About The Fund
We believe the UMass Amherst entrepreneurial ecosystem has great untapped potential. We see faculty members in labs with a passion for better solutions and students with fresh insights on old problems. We see alumni who are exploring countless ways for making us healthier, safer, smarter and even happier. For some, their energy and ideas become launch pads for transformative commercial enterprises. Our goal is to identify, invest in and champion the best of these UMass Amherst-linked ventures.
We had an initial closing of $1.5 million in January 2017, of which $1 million was invested by alumnus Paul Manning of Charlottesville, VA and $500,000 was invested by UMass Amherst. We plan to raise additional funds through June 30, 2017. We expect to make investments of $50,000 to $200,000 over a three year investment period and harvest our investments within ten years. If this Fund is as successful as we hope, follow on investment funds may be created.
Our investments are selective. Like any savvy investor, we seek promising opportunities that have strong prospects for commercial success and will generate commensurate returns for our investors. Although we are not a part of UMass Amherst, we see ourselves as a catalyst for innovation and entrepreneurship throughout the UMass Amherst community.
Our Fund is managed by Maroon Venture Partners, LLC, a limited liability company that is overseen by a five person investment committee with diverse backgrounds in entrepreneurship. Our committee members serve on a volunteer basis and the compensation that a conventional venture fund would otherwise pay to its managers is donated to UMass Amherst. Our investment committee also looks to advisory committees of domain experts for input on particular investment opportunities.
Our day-to-day operations are overseen by Charlie Johnson, a member of the faculty at the Isenberg School of Management and Associate Director of the Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship. Prior to joining the UMass Amherst faculty, Charlie was a business lawyer in Boston and he plays a lead role in consummating the Fund’s investments after they are approved by our investment committee.
We receive administrative services and back office support from UMass Amherst’s central office of Administration and Finance. KPMG, LLP provides us with pro bono tax advice. We also seek opportunities for UMass Amherst student engagement, particularly in the areas of market research and other due diligence required on prospective investments.
Our deal flow is generated from referrals from the many departments and centers on the UMass Amherst campus including the Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship, the UMass Amherst Technology Transfer Office, the Institute for Applied Life Sciences, and the Office of Research and Engagement as well as from alumni and supporters off campus. We also benefit from the strong support and resources of UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy who played a critical role in inspiring our Fund.