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The Midwest Fund launches, brings The Fund’s innovative investment strategy to a fifth market

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A new investment fund is coming to Midwest cities, and it’s lead by names familiar to the local scenes. The aptly-named Midwest Fund targets early-stage startups from Pittsburgh to Chicago, from Detroit to Cincinnati, and everywhere in between. Unlike traditional venture capital funds, this one gets its funding from successful entrepreneurs looking for ways to reinvest in their regions.

The Midwest Fund was born from The Fund, an NYC-based venture capital group. Founded in 2018 by an all-star cast of Jenny Fielding, Katie Hunt, Adam Carver, and Matthew Brimer, The Fund has since expanded with micro-funds in Los Angeles, London, and the Boulder/Denver region. And with each expansion, local founders and investors are tapped to lead each region.

The Midwest Fund’s founding general partners are familiar names to the Midwest. This includes Ted Serbinski and Tops Kataria of Detroit, Chris Bergman of Cincinnati, Lynsie Campbell of Pittsburgh, Jennifer Fried of Chicago. With this diverse team, The Midwest Fund follows the example set-out by The Fund of having equal gender representation on investment committees.

“The Fund has always set out to have equal gender representation on the investment committee,” said Ted Serbinski, a GP at The Midwest Fund, “and believed that this composition, not an explicit mandate, would lead to more balanced investing. Three years in and across the other geographies, The Fund has invested in over 40 percent female founders. We think the same will be true in The Midwest, and we’re excited to advance this mission.”

The Midwest area has long been a foundry of notable industries and startups, with more popping up every day. Nearly eight years ago, Ted Serbinki, then a partner at Detroit Venture Partners, mapped this area, calling it a diamond with key cities at each point. Now with The Midwest Fund, he’s part of a team ready to write seed-stage checks to young companies.

Serbinski tells TechCrunch this fund is unique to this area because of its speed. He explains the fund intends to invest in two Midwest companies a month for two years, which he believes would make it the most active in the region.

The Midwest Fund’s limited partners come from the local areas in which the fund operates including Chicago’s Amanda Lannert, CEO of Jellyvision, Pittsburgh’s Patrick Colletti, founder of Newthealth, and Cincinnati’s Charlie Key, founder of Losant. Across all six funds ran by The Fund, notable LPs come from Zillow, ClassPass, Soundcloud, Casper, Quartz, and InVision.

Lyron Foster is a Hawaii based African American Musician, Author, Actor, Blogger, Filmmaker, Philanthropist and Multinational Serial Tech Entrepreneur.

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International VC firm Presight Capital raises $350M second fund

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Presight Capital has closed its $350 million second fund only a year and a half after it announced an $80 million first fund. In fact, General Partner Christian Angermayer told me that the fund was raised in just a few weeks, and that it shot past the initial goal of $250 million.

Presight is the international venture arm of Angermayer’s family office Apeiron Investment Group, which has more than $2.5 billion in assets under management. When I spoke to him about Presight’s first fund, he emphasized the firm’s ability to help U.S. startups expand into Europe while navigating the regulatory landscape.

Angermayer told me the strategy remains the same for the second, and he pointed to a couple other key elements to the Presight approach. For one thing, there’s the firm’s co-investing approach: “Sometimes we’re co-leading [the round], but there’s always a partner we work with.” And although Presight has a relatively small investment team — besides Angermayer, there’s General Partner Fabian Hansen and Principal Philipp Schreiber — portfolio companies also have access to the larger Apeiron team (20 full-time employees) and network.

Hansen said that Presight remains sector agnostic in its investments, with a particular interest in biotech and deeptech. It’s already had some big successes in these fields, with an early investment in AI-powered drug discovery platform AbCellera leading to an IPO and Compass Pathways (a company that has patented a synthetic version of psilocybin to treat depression) also going public.

Fabian Hansen

Fabian Hansen

In a LinkedIn post published last fall, Angermayer argued that biotech will be the biggest sector over the next 10 to 20 years, and that the key metric in this field is quality-adjusted life years — the idea being that a year of life at perfect health is worth 1 QALY, death is zero, while life without perfect health is somewhere in between (or could even have a value below zero).

“And here’s the real conclusion: The big winners – besides everyone benefitting from these advances – will be the companies who are PRODUCING QALYs: biotech companies,” Angermayer wrote. And he is open about the fact that he has a personal motive in this: “Put simply, I want to live forever! And in perfect health! And it is my sincere belief that we will achieve the means to do this within the next 20-30 years.”

Hansen added that there’s a “whole generation” of executives at biotech firms who are launching new startups as they realize, “I can start my own company, it’s not that expensive to try out new things, I can raise a venture round.”

According to a source with knowledge of the firm, limited partners in Presight Fund Two include AbCellera founder and CEO Carl Hansen, former Goldman Sachs CFO Martin Chavez, Uma Thurman, Founders Forum co-founder Brent Hoberman, Point72 and the family offices of XING founder Lars Inrich, Nicole Junkermann, Louis Bacon, Alan Howard and Mike Novogratz. Plus, Angermayer himself invested $60 million.

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Have a startup in Miami? Apply to pitch at TechCrunch’s Miami virtual meetup

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TechCrunch is coming to Miami — virtually, at least. On March 11, TechCrunch is hosting a small online event with local venture capitalists, founders, and those curious about the growing ecosystem. There will also be a small pitch-off event where Florida-based startups have three minutes to pitch their companies to Florida-based VCs.

Everyone is welcome to attend the event, but we’re looking for startups based in the Miami region to pitch at this event. TechCrunch has a long history of hosting small pitch-offs and we’re excited to revive this tradition despite the need to do it virtually.

Not in Miami? No worries. We’re spinning up similar events in other regions too. Spoiler: Detroit/Ann Arbor and Pittsburgh are next.

Qualifications

  • Early stage startup (Series A or earlier)
  • Startups based in the Miami region will be given priority
  • Pitch decks are highly recommended
  • Apply for the pitch-off here

The event is online and free, but space is limited. Register early. We hope you can make it.

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$100 million for mealworms

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Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numberhttps://twitter.com/cgates123s behind the headlines.

This is our Wednesday show, where we niche down and focus on a single topic, or theme. This week we’re talking agtech, a surprisingly cool bit of the technology startup world. But Chris and Danny and Natasha and Alex were not alone in their quest to take a look into agtech, we brought alone TechCrunch climate editor Jon Shieber for the ride.

With his help we got through a number of pretty damn interesting things, including:

And that’s that! We’re back on Friday with our long-form, newsy episode. Thanks to everyone checking out our newest show. Oh, and don’t forget about TechCrunch Early Stage and TechCrunch Justice. They are going to rock.

Equity drops every Monday at 7:00 a.m. PST, Wednesday, and Friday morning at 7:00 a.m. PST, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercastSpotify and all the casts.

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