Local VC aims for $10M fund

Trolley Venture Partners was launched in June by a group of local entrepreneurs. From left: Brad Cummings, Mark Rausch, Hank Heyming, Tim Black, Michael Saxon, and Tom York. (Courtesy of Trolley Venture Partners)

A newly launched Shockoe Bottom venture capital firm has upped the ante on its first fund as it kicks off its initial investments.

Trolley Venture Partners, which was launched in June by a group of local entrepreneurs, including Startup Virginia board member Brad Cummings, now aims for a ceiling of $10 million on the investment fund it initially capped at $4 million in August.

The firm reopened the round on Sept. 17 with the goal of raising the additional $6 million by year-end, according to an SEC filing.

“We’re doing a second round to finalize the closing,” said Mark Rausch, managing director at Trolley. “It was the plan all along to raise between $5 million and $10 million.”

Trolley was started with the idea of aggregating investor money in central Virginia through seed rounds for local startups.

“We felt there was no real organized structure for investors to come together to find startups and startups to find investors,” Rausch said.

He added that the majority of the investors buying into Trolley are Richmond- or Central Virginia-based, and that it’s finding startups through other incubators in Charlottesville, Williamsburg and Norfolk, along with the 1717 Innovation Center in Shockoe Bottom, where the VC firm is based.

1717 building

The 1717 Innovation Center in Shockoe Bottom is home to many start-ups in the area, including Startup Virginia. (John Romeo & Associates)

In August, Trolley marked its first investment in ARtGlass, a local augmented-reality startup that lets users experience global historic sites and museums.

This week Trolley announced it also has invested in Grenova, a North Chesterfield-based health tech startup that makes devices to clean plastic pipette tips to reduce waste and laboratory costs.

Terms of the investments in ARtGlass and Grenova were not disclosed.

Rausch said the firm is investing mostly with equity and convertible notes, along with some debt, and that Trolley isn’t focusing on only one industry.

“We’re definitely staying away from real estate and restaurants,” he said. “We’re really looking for any company that’s high-growth or a disruptor in their industry.”

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Chris Miller
Chris Miller
2 years ago

Great to see such groups helping creative startups in RVA get going, expand, and grow in our amazing region.