Another fund that will invest in young Wisconsin companies is about to start operating.
Rock River Capital Partners Fund I has been established by the Badger Fund of Funds, Rock River Capital Partners and local investors.
Two Wisconsin natives and UW graduates, Andrew Walker and Christopher Eckstrom, have moved back to Wisconsin from Chicago to start the fund. Walker recently was CEO of a data analytics startup in Chicago that was acquired; Eckstrom had worked for an international investment bank.
Their venture fund will receive $6 million from the Badger Fund and hopes to raise a total of $25 million, said Ken Johnson, a partner in the Badger Fund.
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The idea will be to invest in young companies that are beyond the starting gate and are ready to expand, Johnson said, providing "$1 million and $2 million checks for companies that have been around for one-and-a-half to two years."
Johnson said he would like to see the money go to companies all around Wisconsin. "My preference would be ... somewhere other than Madison. Our proposal to the state was geographical diversity," he said.
This will be the third portfolio fund for the Badger Fund of Funds, which was established in 2015 with $30 million from the state of Wisconsin and other investors. The others, so far, are the Idea Fund of La Crosse and the Winnebago Seed Fund in the Fox Valley. Those two are each trying to raise $10 million to provide smaller allocations to younger startups.