmartForest Ventures planned to raise $15 million, but was quickly over-subscribed and now expects to raise a total of $25M. SmartForest is in the final stages of the Small Business Administration's Small Business Investment Corporation (SBIC) licensing process, which will result in an available investment pool of $75M total.
“The fund-raising went much more quickly than we expected; we've been gratified by the investment community's reaction to our new fund. We're excited to actually start investing and helping grow companies,” said Coleman.
Added-Value Limited Partners
The new fund has 44 limited partners, ranging from experienced individual investors to the world's largest computer company, including many prominent high-tech investors, both local and across the country. For example, Ken Harrison, the former chairman of Portland General Electric , has invested and joined as an advisor to SmartForest. Many of these investors will be quite active both in bringing deals to SmartForest and then in helping the portfolio companies.
“Our goal in creating SmartForest was to create a swirl of entrepreneurial energy that will benefit our portfolio companies. While certainly not required to work with our investors, the companies can benefit from this invaluable network of experience and resources,” said Mackworth. “For example, one investor is CRESA Partners, a real-estate firm with an exclusive focus on the needs of the high-tech client; they can help our new companies plan their facilities needs, even before they are out looking for space.”
Two significant limited partners are IBM Corporation and Madrona Venture Group of Seattle.
“IBM has been building relationships with emerging NetGen companies, providing attractive financing, hosting services, and other programs,” said Richard Birney, the vice president of Venture investment for IBM Corporation. SmartForest has put together an exciting new approach to creating companies that we are pleased to be a part of, and we look forward to helping its companies succeed.”
Madrona Venture Group (www.madrona.com) is an $250M early-stage venture capital firm focused on the Internet economy in the Northwest, including early-stage investments such as Amazon.com, Etrieve, Nimble Technology and Terabeam. They will work closely with SmartForest in joint and follow-on funding of Portland-area high tech start-ups. Will Glasgow, Madrona Managing Director, is based in Portland and also will become an advisor to SmartForest. “Madrona's investment in SmartForest reflects our commitment to entrepreneurs at a very early-stage. SmartForest will provide a combination of seed capital in the hands of experienced senior operations professionals, which should lead to important new companies in Portland,” said Glasgow.
SmartForest also announced that it is moving into its permanent home for its new incubator/accelerator space, taking over Bidwell & Company's former headquarters in the old Police Headquarter building at 2nd and Stark in downtown Portland. “The space is ideal for us and our portfolio companies: flexible layout for multiple companies, very creative architecture, lots of light, tall ceilings, excellent network infrastructure,” says Mackworth.
About SmartForest Ventures
As a combined early-stage venture capital fund and accelerator, SmartForest will provide an integrated model for nurturing the ideas of innovative, high-tech entrepreneurs in the Pacific Northwest. Based in Portland, Ore., it will concentrate on developing leading-edge companies at the formative stages by providing capital, expertise, and mentoring. SmartForest will focus on technology companies in fields such as information technology, telecommunications and semiconductor design, as well as technology-enabled companies that see technological discontinuities as opportunities to revolutionize their industries. The partners, Debi Coleman and Hugh Mackworth, have extensive experience with high tech companies as executives, CEOs, and investors. They first met while working together at Apple Computer in the early 1980s, and have co-invested in many companies since then.