Chicago-Based Starting Line Unveils $17 Million Fund For Consumer Startups

By Dan Anderson ● Nov 12, 2019
  • Starting Line announced it has launched a new $17 million early-stage Fund I for investing in consumer startups

Starting Line announced it is coming out of stealth to announced a new $17 million early-stage Fund I for investing in consumer startups that are focused on democratizing access to technologies, products, and experiences for the 99% of Americans. Starting Line — which was founded by Ezra Galston — has already made seed investments into numerous fast-growing companies such as Cameo, Made In Cookware, and Truman’s.

Galston was previously a principal with Chicago Ventures and he made investments in high-growth consumer startups like Flyhomes, Hungryroot, M1Finance, Prettylitter, Spothero, and Sunbit.

Starting Line benefits from financial support among entrepreneurs and venture capitalists in Chicago and the rest of the country like Grubhub CEO Matt Maloney, Bloomberg Beta, Wicklow Capital, Maveron co-founder Dan Levitan, Emergence Capital general partner Joseph Floyd, Thrive Market CEO Nicholas R. Green, etc. And the fund’s advisory board consists of Maloney, Union Square Ventures general partner Rebecca Kaden, Foundry Group general partner Seth Levine, and Bloomberg Beta general partner Roy Bahat.

“Ezra has a strong background in Chicago venture capital and, in a few short years, Starting Line has become a leading voice in the tech communities between the coasts,” said Maloney. “He gets in early on the most promising opportunities and helps the teams accelerate through their first few rounds – the most precarious window for startups. Starting Line participation will soon be a very positive signal for later stage investors, if it isn’t already.”

Some of the team members that are helping entrepreneurs at Starting Line are principal Haley Kwait Zollo — who formerly scaled Analytics and Strategy at Trunk Club (acquired by Nordstrom) and later VP of Biz Ops at Mac & Mia (acquired by Stitch Fix); venture partner Ade Olonoh (founder of Formstack) as well as Marketer in Residence Nate Turner (employee #18 and previously VP of Demand Generation at Sprout Social).

“In my eight years of investing in early-stage startups, I consistently observed a large relatability gap between the investors who write checks and the founders who are creating the next wave of innovation,” added Galston. “This gap is exacerbated in smaller startup ecosystems where the few active firms are often byproducts of real estate partnerships, economic development, or family offices. With our network of entrepreneurs, subject matters experts and upstream capital partners, we have proven that we can dramatically move the needle for early-stage startups, irrespective of their geographic roots.”