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CHESTNUT STREET VENTURES is a community of over 8,000 Penn alums. We all share an interest in entrepreneurship, venture capital, and our alma mater. We raise a fund each year and invest that capital in a portfolio of 15-25 companies with a Penn alum connection. We also offer a number of ways to engage with one another through events, webinars, and other activities.

3 NEW CHESTNUT STREET INVESTMENTS 

We're very pleased to be wrapping up final collections for Fund 1 and moving to dedicated investing mode. This past month, we added three companies to the portfolio, delivering on our goal of diversity across industry, stage, and geography.  Read more about each deal below.

 BURROW OFFERS MODULAR ONLINE COUCHES 

BURROW is an online direct-to-consumer retailer of modular couches that aims to make the couch-buying process easier, faster, and less expensive. Their couches can be ordered online, retail for 1/4 -1/2 less than typical couches, can be assembled/disassembled in 10 minutes, are easily moved on narrow stairways by one person, and ship to your door within a week.

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We participated in a seed round, following earlier rounds led by Y Combinator and Red & Blue Ventures. Our Penn connections were CEO Stephen Kuhl (WG’17) and Brett Trophe of Red & Blue Ventures (WG’02).

What we like:

  • Extremely well-connected team
  • Support of existing investors
  • Opportunity to disrupt a big market, following a now-proven D2C playbook (Warby Parker eyeglasses, Casper mattresses, Away luggage)
  • Strong sales traction and good indication of product-market fit

INVEST WITH CHESTNUT STREET

Join Our Investor Community

We offer alums three easy ways to invest in venture capital:

1) Annual Funds. Our most popular offering. You own a professionally managed portfolio of 15-25 top venture-backed companies.

2) Co-Investment Program. Great way for newcomers to participate in VC. Opt into select Annual Fund deals with low minimums.

3) Partner Program. For investors with a large annual budget who want a broad, customizable, index-like venture capital portfolio of ~100 top VC-backed companies.

You can read more about our investor community here, or click the button above to join. It only takes two minutes.

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We invest in all sectors and stages and seek companies linked to a Penn alum—preferring to follow in a VC or PE firm with sector expertise. To share deal info, email details to
 
Deals@ChestnutStreetVentures.com

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VERTICAL MASS MONETIZES FAN DATA

VERTICAL MASS is a data management platform that is used by 400+ partners to collect, organize, and monetize their exclusive audience data in the sports and entertainment vertical. These partners represent top sports teams, movie studios, music artists, record labels, and more, including 80 of the top 100 Facebook pages and 9 Super Bowl halftime acts with a total of 3.2B followers. Audience data in music, entertainment, & sports is very valuable to marketers and advertisers but difficult to aggregate. VM not only collects and stores data but draws insights and licenses to distribution partners, brands, and agencies. Media bought using data from VM performs 3X better than the average media spend.

VERTICAL MASS.jpgWe participated in a convertible note in a strategic round designed to bring in major entertainment and sports figures. Investors include owners of six sports teams and the previous Series A round was co-led by Greycroft and Sierra Wasatch.

What we like:

  • Top-tier investors with expertise in media & entertainment
  • Smart, dynamic team with impressive data partners & customers (Oracle, Google, Fox, BBC Conde Nast)
  • Strong sales pipeline
  • Defensible exclusive position and scalable tech platform

INTEGRATE OFFERS DEMAND
ORCHESTRATION SOFTWARE

INTEGRATE'S cloud-based software is designed to help B2B marketers understand what dollar is making them money and what is losing them money.

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The company’s demand orchestration software enables marketers to automate top-of-funnel demand marketing to scale their pipeline and revenue. Their goal is not to compete with CRMs and email marketing tools but sit on top of them and feed them better inputs.

We participated in a Series D led by existing investors Forte Ventures and Foundry Group. We were introduced to the deal by Sam Landman (Tuck ‘09), Managing Director at Comcast Ventures and an investor and board member at Integrate.

What we like:

  • Blue-chip customers: Workday, CA Technologies, Rackspace, Salesforce, Cisco
  • Impressive CEO with track record of success
  • Predictable revenue model with recurring subscription fees (per-user, per-month fees and data fees)

ENTREPRENEUR IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Congratulations to David Simnick, who is doing well and doing good through his buy-one, give-one soap product company Soapbox. David has a BA from American University and left the University of Pennsylvania while pursuing an MA in order to launch SoapBox. Here’s a snapshot of the business. 

Simnick.jpgWhat’s the business model? For every bar of soap they sell, they give one away to a person in need.

Why soap? Hygiene is a major prevention of disease. 3,000 people’s lives could be saved with a bar of soap.

When and why did the Soapbox business begin? David made the first batch of soap in his college apartment kitchen in 2009. He felt that there had to be a better way to foster hygiene than the water projects that had been his focus while he was with USAID. In 2012, the company took off when he and President/COO Daniel Doll devoted themselves to the business full time.

How has Soapbox grown since those beginnings?  The product line includes personal wash items and hair care products now carried in drug stores, grocery chains, and mass market outlets across the US. In terms of donations, Soapbox has given away 1.5M bars to people in 60 countries.

EVENTS WE'RE HOSTING OR ATTENDING

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>Join Us in Boston Sept. 6-8 for a Get-Acquainted Event... Over the course of three days, we’ll hold breakfast, lunch, and dinner meetings for those interested in our model and a potential investment. To keep events intimate, we’re limiting seating—so please sign up soon if you’d like to join us!

>...Or meet with us on Sept. 12 in Pittsburgh.
Penn alums who are exploring an investment with our Fund are invited to join us for an evening event in Pittsburgh.


>4th Annual Wharton DC Innovation event. We will be attending this stimulating program focusing on developments in urban, healthcare, tech, funding, edtech, and more. We look forward to seeing you Sept. 25, in North Bethesda, MD.

PORTFOLIO COMPANY NEWS 

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>BetterView keeps their focus on business by partnering with pre-eminent drone maker. “Not spending money on developing a physical drone product has enabled us to spend greater time and energy in refining our already market-leading analysis technology.”
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>Japan’s largest airline, All Nippon, has selected Domo to convert more online visitors to reservations. Domo’s business data and real-time insights help maximize marketing ROI.
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>A High-5 for Burrow Sofa from NYMag.com. Burrow’s sofa was rated as a “buy” in this article on "What’s the Best Sofa Under $1,000?" The reviewer enthused “ ‘It’s like the perfect little black dress for the home.’


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>Wharton MBA founded $800M asset management firm. Wharton grad and Kenyan native Edwin Dande founded Cytonn Investments to offer alternative investments to those interested in the East-African region.

>One reason women might receive only 2% of venture funding? Because VCs ask females different questions. A Wharton researcher found that males get asked about upside, while questions to women focus on loss.

>Two elite Israel-based business and ventures program accept 8 Penn students and grads.
The 10-week fellowships organized by Birthright Israel are “designed for talented Jewish future leaders pursuing a career in business and/or entrepreneurship.”

>This Wharton student is trying to rebuild the Philly regional food scene
Tatiana Garcia-Granados (pursuing her MBA) has launched The Common Market to connect local farms to regional institutional buyers.

>Twine founder talks about how to leverage university resources to galvanize your startup. Joseph Quan says that funding and advice from Penn helped launch his HR software company.  


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Gail Gilbert Ball
Managing Partner

Ven Raju
Vice President

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Important Disclosure Information 
Chestnut Street Ventures is a Series of Launch Angels Funds, LLC, is an independent, for-profit company. It is not affiliated with nor officially sanctioned by University of Pennsylvania. Launch Angels Management Company, LLC (LAMC), is the General Partner to Chestnut Street Ventures, a Series of Launch Angels Funds, LLC.

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