Valor Ventures, an Atlanta-based, early-stage venture capital firm, has announced the first close of its second fund. Valor is targeting $25 million for the fund in total and has closed on just over one-third.
Valor’s General Partner and Founder Lisa Calhoun was the first woman to raise a VC fund in the state of Georgia. The first Valor Fund closed at $5 million and began investing in 2016.
In 2017, Valor added former mobile executive Robin Bienfait to the team as partner. Fund I invested in eight companies over the last three years.
Fund II is unique, explains Calhoun, for its focus on startups addressing issues around financial inclusion.
“When you think about why a major firm acquires a company, these days it’s often because that new technology allows them to access a brand new market or take their existing systems and extend them to a group that was previously underserved,” Calhoun tells Hypepotamus.
“Financial inclusion is often at the core of these major acquisitions, and will increasingly be at the core as the U.S. completes its journey to a majority-minority country.”
The backers of Fund II display a breadth of expertise in this financial inclusion space as well as in scaling technology companies generally.
Backers include fintech experts like Kelly Loeffler, CEO of Intercontinental Exchange-funded cryptocurrency startup Bakkt; and Kathryn Petralia, co-founder and president of small business lending platform Kabbage.
Other investors include Lynne Laube, co-founder and COO of Cardlytics; Tim Crow, former CRHO of Home Depot; David Cummings, entrepreneur-investor and founder of Atlanta Tech Village; and Michael Mansfield of Mansfield Oil.
“To me, that’s what’s so game-changing about this — the leadership that has backed it,” says Calhoun. “This is a team that knows what it’s doing when it comes to investing in financial inclusion.”
Other than the industry-specific thesis, Calhoun says they will look specifically for seed-stage startups from the Southeast, targeting 70-80 percent of the portfolio to come from the region.
“Financial inclusion has to come form informed voices, and the Southeast is rich in underrepresented founders,” she says.
The fund has already closed two investments: Atlanta-based Capway, a digital banking and financial education app that targets the under- or unbanked; and Dallas-based Physician360, an on-demand prescription platform.
Calhoun anticipates making 20-25 investments over the fund’s lifetime.