Johnsonville Ventures raises $99.5M for transaction not yet disclosed

Johnsonville Ventures, the venture capital arm of sausage company Johnsonville Holdings, raised $99.5 million that an executive said will go toward re-capitalizing an undisclosed company in its investment portfolio.

The transaction will close by the end of February and Johnsonville Ventures will disclose more information one month after that, Dan Scalia, managing director of Johnsonville Holdings, said Tuesday.

The capital raise was disclosed in a recent Securities and Exchange Commission filing that lists the total securities in the offering at $163 million, leaving $63.5 million to be raised. The minimum investment is $250,000 and 13 investors already invested in the offering, according the filing.

Johnsonville Holdings, which is based in Plymouth, is owned by the Stayer family. The transaction involves a company already in Johnsonville Ventures portfolio that possesses a promising future, Scalia said.

Scalia said 10 other family offices (wealth-management arms of affluent families) will participate in the recapitalization with Johnsonville and another strategic investor taking leading roles.

While Johnsonville is known nationwide and in other countries for its sausage products, the venture arm has been active in recent years in Wisconsin and elsewhere investing in early-stage companies.

In November 2022, Johnsonville Ventures joined Tyson Ventures — the venture capital arm of Tyson Foods (NYSE: TSN) — investing in a $26 million Series C round by Soft Robotics Inc. of Bedford, Massachusetts. Soft Robotics said proceeds will expand commercial deployment of its mGripAI robotic picking solutions for transferring fast-moving items on conveyor belts.

Johnsonville already has a customer relationship with Soft Robotics and now is an investor, Johnsonville Ventures managing director Kevin Ladwig said in a press release.

“We believe Soft Robotics offers best-in-class pick and place systems which are applicable to numerous primary and secondary processing operations,” Ladwig said. “Applications that reduce repetitive motion and improve employee safety, in addition to enhancing productivity, are welcomed improvements for any operation.”

In 2021, Johnsonville Ventures funded Isomark Health Inc., a Madison firm that developed a noninvasive platform technology to identify presymptomatic infections in animals. Also investing were Innova Memphis, feedlot owners and other Wisconsin investors.

Previous investments by Johnsonville Ventures have included SwineTech, an Iowa agriculture tech firm, and Lumanu, a startup with offices in Milwaukee and Oakland, California, which developed a platform where brands can securely pay to amplify their content through social media.

Rich Kirchen, Milwaukee Business Journal

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