Kickstart, a Utah-Based Seed Investor, Adds $26M to Regional Pot

There’s more money for entrepreneurs and startups in the Rocky Mountain West, following Kickstart Seed Fund’s announcement this week that it has raised $26 million to make seed-stage investments.

Kickstart is based in Salt Lake City and invests in companies in Utah, Colorado, and the rest of the region, managing director Gavin Christensen said.

This is Kickstart’s second fund, following the $8 million fund it raised in 2008. Kickstart has invested in 24 companies to date. The majority of its investments have been in Utah companies, and while Christensen expects that will remain the case, he already is looking at deals from outside the Beehive State.

“I think we’ll do a similar proportion. We’re already looking at a bunch of deals in Denver, in Phoenix…and throughout the region,” Christensen said. “The deal flow we’re seeing is off the charts throughout the region.”

Christensen shares many of the views of the region’s potential and problems often heard in Colorado. He thinks the Mountain West—typically defined as the states the Rockies run through, and maybe Arizona and Nevada, depending on the source—is a hotbed of innovation with many companies and entrepreneurs that show potential.

He believes the region does suffer from a lack of investors, and it is especially a problem for very young companies looking for seed money.

“I think there’s a lack of capital, but even more important is there’s a lack of funds that are willing to lead an early round,” Christensen said.

Colorado is a bit of an outlier, and Kickstart would like to recreate some of what’s happening here in other states.

“Colorado probably has a little more infrastructure, with the Foundry Group and TechStars, than some of the other states we invest in,” Christensen said. “I think it’s synergistic what we’re doing, and we’re adding to the landscape.”

Kickstart looks to make three kinds of deals. Its smallest deals are less than $25,000, and it also does classic seed investments up to $750,000. Kickstart also will partner with other investors to make a larger early stage investment in a company.

Kickstart also is building its management team. Former Skullcandy vice president Clarke Miyasaki has joined as a managing director. Skullcandy (NASDAQ: SKUL) is a headphone manufacturer based in Park City, Utah. And former vSpring/Signal Peak director of finance Alex Soffe has become Kickstart’s chief financial officer.

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