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What’s Next for Former Wisconsin Investment Chief Carrie Thome?

Venture capital.

Carrie Thome, who recently left her role as chief investment officer at the $3 billion Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, has co-founded a new venture capital firm. 

She has teamed up with two partners — Grady Buchanan from her prior WARF team and former American Girl chief financial officer Linda Leikness — to set up NVNG Investment Advisors. They plan to offer a commingled venture capital fund, advisory services, and separate accounts, according to company documents.  

Their mission, Thome said Friday by phone, is to foster a thriving VC ecosystem in Wisconsin. 

“Most of the ingredients exist, but capital is one of the things that we don’t have enough of,” Thome said. NVNG can “provide an avenue to participate in innovation that they might not have had.” 

Thome has worked in venture and private markets for nearly 20 years. During her leadership at WARF, she helped set up Madison-based 4490 Ventures to work with entrepreneurs in the local technology orbit. NVNG — which stands for ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’ — is sharing office space with 4490, Thome said. 

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Prior to setting up 4490, the state government had asked Thome to deploy about $50 million to the regional VC system during her tenure at Wisconsin’s public pension fund. 

“For years and years, we’ve spent time trying to develop the local venture capital ecosystem,” Thome said. “We’ve had very nice results investing in our own startups here, and people lament that so much capital flows to the coasts.”

She believes that NVNG will have a “meaningful impact in the ecosystem if we are fortunate enough to raise the money.” Attorneys expect that NVNG could be fully operational early next year.

“People have been fantastic,” Thome added. “The amount of outreach I’ve gotten from the investor community about this idea is truly exciting.” 

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