New woman-led fund Radiate Ventures seeks adversity-hardened founders

Cathryn Chen, founder of investment platform MarketX, has raised $30m for the debut fund of Radiate Ventures, which is targeting $150m.

Radiate Ventures, a new woman-led venture firm, has raised $30 million for its debut fund, which is targeting $150 million.

Cathryn Chen, Radiate Ventures

The San Francisco-based firm was founded and is led by general partner Cathryn Chen, who previously founded MarketX, a global investment platform that connects investors with growth- and late-stage secondary investment opportunities.

In an interview with Venture Capital Journal, Chen said she is looking to “back founders who have faced adversity and have something meaningful to contribute to the world – not the ones who want to take shortcuts and try to make the most money as fast as possible.”

She noted that Radiate will largely focus on late-stage deals, leveraging her experience with MarketX. “Eighty percent of the portfolio is going to be focusing on later and growth stage deals that we typically have done, but 20 percent will focus on early-stage,” she said. “That 80/20 split is more about dollar amount than number of companies. We think that during tough times like this you can find really amazing companies. The best companies are built during hard times.”

Radiate’s debut fund employs a standard 2 percent management fee and 20 percent carry. The bulk of capital committed so far has come from family offices and a small number of high-net-worth individuals. Chen said the firm is also in discussions with several sovereign wealth funds who are “looking to get more exposure” to the global VC market.

Chen’s MarketX, founded in 2015, has completed more than 40 investments in fintech, deep tech and vertical SaaS companies. It typically co-invests alongside the family offices and high-net-worth individuals that use its platform.

Radiate, which launched in January, will pursue investments in the same areas as MarketX, leveraging Chen’s preexisting network of industry experts and venture partners.

“Whoever can connect the right parties with these new technologies the fastest is going to come out on top, and that’s what I think we can do,” Chen told VCJ. “Basically, what we do is look for companies creating technologies that will transform industries, and then figure out how we can take them to a global level.”

In addition to the deals done by MarketX, Chen said her track record includes about 20 investments she has made as an angel investor. She has already completed at least one undisclosed investment from Radiate’s debut fund.

From Miami to Zambia

Based in Miami, Chen leads four investment professionals, a group she describes as the “X-men team,” which she hopes to grow to up to eight investors in the near future. Radiate has employees around the globe, including in Singapore, France, Nigeria, Zambia, Abu Dhabi, Tel Aviv, London and Zurich. Chen brings the virtual staff together every few months for in-person co-working sessions in different countries.

As a female VC, Chen says the name of her firm and the diversity of her team is intentional. “Radiate is supposed to exude this warm energy, because we want to be more inclusive,” she told VCJ. “I like to say our team is very cultured, and when we invest we really try to leverage that. The people who first backed me were founders from nontraditional backgrounds, and that’s what we’re trying to do now.”