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The 81 Collection, an early-stage venture firm investing in founders across low margin or capital intensive “hard industries,” debuted its inaugural $41-million fund

Venture Firm Aimed at “Hard Industries” Unveils $41M Fund

The 81 Collection, a Chicago-based early-stage venture firm investing in founders building across low margin or capital intensive “hard industries” like manufacturing, real estate, retail and construction, unveiled its inaugural $41 million fund, with more than two-thirds of funding raised from current and former company founders in these industries.  

“‘Hard’ businesses see a 15:1 funding gap compared to the asset-light, cloud-based businesses that have ruled Silicon Valley,” said founding partner Vijen Patel. “By targeting industries 20 to 30 years behind the tech stack and introducing them to technology innovation, our community built $20 billion of value in ‘hard industries’ and created more than 10,000 jobs.”  

The “collection” of The 81 Collection includes more than 100 accomplished entrepreneurs in its investor base. The fund also raised capital from four institutions around the Midwest, including DNS Capital, the Chicago-based investment office of Gigi Pritzker, Michael Pucker and their immediate family. 


Inside The Story

The 81 Collection

About Paul Bubny

Paul Bubny serves as Senior Content Director for Connect Commercial Real Estate, a role to which he brings 13-plus years’ experience covering the commercial real estate industry and 30-plus years in business-to-business journalism. In this capacity, he oversees daily operations while also reporting on both local/regional markets and national trends, covering individual transactions across all property types, as well as delving into broader subject matter. He produces 15-20 daily news stories per day and works with the Connect team and clients to develop longer-form content, ranging from Q&As to thought-leadership pieces. Prior to joining Connect, Paul was Managing Editor for both Real Estate Forum and at American Lawyer Media, where he oversaw operations at both publications while also producing daily news and feature-length articles. His tenure in B2B publishing stretches back into the print era, and he has served as Editor in Chief on four national trade publications. Since 1999, Paul has volunteered as the newsletter editor of passenger rail advocacy groups (one national, one local).

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