In the year While investment in startups will be slowing down in 2022, venture capital funds of all sizes are still being raised. However, many of these are led by sole general partners (GPs), and while this trend is increasing, few are led by women or people from venture capital backgrounds.
The above makes Nicole Wishoff unique: her venture capital firm, Wishoff Ventures, closed a second $20 million fund, a substantial increase from the first $5 million. Her goal is to invest in 25 to 30 US startups at the pre-seed or seed stage.
Wischoff intentionally ended her previous funding because she was working full-time as a startup operator until March, she told TechCrunch. Now dedicated to her finances, she plans to write large checks of up to $1 million, up from her previous $300,000.
This new fund will also be “heavy on B2B,” Wischoff said. “I tell people I invest in passionless businesses!”
She is particularly interested in companies applying AI/ML or an embedded fintech component to large legacy industries. “However, I have a huge soft spot for industrial automation. Anything that accounts for the majority of GDP in the US is something I’m very interested in.
Wishoff’s existing portfolio includes companies such as Coast Pay, Loop, Nuvo, Trustlayer and Vesta – a heavy fintech lean due to Wishoff’s background. However, the second set out to expand this scope. “I’m familiar with fintech, but I don’t want to be pigeonholed into fintech,” she says.
Before becoming a solo GP, Wischoff was an early employee of Blend Labs, a lending platform that went public in 2021, and was part of the founding team of NeoBank, a finance company acquired by Walmart earlier this year.
The one-man acquisition has had a “huge financial impact” for Wischoff, who made her first angel investment while working at construction fintech Built before starting her own fund with external LPs.
Backers of this new fund include Peter Thiel, Lee Fixel, Yahoo co-founder Jerry Chen, Bain Capital, Byers Capital, Cendana Capital, Crossover, Insight Partners and others.
Many of these angels and funds backed Wischoff’s initial funding, but the profile of her limited partners (LPs) has evolved over time.
Family offices now account for more than half of its funds, up from a third of its original fund, according to Wischoff’s analysis summary. For example, its latest fund was backed by four more venture capitals, the family office of former American industrialist and philanthropist Henry Crown.
“I wish VCs would be more open about their LP construction,” Wischoff said in an email. In the same spirit of transparency, she said it took her seven months to raise her first two months’ worth of funds.
The first investment from her second fund went to Steel, an engineering-focused startup founded by two women with aerospace and defense experience that aims to help hardware engineers and buyers “reduce defects and find parts faster.”
If Wischoff’s next investments are anything like Steele’s, her portfolio could be on track to support what she describes as “the real American dynamic” — a topic we plan to explore with her soon in a separate interview.