March 17, 2010 / 2:47 PM / 9 years ago

Wisconsin startup helps farmers sell food online

SAN FRANCISCO (Private Equity Week) - Local Dirt, a Madison, Wisconsin-based company that helps farmers and agricultural producers sell their food online using its software logistics platform, raised an undisclosed amount of what’s believed to be seed stage capital last week.

Local Dirt founder Heather Hilleren would not disclose the amount of the investment, but said it was more than $1 million. She said the funding will be used to help market the company's service and website, which went live last fall.

The company, founded in 2005, raised the capital from O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures and Peak Ridge Capital’s AgTech Fund. San Francisco-based O’Reilly AlphaTech, which typically makes seed and early-stage investments, focuses on software, cleantech and other emerging trends. The fund is the investment arm of Internet and free open source supporter Tim O’Reilly.

The other investor in the round, Boston-based AgTech Fund, invests in startups that focus on more efficient methods of agricultural production in areas ranging from seed engineering to fertilizer and soil nanotechnology.

The funding is Local Dirt’s first institutional round of funding, following a grant of $600,000 from the National Science Foundation.

Other early-stage companies to raise financing last week included the following:


Eureka Genomics

Hercules, CA

Amount/Round: $3.7 million/seed stage

Investors: Individual investors

Details: Develops bioinformatics analysis of sequencing data.



New York, NY

Amount/Round: $10 million/Series B

Investors: Cue Ball Capital, Volition Capital (aka. Fidelity Ventures)

Details: Provides fashion information online. The company previously raised $16 million in funding.


Local Dirt

Madison, WI

Amount/Round: NA/Seed Stage

Investors: Peak Ridge Capital’s AgTech Fund and O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures

Details: Operates an online marketplace to help area farmers and agricultural producers sell their food to restaurants, stores and individual consumers.



San Francisco, CA

Amount/Round: $4.4 million/Series A

Investors: Redpoint Ventures (co-led), Trinity Ventures (co-led), SV Angel, Founder Collective, Lowercase Capital, XG Ventures and individual investors Brian Pokorny and Aydin Senkut

Details: Operates a blog publishing platform.


TripIt Inc.

San Francisco, CA

Amount/Round: $7 million/Series C

Investors: Azure Capital Partners (co-led) and OATV (co-led)

Details: Provides an online travel organizer and social network. The company previously raised $6.1 million, including a $5.1 million Series B round from OATV, Sabre Holdings and Europeean Founders Fund.


Kwedit Inc.

Mountain View, CA

Amount/Round: $3.3 million/Series A

Investors: True Ventures, Maples Investments and Fenwick & West.

Details: Develops a payment platform for virtual goods and social games. The company previously raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding.


Payfone Inc.

New York, NY

Amount/Round: $6 million/Series B

Investors: NA

Details: Develops ecommerce technology that allows users to pay for online goods via mobile devices. Bob Borchers, a partner with Opus Capital, is listed as a new board director. The company previously raised about $1.6 million in a round led by RRE Ventures.


Lucid Imagination

Mountain View, CA

Amount/Round: $10 million/Series B

Investors: Granite Ventures, Shasta Management and Walden International

Details: Provides open source search technologies. The company previously raised $6 million in funding.


DoubleVerify Inc.

New York, NY

Amount/Round: $10 million/Series B

Investors: Institutional Venture Partners (led), Blumberg Capital, First Round Capital and Genacast Ventures

Details: Provides online advertising verification solutions, has raised $10 million in Series B funding. The company raised a $3.5 million Series A round in May 2009.


JimmyJane Inc.

San Francisco, CA

Amount/Round: $2 million/NA

Investors: Palo Alto Investors

Details: Manufactures sexual accessories. The company has now raised $8.3 million in total funding.


Omthera Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Bedminster, NJ

Amount/Round: $6.5 million/Series A

Investors: Sofinnova Partners

Details: Develops treatments for dyslipidemia, or high blood cholesterol caused by too many fatty substances in the blood.


SeaWell Networks Inc.

Toronto, Ontario

Amount/Round: $7 million/Series A

Investors: BDC Venture Capital (led), Northwater Intellectual Property Fund and Ontario Centers of Excellence

Details: Provides Internet video distribution products.


ActiveTrak Inc.

Portland, OR

Amount/Round: NA/Series A

Investors: ProtectCell

Details: Provides mobile endpoint security solutions.


Cardagin Networks Inc.

Charlottesville, VA

Amount/Round: $1 million/Series A

Investors: Undisclosed individual investors

Details: Develops a mobile marketing platform.

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