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August 3, 2022

CEI Ventures raised record $21.5M for VC fund

CEI Ventures Inc, the venture capital arm of Brunswick-based Coastal Enterprises Inc., raised a record $21.5 million from 46 investors for its Good Jobs Fund, the company announced Tuesday.

The fund, which invests in companies that have to meet certain criteria for wages and employee benefits, is the fifth for CEI Ventures and largest in the firm's 26-year history.

Including the latest fund, which closed on July 15, CEI Ventures  has raised more than $67 million since 1996 and invested in 67 companies across five funds, helping to create 2,800 new jobs in regions often overlooked by traditional venture capital investors.

“Since our first close in March last year we have put the pandemic in the rear-view mirror, and capitalized on a strong recovery,” said Chandler Jones, managing director of CEI Ventures. “We are glad to have commitments from a variety of partners and investors who recognize that the potential for broad social impact comes from investing in diverse, high growth companies that prioritize people.”

Investors in the Good Jobs Fund include a mix of individuals, foundations, community economic development groups and banks. 

CEI Ventures works with companies in the Good Jobs Fund portfolio to provide a variety of specific technical assistance from revising job descriptions to attracting a diverse applicant pool to structure pay scales to achieve a living wage for employees. Typical initial equity investments in the portfolio will range from $500,000 to $2 million.

HighByte, a Portland-based industrial software startup, joined CEI Ventures' portfolio in December 2021 as part of a $3.5 million venture capital fundraising round.

"The new capital has helped us fuel the next phase of our growth," Torey Penrod-Cambra, co-founder and chief marketing officer at HighByte, told Mainebiz.

"Since December, we’ve added eight new high-quality positions to our team, increasing headcount by 62%," she added. "We are especially proud to support all seven components of the CEI Good Jobs framework. The Good Jobs Fund puts money behind its mission and has enabled us to put this money to work here in Maine."

Other companies in the Good Jobs Fund portfolio are: Vermont-based kombucha maker AquaViTea; Circa, a financial technology startup that aims to redefine how rent is paid; Defendify, a Portland-based provider of cybersecurity for small businesses; Good To-Go, maker of dehydrated meals for camping; Portland-based digital health startup MedRhythms; and Senscio Systems, an artificial intelligence-powered health management system for at-home use by Medicare patients.

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