520 Neil, the new office space for Serra Ventures’ is scheduled to open in June of 2018. Being called the “Gateway to Downtown” Champaign, the five story building will have Serra as its anchor tenant on the top floor, with luxury apartment, retail and restaurant space on lower floors. 

"Part of the Neil Street Corridor plan suggests trying to establish the feel of entering downtown at Neil and Columbia rather than Neil and Washington," Bruce Knight, the city's planning and development director said. "This building starts to define that gateway into downtown and is very consistent with that Neil Street Corridor study."

"This new location will quite literally enable a new level of effectiveness and service to our portfolio companies and investors," said Tim Hoerr, CEO of Serra Ventures, when the project was announced.


Serra and Agrible Featured in Champaign News-Gazette

Nutrien, one of the world's largest agriculture companies is buying Champaign startup and Serra Capital II company Agrible for $63 million. 

Agrible originated in the Research Park at the University of Illinois and has plans to stay there in the future. Director Laura Frerichs said the purchase shows the strength of the local investing community, "This is a local success story for a tech ecosystem that included early-stage incubator assistance and investors from the local community."

Frerichs compared the purchase to when Sony bought biotech firm iCyt in 2010, which provided a nice payday for its CEO, Tim Hoerr, and one of its investors, Dennis Beard. This allowed Hoerr, Beard and others to form Serra Ventures, one of the lead investors in Agrible.

Serra is proud to have been the lead investor in Agrible's Seed round in 2014. 


Serra II Company Agrible to be Acquired by Nutrien Ltd

Serra Ventures is very pleased to announce that Nutrien Ltd has reached an agreement to acquire Agrible Inc., a Serra Capital II portfolio company. You can find Nutrien’s full press release on the deal here.

Serra was Agrible’s first institutional investor, leading the Seed round in April 2014. Agriblesupplies actionable predictive analytics tools to growers all across the United States and provides global ag data and support in several countries. Nutrien is the world's largest provider of crop inputs and services, playing a critical role in helping growers increase food production in a sustainable manner.

Midwest Venture Capital is on the Rise; Serra Ventures Mentioned in ChicagoInno

In recent years, the Midwest region has seen continuous growth in Venture Capital formation. While VC seems to be dropping off in some of the more popular areas, Midwest VC is thriving. Numerous VC funds are continuing to be launched, many of which are micro-vc funds, like Serra Ventures. 


Serra Capital Invests in Madison-Based Asto CT

Serra Capital has invested in its 12th company - Asto CT, LLC, of Madison, WI. Asto CT is the developerof Equina™, a novel multi-slice computed tomography (CT) system to image the limbs of standing horses. Serra is participating in the company’s $1.5M round with an initial commitment of $250,000. Asto CT plans to do a Series A preferred round later in 2017.
David Ergun, CEO of Asto CT says, “Asto CT is thrilled to have Serra Ventures as an investor. This is another huge step towards our goal of bringing safe, affordable CT imaging to the equine veterinary community.”
“The Serra team is very excited to be investing with the Asto CT team. We are excited about what they have built and with the reaction from the equine marketplace. We look forward to assisting the management team as they build this company” said Dennis Beard, a Managing Partner at Serra Ventures.

Serra Ventures CEO Tim Hoerr Featured on Expedition Midwest

Tim Hoerr, CEO and Managing Partner with Serra Ventures, did an interview with Expedition Midwest on April 28. The article outlined Tim's past and what led him to found Serra, as well as what involvement he has in the Midwest ecosystem. Tim shared a few economic factors that make investing in the Midwest favorable. "Deals tend to be more economically priced in the Midwest", he says, "with a capital imbalance currently standing as a major driver of financing activity in the twelve-state area."

Expedition Midwest was developed to document the entrepreneurial ecosystem of the Midwest's twelve-state region.




Serra Adds John Giuliani and Karin O'Connor as Venture Partners

In the first quarter of 2017, Serra announced two new additions to the team - John Giuliani and Karin O'Connor, 

John Giuliani joined the Serra team as a Venture Partner in February. In addition to taking the helm of Dotomi and building the company until it was sold for $295 million, John most recently led Conversant to significant growth and an exit to Alliance Data in December, 2014 for $2.3 Billion. John comes to Serra Ventures with over 30 years of experience helping and growing successful businesses. He is a Champaign County nativewho presently resides in Las Vegas, NV. 

Serra added Karin O’Connor to the team as a VenturePartner in March. Karin O’Connor is founder of Chicago-based Perimeter Advisors, an advisory firm that assists owners of promising mid-market companies with planning and execution of value enhancement strategies.  She is also an active investor in and advisor to early- and growth-stage companies and entrepreneurs. Serra partners have known and worked with Karin for over 10 years. With the addition of Karin, Serra is expanding its presence in the Chicago market where it has nine portfolio companies. 

“These three exceptional additions make Serra Ventures much stronger. Our reach is broadening and our strength is deepening,” commented Dennis Beard, Managing Partner. 

Serra Colleagues and Clients Recognized at Innovation Celebration

March 3 marked the 12th annual Innovation Celebration, an annual awards ceremony that provides recognition for individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions, taken risks, and provided leadership to ensure the continuing economic success of Champaign County. Serra had several colleagues and clients among the winners and nominees this year. 

Reconstruct, a Serra III portfolio company, was a finalist for the Entrepreneurial Excellence: New Venture Award. Sanjay Patel, an advisor with Serra Ventures, was a finalist for the Entrepreneurial Excellence: Management Award. Coattails, LLC, an investor with Serra, was a finalist for the Entrepreneurial Excellence: Paul Magelli Advocacy Award. Litania, a client of Serra Ventures, was the winner of the Innovation: Longevity Award. David Hodge, a Venture Partner with Serra, is also the Owner, President and CEO of Litania. 

Serra has been a long time sponsor of Innovation Celebration, and each of the Serra partners has been a recipient of an award at the event in years past. Tim Hoerr was the recipient of the Excellence in Management Award, Dennis Beard was the recipient of the Advocacy Award, and Rob Schultz was the recipient of the Economic Development Impact award.

See the link below for a full list of winners from this years Innovation Celebration.

Steve Beck Joins Serra Capital as General Partner

California native Steve Beck has been named a General Partner in Serra Ventures, LLC. After working informally with the Serra team for several years, Steve joined Serra Ventures as a Venture Partner in January of 2016. Now named a General Partner, Mr. Beck will emphasize developing Serra Capital’s reach and influence in selected West Coast geographies. 

Steve is a passionate entrepreneur and technology investor with over 25 years of experience both launching and guiding start-up companies. Throughout Steve’s entrepreneurial and technology investing career, he has participated in two IPOs: Baidu (Nasdaq:BIDU) and Lifelock (Nasdaq:LOCK), and he has transacted five public and five private company sales.

Tim Hoerr, CEO and Managing Partner of Serra Ventures remarked, “Steve not only brings depth of expertise and unique real-world experience in the tech start-up space, but he does so with a rare sense of humility and grace. He is an exceptional person and a great cultural fit with the Serra team. We could not be more proud to name him a GP.”

Steve Beck commented, “At this juncture in my career, I only have interest in working with the best people on opportunities that add true value. Serra has formed an excellent team, strategy and ethos to produce exceptional value to its investors, portfolio companies and their customers by supporting the underserved markets of the Midwest and other key selected regions. I’m honored to be a part of the effort.”


Serra Capital III Invests In Its 10th Company

Serra Capital III announced on December 5 that it had made its 10th investment in Cincinnati based company Spatial. Spatial has raised $2.1 Million in seed funding, with Serra Ventures leading the round. They were joined by Connetic Ventures, M25 Group, Fulcrum, Caerus Investment Partners and several angel investors.

Spatial is a social intelligence company that allows its users to navigate a city like a local. Spatial’s artificial intelligence software aggregates unstructured social data across hundreds of cities in real time.

Rob Schultz, Managing Partner with Serra, enthused "Serra Ventures is thrilled to partner with the Spatial team. Billions of people interact with maps across multiple devices everyday. Bringing social context to maps using Spatial’s patent pending technology will improve map usability in many industries including travel, real estate and automotive."


Tim Hoerr Featured in Champaign News-Gazette

Tim Hoerr, CEO of Serra Ventures, was the featured "High Tech Difference Maker" in the Champaign News-Gazette Business section on Sunday, May 29. Each Sunday, staff writer Paul Wood spotlights a different entrepreneur or individual working in the high-tech space.  

The feature was a Q & A session which included information about Tim's early career, the books he's authored, how he ended up founding Serra Ventures - and why here in Champaign, Illinois. 


Serra Ventures Featured in St. Louis Business Journal

Serra Ventures had an exciting week of press for Serra Capital III, first with a feature in the Chicago Tribune on May 13, and then again in the St. Louis Business Journal on May 16. 

The May 16 article highlighted the fund's target size and amount of investments, and also included short descriptions of the Serra Capital I and II's St. Louis based companies Label Insight, Adarza Biosystems, Techli, and Tunespeak. 

Serra III intends to continue investing in the Midwest region. Tim Hoerr, Managing Partner of Serra, told the Chicago Tribune “The Midwest is the ripest ground for new tech innovation right now because it’s an emerging market. A lot of the capital in Chicago doesn’t stay here, and it should.”


Serra Ventures Featured in Chicago Tribune

The Chicago Tribune featured Serra Capital III on May 13. The article outlined Serra's third fund, including the goals to raise triple the amount of its second fund, and invest in 40-50 companies.

Serra Ventures officially started raising for Serra III in January and so far has secured more than $13 million. Serra has also already invested in three companies, two of those are based on the West Coast, but most of the other companies under consideration are based in the Midwest.


1WorldSync and Label Insight Partner with Joint SmartLabel ™ Solution

Label Insight, a Serra Capital II portfolio company, announced that it has partnered with 1WorldSync to provide the industry's most complete solution to help brands meet consumer demand for transparency of food information through the SmartLabel initiative. 

1WorldSync is the leading multi-enterprise product information network. Label Insight is a cloud-based product data engine committed to helping brands and retailers unlock the value of their product data. The joint SmartLabel TM solution brings together Label Insight's ability to enable data generation, transformation and enrichment with 1WorldSync's powerful platform for executing complex data governance strategies and disseminating product information globally. Combining these assets, 1WorldSync and Label Insight deliver an unparalleled SmartLabel solution with the most powerful tools available for freely sharing detailed product information with today's connected consumers.


Serra Capital II Invests In Its 25th Company

In the month of April, Serra Capital II has invested in three new companies, OceanComm, Personify, and Nanomedical Diagnostics. The Serra Capital II portfolio now totals 25 companies.

Tim Hoerr, managing partner of Serra II, enthuse “The Serra Capital team is pleased to support three distinctive companies, each representing a unique opportunity for our Fund.  Personify has been a Serra Capital I company for several years.  They are bringing cutting edge telepresence technology to the market and have made tremendous progres.  Nanomedical Diagnostics is developing exceptional diagnostic tools with an initial focus on Lyme disease. And OceanComm represents an emerging communications technology developed by a seasoned team with both research and commercialization experience.  All three of these opportunities exemplify the characteristics that Serra Capital seeks as we build a portfolio to produce exceptional investor returns.”

Venture Capital Heating Up In Illinois

Venture Capital in the state of Illinois is heating up according to CB Insights, claiming nearly $7.5B has been invested in more than 1000 deals since 2009. Chicago leads the pack in terms of dollars invested and the amount of deals, with Champaign-Urbana coming in second. Serra Ventures was also named among the most active investors in Illinois.


Serra Capital Companies Part of Next Great Frontier of Location Based Mobile Marketing

LISNR and Earshot, both Serra Capital II portfolio companies, are making headlines as they prove that location based mobile marketing is heating up. Each company has a unique approach to the age old problem of helping brands reach their customers at the right place at the right time.

As the name implies, location-based marketing focuses on marketing to consumers of a particular geographic area through their mobile devices (smartphones, tablets, etc.) A new door is being opened for brands to connect in relevant, contextual ways with consumers to win their trust. Conversations on social media showcase the authenticity and personalization of a brand and lead to lifelong customers and new forms of earned media we haven’t seen before.

According to the Pew Institute, 74% of adult smartphone owners ages 18 and older say they use their phone to get directions or other information based on their current location. Use of a geolocation feature is more than a nice-to-have option on a smartphone or tablet — its use has become a routine part of a consumer’s daily life.

LISNR’s new app that debuted on August 25 on iOS and Android uses an “ultrasonic smart tone” to generate content recommendations based on audio activity picked up by any nearby speaker such as a phone, TV, car stereo, sporting event, music venue, supermarket or movie theater. For an example, you’re listening to a Drake song on the radio. LISNR may serve you an article from content partner Complex about the Toronto rapper or one of his affiliated acts, as well an ad from the company’s early brand partners like Mondelez, AT&T and Budweiser.

Similarly, Earshot monitors the social web for clues that help local marketers.  Their technology combines real-time location data, profile details of the user, and filters in the post itself to inform clients which posts to engage to optimize chances of conversion depending on the goals of the client. For example, a client can use Earshot to manage and filter out tweets that are the most relevant to them and respond accordingly.

Location based marketing is one of the next great frontiers in marketing.  As such, both companies have also received attention from the press.  LISNR has recently been featured on Forbes, Billboard, and AVNetwork. Earshot has been featured on CNBC and Techcrunch.

Serra Capital II Featured in News-Gazette

Serra Capital II had a spotlight feature in the Champaign News-Gazette on Sunday, January 5.  The article detailed the launch of Serra Capital II and several companies being evaluated for potential investment.  Additionally, the article provided updates on five companies in Serra Capital I that are farthest along in the commercialization process.


Serra Capital Has First Liquidity Event

Serra Capital had its first liquidity event of its 24 portfolio companies this past week.  Serra Capital portfolio company Infochimps was sold to Computer Sciences Corporation on August 5, 2013.  Earlier in 2013, Infochimps acquired the assets of Caterva, Inc, the company in which Serra Capital originally invested. Caterva was created to develop a real-time social marketing platform with specialized data mining algorithms. Infochimps is a company offering unique “big data” management capabilities.

Serra’s limited partners received a positive return on their investment. Tim Hoerr, Managing Partner of Serra Capital said, “Serra Capital is pleased to experience our first portfolio company exit with the Infochimps acquisition.  With the fund less than three years old, it is exciting to see a positive return on our first liquidity event.”