NYC-based 2048 Ventures taps Seattle investor Minda Brusse to target Pacific Northwest startups – GeekWire

NYC-based 2048 Ventures taps Seattle investor Minda Brusse to target Pacific Northwest startups – GeekWire

NYC-based 2048 Ventures taps Seattle investor Minda Brusse to target Pacific Northwest startups – GeekWire

Minda Brusse.

Another out-of-town firm has its eyes on the Seattle startup scene.

New York City-based 2048 Ventures has hired Minda Brusse as a venture partner. Brusse will help the firm find pre-seed investments in Seattle and Portland.

Brusse will continue in her role at First Row Partners, the Seattle-based venture capital firm she co-founded last year with Yoko Okano.

2048 Ventures launched last year with a $27 million fund. It has already backed 29 companies across 13 geographies. The firm invests across various industries including digital health, genomics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, and more.

“2048 Ventures is the earliest stage, high conviction, lead investor,” Brusse said. “We aim to lead pre-seed and early seed rounds in companies that are differentiated through technology and data.”

Brusse said her new gig compliments the work she does at First Row Partners.

“The roles overlap a lot for sourcing deals at pre-seed with great founding teams tackling big issues,” she said. “Unlike 2048 Ventures, First Row Partners doesn’t lead rounds — but we will co-invest when appropriate.”

2048 plans to make “several to many” investments across Seattle and Portland over the next year, added Brusse.

Brusse initially connected with 2048 Managing Partner Alex Iskold when they co-founded the $1k Project earlier this year to help families in need during the COVID-19 pandemic. The initiative pairs donors with families in financial trouble, providing them $1,000 a month for three months. It received a $1 million donation from a foundation backed by entrepreneur and former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang.

Brusse and Iskold also invested together last month in an AI startup called Dathic.

“I’ve admired the startups coming out of the Pacific Northwest, and Minda has the right experience and network to find and fund terrific startups at their earliest stages,” Iskold said in a statement. “It was great timing to get to know her talents by working together this year.”

Brusse held leadership and co-founding roles at various startups prior to her investing career.

As a female venture capitalist, Brusse is focused on helping elevate women in investment leadership roles. Women in VC last month released new data showing that just 4.9% of venture capital partners in the U.S. are women. PitchBook also noted that quarterly funding to female founders just dropped to a three-year low.

“The VC industry overwhelmingly invests in founders, teams, and products that look like them,” said Brusse, who is part of the Women in VC community. “That leaves huge market opportunities on the table, with millions of people who would be willing to spend money on the things they need remaining largely overlooked. More diverse and more women-led funds mean that the likelihood of products and services targeting underserved markets receiving funding increases.”

Traffic snakes past downtown Seattle on Interstate 5. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

Despite the ongoing pandemic and economic crisis, venture capitalists are pouring money into Pacific Northwest tech companies at unprecedented levels. Investors sunk $1.1 billion across 65 deals during the third quarter, according to GeekWire’s tally, derived from our running list of Pacific Northwest startup investments. Funding totals from July and August eclipsed last year’s levels.

The deal activity is garnering national attention. The Wall Street Journal in August highlighted the Emerald City with this headline: “Venture Capitalists Target Seattle as Startup Ecosystem Grows.”

2048 Ventures is the latest outside firm to invest in the Pacific Northwest. Bay Area investors have made an increasing number of deals in the Seattle region over the years. Other New York City investors are placing more bets on Seattle startups — Union Square Ventures just led a $11 million round for Possible Finance, and Insight Partners led a $33 million round for Skilljar last month. NYC-based BlackRock led a $125 million round for Seattle startup Qumulo in July.

The Seattle market has long been criticized for its lack of local startup capital, especially given how much talent has migrated to the area in recent years with the growth of hometown tech giants Amazon and Microsoft, as well as the engineering outposts set up by Facebook, Google, Apple, Salesforce, and others.

There is a group of newer locally-based early-stage venture firms in Seattle such as Pioneer Square Labs, Madrona Venture Labs, Fuse Venture Partners, Flying Fish, and more hoping to tap into that dense tech talent base across Seattle and the Pacific Northwest.

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