KDWC Ventures was formed on the foundation of two distinct ideas: (i) the road to success is most often non-linear; and (ii) good ideas succeed primarily because of great execution. With these lessons in mind, we partner with entrepreneurs to give them the growth funding they need to build their businesses.
As a Chicago-based venture firm, KDWC Ventures is primarily focused on working with firms based in the Midwest. Technology company formation is happening at a rapid pace in Chicago and other cities in the Midwest, yet there are few venture firms based in the Midwest that can lead Series A/B rounds.
Drawing upon our Principals’ collective 150+ years of experience, our mission is to build a world-class investment firm, known for being great partners with portfolio company management teams while being rigorous stewards of investor capital.
We are seeking to fund initial investments ranging from $1 million to $10 million into companies with monthly recurring revenue, referenceable customers and a scalable technology platform.
Based in Dallas, Music Audience Exchange (MAX) is a marketing technology company that helps consumer brands and music artists form mutually beneficial partnerships to drive measurable results. The Company’s platform uses proprietary consumer data to identify shared audiences, facilitate authentic partnerships, and tell shared stories everywhere fans engage with music. Every MAX program consists of brand-artist partnerships, custom content, targeted reach, and live experiences.
The dynamics of marketing have changed for both brands and artists, who need each other now more than ever. MAX is the platform that brings both artists and brands together to tell their stories and win the hearts and minds of the specific people they want to reach. MAX is working with some of the top brands in the world, including Anheuser-Busch, Ford, Twix, Jack Daniels, Dr. Pepper, AutoZone, Hyundai, Coors Light and McDonalds.
MAX was founded in 2014 by a team of marketing technology and music professionals including Nathan Hanks and George Howard. Nathan was previously cofounder and President of ReachLocal – an online marketing tech company – where he led a team of over 2,000 people with 24,000 client companies across 15 countries. George has served as President of powerhouse indie label Rykodisc, co-founded TuneCore, teaches at Berklee College of Music, and is a music licensing and copyright attorney who contributes to Forbes and The New York Times.
Chicago-based retail analytics platform. SwiftIQ’s platform enables retailers, CPGs and distributors to make valuable use of near real-time, receipt-level transaction data. The Company’s product focuses on tactical business applications such as improving in stock availability, identifying valuable product bundling opportunities, delivering highly relevant targeted content and measuring marketing ROI.
SwiftIQ’s modern, self-service platform measures granular basket-level data in near real-time. The Company is currently measuring data across 11,000 stores in the convenience, discount, drug and grocery verticals. SwiftIQ’s current customer base includes 4 of the top 10 global CPGs and several large retailers. Since launching its first retailer in August 2014, SwiftIQ has measured $70B of transactions for its customers.
Lon Chow, Bill Wolf
Based in Chicago, ShiftGig has developed a mobile marketplace that connects hourly workforces and businesses. The Company’s platform fully vets and background checks workers, who can then pick up shifts on its mobile application. ShiftGig’s clients love its platform because they can manage their temporary labor directly from ShiftGig’s application.
ShiftGig is currently working with some of the biggest brands in the food service, hospitality, retail, warehouse and experiential marketing industries. Operating in over 10 markets today, ShiftGig will continue its expansion to new markets in 2017.
Based in Chicago, Rippleshot is transforming the way banks detect fraud through its cloud-based technology platform. With data breaches dominating the headlines for the past decade, card fraud is a critical concern for banking institutions and their customers. Rippleshot protects consumer credit information and the integrity of the merchant payment network by proactively detecting data breaches using machine learning and data analytics to distinguish fraudulent activity. Rippleshot’s technology platform processes millions of data points in real-time to pinpoint when and where a data breach occurred, and its risk management and analytics platform helps mitigate fraud, stop losses, protects brand reputation and safeguards the consumer payment experience. Following detection, Rippleshot provides banks with the tools they need to update fraud detection rules in order to lower their fraud losses while avoiding unnecessary card re-issuance. The American Bankers Association (the “ABA”) has endorsed Rippleshot as a tool that can help financial institutions detect and stem fraudulent spend. At present, Rippleshot has pilot programs with MasterCard and Fiserv.
Lon Chow, Chris Capps
Based in San Francisco with an R&D office in Tel Aviv, Singular is re-imagining the way companies manage their mobile marketing operations. The Company’s SaaS platform enables mobile marketers to unify, analyze and optimize all of their marketing channels through a single dashboard. Using Singular’s proprietary algorithms, marketers can finally make informed decisions based on ROI and uncover never before seen insights that are imperative for marketing optimizations.
The current workflow for mobile marketers is very distributed and fragmented, involving lots of manual processes. Singular ties everything together to save marketers time and improve efficiencies, all in a simplified, automated manner.
Chris Capps, Mike Madden
Based in Chicago, AdYapper is a digital advertising optimization platform. Today, marketers are wasting 60-70% of their ad buys on ads that are never seen by their target audience. AdYapper’s proprietary platform helps solve this problem by measuring the viewability of ads and using real-time machine learning and algorithms to enact prescriptive adjustments to optimize ad placement and related ad spending ROI. In doing so, AdYapper drives better performance, increased advertiser profits and reduced waste. The Company brings ad campaigns into focus with a simple, intuitive scorecard, giving advertisers the ability to make quick decisions with real-time snapshots of an ad’s performance. With AdYapper’s platform, advertisers now have unprecedented access to measure the effectiveness of their spending. AdYapper customers can get answers to previously unanswered questions such as 1) how many people saw my ads; 2) how many times did they see it; and 3) which were the most effective sites.
AdYapper’s tracking sensors can be deployed in minutes, and the platform analyzes real-time media and conversion performance of campaigns in mid-flight. Advertisers can choose to optimize as fast or slow as each campaign dictates. The advertiser can then watch its media outperform, its conversion rates climb and its profits increase
Chris Capps, Lon Chow, Mike Madden
CityBase is a Chicago-based company that helps cities reach and serve residents and businesses online, on the phone and in person. The company develops technology, designs payment and communication channels, and aggregates operational data for municipalities, agencies, and utilities based on their proprietary academic research, design and data-driven analysis.
CityBase’s cloud-based SaaS platform integrates directly with local governmental agency databases and centralizes the customer interactions of multiple city agencies. The company’s products provide cities with comprehensive information about their operations and revenue collection, while providing citizens with a more unified and useful gateway to the government.
Terry Diamond, Mike Madden
Semantify is a data mining and analytics company based in Chicago. Semantify is a leader in the next generation of business intelligence tools with the powerful combination of natural language processing, semantic search and self-service business intelligence, all combined within a unified platform. Semantify targets Fortune 1000 companies, allowing them to query multiple, unrelated databases to freely search across their entire data universe. Users are able to execute queries in real time using natural language tools. With Semantify, there is no need to depend on data experts to code queries and prepare data.
Semantify is one of the first companies in its industry to achieve an intersection of self-service business intelligence functionality with a user-friendly search engine to explore enterprise data. Semantify delivers excellent speed, productivity, and cost effectiveness in responding to inquiries from customers, regulators and internal management.
Chris Capps, Lon Chow
Based in Chicago, Spring is a loyalty and rewards platform for merchants. Spring launched its service in Chicago and Nashville in late 2013 and has been growing its network of local merchants and users since that time. Spring allows merchants to actively manage their rewards program and offer other digital marketing programs to their existing customers, as well as to the broader network of Spring Marketplace members to attract new customers.
Spring prides itself as the world’s most “friction free” loyalty and rewards program. Spring’s platform is easy to implement and is scalable throughout the country. Spring connects right to a credit card, so it works without the hassle of loyalty cards, coupons, or vouchers. Customers love using it because it’s easy; they just connect, swipe and save. Businesses love it because they get the key information they need to help grow their businesses and connect to their customers more effectively. Spring’s platform is a great way for businesses to reward and keep their best customers, as well as find new ways to grow and expand their business.
Bill Wolf, Chris Capps, Gleb Zarkh
WellRight is a Chicago-based provider of software driven wellness solutions. Today, 92% of large employers offer health and wellness programs, yet less than 20% of eligible employees remain engaged in the programs, creating a need for a media-rich wellness program that stimulates employees and boosts engagement. In addition, because the traditional “one size fits all” solutions aren’t effective in today’s workplace, employers are demanding an agile solution that meets all their specific requirements/goals.
WellRight’s scalable and customizable software platform simplifies the implementation process for HR departments, increases employee engagement, identifies and categorizes employees’ current health status and predicts future disease risk. This provides employers with the knowledge to alter current benefit offerings to best meet the needs of their workforce population, as well as the ability to manage risk through wellness. WellRight’s product is built using Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) technology that can be implemented in days with little to no IT involvement.
Terry Diamond, Bill Wolf, Gleb Zarkh
Based in Kansas City, Missouri, SpiderOak is a cloud storage and communication product platform. SpiderOak’s suite of products was built on the premise that data privacy and security should be at the forefront of all feature sets. SpiderOak’s flagship product, SpiderOak ONE, allows users to securely backup data and uses SpiderOak’s zero knowledge policy, meaning the information is encrypted before it leaves a user’s computer and that even SpiderOak cannot access the user’s information. Only the user has access to the encryption key to read the data. The zero knowledge design is a differentiator among other competing services such as Dropbox and Google Drive. SpiderOak One is a great solution for individuals and teams that care about privacy. SpiderOak offers solutions for single users, groups and enterprises.
SpiderOak recently launched Semaphor, a workplace collaboration tool for teams and businesses. Users can join group conversations, private message team members, share files and install trusted third-party integrations knowing their privacy is protected at every step. Following the same privacy-centric design as all SpiderOak solutions, Semaphor uses a zero knowledge architecture. Similar to the Company’s backup product, the zero knowledge design is a differentiating factor among other competing services, such as Slack and HipChat.
Bill Wolf, Lon Chow, Mike Madden
Based in Chicago, Pangea is an international money remittance platform. Pangea’s proprietary payments platform utilizes already existing payment processing infrastructure, thereby reducing inefficiencies and reducing the cost of sending remittances around the world. Pangea enables the transfer of money from users in the U.S. to users in other countries for delivery directly to bank accounts, debit cards and/or retail locations within seconds. Pangea’s platform currently enables users to send money to Mexico, Colombia, Guatemala, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic and other Latin American countries, using the company’s mobile app, web portal, or via retail partners. For example, in Mexico, receivers can collect their money at 18,000-plus cash pickup locations or directly deposit into any of the 65 million debit cards or the 60 million bank accounts.
Since its inception, Pangea’s mission has been to make money transfers simple, fair and safe. Pangea’s remittance solution includes flexible payment vehicles, an enhanced user experience, significant cost savings and a proprietary compliance and risk analytics engine.
Bill Wolf, Chris Capps, Gleb Zarkh
Based in Chicago, OfficeLuv takes a modern approach to office cleaning and management. The Company’s “Trojan Horse” core product is a superior office cleaning experience. Every office needs to be cleaned, and the typical experience leaves much room for improvement. OfficeLuv’s easy-to-use online dashboard allows customers to schedule cleaning appointments, communicate with account managers, and order supplies. The service is a welcomed change for office managers, as legacy office cleaning companies historically haven’t invested in technology systems, making the typical experience unsatisfactory.
More importantly, OfficeLuv’s dashboard also streamlines and automates office supply orders and other essential practices. Customers don’t have to change what service providers they use. Customers can consolidate all those services into one invoice, saving time and money. OfficeLuv’s vision is to become the platform that helps manage all office activities such as wellness, groceries, supplies, team events, transportation, deliveries, meeting management and interoffice communications.
Bill Wolf, Chris Capps
Based in Chicago, HighGround has developed the leading cloud-based HR platform designed to help companies build highly engaged cultures through real-time recognition and continuous feedback. Today’s modern workforces expect their employers to provide them the same level of service, convenience and instant access to information that new consumer technologies offer. HighGround recognized this void and in 2012 began to develop a software platform with a modern approach to developing and recognizing employees through a simple, mobile-friendly platform.
By using HighGround’s platform, employees are empowered to recognize peers daily and contribute to their own career path. Companies now can more effectively capture the voice of the employee and turn annual performance reviews into meaningful, ongoing coaching sessions.
Bill Wolf, Chris Capps
ForeverCar is a Chicago-based online vehicle warranty platform. The Company enables consumers to shop for and buy vehicle warranties using a fully transparent online/mobile comparison shopping platform. Consumers spend approximately $11 billion per year on vehicle warranty contracts – $5.5 billion at car dealer point-of-sale and $5.5 billion in the aftermarket. Initially, ForeverCar is targeting the $5.5 billion in the aftermarket sector. The market is currently very fragmented with no dominant brand online or offline. ForeverCar has a commercial partnership with CUNA Mutual Group, a global product and services provider to credit unions and their 100+ million members. CUNA’s relationship with over 5,000 credit unions should drive penetration of ForeverCar’s product into CUNA’s base of three million annual vehicle loans which are sourced through credit unions.
ForeverCar is led by Mark Hodes. Mark has been at the intersection of technology and marketing for over 25 years. He has worked in many industries redefined by technology and travel (Orbitz), event ticketing (TicketsNow), apparel (Threadless) and comparison shopping (NexTag & AccuQuote).
Based in Jacksonville, Florida, eZassi has built a software platform for internal and external product development and innovation. In the past, companies relied on R&D to drive internal innovation and on scouts to source subject matter experts to drive external innovation. eZassi eliminates this by allowing companies to source and filter large volumes of new inbound ideas using their software platform in a “safe capture” environment to prevent future intellectual property disputes.
eZassi’s products provide unparalleled risk mitigation against IP misappropriation, bolster the acquisition of new product ideas, increase efficiency and reduce costs, all while expediting greatly the time-to-market process of launching a new product. eZassi’s is currently used by leading companies that find maintaining IP protection of new and confidential products to be imperative.
Bill Wolf, Gleb Zarkh
Based in Chicago, AdYapper is a digital advertising optimization platform.
Based in Chicago, CityBase provides an enterprise payment, analytics and communication platform for cities and utilities.
Jacksonville, FL-based software platform for internal and external product development and innovation.
Based in Chicago, ForeverCar is an online vehicle warranty platform.
Chicago-based employee engagement and development platform.
Based in Dallas, Music Audience Exchange (MAX) is a marketing technology company that helps consumer brands and music artists form mutually beneficial partnerships to drive measurable results.
Chicago-based office management platform that offers an office cleaning service, as well as a software-based procurement platform for office supplies and other essential office items.
Chicago-based international money transfer platform. Pangea enables the transfer of money from users in the U.S. to users in other countries for delivery directly to bank accounts or to designated pickup locations.
Based in Chicago, Rippleshot is transforming the way banks detect fraud through its cloud-based technology platform.
Based in Chicago, Semantify is a data mining and analytics company.
Chicago-based mobile marketplace for hourly workforces and businesses.
Based in San Francisco with an R&D office in Tel Aviv, Singular is re-imagining the way companies manage their mobile marketing operations.
Kansas City, MO-based cloud storage and communication software platform built on the premise that data privacy should be at the forefront of all feature sets.
Chicago-based digital marketing and loyalty rewards program tied directly to consumer credit cards.
Chicago-based retail analytics platform.
Chicago-based health and wellness software platform.