Purple Arch is a venture fund for Northwestern alumni, by Northwestern alumni. And the young VC firm is already raising its next fund to back more entrepreneurs that bleed purple and black.
Purple Arch, founded in 2016, closed its first fund last year. The $5 million fund backed 20 Northwestern University-affiliated startups, including Chicago startups like NuCurrent, Innoblative, and Heaven’s Door, a whiskey brand endorsed by Bob Dylan.
Now, Purple Arch is nearing the close of its second fund, which founder and Managing Partner David Beazley said will be around $10 million and expects to close in the fall. The second fund has already backed 11 startups, which Beazley declined to name.
The goal of Purple Arch is simple—invest in companies that have a connection to Northwestern in order to help grow alumni-led companies and boost the university’s reputation as a startup powerhouse.
“Successful entrepreneurs are becoming the new rockstars,” Beazley said. “They’re certainly influential in business, but also culture … Our entrepreneurs are a relevant reflection of how great our university is.”
Beazley said Purple Arch’s typical check size was around $200,000 during its first fund, but in the second fund, the median investment size will be around $400,000. Purple Arch allocates 25 percent of its fund for Chicago-based investments, and typically co-invests with other local VC firms.
Purple Arch is part of a larger network of university-focused venture firms called Alumni Ventures Group, which also oversees University of Wisconsin-focused Bascom Ventures and Stanford-focused Spike Ventures, among others. Purple Arch isn’t officially associated with Northwestern University.
Beazley said the benefit of Purple Arch to entrepreneurs is the power of the Northwestern alumni network. Beyond just the Northwestern grads that invest in Purple Arch, the group works to connect founders to the school’s alumni network at large, helping introduce companies to potential customers and recruit top talent.
“Leveraging our community is our secret sauce,” Beazley said.
Beazley said that in 10 years, Purple Arch hopes to invest more than $100 million in 200 to 250 alum-led startups.