Maveron, the Seattle venture capital firm led by Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz and former investment banker Dan Levitan, has joined with Union Square Ventures, Google Ventures and Clayton Christensen’s Rose Park Advisors to bankroll crowdfunding startup CircleUp.
The San Francisco company is bringing in $7.5 million in series A funding, described as the largest fundraising for an equity-based crowdfunding site. The upstart focuses on helping non-techie, consumer-oriented startups raise early-stage financing — including organic snack food company; Peeled Snacks; natural skincare company Willagirl and organic babyfood company NurturMe.
Some may view crowdfunding as competitive to the traditional venture capital process, since it opens up deal flow to the masses of accredited investors.
But Maveron and others view it as a new — and important — part of the fundraising ecosystem. That will take on added weight as the JOBS Act, which loosen the rules around crowdfunding, takes effect.
“Raising capital for non-tech companies is a huge challenge, and incredibly inefficient,” said Union Square Ventures’ Andy Weissman, who is leading the round. “Early-stage consumer and retail, CircleUp’s focus, is where innovation happens in that industry but the space also suffers from a dearth of capital from traditional resources.”