Big day for Chicago tech as Origin Ventures closes $80M fund

Written by Andreas Rekdal
Published on Apr. 27, 2017
Big day for Chicago tech as Origin Ventures closes $80M fund

On Thursday, Origin Ventures announced the closing of its fourth venture capital fund with $80 million in funding. The new fund brings Origin’s total assets under management to more than $135 million.

“Getting to fund four is a big accomplishment, and we’re pretty excited about that and humbled that we have made it this far,” said partner Jason Heltzer.

The newest fund is more than double the size of its previous fund, which launched in 2013.

Founded in 1999, Origin focuses primarily on Series A investments in software, marketplace and content startups. Its portfolio includes companies like Grubhub and Avant.

“The companies we invest in tend to have built a product with some initial product market fit, revenue and customers we can talk to to really understand the value of that product,” said Heltzer. “We’ve backed a wide variety of entrepreneurs. [Grubhub’s founders] were first-time entrepreneurs but we’ve backed some very experienced managers as well.”

Headquartered in Chicago, Origin has investments all over the country. Heltzer said the fund is open to investing in Canada as well, should the right deal come along. Origin is also opening a Salt Lake City office in conjunction with the new fund’s launch.

The fourth fund has five portfolio companies to date, including Chicago companies Tock, Tovala and Avant.

Tock provides reservations and operations software for some of the world’s most popular restaurants, including Chicago establishments like Alinea and the Aviary. Tovala, which graduated from Y Combinator in 2016, is the maker of a cloud-connected tabletop appliance that will be paired with a fresh food delivery service.

Heltzer said Origin is also expanding the reach of its Origin Ventures Network collaboration platform to include all of its portfolio companies. OVeN, which originally launched in 2015, gives companies access to a portfolio-wide chat platform, online roundtables for employees in similar roles at different companies and benchmarking data.

Although its partners have more than 60 years of startup experience between them, Heltzer said, Origin wanted to give its portfolio companies more opportunities to tap into each other’s resources as well.

“We have a lot of questions that get broadcast to our entire portfolio,” said Heltzer. “Because we have a lot of portfolio companies, they are able to help out others in the family. Our plan is to continue to build that out… We’d also like to do more to bring customers to our portfolio companies beyond what we’re already doing today.”

Origin prefers to lead its investments, and typically writes checks between $1 million and $3 million. Although the fund typically invests at the Series A stage, Heltzer said it also invests in earlier-stage companies from time to time.

Having made five investments with the new fund already, Origin is actively looking for new portfolio companies.

Image via Origin Ventures.

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