Deep tech startups like Plus One and Fito are aiming to raise up to $40 million for its third venture fund, FirstStar, TechCrunch has learned.
Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, FirstStar typically backs early-stage startups focused on robotics, blockchain, AI and machine learning. The firm did not disclose an initial close for the proposed third fund in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, but if it proceeds to raise the proposed amount, it would represent a significant jump from FirstStar’s previous funds.
In the year In 2014, the VC launched a $10 million fund under a different name (Prosion Ventures), and followed it up with a second fund of $25 million in 2019, according to PitchBook. Its founding partners, Millie Liu and Drew Volpe, share connections to both MIT (as researchers) and MassChallenge, a Boston startup incubator (as mentors).
FirstStar did not immediately respond to a request for more information on its plans for the new fund, but the investor’s recent deals give a hint of where it will focus its energy soon. VC deals this year include a $7 million seed round for ChiselStrike, which makes tools for back-end software developers, and a $12 million Series A for Zankar, looking at geothermal resources with AI to decarbonize the US power grid. According to Zanskar, First Star can be considered as a supported Feto climate technology. The MIT-based startup aims to use robots to reduce water waste and greenhouse gas emissions.
Cantos, another deep tech VC with an early-stage focus, recently launched its $50 million third fund in response to the climate crisis.