Introducing Bread and Butter Ventures

A global venture capital firm based in Minnesota.

The Bread and Butter Ventures Team: Stephanie Rich, Brett Brohl, Mary Grove

Welcome to Bread and Butter Ventures. We’re an early stage venture capital fund founded by experienced investors with a global mission: to back bold entrepreneurs who want to solve the most important challenges of our time.

What makes Bread and Butter unique is that we believe those solutions can come from anywhere and will require strong venture capital support from places beyond Silicon Valley. That’s why we’ve chosen to be based in Minneapolis, Minnesota — home to a fast-growing startup ecosystem and a series of unique advantages: a strong expertise in ag/food tech, healthcare, enterprise software, and the highest network of fortune 500 companies per capita in the country.

Veteran investor and entrepreneur Brett Brohl and longtime Google executive and VC investor Mary Grove are teaming up as General Partners in our fund, and Stephanie Rich will focus on unlocking opportunities for our companies and community as our Head of Platform.

Now more than ever, startups have an opportunity to change the way we live, eat, and take care of one another. As COVID-19 has changed almost every aspect of our lives, new solutions are critical building the next global economy. We believe Bread and Butter is uniquely positioned to empower the next set of seed stage companies that will define life in this century. It is our bread and butter to identify them, invest in them, and support them to scale.

Why “Bread & Butter”?

Our name is a nod to our location. Minnesota has held the nickname the “Bread and Butter State” ever since the Pan-American exposition in Buffalo, New York in 1902. It was there that countries from around the world flocked to see the latest innovations from America, and Minnesota was referred to as the “Bread and Butter State” due to the superior wheat, flour, and dairy products here.

Minnesota would go on to be the home of the Green Revolution, the world’s first pace-maker and thousands of inventions that made life better, from the Post-it Note to the thermostat. Our plan is that Bread and Butter will invest in the next generation of problem-solving companies, not only in the Midwest but around the world.

Minnesota is currently at the heart of a global conversation and crisis around racial equity. We acknowledge the enormity of our state’s challenges and accept the responsibility to help build and rebuild companies who can write the future of our economy in a more equitable way. We are committed to working tirelessly to be part of that change.

What’s driving our team to build a global VC? A bit of perspective in our own words:

In Mary’s words: I was fortunate to spend the first 15 years of my career at a company that in many ways defined innovation and was the ultimate entrepreneurial journey: Google. I founded and scaled the Google for Startups effort into more than 100 countries and learned first hand that innovation isn’t just happening in Silicon Valley. In 2013, my husband Steve and I started a nonprofit called Silicon North Stars, which I now run, to educate and inspire young Minnesotans from economically underserved backgrounds towards futures in tech. This work gave me early exposure to the ecosystem here (fun fact: Brett and I first met several years ago when he volunteered to introduce our students to the world of Ag/food tech). In 2018, I moved to Minnesota with my proud MN native husband Steve and our now three-year-old twins. We did so because of our belief about where the future of the innovation economy was headed — beyond Silicon Valley — and because we wanted to raise our family in this community. For my first two years in MN I was an investment partner at Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed fund where I led numerous investments in early stage companies in sectors including healthtech, enterprise software, fintech, and more — including great companies in the Twin Cities. I’m grateful that those first two chapters of my career led me here. We took a chance on our move to Minnesota, and two years in I am convinced, with more conviction than ever, that this is where I want to be, investing full time, and going all in on our ecosystem.

In Brett’s words: I have been an entrepreneur my entire career, I still consider myself an entrepreneur! I love building teams and helping people achieve their dreams. I have founded or been CEO of several companies, leading three to exit and also experiencing failure firsthand. I’ve loved leveraging these experiences to help the next generation of startups to be successful. I am also the Managing Director of Techstars Farm-to-Form accelerator where I focus on helping companies from all over the world harness MN infrastructure. Four years ago I founded The Syndicate Fund to invest in amazing founders, the majority innovating in ag/food tech. Partnering with Mary & Steph for the next phase of The Syndicate fund, now Bread and Butter Ventures, enables us to build a world class fund and help more entrepreneurs, all from right here in MN. I moved to Minnesota 11 year ago as a proud trailing spouse and over the last decade I have become more convinced that our state has critical ingredients founders need to compete at global scale. My wife Sara and I have loved making this state home with our two young boys.

In Stephanie’s words: I couldn’t be more excited to take on my new role as Head of Platform. Platform to us means going beyond the check as well as building community engagement. I’ll be working on supporting our portfolio companies with deep access to commercial opportunities, mentorship, and connections to the MN business community — and also how we support and foster a stronger entrepreneurial community. I have a bias towards action and look forward to building out resources and building on my own operational experience to support our portfolio companies. I also intend to leverage my background in storytelling and digital to help our companies and our local ecosystem tell their stories to the world. I also look forward to working closely with Brett and Mary, two people I trust, and who share my approach of fighting for and with founders and not against them. I began my startup career as employee #1 at Particle, a leading development platform for the Internet of Things before founding Starting Up North and Goby Partners. I love facilitating unexpected connections and helping teams identify previously unknown strengths. I’m a proud Minneapolis native and live here with my husband Bill and our two pups.

We believe that now, more than ever, is the time to expand early stage VC in our Minnesota ecosystem. The COVID-19 crisis has shown us that we can never afford to under-invest in any of these critical sectors — the food and infrastructure behind it that fuels the global economy, healthtech, and enterprise software that helps us flex in an instant to any environment. We’re in it for the long haul and we look forward to working with you.

Posted by Brett Brohl, Mary Grove, Stephanie Rich

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