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Boston's three newest seed-stage funds: NextView, Project 11 and Boston Seed Capital

Posted by Scott Kirsner  January 16, 2011 08:56 PM

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Today's Globe column focuses on three new seed stage firms in the Boston area: NextView Ventures, Project 11 Ventures, and Boston Seed Capital. All three plan to invest in Internet and mobile start-ups; all three started making investments within the last year; and all three have yet to finish actually raising their first fund. NextView seems to be targeting $15 million, and Project 11 aiming for about $5 million. Boston Seed hasn't been specific about a target number yet, but I have a feeling it'll be somewhere in the middle there.

Here's a bit of bonus material...

- All three of NextView's founders left local VC firms in 2010: David Beisel split from Venrock's Cambridge office, Lee Hower took off from Point Judith Capital in Providence, and Rob Go departed Spark Capital. They told me this month that they're especially interested in mobile apps and services; software-as-a-service; and ad tech and analytics. They've made nine investments so far (some were made as individual investors, and then rolled into the NextView fund), though two are still in stealth mode. Six local entrepreneurs, including the founders of CSN Stores and Dataxu, serve as venture advisors to NextView. Beisel is best known as the founder of Web Innovators Group, the demo-fest where he still serves as the host. (Here are some fun posts from the very first Web Innovators gathering in 2005.)

- The two founders of Project 11 Ventures, Reed Sturtevant and Katie Rae, have made a few small investments using their own checkbooks in recent months. (Locately, ScriptPad, and PeerTransfer.) They will likely do a first close on their first fund in the coming weeks, and start making investments out of that in the first quarter, I'm told. Sturtevant sees the other two firms as allies: "We will need them as co-investors or follow-on investors, and vice versa," he says. "It helps that there are more of us, for syndication." He says that he and Rae view themselves as product-oriented executives who've had experience working within start-ups (Idealab, Eons) and larger companies (Lycos, Lotus, Microsoft), as opposed to traditional venture investors. (Here's my original post from last summer on the firm.) Rae was recently named the managing director of TechStars Boston, which will enhance her visibility in the start-up scene here; Project 11 has also run several workshops for entrepreneurs, so it's worth watching the firm's Twitter feed for news about upcoming events.

- Boston Seed Capital (actually based in Wellesley) is run by Nicole Stata. Stata spent just over a decade building Deploy Solutions, a human resources software company acquired by Kronos in 2007. Stata is also the daughter of Analog Devices co-founder Ray Stata, who runs another local VC firm, Stata Venture Partners (it has no Web site.) Serving as a venture partner at Boston Seed Capital is Peter Blacklow, an executive vice president at the Game Show Network (no kidding), who earlier worked at Worldwinner, Converse, and Monster.com.

Nicole Stata says she is helping to bankroll the firm, as are other individual investors (though not her dad.... at least not yet). "We'll focus on companies that may need a $1 million A round, and we'll contribute anywhere from $100,000 to $300,000," she says. "The company might need anywhere from $3 million to $5 million in total funding."

"The software-as-a-service model is something we'll focus on, given my background," she says. "How can we bring real value to an enterprise, without the long-term costs of the sales process? How can we bring gaming techniques and social techniques to the enterprise?"

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About Scott Kirsner

Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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