Our Approach

Serra Ventures is an early stage venture capital firm investing in technology companies in emerging Midwest technology centers and selected West Coast markets that are underserved. Sectors we focus on include information technology, devices/instrumentation and agricultural technologies. 

The profile of our ideal startup is one that has just finished an accelerator program, an I-Corps program or has been through a round of seed funding to establish and prove a strong product-market fit.  We fund startups with the following characteristics.

  • Teams that have strong industry and/or technical experience.
  • A capital efficient business model.
  • Demonstrated product-market fit.
  • Referenceable customer base.
  • Strong patent or technology advantage.

Our roots – and main office -- are in Champaign, Illinois, home to the world class University of Illinois. Champaign has developed a strong, mid-tier, technology commercialization “ecosystem” over the last three decades due in large part to the University’s exceptional commitment to economic development. Expansion in recent years has resulted in opening Serra offices in Chicago and San Diego, both critical nexus points where Serra has a number of portfolio companies.   

Why The Midwest AND Underserved west coast?

The Serra Ventures’ partners have been active in the Midwest venture environment and West Coast markets for over three decades. Along the way, we’ve actively participated in and been witnesses to tremendous change. We believe “Midwest and underserved West Coast technology hubs” will produce unique venture investment opportunities over the next ten to twenty years. Unique and sustainable entrepreneurial infrastructures have been established in several markets and are now ready to support sustained growth.  Our investment thesis is based on the following observations:

  • Major Midwest and West Coast research universities now have mature technology transfer offices and established incubators; 
  • Accelerators, incubators and entrepreneurial educational programs like the National Science Foundation I-Corps are assisting entrepreneurs in the earliest stages, creating more attractive investment opportunities for ventures investors;
  • Research parks have matured and are attracting numerous Fortune 500 companies;
  • Established seed investment vehicles are more abundant for start-up companies than ever before; and
  • As a general rule, coastal venture firms are still averse to investing in the Midwest and to a great extent, in West Coast markets outside Silicon Valley.

Midwest and non-Silicon Valley venture deals have grown considerably in the last ten years, yet the amount of venture capital deployed to these geographies trails far behind the amount of quality deal flow being generated. With a fundamental mismatch between significant opportunity and funding, Serra Ventures is primed to bridge the gap.We truly do operate at the intersection of exceptional investment opportunities, favorable deal economics and a cost-advantaged growth environment. 

serra adds Value Beyond Capital

When entrepreneurs select a venture firm to partner with their companies, it’s essential to find a firm that adds value beyond writing the check. We are proud of our team’s track record of coming alongside portfolio company CEOs to assist them in a variety of meaningful ways. 

“Serra was the only venture capital firm in Chicago that understood the impact 640 Labs could have in the agriculture industry. More than just capital, Serra helped us navigate our sale to Monsanto.” 

– Corbett Kull, CEO, 640 Labs

“Serra was a partner to Clearstream from seed to harvest. They brought in additional capital, helped us think through our strategy and ultimately helped us find our exit partner.” 

– Brian Mandelbaum, CEO, Clearstream

“Serra’s experience in commercializing medical instrumentation has been invaluable. Having an investor that has also run a business before brings reality to the board room.” 

– Andrew Cittadine, CEO, Diagnostic Photonics 

“Establishing distribution relationships with corporate partners is important in the agricultural industry. Serra was instrumental in helping us structure a win-win deal that brought in new capital and a channel to reach small farms.” 

– Chris Harbourt, Co-founder, Agrible

 

Info


Tel: 217.819.5200
Fax: 217.819.5205

2021 South First Street
Suite 206
Champaign IL 61820

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