Milwaukee 7 Venture Capital Fund announces first loans to local start-up firms

Published Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Milwaukee 7 Economic Development Partnership has announced the first round of loans to be awarded from its new Venture Capital Fund. The $1 million fund – supported with a $500,000 grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation’s Capital Catalyst Program that is matched by the Milwaukee Economic Development Corp. – provides loans and grants to early and growth stage companies. The fund targets seed-stage ventures in advanced manufacturing and other technology sectors, including graduates of local accelerator programs such as The BREW, WERCBench Labs, FaBCAP and Gener8tor.

The fund provides additional capital to emerging companies and second-stage start-ups in southeast Wisconsin for activities leading to investment readiness or revenue generation. The capital is intended to help companies achieve measurable business development milestones, such as feasibility assessments, product development and market validation.

Four companies were awarded funding in the first round, totaling $385,000 in loans and $90,000 in grants. The companies are:

  • Securus Data Centers, Milwaukee, WI, provides data center technologies within the rapidly growing outsourced data center market to businesses in Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota. 
  • Okanjo Partners, Milwaukee, WI, offers e-commerce tools for brands and digital publishers that enhance content, increase audience engagement and drive new revenue.
  • Cata LLC, Milwaukee, WI, creator of HaloVino shatterproof plastic wine tumblers that are uniquely shaped to reduce spills, optimize smell and taste, and can be used when glass isn’t permitted.
  • The MINI Classy, Cudahy, WI, a high-end children’s fashion clothing line, that has recently expanded its distribution to include Nordstrom. 

“We saw a need to directly support high-potential firms that have a great idea and are in the process of developing their product or taking it to market, but may need some additional funds to take the next step,” said Pat O’Brien, executive director of the Milwaukee 7. “These loans and grants will help position the companies for additional investment.”

Applications are now being accepted for a second round of funding to be awarded in 2018. The deadline for southeast Wisconsin companies to apply is February 16, 2018. Loans are made in amounts ranging from $50,000-$125,000. Examples of eligible uses include, but are not limited to: product development or market validation to secure investor funding, new equipment or marketing and sales assistance.  Companies selected will have a strong potential for follow-on funding and growth. The Milwaukee Economic Development Corp. is administering the fund on behalf of the Milwaukee 7.

For more information on the Milwaukee 7 Venture Fund, or to apply for funding, please visit http://mke7.com/Venture-Capital

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