High Alpha portfolio firm Bolster makes official launch after raising $6M

Bolster, a High Alpha portfolio company that produces an online marketplace for on-demand executive talent, announced its official launch Wednesday with the aim of matching experienced executives with companies for interim, fractional, advisory, project-based or board roles.

Bolster has raised a total of $6 million in venture capital since its founding in April, company officials told IBJ. Its investors include Indianapolis-based High Alpha Capital, Silicon Valley Bank parent SVB Financial Group, New York-based Union Square Ventures and Palo Alto, California-based Costanoa Ventures.

Bolster, which was born out of Indianapolis-based High Alpha Studio and is High Alpha’s 19th portfolio company, is currently without an office. The startup has eight full-time employees in Indianapolis, Colorado and New York working remotely. The CEO and co-founder, Matt Blumberg, is based in New York, but the firm’s mailing address is in Indianapolis.

Bolster plans to grow its staff this year and next, but company officials said they don’t currently have precise growth projections due in part to the uncertainties caused by the pandemic.

The Bolster platform matches companies with top executive talent and enables investors to connect their talent networks to the CEOs of their portfolio companies. Bolster also provides software and services to help CEOs assess and benchmark their leadership teams and board, and helps flexible executives build and manage their consulting practice.

“The gig economy has created an unprecedented opportunity for millions of workers and this powerhouse trend has now reached the C-Suite,” Scott Dorsey, High Alpha managing partner, said in a written statement. “Seasoned tech executives can really help startups and scale-ups get to the next level and build more diverse teams and boards of directors.”

Bolster is led by Blumberg, who is also co-founder and CEO of Return Path Inc., a tech firm that helped its corporate customers legitimize and ensure external emails arrive at their intended destinations. Return Path, which was based in New York and had a significant presence in Indianapolis, was acquired by Boston-based Validity in 2019.

Blumberg is also the author of “Startup CEO: A Field Guide to Scaling up Your Business,” which was published in 2013 and updated in 2020. Blumberg is joined at Bolster by a team of seven co-founders and former Return Path leaders.

“We are excited to create a new business to focus on the unique needs that CEOs face in rapidly scaling up and diversifying their leadership teams and boards,” Blumberg said in a statement. “Our team worked on a number of these issues over the last 20 years and believe that we have a unique perspective on how to help other companies think differently about accessing executive talent.”

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