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Purple Arch set to close second venture fund for Northwestern alumni start-ups


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: July 25th, 2018

Purple Arch, a venture fund for Northwestern alumni start-ups, is doubling down on its investments in the school’s graduates. The affinity VC is about to close a $10 million fund that follows its initial $5 million fund, founded in 2016.

The first fund backed 20 Northwestern-affiliated start-ups, including Heaven’s Door, a whiskey brand endorsed by Bob Dylan.

Founder and Managing Partner David Beazley, himself a Northwestern alum, expects to close the new fund in the fall, noting that it has already backed 11 start-ups.

The goal of Purple Arch is simple — invest in companies that have a connection to Northwestern in order to help grow alumni-led companies and boost the university’s reputation as a start-up powerhouse.

“Successful entrepreneurs are becoming the new rockstars,” Beazley says. “They’re certainly influential in business, but also culture.… Our entrepreneurs are a relevant reflection of how great our university is.”

According to Beazley, Purple Arch’s typical investment was around $200,000 during its first fund, but that is also expected to double in the second fund. It allocates 25% of the fund for Chicago-based companies and typically co-invests with other local VCs

Purple Arch is part of a larger network of university-focused venture firms called Alumni Ventures Group, which also oversees University of Wisconsin-focused Bascom Ventures and Stanford-focused Spike Ventures, among others. Purple Arch isn’t officially associated with Northwestern University.

Beazley says the fund’s benefit for entrepreneurs is the power of the Northwestern alumni network. In addition to seeking alumni investors, the group works to connect founders to the school’s alumni network at large, helping introduce companies to potential customers and recruit top talent.

“Leveraging our community is our secret sauce,” Beazley said. He has big plans for growth, hoping to to invest more than $100 million in 200 to 250 alum-led start-ups over the next decade.

Source: ChicagoInno

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