High-tech booster club: Millworks Fund II investors inject $1.8M into NH’s start-up ecosystem

Millwork Fund II becomes the largest strategic seed fund in New Hampshire history.

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Liz Hitchcock, left, and Graham Chynoweth, announced their partnership in MillWorks II Fund, to boost NH’s start-up economy. Photo/Carol Robidoux

MANCHESTER, NH – Manchester’s emerging high-tech ecosystem just got a major burst of economic energy.

Millworks Fund II was announced Thursday at AlphLoft by general partners Graham Chynoweth and Elizabeth Hitchcock. The initiative will make strategic investments in New Hampshire start-up companies over three years, as part of a public-private partnership. Buoyed by 40 private investors to the tune of $1.8 million in start-up capital, Millworks II becomes the largest strategic seed fund in New Hampshire history.

Millworks II has committed to provide $200,000 per year for three years to New Hampshire start-up companies through the New Hampshire High Technology Council’s annual TechOut competition and through Alpha Loft’s Accelerate NH program.

It’s a collaboration that began five years ago, with 20 investors as Millwork Series 1 Fund. Initial strategic investments have resulted in a 75-percent success rate among investment companies that are still active, attracting more investment capital, reaching profitability, successfully taken to exit, or returning capital plus earnings to investors. Additionally, Millworks I raised more than $200,000 in private sponsorship revenue for the NH High Tech Council and Alpha Loft, supporting the work those institutions do to help small businesses start and thrive in New Hampshire.

With Millworks Fund phase II, the investors have doubled, with potential return for investors – and start-ups – multiplied.

“We should all be thanking Liz and Gray for volunteering their time to continue this effort. Without them, this wouldn’t be happening,” said James Key-Wallace, Executive Director of NH’s Business Finance Authority, who also noted the pivotal role of the fund’s investors, and the many others volunteering their time and talent to the initiative. 

“Most of all I’m really proud of all the entrepreneurs out there. This is really about you, you’re brave enough to go out and start your own companies, something I’ve never done, and probably would never have the guts to do,” Key-Wallace said.

Such initiatives are in line with the state’s long-term blueprint, which includes the continued rise of Manchester as a hub of technology innovation and growth.

Project investors come from all sectors – banking, investment, accounting, legal, healthcare, and high-tech – many are current or former Dyn employees, who are reinvesting money made in the sale of Dyn to Oracle back into the industry that launched their own success, including Hitchcock and Chynoweth.

“With BFA participation, Millworks II has the potential to make an unprecedented commitment to New Hampshire’s startup ecosystem,” Chynoweth said. “This unique public-private partnership will not only increase investment in viable high-tech companies, but will also lead to more job creation for New Hampshire and send a clear message that New Hampshire is a premier state to start a new company.”

Chynoweth also said it is a special point of pride having strong female leadership from Hitchcock at the helm.

“There are very few women leaders in the investment community, and I think it’s special, and very indicative of New Hampshire, that we’ll have this kind of fund co-led by a leader like Liz,” Chynoweth said.

“Speaking for Gray and I, we’re really excited to help the ecosystem grow,” Hitchcock said. “I hope that we can build on the work of Fund 1 to grow more companies right here in New Hampshire.”


About this Author

Carol Robidoux

PublisherManchester Ink Link

Longtime NH journalist and publisher of ManchesterInkLink.com. Loves R&B, German beer, and the Queen City!