Invest Georgia-Backed Knoll Ventures Fills A Funding Gap for the Southeast’s Early-Stage Startups

Anyone who reads Fortune or follows Crunchbase News on Twitter has heard about the “supergiant” funding rounds of today’s venture capital landscape — SoftBank and other mega-funds betting hundreds of millions, even billions, on relatively new companies.

It stands that this phenomenon has altered startup funding across the spectrum. Indeed, an analysis conducted by TechCrunch earlier this year showed that the average size of both seed and Series A rounds have grown by over 100 percent over the past decade.

This is creating an “increasingly wider chasm for founders to cross,” according to Andrew Dorman, General Partner at Atlanta-based Knoll Ventures. Dorman, along with General Partner Richard Fraim, just completed a second fundraising close for Knoll’s inaugural fund, bringing it to just over $24 million. 

Though not a huge fund in comparison with many of today’s venture firms, the Knoll team’s thesis is different enough that it occupies a space often left empty, especially in less capital-rich regions.

Knoll focuses on B2B technology startups just beyond the seed stage. In this phase of a company’s life, many founders are focused on building client pipelines and partnerships that will demonstrate traction to investors when they go to raise that much more significant Series A.

But in the meantime, they often need additional cash on hand to push them through. That’s where Knoll will step in.

Fraim says they plan to do 10-12 post-seed deals over the next two to three years. They’ve already started with their first investment in LiveSource, a supplier management software company. The $7.4 million funding round was led by Atlanta-based Fulcrum Equity Partners, a slightly later-stage venture firm.

“That’s a great example of the kind of companies we’re interested in — a post-seed stage business with arms-length customer traction and a clear growth strategy,” says Dorman. 

Knoll will also invest in another 8-10 of what they’re calling “seed-and-feed” deals, earlier-stage companies with “promising founders chasing big market opportunities,” according to Dorman. For example, Knoll was a contributor, along with seed-stage firm TechSquare Labs, to sustainable building platform Cove.Tool’s recently-closed $750K seed round. 

“The team at Knoll are trusted, have a standing commitment to our community and are filling a much needed funding gap for our companies,” Ashish Mistry, partner at BLH Ventures and an active angel investor, tells Hypepotamus. Mistry is an LP in Knoll’s fund. 

“Their ability to take the baton from angels, add value and collaborate with upstream capital sources makes them unique,” Mistry says.

Another backer is Invest Georgia, the state’s fund-of-funds that invests taxpayer dollars into local venture capital and private equity firms to stimulate economic growth. Knox Massey, Invest Georgia’s Executive Director, explains that part of his charge is not only to support new funds, but also new fund managers like Dorman and Fraim.

“Early-stage startup companies get the bulk of help and attention in many communities, but an early realization for Invest Georgia was that first-time venture partners in new funds also need a network of resources,” Massey says.

“Invest Georgia can do this through our other Georgia-based portfolio venture funds, our BOD, and through the knowledge we have gained about the venture community during the last four years of operations.”

Dorman and Fraim both formerly led investments at different family offices, but this is their first venture fund.