first starfinancier of deep tech startups like Plus One and Fyto, is looking to raise a whopping $40 million for its third venture fund, londonbusinessblog.com has learned.
Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, First Star typically supports early stage robotics, blockchain, AI, and machine learning-focused startups. The company has not disclosed an initial close of its planned third fund, per one submission with the Securities and Exchange Commission, but if it continues to increase the expected amount, it would be a serious jump from First Star’s previous funds.
In 2014, the VC launched a debut $10 million fund under a different name (Procyon Ventures), and it followed that up with a second $25 million fund in 2019, according to PitchBook. The founding partners, Millie Liu and Drew Volpe, share ties with both MIT (as researchers) and MassChallenge, the Boston-based startup incubator (as mentors).
First Star didn’t immediately respond to a request for additional information about its plans for the new fund, but the investor’s recent deals offer a hint as to where it has been focusing its energies lately. Deals that the VC has participated in this year include a $7 million starting round for ChiselStrokethat makes tools for back-end software developers, and a $12 million Series A for Zanskar, which aims to decarbonise the U.S. electrical grid by mocking geothermal resources with AI. Like Zanskar, Phyto with First Star support can also be considered climate technology; the MIT-founded startup plans to reduce water waste and greenhouse gas emissions by using robots to grow”ultra-durable” feed for cows.
Cantos, another deep-tech VC with an early-stage focus, recently launched its own $50 million third fund with a more extrinsic focus on responding to the climate crisis.