Angels Hope ENIAC Ventures Will Soar

Nihal Mehta, one of the angel investors who got in on the ground floor of smash hit AdMob, is looking for the next big thing in the wireless industry.

Mehta and three other University of Pennsylvania graduates last month announced the launch of ENIAC Ventures, a seed stage investment fund exclusively focused on mobile technologies.

Based in New York, the angel fund raised about “a couple of million dollars” from strategic LPs in the mobile industry, according to Mehta, who declined to disclose the size of the fund or the names of its limited partners. An SEC filing also does not list the firm’s offering amount, but some online news sites pegged the amount at $1.6 million.

Mehta says the firm will look at deals across the mobile sector, including mobile apps, infrastructure, advertising and even cell tower transmitters. It will back between between 30 and 50 startups over the next few years, with investments ranging from $25,000 to $100,000, he says.

ENIAC takes its unusual name from the first computer that was developed at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Engineering, where the four co-founding partners met as undergrad engineering students during the ‘90s.

Mehta is no stranger to angel investing. He was an investor in mobile ad marketplace AdMob, which Google bought for $750 million earlier this year. AdMob previously raised more than $46 million from Accel Partners, Sequoia Capital, DFJ Growth Fund and a host of angel investors.

We want to be able to double-down on Series A rounds on companies that we think are worth it.

Nihal Mehta

Joining Mehta as managing members of ENIAC are three other veterans of the wireless industry: Hadley Harris, Vic Singh and Tim Young. The four ENIAC partners, who each contributed to the seed fund, have already invested in six wireless startups from the new fund.

Companies backed by the fund include Instinctiv, Localytics, MightyMeeting and Philo. The funding amounts were undisclosed, but Philo, which describes itself as a social TV platform, announced in July that it raised an undisclosed seed stage round from ENIAC, North Bridge Venture Partners, DFJ Gotham and Stephen Lambert, a TV producer.

Eniac plans to reserve about half of its capital for follow-on rounds. “We want to be able to double-down on Series A rounds on companies that we think are worth it,” says Mehta, who adds the firm will not take any management fees for its investments.

“The four GPs don’t need it,” he says. “We all have day jobs.”

Mehta, for example, is currently CEO of buzzd, a New York-based provider of a social city guide that raised VC funding from the Blackberry Partners Fund, Qualcomm Ventures, Greycroft Partners and Monitor Ventures. Before that, Mehta founded ipsh!, a full-service mobile marketing agency in 2001, which he sold for an undisclosed price to Omnicom in 2005.

Although ENIAC will primarily do deals in Silicon Valley, Boston and New York, the firm is open to doing deals outside of those hot spots, Mehta says. For example, the team is currently looking at a wireless startup in India. —Alastair Goldfisher