Boulder-based Ignyte launches $5M investment fund

BOULDER — Ignyte Lab LLC — a Boulder company that aims to help revenue-generating companies scale their operations — is raising funds for a new $5 million investment fund that it will use to invest in technology and natural and organic foods startups.

Ignyte founder Ryan Ferrero said in an interview that the Ignytion fund will make seed-stage investments averaging $250,000.

Ferrero will manage the fund along with a pair of veteran entrepreneurs who have joined Ignyte as partners, Bernee Strom, who recently moved to Boulder from Seattle, and Tom Miller of Peak Asset Management in Louisville.

Tom Miller
Tom Miller
Bernee Strom
Bernee Strom
Ryan Ferrero
Ryan Ferrero

The new fund will allow investors not only to invest in promising young companies. But the hope is that it will also expand the clientele for Ignyte, which often takes on operational roles with the young companies with which it works.

“What we’re doing is hitting the gas and accepting business submissions to scale ourselves,” Ferrero said.

Run for the past four years out of ad agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky’s offices in Gunbarrel, Ignyte recently moved into office space at the Sustainability, Energy, and Environment Complex on the University of Colorado Boulder’s East Campus at the corner of Foothills Parkway and Colorado Avenue.

In addition to Strom and Miller, venture capitalist Trapp Lewis — who is based in Singapore and whose resume includes stints with companies such as Alibaba and Yahoo — has also become an investor in Ignyte.

United Arab Emirates entrepreneur Wissam Otaky, meanwhile, is working with Ignyte as an advisor as his company, Hatcher, helps Ignyte deploy a software platform through which the company will better be able to manage its portfolio and portfolio companies’ operations, including everything from tasks to email to finances to file storage. The platform will also allow investors in the Ignytion fund, no matter their location, easier access to greater detail on portfolio companies and facilitate communications.

“When you’re managing a portfolio, there’s so many moving pieces on a given day,” Ferrero said. “You need to be able to coordinate and get tasks done efficiently.”

Strom, whose background includes helping launch, as well as several other companies, moved to Boulder last fall and connected with Ferrero in the spring. She said that with all of the startup accelerators already in place in Boulder, she found Ignyte’s model a good fit for her to help companies that are already post-product and post-revenue to grow.

“I decided my niche would be better to help companies scale,” Strom said.

Beau Burris, CEO of Denver-based Mame’s Crafted Gourmet LLC, which makes Mame’s Burritos, said Ignyte’s participation in his company has been invaluable in recent months as it starts to scale. Ignyte took a minority equity stake in Mame’s in December. Burris said the company grew over the past couple of years to more than $1 million in revenue, but needed help raising money and taking the next step.

“To go from a million-a-year business to 10 million-a-year, it takes some guidance I think,” Burris said. “I want the direct route there. I don’t want to be climbing all these side mountains on the way there.”

While Ignyte has worked with local companies to this point, Ferrero said the Ignytion fund would seek out deals all over the map.

“We would imagine the lion’s share of submissions will happen from here, but we are sourcing deals from everywhere,” Ferrero said.