Suffolk Technologies wants to have its cake and eat it, too.
Corporate VCs and traditional investors help startups in different ways. While venture capitalists are better equipped to help startups land their next funding round or make their next hire, CVCs can ask their corporate overlords to serve as early product testers or customers. Suffolk Technologies, Boston-based construction giant Suffolk Construction’s new VC arm, hopes to offer its portfolio companies the best of both — and reap the benefits of both, too.
Suffolk Technologies this week launched its debut $110 million fund to back construction tech startups across stages. While the fund shares some of its parent’s resources, like marketing, the firm mainly raised capital from external investors and is operating as a stand-alone fund.
Jit Kee Chin, the fund’s co-founder and managing partner, said Suffolk Construction started investing off its balance sheet a few years ago after it began to notice a couple of trends: All of the interesting innovation in construction was coming from startups, and venture capitalists seemed eager to back those companies.
“We saw the potential, we saw the strategic value for us going in and decided to start investing in early 2019,” Chin told TechCrunch+. “That was really the genesis of Suffolk Technologies, but we invested from 2019 onward as we tested out our investment thesis.”
During that time, the company backed 30 companies. Chin said that once the portfolio started showing momentum, they departed from the usual CVC route and started raising external capital.
While Suffolk Technologies isn’t the first fund with CVC roots to raise outside capital, it’s still uncommon. Plus, it’s interesting to decide to take on the additional investment risk of having outside investors, especially given today’s rough climate.