Just one day away from heading down to my old hometown – or at least my old college town – of Philly for the Wharton Private Equity Conference. During last year’s event, I met a former Wharton faculty member named Michael Aronson. He was running a business incubator on the U Penn campus, and was planning to raise a fund called MentorTech Ventures that would help early-stage IT and med-tech companies spin out on their own.
So it’s apropos that as I return to Philly – plus a jaunt to Ardmore, Pa. for a cheesesteak at Bella Italia (even better than Pat’s or Gino’s) – Michael writes to say that the fund recently held a final close on $11.5 million. I know it’s small potatoes compared to what this space typically discusses, but funds like this are vital to the venture capital food chain.
For example, MentorTech so far has nine portfolio companies – six of which were incubated at U Penn – that have raised an aggregate of $20 million in follow-on funding. These include: Neat Receipt, a scanningg solutions provider which raised $5 million last August from Edison Venture Fund at an $18 million post-money valuation; PanRaven, a user-generated online content website for travelers which is backed by DFJ; and Merchant Circle, a company that connects local merchants with customers in order to compete with national chains, which has raised VC funding from firms like Rustic Canyon Ventures and Scale Venture Partners.