Kickstart Seed Fund, based in Salt Lake City, Utah, announced today that it has raised a fresh $74 million fund.
By Silicon Valley standards, a $74 million seed fund is not a powerhouse. Sequoia Capital, for example, is reportedly raising a $180 million seed fund, according to Axios. But the size of Kickstart’s latest fund — it is the firm’s fourth — is indicative of just how quickly the Utah startup scene has grown in the past decade. Kickstart, founded in 2008, started with an initial seed fund of $8 million. And its $74 million fund is nearly double the size of its last fund ($39 million).
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Since 2008, Kickstart has invested in more than 100 companies. Some of the fund’s most notable portfolio companies include photo printing service Chatbooks, which raised $11.5 million last year, and Podium, a Y Combinator graduate that helps other companies manage their online reviews.
Kickstart invests exclusively in companies located in the Mountain West region and says that it’s industry-agnostic, though as of December, 65 percent of its portfolio companies were SaaS startups, and 85 percent were located in Utah. Most of its other portfolio companies operate in the consumer products, medical devices, and health care spaces.
Kickstart managing partner Gavin Christensen said that when he started the firm in 2008, there was a severe lack of seed stage capital in the Salt Lake City and Provo areas. At the time, Kickstart’s normal check size was between $50,000 and $75,000, according to Christensen. Now, a typical seed round for a Kickstart portfolio company is between $2 million and $3 million.
“Now there’s more interest than there is room, so it’s really come a long way,” Christensen told VentureBeat in a phone interview.
Kickstart’s latest fund consists mostly of institutional investors. But some notable Utah entrepreneurs have also invested, including Pluralsight’s Aaron Skonnard and Qualtrics’ Ryan Smith — CEOs of two of the four privately held unicorn companies located in Utah, according to CB Insights.
“We have some of our first international money with this fund — it was a lot of folks who don’t really have any kind of historical relationship with Utah and venture here, but they see what’s happening and want to be part of it,” Christensen said.