Cleo Capital, a venture capital firm founded in 2018 by Sarah Kunst, is raising up to $20 million for its second fund, according to a source familiar with the matter. A recent SEC filing shows that Cleo Capital has already raised $6.7 million of that goal, bringing total assets under management to around $10 million. Kunst was unable to comment on her fundraising efforts.

That new AUM number is close to what Cleo Capital initially set out to do. When Kunst first launched her firm, she targeted a $10 million close. She ended up closing $3.14 million of that goal, and now, she’s back to double down.

Fund II’s $20 million target, if closed, would allow Cleo Capital, which invests in primarily pre-seed companies, to start leading rounds. The firm has already been writing $1 million checks and targets about a 15-20% ownership in its rounds.

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“One of the reasons why we are a pre-seed fund is because in seed, especially late-seed, you have everyone from family offices to TikTok stars and rolling funds competing for hot rounds,” she said. “No one is competing in pre-seed.”

There are firms such as Precursor and Hustle Fund that back pre-seed companies, and cut checks around $100,000 and $25,000 to start, respectively. Kunst sees the ability to write a $1 million pre-seed check as a “huge advantage.” Usually early-stage founders without family money or deep networks have to spend a big chunk of time raising their first round. It’s a lot of time to spend fundraising and not building a company. If a firm can cut a big pre-seed check, she thinks that Cleo is “buying back six months of a company‘s runway,” she said.

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Like many firms, Cleo Capital has turned to creative measures to diversify deal flow in the era of Zoom investing and pandemic business. For example, Cleo Capital launched a fellowship program for laid-off workers during COVID-19 to promote entrepreneurship.

Matt Pauker, a repeat founder who has sold companies to Coinbase and HP Enterprise, was one of the advisors of that program. Pauker has joined Cleo Capital as a general partner presumably to line up with the timing of Fund II.

While the firm has no racial or sexual orientation venture center, about 92% of its present speculations are organizations begun by underrepresented originators.

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The company’s portfolio incorporates Planet FWD, mmhmm, Lunch Club and StyleSeat. Concerning new freedoms, Kunst says that Cleo Capital is taking a gander at anything that helps the individual transform into a system. With the development of the maker economy and solo-business visionaries, individuals need to sort out the fate of pay, medical services and advantages, Kunst clarified.

“These things are difficult for individuals to do as an individual,” she said. Most of Cleo Capital’s portfolio is based outside of Silicon Valley.

Cleo Capital’s raise comes a little more than seven days after two investment firms established by Black financial speculators reported new assets, Harlem Capital and MaC Venture Capital.

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