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Odin Capital Holds First Close

Hoping to shake the heartland’s sleepy image when it comes to venture capital investing, Omaha, Neb.-based Odin Capital Group held a $40.6 million first close last week on its initial private equity investment vehicle, capitalizing on pent-up demand to fuel the $60 million-targeted Odin Fund I.

“There’s a great need for capital here,” said Donna Walsh, general partner and co-founder of Odin. “We fund raised primarily in our own backyard.”

Institutional investors contributed 90% of the first close’s capital. Leading the effort were local investors like the Omaha School Employees’ Retirement System and eOne Global, a payment technology company co-founded by First Data Corp. and iFormation Group.

Odin Capital’s general partners – Walsh, David McLeese and Thompson Rogers – contributed 10% of the investment capital. A final close is expected during the first quarter of next year.

Structured with a 2.5% management fee and an 80%/20% carried interest structure, the new vehicle will make investments across the country with average plays ranging between $1 million and $10 million. Up to 25% of the fund’s capital will be invested in early-stage companies, taking a $1 million to $5 million lead equity position in each start-up.

To date, the fund has completed one investment: a $2 million Series A stake in San Diego-based ieWild Inc. The company operates a platform that provides credit card companies and marketers with enough information to create directed, segmented marketing campaigns. First Data Corp. was also a Series A investor in the company.

In general, Odin Capital will invest in information services, niche financial services and e-commerce plays. More specifically, it will target companies that provide out-sourced transactional, billing and customer service solutions, and companies that create an online distribution channel for bricks-and-mortar offerings.

Already, the firm has made partner investments in Omaha-based Aspen Holdings, an insurance holding company and Parsippany, New Jersey’s GlarNet, which provides billing and customer care solutions to ISP, IP telephony and telecommunication companies. It has also made later-stage investments in communications provider Level 3 Communications Inc. and holding company Internet Capital Group Inc.