The Maryland Venture Fund, which has been providing seed and early-stage funding to businesses for nearly 20 years, is rounding out its new management team by hiring Parag Sheth to be its director and chief marketing officer.
Bringing Sheth on board completes the first stage of a process that began in October 2015, when operations of the fund were moved from the state Department of Commerce to the Maryland Technology Development Corp., or TEDCO.
Sheth, a marketing and business development veteran with experience at multi-national companies as well as startups, said one reason he was drawn to the fund was its goal of providing guidance as well as money.
“We certainly have the capital, but our focus is also on providing operational expertise to the entrepreneurs,” Sheth said. “You really need someone who can help guide you and grow the business.”
Sheth said has also worked well in the past with MVF Managing Director Andy Jones, making money for investors on both occasions.
“We expect to deliver similar results working together for the third time,” Jones said in a statement. “Parag has a phenomenal track record of delivering results and can assist our portfolio companies with pragmatic guidance.”
The MVF has more than $100 million in assets under management and has invested in over 150 Maryland tech companies, although officials describe the program as industry-agnostic.
While the fund has historically made smaller investments in a large number of companies, Sheth said the focus of the new management team will be on investing more in a smaller group of high-growth companies whose founders have a history of success.
These investments would be larger than those made by most angel investors, but smaller than those made by growth equity firms – an essential niche in the region, Sheth said.
The fund’s current portfolio includes companies like Salsa Labs, which makes cloud-based fundraising and advocacy software; Pulse 8, a medical data analytics firm; and BrainScope, which is developing a device to help assess traumatic brain injuries.
The decision to move the fund under TEDCO’s supervision came after a commission examining the business climate in Maryland, known as the Augustine commission, suggested consolidating the state’s efforts to provide early-stage investment and seed funding.
TEDCO also operates funding efforts such as the Maryland Innovation Initiative, the Cyber Security Investment Fund and the Technology Commercialization Fund.