CEI Ventures Closes Fourth VC Fund at $10 Million

January 26, 2017

10:30 am

This article is courtesy of Maine Startups Insider, created by Whit Richardson, a journalist who’s covered Maine’s business community for the past decade. Visit Maine Startups Insider to read more about Maine’s startup community and subscribe to the weekly newsletter.

CEI Ventures announced the closing of its fourth venture capital fund with nearly $10 million available to invest in startups in Maine and the Northeast.

The Coastal Ventures IV fund has been operating for the past year since their raise of $7.2 million and initial closing in December 2015, according to Nat Henshaw, managing director of CEI Ventures. CEI Ventures was able to raise an additional $2 million to the fund marking the final closing.

To date, CEI Ventures has invested $1.1 million out of Coastal Ventures IV across three companies: Pika Energy in Westbrook, Maine Craft Distilling in Portland, and Genicon, a surgical tool manufacturer in Winter Park, Fla., according to Henshaw.

Coastal Ventures IV was capitalized by seventeen local and regional banks as well as eight individual investors, according to a news release. CEI Ventures’ parent organization, Brunswick-based Coastal Enterprises Inc., invested $1.5 million in the new fund.

CEI Ventures invests from two funds with $20 million under management: Coastal Ventures III and Coastal Ventures IV and it’s their goal to invest in companies that create quality jobs and promote socially responsible products and services, particularly those improving the environment. Initial investments typically range from $250,000 to $750,000.

“We’re actively looking for companies, so we’d be interested in talking with people,” said Henshaw to Maine Startups Insider.

Henshaw helped develop CEI’s venture capital program, cofounding CEI Ventures in 1994. Besides investing in socially responsible companies, it also invests in companies that meet the mission of CEI, which is a nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution dedicated to supporting businesses in low-income, rural areas.

Since its founding, CEI Ventures has raised more than $45 million and invested in over 50 companies. According to the company’s research, those companies have created more than 2,000 net new jobs, though not all in Maine. Some of CEI Ventures’ promising Maine-based portfolio companies include Pika Energy, Certify, Tilson Technology Management, BlueTarp Financial, Hyperlite Mountain Gear, Mingle Analytics, Maine Craft Distilling, and Gelato Fiasco.

Prior investments that led to successful exits include Coast of Maine Organic Products, which experienced a liquidity event last year; Innov-X Systems, a Woburn, Mass.-based company acquired in 2010; Cuddledown Inc., a Yarmouth-based company acquired in December 2012; Avia Biosystems, a Norton, Mass.-based company acquired in 2015; RecruiterNet, a Portland-based software company that was acquired in 2005 by First Advantage Corp.; and Bar Harbor Foods, which was acquired last year by a Maryland company.

Photo: Flickr / Paul VanDerWerf

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Whit Richardson is a former daily newspaper journalist in Portland, Maine, who has covered business and entrepreneurship for the past decade. He's founder of Maine Startups Insider and currently editor-in-chief of 4Front Publishing, an online news startup covering the nascent legal cannabis industry.

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