By Samantha Ginther, fund associate, IU Ventures
As we prepare this week for our second annual meeting of the Indiana University Philanthropic Venture Fund, we’re taking the opportunity to reflect on the brief history of the fund and the IU legacy that supports it.
Before the IU Philanthropic Venture Fund launched in March 2018, it was an (ad)venture that none of our team members could have predicted they would be part of. Founding fund manager Teri Willey felt the pull from New York City to join the efforts to establish the fund because of her affinity to Indiana, helping startup companies and locating near family. Jason Whitney was already part of the IU Ventures team, managing strategic partnerships for the organization. His relationships and experience in the startup ecosystem quickly filled the funnel of opportunities for the fund to consider. I found myself seeking a new career path in Bloomington and was fortunate enough to join the team — and immediately began drinking from the fire hose.
Fast-forward two years, and we have a lot to look back on. We brought on Katherine Moynihan, a cell biologist and licensing expert previously with the IU Innovation and Commercialization Office, to lead our due diligence efforts. IU Ventures’ CEO Tony Armstrong and CFO Mike Burton have both been steadfast in continuing operations throughout the changes our organization has seen.
Since 2018, we’ve looked at more than 250 IU-related opportunities, and we’ve made 17 investments totaling $6.27 million. Our portfolio companies have raised $49.8 million from other investors in syndicated rounds with our fund. And we have been nominated for the second year in a row as Investor of the Year in TechPoint’s Mira Awards.
As an organization, we rebranded from IURTC — IU Research and Technology Corporation — to IU Ventures, in order to more accurately give our stakeholders a sense of the work we do. We also inherited the portfolio from the Innovate Indiana Fund that was launched in 2010. Most recently, we launched the IU Angel Network, led by Jason; onboarded our first cohort of angels; and hosted our first company pitch in mid-February.
All our efforts have been accomplished through the support of our IU Ventures investment committee, a subset of our board that volunteers their time, energy and expertise to help ensure we are making smart investment decisions. We’re grateful for a partnership with the IU Foundation and for its expert team helping us formulate our fundraising plan and achieve our objectives as part of the IU Bicentennial Campaign.
As we look to the rest of 2020 and beyond, our focus for the IU Philanthropic Venture Fund is to manage our current portfolios for success and grow the fund through equity realizations and donations from supporters of IU who care deeply about ensuring the availability of a perpetual resource to support IU venture founders. We look forward to celebrating the second anniversary of the IU Philanthropic Venture Fund on Feb. 20 with our portfolio companies, syndicate partners and fellow supporters of IU.