2021 Newsmaker: Eric Tobias, Scott Dorsey, Mike Fitzgerald, Kristian Andersen; High Alpha partners

(Photos courtesy of High Alpha)

The pandemic has not slowed Indianapolis-based venture studio High Alpha—and in fact, the move to remote work and increasing dependence on technology has probably sped up its activity.

The firm—launched by partners Eric Tobias, Scott Dorsey, Mike Fitzgerald and Kristian Andersen—has had a busy year, on top of a busy 2020.

Its investment arm, High Alpha Capital, announced in April it had closed a $110 million fund, its third and its largest to date. Six months later, it announced it raised another $18 million to help prepare startups to receive funding.

And it continued to pump out companies, too. It had launched five software-as-a-service startups by the end of October (on top of 10 in 2020), with three more in stealth mode that hadn’t been publicly announced.

High Alpha this year introduced:

Luma, an interview intelligence platform, in February.

The Juice, a business-to-business content discovery platform, in August.

Humankind, a retail technology company that offers concierge services to online shoppers, in September.

Pillar, which uses artificial intelligence to help other companies hire and is built in part on Luma, in October.

Castiron, which offers a suite of tools that focus on the needs of independent culinary artisans, in October.

Tobias, Dorsey, Fitzgerald and Andersen launched High Alpha in 2015 with the goal of conceiving and growing business-to-business software companies. They all had plenty of experience in the area.

Tobias has founded three companies, including iGoDigital, which was acquired in 2012 by Salesforce, where he worked as vice president of product for marketing cloud until 2014.

Andersen was the founder of Studio Science, which sold to an investment group in 2019. He also cofounded Gravity Ventures and other startups, including Lessonly.

Dorsey was co-founder of ExactTarget, which sold in 2013 for $2.5 billion to Salesforce and where he launched a foundation, now a not-for-profit called Nextech, to help connect K-12 students with computer science.

Fitzgerald led a department at Roche Diagnostics responsible for launching wholly owned startups from within the company and served as president of RICS Software and Oxygen Education before working at ExactTarget and helping lead the firm through its initial public offering and then sale.

High Alpha is much more than a venture capital fund and not like a typical incubator, which might take in an existing company for several months of mentoring and assistance.

Instead, High Alpha nurtures ideas into commercial ventures, then surrounds them with the seed funding, talent, marketing and other operational functions to help them get off the ground and raise more money. The companies remain part of the High Alpha family until they are acquired or go public.

This year, several of its portfolio companies were acquired, most notably Lessonly, the training software firm that didn’t start as a High Alpha company but became part of the portfolio at the venture studio’s launch. Other High Alpha companies that were acquired in 2020 included Pattern and Canopy.

And many others raised money, among them: Terminus, $90 million; Encamp, $12 million; Mandolin, $12 million; Casted, $7 million; Malomo, $5 million; File, $3 million; and Shaker, $2 million.•

Check out more 2021 Newsmakers.

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