Madrona Venture Labs: Building Companies with Founders from Day One

Madrona Venture Labs is a Seattle-based enterprise AI venture studio. It specializes in building companies alongside founders from the initial idea stage, leveraging its team of former founders and successful operators, as well as Madrona’s extensive investment experience.


Founded in 2014 by Madrona Venture Group, MVL is a 12-person studio that has raised a total of $40 million across its funds. It focuses on accelerating the startup journey for entrepreneurs, having already backed 32 companies and planning to invest in 12 more with its newly raised funds.

Market Focus and Business Strategy

MVL emphasizes developing artificial intelligence startups, with about 84% of the companies it backs falling into the category of intelligent applications. These applications typically utilize AI technologies like natural language processing or computer vision to automate tasks and learn from data.

Services for Founders

MVL offers a range of services to founders, including cash funding to incubate ideas, assembling leadership teams, acting as an accelerator for established teams, and making small pre-seed investments. It provides advisory support to help startups reach their next financing round.

Funding Provided

MVL makes small, often first, pre-seed investments to assist in the founding of teams and in generating product and customer traction.

Eligibility Criteria and Application Process

MVL works with founders regardless of their location, focusing on startups that align with its core thesis of intelligent applications and the generative AI movement. The application process for MVL involves evaluating the alignment of a startup’s vision with MVL’s focus areas, especially in AI technologies.

Core Technologies and Expertise

MVL has evolved its focus from big data and intelligent applications to the generative AI movement. It has launched generative AI companies like Storia and Finpilot, which specialize in AI-powered storyboard generation and financial document analysis, respectively.

Portfolio and Projects

MVL’s portfolio companies have collectively raised over $261 million and hold a combined value of $629 million. Notable successes include Chatitive, Mighty AI, and MessageYes.

Impact and Success Stories

Several MVL-backed companies have had successful exits, such as Chatitive being acquired by Mailchimp, Mighty AI by Uber, and MessageYes by Nordstrom.

Research and Development

MVL’s involvement in cutting-edge AI startups suggests a strong focus on innovative AI research and application development.

Leadership and Team

The studio is led by a team of professionals with diverse backgrounds. Managed by Mike Fridgen, MVL’s team consists of 12 individuals. Kelci Zile was recently hired as a venture partner, emphasizing the firm’s focus on climate tech.

Partnerships and Alliances

MVL collaborates with various entities and has received investment from notable figures and organizations, including GitHub CEO Thomas Dohmke and Heptio co-founder Joe Beda.

Investor Relations

The studio recently raised $11 million for its fifth fund, aimed at investing in AI startups. MVL’s recent funding round was led by Madrona Venture Group, with participation from new and returning investors such as Tableau CMO Elissa Fink and Zillow co-founder Spencer Rascoff.

Jobs and Careers

Job opportunities exist in various roles, particularly in AI development and startup management.

Vision for the Future

MVL plans to focus more on its climate tech vertical and continue evolving within the AI space. This includes more emphasis on generative AI and intelligent applications, indicating a future-oriented approach to technology and startup development.


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