Detroit’s Ludlow Ventures goes for fund four


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Ludlow Ventures, an 11-year-old, Detroit-based seed-stage venture firm, is in the process of closing on $65 million in capital commitments for its fourth and newest fund, shows SEC paperwork filed this week.

We reached out to firm founder Jonathon Triest, who declined to comment, citing SEC regulations.

Ludlow closed its previous fund, a $45 million vehicle, in 2019. Its second fund, announced in 2017, also closed with $45 million. Ludlow’s debut fund closed in 2014 with $15.5 million.

Ludlow, based in downtown Detroit, counts among its investors Stemcentrx co-founder Dan Reiner (who grew up in Detroit and attended school there) and Dan Gilbert, the billionaire founder of Quicken Loans and owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Indeed, the outfit was thought of early on as a regional firm. It quickly expanded outside of Detroit to invest across the U.S., however, and just last month was named an investor in the $2 million seed round of Umba, a 2.5-year-old, Lagos, Nigeria-based digital bank for emerging markets.

Ludlow has also written checks in recent months — both new and follow-on — to Welcome, a 1.5-year-old, New York-based HR software startup; Boulevard, a four-year-old, LA-based spa management and payment platform; and Lightyear, a 16-month-old, New York-based startup that wants to make it easier for large companies to procure networking infrastructure like internet and SD-WAN.

Ludlow has only had a couple of exits to date, but one is particularly notable: It was an early investor in Honey, the LA-based coupon finder that PayPal agreed to buy for $4 billion in late 2019.

The firm was also an investor in Product Hunt, which sold to AngelList for a reported $20 million in 2016.

Like all firms, Ludlow has had its write-downs. Navdy, for example, maker of a heads-up automotive display, went out of business in 2017. Still, in addition to its newest bets, it holds stakes in a variety of fast-growing startups. Among these is the nearly six-year-old Boston-based online notary platform Notarize, which has now raised more than $80 million from investors and said last summer it had seen dramatic growth owing to the pandemic and the shift to remote work.

In 2018, Triest also appears to have worked a check into the Series B round of Detroit-based resale marketplace StockX, a company that was last month assigned a $2.8 billion valuation by its newest investors.

Along with Triest, Ludlow is run by partner Brett deMarrais, who joined the firm in 2012, and a third investor, Blake Robbins, who joined the firm in 2016 as an associate. He was promoted to partner in 2019.

Illustration above courtesy of Ludlow Ventures, featuring, from left to right, Triest, deMarrais and Robbins.


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