By Thomas Heath | September 7, 2014
Two Washington entrepreneurs with a history of building successful companies have teamed with a local businessman to start a venture capital fund focused on seed stage companies focused on applications that run on mobile devices.
The fund, called Kiwi Venture Partners I , has raised $2.5 million from 24 limited partners, including 12 from the Washington area. The LP investments range from $25,000 to $500,000.
The Kiwi Fund is headed by brothers Rakesh and Neal Gupta, and by Carl Grant III, who heads business development for Cooley, a Palo Alto-based law firm focused on technology and life sciences.
The Guptas founded Aptara, a Falls Church technology company that they started in the 1990s and sold two years ago for $144 million.
The Kiwi fund is targeting technology start-ups in Washington, New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Houston.
“This is our first fund,” said Neal Gupta, who owns a home in McLean, but currently works out of San Francisco. “We’re working with start-ups all around the country, building their technology for them. We track them for about six to 12 months before we invest capital at the seed stage.”
Investments by the fund will range between $100,000 and $500,000.
Neal Gupta handles West Coast investments, while brother Rakesh, who owns a home in Georgetown, works out of New York City.
Bob Dinkel of Great Falls met the Guptas through another local businessman, Reggie Aggarwal, who founded McLean-based event management software company Cvent. Dinkel was an early investor in Cvent while working at Computer Associates and at FedResults, a Herndon-based company where he was president and chief operating officer.
“At the end of the day, the punch line is relationships,” said Dinkel, who has known the brothers for 15 years. “What kind of market and potential the fund has is 50 percent of the decision, and the other half is the relationships and how you know these guys.”
Satya Akula, a longtime Washington area technology investor, invested in the fund after having met the Guptas through an entrepreneurial organization called TIE-D.C. more than 10 years ago.
“They are choosing companies from both the East and West Coasts, which gives you better deal flow,” Akula said. “This works well with other technology investments I have made.”