Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, First Star typically backs early-stage robotics, blockchain, AI and machine learning-focused startups. The firm has not disclosed the first close of its planned third fund, upon submission with the Securities and Exchange Commission, but if it continues to raise the planned amount, it would represent a major jump over First Star’s previous funds.
In 2014, the VC launched a $10 million debut fund under a different name (Procyon Ventures) and followed it up with a second $25 million fund in 2019, according to PitchBook. Its founding partners, Millie Liu and Drew Volpe, share ties to both MIT (as researchers) and MassChallengeThe Boston Startup Incubator (as mentors).
First Star did not immediately respond to a request for further information on its plans for the new fund, but the investor’s recent trades offer a hint of where it has been focusing its energies lately. Deals the VC has been involved in this year include a $7 million seed round ChiselStrikewhich makes tools for back-end software developers, and a $12 million Series A for Zanskar, which aims to decarbonize the US electricity grid by discovering geothermal resources with AI. Like Zanskar, the First Star-backed Fyto can also be considered a climate technology; MIT-founded startup aims to reduce water waste and greenhouse gas emissions by using robots to grow”ultra-resistant” fodder for cows.
Cantos, another deep-tech VC with an early-stage focus, recently launched its own $50 million third fund with a more external focus on responding to the climate crisis.