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By Teddy Nykiel

Milwaukee venture capital firm VC 414 has hit the ground running since launching earlier this year.

The women-led firm has backed four startups to date, including recently announced investments in Southern California-based workplace productivity startup SocialCrowd and Virginia-based beauty products app Brandefy.

“We’ve had a lot of deal flow,” VC 414 co-founder and managing partner Jennifer Abele said. “When it comes right down to it, you kind of know where you can add value.”

The new venture firm has made a splash in Wisconsin’s startup ecosystem, which lags behind other Midwest states in terms of the amount of venture funding local companies raise.

A partnership between Abele and her longtime friend and colleague Raquel Filmanowicz, VC 414 is focused on double-bottom-line investing as it looks to back early-stage companies founded by women and other undercapitalized founders. It invests in companies nationwide and has so far backed at least one Milwaukee-based startup.

VC 414 invested in Brandefy in early January, marking the firm’s first-ever investment. It announced the news earlier this month on LinkedIn. The startup’s CEO Meg Pryde founded the company while earning her MBA at the University of Virginia and has raised around $4 million to date, Richmond Inno reported in February.

SocialCrowd, which brands itself as a “digital Fitbit for work,” announced Monday that VC 414 led its $550,000 pre-seed funding round. Co-founded and led by Raphael Akinsipe, the startup is building a platform that automatically tracks employees’ progress toward goals, reminds them about uncompleted tasks and rewards them for completed goals.

VC 414 previously led another startup’s funding round but it hasn’t yet disclosed that investment, Abele said.

Earlier this year, VC 414 invested in a $2.2 million seed round for EVEN, a Milwaukee-based music startup led by Enrique “Mag” Rodriguez that’s leveraging blockchain technology. The round was led by CSA Partners, a Milwaukee venture capital firm co-managed by former Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, who is Jennifer’s husband.


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