Chicago-based venture capital firm Starting Line closes $30m second fund to continue funding consumer startups
Starting Line, the Chicago-based venture capital firm, announced that it has closed $30 million for its second fund, dedicated to expanding access to technologies, products, and experiences for the 99 percent of Americans.
Founded in 2018 by Ezra Galston, Starting Line has led seed investments into Cameo, which recently achieved a billion-dollar valuation, as well as celebrity chef endorsed Made In Cookware, and Unchained Capital, a bitcoin-backed lender now hosting more than $1 billion of assets under management.
Starting Line is backed by founders of many of Chicago's top consumer companies including Grubhub CEO Matt Maloney, M1 Finance CEO Brian Barnes, Kin cofounder and CEO Sean Harper, Rush Street Interactive CEO Greg Carlin, Tovala CEO David Rabie, Clearcover cofounder and CEO Kyle Nakatsuji, Factor CEO Mike Apostal, and Sprout Social cofounder Aaron Rankin, as well as beyond our city limits such as Thrive Market CEO Nick Green and Prettylitter CEO Daniel Rotman, among many other individual investors.
Alongside the new fund's value-added individual investors, we're thrilled to announce backing from institutions such as Foundry Group, Vintage Investment Partners, Bracket Capital, 50 South Capital, and Wicklow Capital. We're pleased to have these institutional limited partners on board as we continue to support Chicago's expansive innovation ecosystem for years to come.
Matt Maloney, CEO, Grubhub: "In two short years, Starting Line has made a name for itself as the number one choice for early stage founders between the coasts. I value Starting Line's opinionated view of non-obvious markets, and I'm excited to back the firm's goal to write big, early checks to unconventional founders."
In connection with the second fund, Starting Line has promoted Haley Kwait Zollo from Principal to Partner. Zollo had formerly scaled Analytics and Strategy at Trunk Club (acq'd by Nordstrom), and was later VP of Biz Ops at Mac & Mia (acq'd by Stitch Fix). Starting Line is excited to continue working with longtime Venture Partner Ade Olonoh, who previously founded Formstack and Formspring. We're also thrilled to have Scott Holloway, previously employee #10 at Instacart and now SVP Operations at Foxtrot, as a venture partner.
Steven Galanis, CEO, Cameo: "Starting Line had enormous conviction in our business from the very beginning. As we've scaled, they have stayed deeply founder aligned, always on for late night calls, and obsessed with our product. We know they care about us and they have our team's trust."
Ezra Galston, Founding Partner, Starting Line: "Over the past two and a half years, Starting Line has proven that you can discover extraordinary entrepreneurs and generate world class returns, even while being headquartered in Chicago. Every teenager with a phone is now capable of becoming an entrepreneur, a creator, even their own brand, and we are witnessing an explosion of creativity, wholly untethered to the geographies and ecosystems that used to matter. We have built a young, diverse investment team from the ground up and are proud that we have cultivated an authentic, relatable venture capital fund for so many local entrepreneurs who didn't know where else to turn."
In addition to the firm's portfolio, the fund's investment partners Galston, Zollo, Olonoh and Holloway, have also made personal investments into a variety of breakout consumer companies including Substack, M1Finance, Chowbus, Shef, Kapwing, Prettylitter, Provi, Flyhomes, Spothero, Hungryroot, Rise Science and Sunbit, reflecting their broad networks, consumer-driven thesis, and openness to partnering with unconventional founders with big ideas.