By Samantha Ginther, senior associate, IU Ventures
Last Thursday, IU Ventures celebrated as Elevate Ventures was named Investor of the Year at the virtual TechPoint Mira Awards. Our team feels grateful to be nominated alongside Elevate and so many other investors whom we greatly respect and often collaborate with as we strive to achieve our mission.
Our mission was honed in 2019 when the Indiana University Research and Technology Corp. rebranded to IU Ventures. That mission is to further innovation and entrepreneurship among IU students, alumni and faculty by providing founders with funding opportunities and startup resources.
A recent highlight of our growth is the launch of the IU Angel Network, which currently has more than 20 IU alumni, parents, faculty members and other supporters. Members of the network actively review deals and invest in high-potential companies with IU affiliations.
Achieving our mission requires a heavy lift from our team, including connecting with founders, mentors and experts across industries, and conducting due diligence to determine which companies we should consider for investment. Since 2019, IU Ventures leadership has met with nearly 300 companies led by IU alumni or faculty around the country. Through our management of the IU Philanthropic Venture Fund, we have made 18 investments — including 16 based in Indiana — totaling more than $7 million. Our portfolio companies successfully operate in a wide variety of sectors, including health care communications, environmental compliance, pharmaceuticals and educational operations. Doxly, one of our portfolio companies, successfully exited our portfolio when it was acquired by Litera Microsystems in 2019. The returns from our investment allowed us to invest in more IU affiliated companies because of the evergreen nature of the IU Philanthropic Venture Fund.
We don’t invest in a vacuum, either. Syndication, or co-investing to complete one or more rounds of financing, is vital to our success in propelling forward the companies we invest in. Through syndication, our portfolio companies have raised more than $50 million in funding. And members of the IU Angel Network have watched six live pitches in 2020 and have invested or committed to invest in three of those six companies. The network announced its first portfolio company, Recess, just a month ago.
As IU Ventures looks beyond 2020, we aim to continue serving as a trusted resource for IU entrepreneurs and innovators who seek to commercialize their ideas through new companies. We believe in and support Black Lives Matter and we recognize the obvious lack of diversity within the venture capital industry. We are committed to elevating Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) within our team, portfolio, and industry. While the COVID-19 pandemic has affected nearly every life and industry, we are confident that our efforts to support our portfolio companies and other IU founders have made a difference, and we are proud to see so many of our company leaders and their teams take action to help others during this challenging season.