FreshTracks Capital announces the closing of FreshTracks III, its third venture capital fund raised since the firm was founded in 2000. This most recent Fund raised $11.5 million from 48 Limited Partners, and intends to invest in 10 – 15 companies over its 10 year life. FreshTracks deploys most of its investment capital in Vermont-based high growth companies that have an opportunity to grow, increase employment, and generate significant financial returns over time for founders, employees and shareholders. The firm’s General Partner consists of co-founder Cairn Cross, and Managing Directors Tim Davis & Lee Bouyea, who have worked together at FreshTracks since Davis & Bouyea joined the firm in 2005. FreshTracks Co-founder Charlie Kireker remains a Senior Advisor to the Firm, and continues to be a valuable resource to the General Partner on a frequent and ongoing basis.
Notable FreshTracks investments from FreshTracks I & II include EatingWell based in Charlotte & Shelburne (acquired by Meredith Corporation), Vermont Teddy Bear based in Shelburne (during a going private transaction in 2005), NEHP based in Williston (acquired by Critical Process Systems, which is headquartered in Colchester) and Quirky, which was founded by Ben Kaufman, formerly a Champlain College student, and which has gone on to raise follow on capital from Kleiner Perkins & General Electric.
During the past 14 years, FreshTracks has helped to build the entrepreneurial economy here in Vermont, playing an active role in organizations such as Peak Pitch, LaunchVT, the North Country Angels, HackVT and many others. This year, the firm announced a new event called “Road Pitch” where FreshTracks partner Cairn Cross will lead a group of Founding Riders on a 4 night motorcycle ride, breaking in 8 locations across the state to hear pitches from Vermont entrepreneurs.
The increased entrepreneurial activity in the local ecosystem, the development of FreshTracks’ brand during the past 14 years, and recent local success stories here in Vermont have translated to improved quantity and quality of deal flow for FreshTracks, which has already closed 6 new investments during 10 months in a series of startup and early stage Vermont-based companies since October 2013. Initial portfolio companies in the Fund include:
• Budnitz Bicycles: Burlington, VT. Beautiful, high-end city commuter bicycles
• Ello.co: Burlington, VT. Elegant ad-free social network
• Faraday: Middlebury, VT. Using machine learning to improve customer acquisition in the solar installation & energy efficiency industries
• GroupZOOM: Burlington VT. On-demand pop up travel networks
• Moscow Mills: Moscow, VT. Precision manufacturing for automotive & aerospace industries
• SunCommon: Waterbury, VT. Residential solar developer & installer
Andy Rossmeissl, Co-Founder and CEO of Faraday commented, “When we formed Faraday and set out to raise capital FreshTracks Capital was one of the first groups we spoke to because of their deep connection to the Vermont start-up community and their willingness to help entrepreneurs. Approximately one year later FreshTracks became the lead investor in our Series A capital raise and catalyzed the round to shepherd it to closing.”
Duane Peterson, Co-Founder and Co-President of SunCommon reflected, “About four years ago, we started imagining what SunCommon would become and I naturally sought out FreshTracks as a sounding board, who have been so generous with their time, wisdom, contacts and blunt assessments – testing and improving our thinking along the way. So when it came time to raise capital, we turned to FreshTracks Capital because of the firm’s deep commitment to supporting entrepreneurs in Vermont. Our state’s thriving venture climate, and we here at SunCommon, owe a lot to FreshTracks.”
Paul Bunitz, Founder of Budnitz Bicycles noted, “As a serial entrepreneur who has started and operated investor backed companies in the past, I know that all investors are not created equal. As a new resident of Vermont with a new startup company, I combed the entrepreneurial ecosystem to determine which investors could provide the resources necessary to grow my business. I determined FreshTracks Capital was the local investor of choice.”
Now with the fundraising process finalized, the General Partner of FreshTracks turns its full attention to advising the companies in its portfolio, and sourcing new deal flow to find promising, high-growth companies to invest in. Once FreshTracks makes an investment, one of the firm’s partners commonly sits on the Board of Directors at that company to assist that company scale and grow over time. The firm also commonly reserves additional capital for follow-on investing into that company, to help support the growth of the business as it continues to scale and hit milestones.