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June 1, 2023

New Worcester angel investment group seeks to fund startups

Photo | Courtesy of Wire Group Wire Group founding member and co-organizer, Zachary Dutton

A Worcester-based group of angel investors has banded together to form Wire Group, which invests up to $150,000 a year in high-growth startups and has already made three commitments to Massachusetts companies.

The group, named to honor Worcester’s historical wire industry, aims to invest 20% of the group members’ money in early-stage Worcester-area companies, according to a Wednesday press release from Wire Group. It has also heard pitches from as far away as Chicago and Houston since its founding in the fall.

“With the recent growth of the Central Massachusetts startup scene, it’s a really exciting time to provide a new generation of entrepreneurs and investors with a connection through our group,” Zachary Dutton, founding Wire Group member and co-organizer, said in the press release. Dutton is executive director at Worcester-based Venture Forum and a member of River Valley Investors in Springfield, according to his LinkedIn profile.

The group meets 10 times a year and looks at about a dozen deals, and the members plan to reach out to collaborate with other investor groups and with campus and community-based organizations across the region, Founding Member and Co-organizer Timothy Loew said in the press release. Loew is the executive director of Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s Massachusetts Digital Games Institute. 

Earlier this year, group members made their first three commitments to:

  • Worcester tech company, FarmBlox, an agriculture technology company leveraging sensors and machine learning to remove the guesswork from farming to improve yields and save labor
  • VALIS, a Worcester and Leominster-based artificial intelligence-driven circular economy company optimizing metal recycling
  • Boston-based M80, a web3-enabled gaming and esports organization.

WPI alumni founded FarmBlox and VALIS, according to the press release. The exact funding amounts to each company were not disclosed.

“Central Massachusetts has seen an explosion of venture and angel-funded startups in the past five years,” Jon Weaver, president and CEO of the Worcester incubator Massachusetts Biomedical Initiatives, said in the press release.  “We’re thrilled to see the Wire Group recognizing that market and adding an additional option to capitalize these exciting startups in the region.”

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