Friday, November 09, 2007

Makeover Solutions: Success with Off the Grid VCs

This week's announcement of a US$7 million raise by Makeover Solutions is an interesting example of how regional VCs can come together around a common investment theme.

The financing for the Toronto -based company came from Quebec-based Rho Canada, New York-based Borealis Ventures and Village Ventures in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Rho Canada is a regional branch of Rho Ventures. After a lengthy search for Canadian partners, Rho finally recruited wireless chip veteran Antoine Paquin and Jeff Grammer from Boston. Surprisingly, their investments have focused more on Web 2.0 businesses such as Now Public and HR alloy, rather than the kind of semiconductor and telecom plays Paquin has worked n in the past.

Rho is an interesting fund to combine with Village Ventures, the Williamstown-based brainchild of Bo Peabody. Like me, Bo is an alum of Williams College. Unlike me, Bo made his fortune barely out of school ,selling his Tripod community to Lycos. He then evolved the idea of a network of regional funds that would nurture start ups in business areas that were out of the mainstream, such as the Berkshires of Massachusetts, and Village Ventures was born.

Makeover, which has been around for several years, is hardly a seed investment opportunity. The press release hints that its technology and community-building opportunities may have been what attracted the diverse interests of its investors. Whatever the reason, it's a good example of how a syndicate of investors can be put together with some targeted research for the right players.

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