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House Fund, a pre-seed and early-stage venture capital fund for UC Berkeley startups, particularly artificial intelligence startups, today announced that it has closed the third tranche of Fund III for $115 million.
With the closing of Fund III, Ken Goldberg, a University of California, Berkeley professor and prolific roboticist, will join The House Fund as a part-time partner, Jeremy Fiance, managing partner of The House Fund, said in an email interview with TechCrunch.
They were called The House Fund because they were home to the Berkeley startup community, Fiance said. We support Berkeley people on their entrepreneurial journey, whether it’s joining startups, founding startups, advising them, providing feedback on their ideas long before any startup exists, and much more.
Fund III will invest in Berkeley-affiliated AI startups, whether founded by alumni, faculty, graduate students, graduate students and postdocs, recent graduates, college students or science dropouts.
Fiance says about 70% of Fund III will go to pre-seed stage startups. However, The House Fund will also lead, co-lead and participate in seed rounds and consider a small number of Series A rounds from founders whose previous exits have been valued from $500 million to over $1 billion.
We are issuing the first checks in the amount of $2 million and reserve for subsequent checks, added the Fiance. We can write a $100,000 check to a new founder or college dropout and it doesn’t bother us that we’re the only investor, for example.
The House Fund, launched in 2016, claims to be the first-ever fund focused on Berkeley startups and the only fund backed by both the University of California Fund and the UC Berkeley Campus Fund.
The House Fund currently manages $330 million, and more than 100 funds have invested in its startups, Fiance says. (The VC firms’ first fund was $6 million, and the second, closed at the end of 2019, was $44 million). Notable past investments from The House Funds include Anyscale, a company that builds frameworks for distributed computing projects; software development platform Crowdbotics; and Goldbergs Ambi Robotics.
According to Fiance, the largest alumni base in the world includes approximately 600,000 Berkeley residents. Most alumni have long asked for more accessible community engagement and hassle-free ways to unlock Berkeley opportunities as a graduate. As a large public school, Berkeley has historically lacked the resources to meet this demand. That’s why we took matters into our own hands by serving our community. We exist to meet the needs of entrepreneurs by providing comprehensive resources for Berkeley AI founders and creating the connected environment startups need to thrive.
Startups that receive support from The House Fund gain access to technology from VC firm partners, mentorship from investors and advisors at The House Funds, access to talent from Berkeley’s campus and alumni base, and the opportunity to meet potential clients through relationships with Berkeley.
The House Fund also operates a recently announced accelerator that provides a handful of companies with an investment of $1 million each, a $10 million SAFE note, and free and early access to technology from technology company partners including OpenAI, Microsoft and Databricks. (SAFE bonds give investors the right to purchase shares of a company at a specified future date). House Fund accelerator participants also receive mentorship from Gradient Ventures, Google’s AI-focused venture capital fund, and The House Funds technology amplifier.
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