Exec launches Rocket Propulsion Fund via AngelList rolling-funds platform
BRENTWOOD-based Israel Rollins aims to make seed-stage venture investments via his emerging Rocket Propulsion Fund LP, which operates as a rolling-fund vehicle atop the AngelList Ventures platform.
The fund will focus on Seed-stage and selective Series A and pre-seed investments in fintech, insurtech, and digital-health verticals, fields in which Rollins has spent his career.
Fund I's current target is $15MM. Rollins said he models raising a minimum or baseline $1MM each successive quarter via via limited partners who subscribe.
The fund's model currently calls for writing first checks in the $50K-$250K range for the six to eight investments it makes each quarter.
He's focused on U.S.-based startups that have experienced operators and technical founders who can demonstrate early evidence of product-market fit, with revenue prospects backed-up by pilot agreements, purchase orders and the like. Candidates will have received less than $10MM in venture funding.
Rocket Propulsion Labs Fund LP was registered in Delaware on Sept. 21, according to records online. Rollins is currently the only general partner of RP Labs Fund LP.
Rollins said that, while his fund-raising is just beginning, he has already obtained commitments from a handful of founders of early-stage companies to allocate space in their respective raises for RP Fund I investments.
He sees the Fund I portfolio eventually containing stakes in at least 50 companies, within three years.
In developing portfolio dealflow, he said he relies on his personal and professional networks developed over the years, as well as on trusted referrals and on access to "tier 1" venture capital firms that have a history of creating opportunities for participation by smaller investors.
Rollins said he believes his networks help ensure founders access to potential customers, partners, investors, and exit bidders.
Asked to elaborate on his choice of priorities, Rollins first noted that healthcare, finance, and insurance are among sectors lagging in tech adoption, particularly with respect to SaaS, mobile, analytics, security, and marketplace resources.
Thus, his targeted domains represent "three massive, adjacent, similarly structured and data-hungry sectors with pent-up demand" for resources that help companies remain relevant and competitive.
The current pandemic has further heightened the sense of urgency in each sector, he continued, with stakeholders pressing for more transparent, resilient and flexible digital solutions and "data-first" business models.
For more explicit RP Fund target details, click on the chart at-left below for a much larger image.
In line with Rule 506(c) of Regulation D, introduced via the Jobs Act of 2012, the new rolling fund may seek market exposure for investment opportunities that it affords accredited investors whom it reaches via general solicitation and-or general advertising.
VNC research suggests that, even as 506(c) rolling funds seem to be getting traction, some later-stage investors accustomed to operating under 506(b) and other rules continue to regard warily the option of general solicitation and advertising of funds.
Apart from his new fund, Rollins said he recently invested individually in a Tennessee fintech startup, and he holds trailing interest in two other firms.
Rollins said his intent is to make Rocket Propulsion a venture firm that becomes multigenerational, rather than one-fund-and-done.
He also emphasizes in writing about his mission: "As an African-American venture fund manager and a proud 2x HBCU grad, I am fully committed to make every attempt to finance Black and other underrepresented founders, including, but not limited to LatinX, Women, LGBTQ+"
Further, he said he aims for Rocket Propulsion to not only generate financial returns, but to also contribute to democratization of opportunity among diverse and underrepresented professionals, with success partly measured by such indicators as their expanding presence on the cap-tables of high-growth companies and in other wealth-generating financial roles.
Reinforcing those points, he noted that his firm is a signatory to the Diversity Rider advocated by Act One Ventures, Los Angeles.
Asked about advisors, Rollins said he relies for legal counsel on attorneys with Wilson Sonsini, which also serves AngelList. He noted that in an earlier venture, he relied on advisors with K&L Gates' San Francisco office.
While he has a substantial network of informal advisors, he currently has no outside advisory board.
Rollins' career includes serving as a VP of PharmMD Solutions (now AdhereHealth) and serving in both investor relations and information technology and services units within HCA headquarters.
In Nashville, his previous institutional roles included being a managing director or principal in Bethesda Capital Partners and in Parable Ventures, the latter a Series A-focused gambit that required commitment of large checks and which he wound-down.
Rollins has served a decade as a Kauffman Fellow of the Kauffman Foundation, headquartered in Kansas City, where he began his role as a Techstars mentor. He also served as a Administrative Fellow of the American Hospital Association.
Rollins, now 55, earned his MBA at Howard University, his MPA at The Harvard Kennedy School, and his bachelor's in pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences at Florida A&M University. His LinkedIn is here.
Originally from St. Petersburg, Fla., Rollins first relocated to Nashville in 1996.
He resides in Williamson County. Two of his sons are attending college and a third is attending middle school. VNC
. last edited 0941 29 Sept. 2020