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New venture-capital firm makes its first investment

By Traci DeLore

Date:

SYRACUSE — A recent investment in a soil-modeling tool for the agriculture industry is the first investment of what Armory Square Ventures expects will be a very busy next year for the young venture-capital firm.

Syracuse–based Armory Square Ventures is one of three companies that invested a combined $2.2 million in Agronomic Technology Corp. to expand its tool that provides insights on soil leading to more profitable and environmentally sound fertilizer, crop, and irrigation decisions. Ithaca–based Cayuga Venture Fund and North Dakota–headquartered Arthur Ventures are the other two investors.

“Food and agriculture is a very big sector,” says Somak Chattopadhyay, managing partner at Armory Square Ventures, which launched this year. That’s why it makes sense for his firm to put its capital into that sector.

Headquartered at 211 W. Jefferson St. in Syracuse, Armory Square Ventures (www.armorysv.com) also operates an office at 885 Third Ave. in New York City.

Food and agriculture software is one of several markets the fledgling firm has targeted. Others include education technology, manufacturing automation software, energy software, financial technology, and health-care information technology.

“We’re looking at thousands of opportunities,” Chattopadhyay says. Tips on those opportunities come from a variety of sources including entrepreneurs, lawyers, accountants, business leaders, and existing investors, he says. Right now, Chattopadhyay and his team of three — Steven G. Felsher, venture partner; John A. Cococcia, venture partner, and Nicole Camarre, associate — are working to select quality prospects for the next stages of due diligence.

As a result, Chattopadhyay says he expects the next year to be perhaps Armory Square Ventures’ busiest investment year. The firm started this past April with a large institutional closing. He declined to say how much Armory Square Ventures has in its investment fund, but a Form D on file with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission shows that Armory Square sold $14.74 million in pooled investment-fund interests.

“We have a fund size that will help us execute on our strategy,” he says. Chattopadhyay expects initial investments will range up to $1 million. The firm is looking for companies located across Central and upstate New York, as well as the metro New York City area, that offer web, mobile, or Internet-enabled products with a market of $500 million or more. 

Armory Square Ventures focuses on seed and early stage companies, according to its website. It often provides the first round of institutional capital for companies.

Prospective investments need to be a good fit with the Armory Square team, Chattopadhyay says. The firm is not an uninvolved angel investor; it prefers to take an active role in building up the firms in which it invests, he says.

“We have to believe we can really actively help that company,” he says. That could range from giving the startup guidance on marketing its product to helping the company to recruit senior talent, customers, and other investors. The goal, Chattopadhyay says, is to help companies in all stages of growth. That will then help Armory Square Ventures to generate the returns it needs to be successful.

Prior to starting Armory Square Ventures, Chattopadhyay was a partner at Tribeca Venture Partners, a New York City–based firm with more than $160 million in assets under management. He has been operating, advising, or investing in technology companies in New York since 1999, according to his firm’s website.   

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