From RICHMONDINNO By Kaitlynn R. Copinger

Riverflow Growth Fund, a new Richmond seed-stage venture capital fund, recently made its inaugural investment, directing $250,000 to DrugViu, an AI-driven population health platform.

The investment is the first of what Paul Nolde, Riverflow’s fund manager and managing director, expects will be 10 to 12 investments over the next several years as the fund seeks to support startups in Virginia and the greater Mid-Atlantic region.

“Riverflow’s vision is to be recognized as one of the premier seed-stage funds in Virginia and the broader Mid-Atlantic, as measured through high-quality deal flow, committed syndicate partners, active portfolio company engagement, inclusive stakeholder involvement across centers of excellence and top-quartile returns,” Nolde said in an email.

Launched in early 2020, the fund’s creation was driven in part by Activation Capital and with strategic partnership support from organizations like the Healthcare Innovation Consortium, VCU Health and Lighthouse Labs, Nolde told Inno.

The fund has some prominent Virginia names on its board, including Monique Adams, 757 Angels executive director; Chandra Briggman, Activation Capital CEO; Investor Jim Chang; Dave Levin, chief medical and information officer for Phlow Corp.; and Bob Mooney, co-founder and managing director of NRV.

Its focus is on supporting startups in the health innovation and multi-market tech fields. To make its investments, Riverflow looks first at the startup’s team, then the market opportunity and finally the product or service, Nolde said.

Riverflow is in “a unique position to serve as both an influencer within the burgeoning entrepreneurial ecosystems around the region, as well as a critical partner in the startup capital stack,” Nolde said in the email.

“Without appropriate seed-stage funding, the proverbial ‘valley of death’ that exists in a startup’s life between angel funding and Series A funding would become even more stark,” he said.

The fund’s first investment will bring New York City-based DrugViu to Northern Virginia, where cofounders Kwaku Owusu and Melanie Igwe will relocate their headquarters.

Riverflow co-led the round with Metrodora Ventures. Other investors included Avestria Ventures, Lightspeed Ventures’ Scout Fund, Techstars, Rise of the Rest Fund, Jumpstart Foundry, Cleveland Avenue, 757 Angels and the Virginia Venture Fund.

DrugViu’s mission is to use diverse patient data to advance treatments and drug development for autoimmune diseases. The company’s focus on the inclusion of minority populations in clinical trials was “very compelling,” Nolde said, as were the co-founders themselves.

“They are humbly confident,” Nolde said. “They have the confidence and the conviction that they are building something that will not just grow to be a large company, and hopefully exit for investor returns, but also more importantly, making a mark in the industry, moving the needle of including minority populations in clinical trials more than it is today.”