On Friday afternoon, a filing crossed the wires showing that Builders VC has raised $115.52 million out of a targeted $200 million for its first fund. Additionally, the firm filed paperwork for a $10 million entity called “Builders VC Entrepreneurs Fund I, L.P.,” which is fully closed out.
Prior to starting Builders VC, Kim was a co-founding general partner of Formation 8 alongside Palantir co-founder Joe Lonsdale (who now runs 8VC) and LG Electronics heir Brian Koo. Formation 8 broke up rather suddenly in November 2015 following internal disagreements between partners. Prior to Formation 8, Kim was a general partner at Khosla Ventures.
Paul Lee also has deep experience in the startup and venture capital sector. A Chicago resident, Lee was formerly a general partner at Lightbank, a venture firm spun up by Groupon founders Brad Keywell and Eric Lefkofsky. After departing Lightbank, Lee co-founded Roniin, a startup studio which would later re-brand to Builders Studios,. It has been subsumed into the broader Builders firm.
In an interview with TechCrunch in mid-December 2016, Lee and Kim explained their strategy for the firm. At the time, Kim said that the firm wants “to write $3 million to $10 million checks and accelerate the companies for their next round of funding.”
Unlike many venture firms, which besides writing checks may help with public relations and recruitment, Builders works with Seed and Series A-stage companies which, according to Lee, “[apply] fantastic technologies in antiquated markets.” The firm connects portfolio companies to internal resources. Builders VC’s website states there is “a team of 30 in-house engineers, enterprise sales personnel, performance marketers, and back office operations to help support our founders.”
Crunchbase data shows that Builders has invested in primary care network Carbon Health and oncology drug combination testing service Notable Labs. The firm’s website also lists API development tool Clay Labs, airfare payment plan provider Airfordable, and customer intelligence platform Sense360 as portfolio companies. It’s an eclectic mix for sure, but as Lee told TechCrunch a couple years ago, “We believe as an early-stage fund, you can’t be too sector-specific.”
This could come as particularly good news for Chicago, which lacks deep-pocketed Seed and Series A funds. Although Lee and Kim have yet to raise around $85 million to close out their fund, it will be interesting to keep tabs on the group’s investments in the meantime.
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias