When Mark Kvamme left Silicon Valley for the Midwest he went all in. Kvamme took a position as the lead for JobsOhio, where he helped create jobs across the state. He used his vast experience as a VC with Sequoia, where he was one of the first investors in LinkedIn, to help spur innovation across the state. He and cofounder Chris Olsen continue to do that with their VC firm Drive Capital, which just announced the closing of their first fund yesterday.
The firm reported to the SEC that they have raised $181 million dollars with a goal of raising $300 million.
“Since moving here, I have had the opportunity to meet several companies and entrepreneurs that would rival those in any other place in the world, and these two companies and these entrepreneurs are among the very best,” Kvamme said in a statement. “We can’t wait to see what they become.”
With that announcement they also revealed the first two startups the firm has invested in. Kvamme gave the audience at the Southland Conference in Nashville, TN in June a hint about one of their first investments saying that they had invested in a Brandery startup. That startup, revealed yesterday, was RoadTrippers.
RoadTrippers graduated from The Brandery two summers ago. They built a platform that offers more intricate road trips than just hopping on hotels.com or kayak. The company, America’s fastest growing startup travel site, just announced a partnership with Travel Oregon. The terms of Drive Capital’s investment weren’t reported.
“In very practical terms, Drive Capital’s investment has given us the financial resources to allow me to spend less time fundraising and more time on growth. When I’m not fundraising, our company grows faster,” said James Fisher, founder and CEO of Roadtrippers. “But more than that, the experience they bring has helped us scale up and execute our vision at an accelerated pace. They understand not just the opportunity we have, but the challenges we will face. There was great alignment between all parties, and they have backed my vision as founder of this company 100 percent.”
Fisher said that since he began working with Drive Capital about three months ago, Roadtrippers has grown from 200,000 unique visitors per month to 750,000.
The second investment for Drive Capital was with CrossChx, a biometric startup based in Gallipolis, Ohio. The company, led by founder Sean Lane, uses biometric security at doctor’s offices, pharmacies, and hospital systems to prevent medical fraud. Lane told The Wall Street Journal last summer that he became interested in biometric security when he was deployed in Afghanistan.
“When CrossChx was exploring growth options, we made a conscious decision to partner with accomplished investors that could provide more than just capital, and we found that strategic partner in Drive Capital,” Lane said in a statement “Drive Capital grasped our long-term vision and has been instrumental to the rapid growth of CrossChx.”
Both Olsen and Kvamme have long track records with Sequoia and plan on investing aggressively across the Midwest. “The region is set up for more success,” Olsen said. “(The incubators) have really been the seedlings of a tremendous growth economy.”