Hawke Ventures raises $5.6M to back digital marketing startups

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Hawke Ventures, the investment arm of marketing consultancy Hawke Media, is announcing that it has closed its first $5.6 million venture fund.

Managing Partner Drew Leahy acknowledged that the firm’s focus on marketing technology isn’t exactly in high demand among other VCs right now.

“People are running away from martech […] but that’s our circle of confidence,” Leahy told me. “If you look at the biggest companies in the world, even Walmart now, they are all martech companies at the end of the day.”

While some might quibble with that description, it’s hard to deny the central role that marketing and advertising play for the internet’s biggest platforms. As for how that translates to Hawke’s strategy, Leahy said the firm is writing checks of between $100,000 and $250,000, with the possibility of follow-on investments.

Leahy, who was previously co-founder and CMO at SnapSuits.com, said that the fund has its roots in the strategic angel investing that he was doing for Hawke Media, ultimately working with the company’s CEO Erik Huberman and COO Tony Delmercado to raise a fund to make bigger bets.

He added that beyond writing checks, the firm can offer access to a network of 51 limited partners who invested in the fund. Those LPs include Deathwish Coffee founder Michael Brown, MVMT Watches founder Jack Kassan, former VaynerMedia executive Jeff Nicholson, husband-and-wife Holly (an actress) and Rodney Pete (a former NFL player), Jill Zarin of “The Real Housewives of New York City,” Video Genome Product founder Xavier Kochhar and MarketShare founder Jon Vein.

And while most firms would say that they’re trying to fund the next Facebook or Google, Leahy said he has a slightly different focus: “We’re trying to build a different venture firm, that’s not about what we think the next the big idea is, but is focused on building actual technology that we can use ourselves.”

That also means the firm is mostly focused on products that can be used by small and medium businesses.

“We’re not an enterprise martech fund, we’re a small- and medium-sized business martech fund,” Leahy said. “We’re looking for pieces of technology that hundreds of thousands of users can be a part of.”

Early investments include SMS marketing company Postscript and analytics company Yaguara (acquired by Chord).

“As one of the earliest investors in Postscript, Hawke Ventures has worked with us since the beginning,” said Postscript President Alex Beller in a statement. “The entire Hawke org has been value-add since day one, and we’re proud to continue our partnership with Hawke as we build the definitive platform for Conversational Commerce.”

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