Starting Line unveils $17 mln fund

Starting Line, a new Chicago-based venture firm, has launched a $17 million fund that will invest in consumer startups “that are focused on democratizing access to technologies, products, and experiences for the 99% of Americans.” So far, the firm has made seed investments in companies such Cameo, Made In Cookware and Truman’s. Starting Line was founded by Ezra Galston, a former principal at Chicago Ventures.


CHICAGO, Nov. 7, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Starting Line is coming out of stealth today to announce its $17M early stage Fund I to invest in consumer startups that are focused on democratizing access to technologies, products, and experiences for the 99% of Americans. Founded by Ezra Galston, the firm has already made seed investments into numerous fast growing companies such as Cameo, Made In Cookware and Truman’s. Galston, formerly a Principal with Chicago Ventures, had previously made investments in high growth consumer startups such as Flyhomes, Hungryroot, M1Finance, Prettylitter, Spothero and Sunbit.

Starting Line benefits from deep financial support amongst entrepreneurs and venture capitalists in both Chicago and the rest of the country, such as Matt Maloney, CEO of Grubhub, Bloomberg Beta, Wicklow Capital, Dan Levitan, Co-founder of Maveron, Joe Floyd, General Partner at Emergence Capital, Nick Green, CEO of Thrive Market, and more. The fund’s advisory board consists of Maloney, Rebecca Kaden, General Partner at Union Square Ventures, Seth Levine, General Partner at Foundry Group and Roy Bahat, General Partner at Bloomberg Beta.

“Ezra has a strong background in Chicago venture capital and, in a few short years, Starting Line has become a leading voice in the tech communities between the coasts,” said Matt Maloney, CEO of Grubhub. “He gets in early on the most promising opportunities and helps the teams accelerate through their first few rounds – the most precarious window for startups. Starting Line participation will soon be a very positive signal for later stage investors, if it isn’t already.”

Also supporting entrepreneurs at Starting Line are Principal Haley Kwait Zollo, who formerly scaled Analytics and Strategy at Trunk Club (acq. Nordstrom), later VP of Biz Ops at Mac & Mia (acq. Stitch Fix), Venture Partner Ade Olonoh, founder of Formstack, as well as Marketer in Residence Nate Turner, employee #18 and previously VP, Demand Generation at Sprout Social.

“In my eight years of investing in early stage startups, I consistently observed a large relatability gap between the investors who write checks and the founders who are creating the next wave of innovation,” said Galston. “This gap is exacerbated in smaller startup ecosystems where the few active firms are often byproducts of real estate partnerships, economic development, or family offices. With our network of entrepreneurs, subject matters experts and upstream capital partners, we have proven that we can dramatically move the needle for early stage startups, irrespective of their geographic roots.”