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VC firm Altus launches monthly lunch series to connect investors & entrepreneurs

Dan Guerra. Photo by Omar Waheed.

A new way to support entrepreneurs comes as Altus starts its monthly Venture Studio Lunch to connect business owners and spotlight companies in its portfolio.

Altus Inc., a venture capital company that supports BIPOC-owned businesses, has started a new luncheon. The new event, called Venture Studio Lunch, will give local entrepreneurs a chance to connect with each other and investors as they network with each other. In its first run, Altus’ CEO, Dan Guerra Jr., gave a pitch for potential investors hoping for feedback from attendees.

The pitch included a rundown on persistent gaps in businesses as it relates to funding and executive teams. Cited from the presentation was the stark lack of funding that BIPOC and women owned businesses get. Between Black, Latino and women owned businesses, only 4.7% received any venture capital funding — but figures also look at larger issues around the country. Only 1% of businesses receive any level of institutional funding – investments from institutions invested on behalf of people.

“That’s a lack of opportunity,” Guerra said. “You know what that money is doing? It’s sitting on the sidelines not being used. We’re not taking advantage of the government’s one-to-one grant money that’s being handed down.”

Guerra points to the impact that BIPOC owned businesses have on the economy and company performance. He cites that ethnically diverse teams are 33% more likely to outperform non-diverse counterparts. Questions arose as to why that’s the case where attendees preached that the diversity in teams leads to increased abilities to solve issues.

The pitch then moved on to localized opportunities and the chances for BIPOC and women entrepreneurs to take advantage of. Wisconsin, which was designated as a regional tech hub in late 2023 by the Biden Administration, has millions available for investment in technology companies.

“I think one of the things that we have to do is that we have to start engaging BIPOC investors that have investable capacity to say ‘Hey, you should be putting your money where your counterparts are taking advantage of,” Guerra said.

The luncheon moved towards Altus’ venture capital operations and highlighted a few of the businesses in its portfolio.

The businesses highlighted included SDM Analytics, which provides interactive, web-based tools for shared-decision making; AltusCampus, a tracking and imaging platform for professional licenses and compliance requirements; Senior 2nd Option, a specialized telehealth clinic comprised of retired medical professionals; and Armada Trading Technologies, an automated trading service.

Its pitch was preparation to help match investors with companies and find board members for businesses who come through its programs — and possibly more local startups. Guerra looked for feedback from local entrepreneurs.

Attendees of the inaugural lunch pushed for clarity on what investors would get out of investing in local companies. Guerra couldn’t answer those questions specifically, citing Wisconsin statutes preventing solicitation.

Altus’s Venture Studio Lunch will be held monthly where it will highlight an additional company in its portfolio and open the floor for networking. 

Interested entrepreneurs, community members and investors looking to network can reach out to Guerra at dguerrajr@altusinc.com.