Cintrifuse adds 5 new investors, including Kroger, Castellini, American Financial

Cintrifuse fund of funds up to $51 million

CINCINNATI - Cintrifuse, the regional effort to bring new venture capital options to local startups, has raised an additional $11 million from the Greater Cincinnati Foundation and four local companies.

Cintrifuse announced Thursday that the Kroger Co., Castellini Management Co., American Financial Group and Messer Financial Services have all made investments in a fund of funds that will invest in national and regional venture capital firms. Castellini Management is the holding company for family investments of Cincinnati Reds owner Bob Castellini. Messer Financial is an investment affiliate of Messer Construction.

The goal of Cintrifuse is to get more venture capital investors active in the Cincinnati area, where Cintrifuse is trying to cultivate more startup activity. The fund of funds will invest in national venture capital firms, encouraging those firms to consider more local startups.

"There's never been a better time to be an entrepreneur in Greater Cincinnati," Cintrifuse CEO Jeff Weedman said in a press release. "This support demonstrates the enthusiasm and importance of providing more capital to the region."

Cintrifuse fund manager Tim Schigel said several local companies are still considering investments worth another $15 million. The original goal was to raise between $50 million and $100 million for the effort.

"If I had 75, I'd be pleased as punch and move on," Schigel said.

Cintrifuse is interviewing venture capital firms for potential investments. Schigel said the new fund could make up to $16 million in three to four venture capital investments by the end of this year. Already the effort is producing the desired results.

"We had I think three firms in Cincinnati this week alone," he said. "What's nice is they come to visit and we set them up with a half dozen (startup) company visits. Some of our startups have never seen this many VC firms."

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