VC firms land government funding

State officials are directing federal funds toward venture capital firms they hope can jumpstart early-stage tech companies in Pennsylvania.

  • The firms are Allegheny County-based BTVC Fund I LLP, which is receiving $1.5 million, and Atlanta-based Metallum Ventures LP, which is getting $2.25 million.
  • The funding, announced yesterday, comes from the State Small Business Credit Initiative, a federal program that is doling out millions of dollars in Pennsylvania.
  • The money is passing through the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority and the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.

What are the firms: BTVC is linked to BlueTree Venture Fund, a Pittsburgh-area investment firm led by general partners and early-stage investors Catherine Mott and Sreekar Gadde.

  • Mott is a former chair of the U.S. Angel Capital Association and is an adviser to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
  • Gadde is an attorney with experience in intellectual property law.
  • Metallum is a relatively new arm of Bronze Valley Corp., a community development financial institution based in Birmingham, Alabama
  • While the organization is based in the Southeast, it has ties to Pennsylvania.

Like what: Bronze Valley principal Anthony Abney is a veteran of the startup scene in Philadelphia.

  • In 2019, he founded a company called Gift Diapers, a crowdfunded diaper-delivery service based in the city.
  • He worked previously for Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern PennsylvaniaThe Enterprise Center in West Philadelphia and mutual fund giant Vanguard.
  • And at least one of Bronze Valley’s portfolio companies is based in the City of Brotherly Love.
  • That would be PeopleJoy, an employee benefits business that provides tools to reduce student debt.

What’s the thesis: A term used to describe the investment focus of a venture capital firm.

  • BlueTree invests in machine learning, big data and other technologies, with a concentration on startups in the so-called Rust Belt.
  • its portfolio includes ERIN, a Pittsburgh-based employee-referral software platform, and Instant Teams, which helps employers connect with military spouses seeking work.
  • Bronze Valley has invested in diverse and under-represented entrepreneurs across the U.S.
  • Its portfolio includes GRIND, a Houston startup that markets portable shooting machines for amateur basketball players, and Acclinate, an Alabama-based company that educates and engages diverse individuals so they can make informed decisions about genomic research and clinical-trial participation.

The background: Pennsylvania is on track to receive around $268 million through the State Small Business Credit Initiative, a program launched in the wake of the Great Recession of 2008-09 but rebooted for an economy still recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic.


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