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New VC Fund Powers Up a Fresh Generation of Wisconsin Startups

Rock River Fund announced its first close June 15.

Madison, WI, July 23, 2018 --( Wisconsin’s newest venture capital fund, Rock River Fund, announced its first close on June 15th. According to the SEC, investors have committed over $20 million to the new venture capital fund including a $7 million anchor investment from the Badger Fund. Rock River Capital Partners, the manager of the Rock River Fund, has offices in StartingBlock in Madison and also at IronTek in Beloit. Rock River Capital Partners is a new venture capital management firm founded by Andy Walker and Chris Eckstrom.

“Our team allocates substantial time and resources to develop a strong core of local venture fund managers – often with the bias that culture and ecosystem are just as important as deep start-up industry knowledge,” said Badger Fund President and Sun Mountain Capital Managing Partner Brian Birk. The Badger Fund of Funds was founded in 2015 to invest in seed, early-stage and growth venture capital funds in geographies lacking startup capital. The Badger Fund aims to cultivate a new generation of fund managers by training top tier individuals to be venture capital fund managers.

The Badger Fund decided to commit $7 million after an extensive period of comprehensive due diligence, fund manager training, and opportunity assessment by Sun Mountain Kegonsa. In addition to the Badger Fund commitment, Rock River Capital Partners has raised $14 million dollars from the local investment community and institutional investors. “The University of Wisconsin campuses provide an innovative environment for a growing number of terrific start ups like Epic Systems, Exact Sciences, and JAMF Software. But all too often startup growth in this ecosystem is limited by need for bigger dollar follow on investment,” said Ken Johnson, member of Sun Mountain Kegonsa, which manages the Badger Fund. “Rock River Capital will focus not on the first few hundred thousand dollars, but on the second or third round of million-dollar plus investments in growing startups.”

Wisconsin natives and UW-Madison alums Andy Walker and Chris Eckstrom will be managing The Rock River Capital Partners Fund. A successful technology entrepreneur, Walker was the CEO of Chicago’s Channel IQ, which was acquired by Market Track, and CEO/co-founder of 42six Solutions which was acquired by DXC Technology. Eckstrom, a successful institutional investor, ran Chicago’s Principal Investing Team at Macquarie after leaving his Senior Analyst position at Black Diamond Capital Management.

About the Badger Fund of Funds

Formed in 2015, The Badger Fund of Funds I, L.P. includes $25 million from the State of Wisconsin. A partnership of Sun Mountain Capital and Kegonsa Capital Partners manages the fund. The State of Wisconsin, individuals and the fund manager have invested over $30 million in the Badger Fund.

About Sun Mountain Capital
Sun Mountain Capital is based in Santa Fe, New Mexico and was founded in 2006 to focus on private equity investing in high potential underserved geographies.

About Kegonsa Capital Partners
Kegonsa Capital Partners was founded in 2004. Currently Kegonsa manages the Kegonsa Seed Fund I, LP, and Kegonsa Coinvest Fund, LLC. Both Wisconsin based funds focus on seed and early stage investments in Wisconsin startups. In 2011, Kegonsa and Sun Mountain agreed to form a partnership to manage a Wisconsin based Fund of Funds investment vehicle.

About Sun Mountain Kegonsa
This is a partnership between Kegonsa Capital Partners of Dane County, which manages Wisconsin focused venture capital funds, and Sun Mountain Capital, which manages highly customized regional venture capital investment programs both in the United States and abroad.

About Rock River
This industry agnostic firm was founded in Wisconsin to invest in Midwestern technical disruptors. With its focus on early stage companies just starting to show revenue growth, Rock River expects to be the second or third investor in a Wisconsin startup.

Contact: Oryna Schiffman
312. 402. 2175
Contact Information
Badger Fund
Oryna Schiffman

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