PORTLAND, Ore. — Elevate Capital, which manages one of the nation’s first venture capital funds to support inclusion and diversity, today announced that it has secured a very strong return on the exit from its investment in RFPIO following a swift two-year investment period. RFPIO, the leading provider of cloud-based RFP (Request for Proposal) software, recently announced a $25 million series A investment.
In addition, Elevate Capital announced today that the firm will host its first annual Elevate Inclusion Summiton October 12, 2018, in Portland. It will be a gathering of under-represented entrepreneurs including women, minorities that include communities of color, veterans, and entrepreneurs located in under-served areas, together with venture capitalists and investors for a day of learning, sharing, inspiration, and new funding opportunities. The summit will be one of the first of its kind to be completely focused on the topic of inclusion.
“At Elevate Capital, one of our goals has been to shine a light on the outstanding work of minority and under-represented entrepreneurs primarily in the Pacific Northwest with that early investment they need as well as mentoring and supporting them in growing their companies by raising additional rounds of capital or liquidity options through our networks and connections. RFPIO is a great example of such an effort where we invested early,” said Nitin Rai, managing director of Elevate Capital. “Raghu Raghavan, Executive Partner at Elevate, and I took board seats. Our co-investor syndicate included TiE Oregon Angels, the Bend Venture Conference Fund, and Stephen Marsh of Archivist Capital (and an investor in Elevate Capital). Stephen was already a fan of RFPIO since Smarsh, the company he founded, was using the product. We all helped the company through an amazing growth journey, then Stephen introduced RFPIO to the investor and I took the lead to negotiate the terms of the exit. We were all pleased to see that lead to a very fast and tremendous outcome.”
“In two years, we’ve demonstrated that it’s possible to find such investable entrepreneurs and help them grow and expand their companies successfully and obtain liquidity opportunities to create wealth in their communities while generating excellent returns for our investors,” added Rai. “Now, we want to share the knowledge, wealth and opportunity created by a substantial exit from one of our awesome minority-led portfolio companies through our new Elevate Inclusion Summit. We hope aspiring women, minority, and veteran entrepreneurs will join us to share their business ideas and get inspired.”
“Elevate Capital was the lead seed investor in RFPIO when they invested in our company two years ago and we’re extremely pleased and proud that they were able to receive such a significant return on their exit in such a short period of time. Now they will be taking some of those funds and continuing to invest in other deserving companies and entrepreneurs,” said Ganesh Shankar, CEO of RFPIO. “It was a privilege to work closely with Nitin Rai and the rest of the team at Elevate Capital and TiE Oregon. They have been awesome to work with as well as great mentors and advisors during the past couple of years.”
RFPIO, founded in 2015, is an example of an investment by Elevate Capital in a minority entrepreneur-led startup. RFPIO co-founders Shankar, AJ Sunder, and Sankar Lagudu, are all Indian immigrant entrepreneurs. RFPIO received funding from both the Elevate Inclusive Fund and the Elevate Capital Fund.
“The Meyer Memorial Trust has been an investor in the Elevate Capital Fund since August 2016. It’s always great news when a local investment generates significant returns, but even more so when that positive return occurs in less than two years,” said Rukaiyah Adams, Chief Investment Officer, Meyer Memorial Trust. “We’re very pleased to be a part of Elevate Capital with Nitin Rai at the helm.”
The Elevate Inclusive Fund, was first launched as an investment fund by Prosper Portland in 2015 and Elevate Capital took over management of the fund in 2016. Initial investors included Prosper Portland ($500,000), Multnomah County ($650,000), Governor Kate Brown and Business Oregon ($250,000), Oregon Growth Fund ($50,000) and City of Beaverton ($50,000).
“Prosper Portland is proud to have been an initial investor in the Elevate Inclusive Fund, one of the first publicly backed seed funds focused on women- and minority-led startups,” said Kimberly Branam, Executive Director of Prosper Portland. “We’ve welcomed the opportunity to collaborate regionally with the state of Oregon, Multnomah County, and the City of Beaverton to support diverse startups, and we’re very pleased to see this positive outcome so quickly, a testament to the sound management of the fund by Nitin Rai and his team.”
Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith added, “Today, I’d like to congratulate RFPIO and our partners at Elevate Capital for reaching this first critical milestone. When I first fought to find public funding back in 2016 to help women and people of color find early startup capital, I knew that these small municipal investments would leverage larger private investments. With our partners at Prosper Portland, Multnomah County has taken the lead nationally in creating a unique public-private partnership that creates access to critical early capital while building job growth opportunities in the region.
Elevate has invested in 23 startups in a wide variety of industries. Portfolio companies include Blendoor, Bumped, Cascade Pro Drug, C. Deloney Collections, Curadite, Garden Bar, Goumikids, Handful, Hemex Health, Heritage Laboratories, Hubb, Hue Noir, I.T. Aire, Kadabra, Onboard Dynamics, Paclabs Analytics, PublicMarket.io, REZI, RFPIO, Scout Military, Versi, The Wild, and Wildfang. More than 70 percent of the founders of these companies are women, African American, Latino, LGBTQ, veterans and other minorities.
For more information about the Elevate Inclusion Summit, visit elevate.vc/events.