Foley Ventures Raises $2.1M For Third Venture Fund

Foley Ventures, the investment arm of national law firm Foley & Lardner, has raised $2.1 million for its third fund, according to a new SEC filing.

It’s a small amount of money, but it adds to the mix of funding options for startups in Wisconsin and elsewhere. Foley has 17 law offices in the U.S., and its venture arm has made investments nationwide, including in Wisconsin, California, Colorado, and Massachusetts.

The catch is that Foley Ventures only invests in startups that are also the firm’s clients, or in deals alongside venture capital funds that are clients. Foley invests around $100,000 to $200,000 per deal, and it doesn’t lead funding rounds, says Paul Wrycha, a Foley attorney in Madison, WI, who is one of five Foley Ventures managing directors spread around the country. The investors in Foley’s three venture funds are all attorneys with the law firm.

The venture arm launched in 2011 to provide additional support to clients and to give all of the firm’s partners—not just those serving corporate clients—opportunities to invest in promising companies. And, of course, it’s a way for the law firm to make money if the investments generate a return, says Wrycha, an active angel investor in Wisconsin companies.

“I invest a lot here personally, but through the fund as a partner, I get access to deal flow” in cities nationwide, Wrycha says. “It gives me a great look at some stuff that I wouldn’t normally get a look at.”

Foley raised nearly $4 million for its first fund, which invested in more than 35 companies. The $2.5 million second fund, raised last year, has made about 30 investments, according to SEC documents and Foley Ventures’ website.

Foley Ventures has had a “handful” of exits, Wrycha says. Those include California-based Kythera Biopharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: KYTH), which went public in October 2012, and Hopster, a Middleton, WI-based digital coupon startup purchased by Inmar in November for an undisclosed price, according to media reports and Foley Ventures’ website.

Foley’s current investments, according to its website, include Wisconsin-based Shine Medical Technologies, Silatronix, Stealth Therapeutics, StudyBlue, and Montage Talent; Conkwest, located north of San Diego; Loveland, CO-based VanDyne SuperTurbo; and Boston-area companies Greycork and SavingStar.

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