Introducing VitalizeVC and Our Platform Vitalize Venture Group!
We are excited to publicly announce the launch of our venture platform as well as the rebranding of our venture fund. But first, let’s take a stroll back through time to better understand how we got to where we are today.
Chicago-based IrishAngels was formed in late 2012, initially with the intent to invest in Notre Dame related companies. Over time, our angel group quickly grew to 230 investors, making it one of the largest and most active in the country. Since 2014, IrishAngels has expanded its approach and considers any seed stage company for investment, whether or not it has a tie to Notre Dame.
During our first few years of operation, we invested in some great companies, including Chime, Appcast, Sightbox, Rentlytics, and TradingView, which led to additional appetite for investing in this asset class. As such, we launched IrishAngels Ventures and made our first fund investment in early 2018.
We have learned so much over the past seven years in terms of how to source deals, conduct due diligence, and manage operational processes to create efficiencies for founders and our team. Having both the angel group and venture capital fund have afforded us multiple lenses through which to learn, adapt, and grow.
We initially thought the VC fund would stand on its own and that we would separate into two organizations with the raise of a second fund, which we anticipate will kick off later this year. However, we’ve learned that the value of the combined angel group and venture fund is greater than the sum of the individual entities. It is a surprise learning that our team has embraced over the past year, leading to these announcements today:
IrishAngels Ventures (our VC fund) is now called VitalizeVC. This is meant to eliminate confusion in the market, as our fund has its own discrete decision making process separate from the angel group. VitalizeVC focuses on pre-seed and seed stage B2B software and can make investment decisions in a matter of weeks. Average check size is $500K.
Collectively, our two organizations — VitalizeVC and IrishAngels — will now be called Vitalize Venture Group, which is a platform approach to pre-seed and seed stage investing. Our platform’s focus, now and in the future, will always be on very early stage deals.
IrishAngels will continue to operate as it does today. This angel network invests in seed stage companies across a variety of industries, with an average check size of $400K. Founders may be surprised to learn that we can move very quickly for an angel group — one to three months from initial conversation to check. While we are not officially sponsored or endorsed by the University of Notre Dame, our angel group does retain a tie to the University through its membership. Most of our angel investors are graduates of the University, and the Notre Dame network is an amazing source of connections for our portfolio companies. However, we want to remind our network that founders do not need to have a tie to Notre Dame to be considered for investment.
In addition to our novel platform approach to early stage venture capital, we have identified several other factors that make us unique:
1) We actually help our portcos, and we collect data on this. When I first started IrishAngels in 2012, I interviewed a lot of founders to learn what they liked and disliked about other venture firms. One recurring theme was angel groups and venture firms promising a lot of help and connections and nothing materializing. We dug in to figure out how we can deliver on this. As a result, multiple individuals on our team spend time each week to help our portfolio companies with their requests. The top two ways we help are intros to customers and additional funding sources. On average, we assist each of our 50+ portfolio companies 1.8 times each quarter.
2) We have a large footprint for an early stage operation. With locations in Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, we have more reach than most pre-seed and seed stage firms. As a generalist firm that isn’t focused on any one vertical, it’s critical to have boots on the ground in multiple locations. This improves deal sourcing and helps us build networks to assist companies. Our next investment team hire will be on the East Coast, likely in New York or Boston.
3) We value diversity of thought and background, and it shows. We believe diversity yields better outcomes, and we have made a conscious effort to find angels from a wide range of geographies, industries, and functional areas. Our team is comprised of mostly women, which is very rare in the industry. We also spend time developing a pipeline of founders that have a variety of backgrounds, as we think there is a huge opportunity to find outsized returns with startups led by diverse teams.
Thanks so much for your interest in our new platform and branding. We’re excited to see what the future brings and are focused on the growth to come.