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New fund makes first investment in South Bend startup

(image courtesy of Cobomba)

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — South Bend-based tech startup Cobomba has received the first investment from the Leighton Elevate Angel Development Fund. Cobomba, which has developed an artificial intelligence software platform to help marketing professionals, says it will use the funding to further software development and grow its sales, marketing and customer service efforts. The LEAD Fund was created earlier this year by Indianapolis-based Elevate Ventures and the Judd Leighton Foundation in South Bend to support startups in the South Bend-Elkhart region.

Nicholas Kuhn, entrepreneur-in-residence for Elevate Ventures serving Startup South Bend-Elkhart, tells Inside INdiana Business the company checks all the boxes.

“Cobomba had a significant amount of interest from the angel [investment] community. It’s in the B2B SaaS category and mostly what we’re interested in is that it’s headquartered here in South Bend,” said Kuhn. “The three founders came from Vennli, which was very interesting to us because they’re taking an idea that was spurred on at an established marketing agency in the region and it was such a good idea, they’re like, ‘Let’s do something with this.’”

The startup was co-founded by Alex Davis, Bart Frischknecht and Jason Stele, formerly of Vennli, a market research provider in South Bend.

Kuhn says the Cobomba platform helps marketers identify what an audience is searching for and understand how well their marketing content is performing.

“If a company is putting out Instagram ads, Facebook posts, some stuff on Tik Tok and Twitter, they’re also writing blgo posts internally and externally, you have a lot of stuff going out into the world and you don’t have some really good metrics to say, ‘What’s firing the best? What’s resonating most? What’s getting the most reads, click-throughs and ways in which we’re engaging…so we’re driving an audience to our product?’ And so, Cobomba allows insights for companies that are creating content to get a valuation on what of their content is performing well.”

While a specific dollar figure for the investment in Cobomba was not released, the LEAD Fund provides investments between $50,000 and $200,000 for startups in Elkhart, Marshall or St. Joseph counties.

The investment was part of a seed round of funding led by the Pit Road Fund at the Notre Dame IDEA Center.

“We are so excited to provide intelligent content recommendations that make marketing content simple by applying these funds to Cobomba’s growth,” Frischknecht said in a news release. “This funding solidifies Cobomba’s place in the growing tech ecosystem in South Bend and northern Indiana.”

The fund, which launched in May, requires at least 50% of the total investment come from another source.

Kuhn says the partnership with the Leighton Foundation allows the foundation to leverage Elevate’s support system and infrastructure to allow its private funding to be deployed into the region.

“Instead of having to stand up their own venture capital firm, they’re able to leverage some ways that Elevate is already participating in that realm,” he said. “So, this is a fantastic opportunity – as a proof-of-concept, almost – for other private foundations that are looking to bolster the entrepreneurial economy and ecosystem within their geographic region.”