Two of Milwaukee’s most notable e-commerce tech startups raised venture funding this week.
On Tuesday, Wantable, a startup that sends customers hand-picked beauty items and fashion accessories, raised $1.4 million in new equity funding. Investors in the round include Cream City Venture Capital, the venture arm of Northwestern Mutual, along with BrightStars Wisconsin Foundation and other private investors, according to the Milwaukee Business Journal.
Bright Cellars, a Milwaukee startup that delivers wine to your door based on a machine-learning algorithm that picks brands you’re likely to enjoy, announced Thursday that it raised $2.8 million in funding. Cream City Venture Capital was also in on the round, along with Cleveland Avenue, a food-focused venture fund from former McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson, and CSA Partners.
Founded by MIT grads Richard Yau and Joe Laurendi, Bright Cellars went through the gener8tor accelerator program in 2015 and has remained in Milwaukee ever since. The company has grown to more than 40 employees and 20,000 people using its subscription wine service.
Wantable has also grown quickly in recent years. Since launching in 2012, the startup now has more than 100 employees.
The two funding rounds come as venture capital has been hard to come by for startups in Milwaukee. Last year, Milwaukee startups raised around $25 million in venture capital, down from $44 million that local companies raised the year before. That’s just a sliver of the $550 million startups in the Twin Cities raised last year, and even further behind the nearly $2 billion raised in Chicago in 2017.
Venture capital isn’t the only metric to look at when examining the health of a startup ecosystem, but it’s an important one. And having two of Milwaukee’s most visible startups raising capital in the same week is certainly a positive sign.