Chicago’s Emerging Fund raising $100 Million to Invest in Restaurant Tech, Eatertainment

A new Chicago venture capital fund is raising $100 million with an eye toward the restaurant industry.

The Emerging Fund, which launched earlier this year and has raised $52 million to date, will look to invest in two primary areas: restaurant tech and restaurant and entertainment concepts.

“The reason why we love this category is people don’t want a two-hour meal anymore,” Mathew Focht, Emerging Fund CEO, told Chicago Inno. “We believe in social entertainment.”

Dining-plus-entertainment concepts, or “eatertainment,” include Puttshack’s upscale, tech-infused mini golf; Flight Club’s social darts; and Immersive Gamebox’s team adventure “inside the word’s smartest room.”

The gaming revenue that can be gained from such businesses and other early Emerging Fund investments can be a big difference-maker, according to Focht.

He expects the Emerging Fund to make around 20 to 25 investments through its first fund. It has made 10 investments thus far — five in restaurant tech companies and five in early-stage concepts.

In a fundraising climate that has seen funds pull their raises and stop short of their goals, Focht feels confident with the $52 million the fund has raised so far across 54 limited partners, 34 of which are founders or CEOs.

But the Emerging Fund doesn’t just want to provide financing to the companies it invests in. Focht said the difference between Emerging Fund and other funding vehicles out there is its ability to help scale these companies as an operational partner, as it takes more of a consulting approach.

Focht said he wants to get involved with early-stage concepts when they’ve got one to six locations to help build their strategic growth plan throughout the United States.

“There’s a lot of funds out there that write 50 checks and hope that two or three pay the whole fund return. That’s historically how it goes,” he said. “But our operating companies gives us a strategic advantage in the industry. We’re the largest food and beverage network between our supply chain company and real estate division. There’s no other group that has these connections or has the client base that we have in this industry.”

By Alex Zorn – Staff Reporter

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