Gateway Capital’s fund manager Dana Guthrie raised $12.5 million less than a year after she began raising capital for the Milwaukee-based venture fund.
The Gateway fund is one of Wisconsin’s five Badger Fund of Funds, an 8-year-old venture capital program designed to invest in Wisconsin-based startups.
Guthrie’s Gateway Capital Fund is designed to invest in pre-revenue startups in the Greater Milwaukee area over a 4-year period. The fund plans to make its first investment in a Wisconsin-based startup this month, Guthrie said.
During her eight-month fundraise, Guthrie spoke with hundreds of investors and while most chose not to back her fund, she exceeded her target fundraise by $4.5 million with the investors who did.
It’s difficult for any first-time fund manager to raise capital without prior experience or a dataset that illustrates financial returns generated from investments. For most first-time fund managers, investors base their decision on character and prior successes, which was the case for Guthrie.
Guthrie moved to Milwaukee from St. Louis in 2006 after she was recruited to play basketball for the Milwaukee School of Engineering – the university noticed Guthrie, a point guard for the St. Louis Sparks, at an Amateur Athletic Union tournament in Chicago.
Guthrie earned a computer engineering degree at MSOE and later earned her master’s in science in Energy Engineering from the University of Illinois-Chicago. She has since led a 12-year career in software product development at Johnson Controls before founding her own angel investment network, Milwaukee-based Alchemy Angel Investors.
In addition to being a first-time manager, Guthrie also faced the challenge of raising capital in Milwaukee’s VC ecosystem, which has proven to be a difficult landscape for first-time fund managers to raise capital.
The Badger Fund previously backed two first-time fund managers with Milwaukee-centric funds, however, both were decommissioned after their managers failed to raise enough capital. One fund did not raise any capital while the other was unable to attract a single investment from an academic institution, corporate entity, individual investor, or family office based in Milwaukee.