The Badger Fund of Funds, seeded with a $25million commitment from the state, said Thursday it will launch its first venture capital fund in La Crosse.

The Idea Fund of La Crosse will be managed by Jonathon Horne, a LaCrosse native who previously worked in investment banking at J.P. Morgan in New York. He was recommended by community leaders in La Crosse, said Ken Johnson, a Badger Fund partner.

Horne, 32, has world-class investment experience and is a Wisconsin native through and through, Johnson said.

“We are absolutely convinced that when Jon is successful, he will do funds two and three in La Crosse and not leave our state,” Johnson said.

The Idea Fund must raise a minimum of $8 million. The Badger Fund has committed to make a matching investment of 40% of any money the new fund raises, Johnson said.

The Idea Fund will focus on putting the first invested dollar into brand-new start-ups, Johnson said. It will not limit itself to any particular industry categories, he said.

The La Crosse area is home to entrepreneurial companies like Logistics Health and JAMF Software, schools like the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, Western Technical College and Viterbo University, and health care systems such as Gundersen.

“This innovative environment is a terrific start-up location,” Johnson said.

The Badger Fund is a partnership between Fitchburg-based Kegonsa Capital Partners, which is led by Johnson, and Sun Mountain Capital, a Santa Fe, N.M., firm whose managing partner is Brian Birk.

The fund received the $25million commitment from the state in early 2014. It said a year ago that it had raised more than $5million of additional private capital.

The Badger Fund has said it hopes to invest in as many as 12 venture capital funds across the state in an effort to make money, create jobs and develop a new generation of venture fund managers.

Like Horne, the fund managers will be chosen from recommendations made by the community where the fund will be located, Johnson said. The new managers spend three months in “due diligence,” then three days in Santa Fe at Sun Mountain Capital getting more training and meeting fund managers from Sun Mountain’s other programs.

The Badger Fund said in its proposal to the state that it hoped to start six seed funds and two early-stage funds by June 2018. It is on pace to achieve that, Johnson said.

Source: Badger Fund of Funds launches first venture capital fund in La Crosse