Sonoran Founders Fund plans to raise $10 million to invest in local, regional startups

The Sonoran Founders Fund, led by CEO and co-founder Romi Dhillon and co-founders Dan Burns, Cathy Eckstein and Kevin Groman, plan to raise and invest $10 million into Southwest-region pre-seed and seed-stage startups in 2021.

According to the fund’s website, the group looks to invest in the SaaS, marketplaces, AI, Fintech, Edtech and healthcare IT sectors.

The Sonoran Founders Fund group is made up of tech founders and executives based locally. Before leading Sonoran Founders Fund (formerly Arizona Founders Fund), Dhillon served as a Principal in the Office of the CFO at Keap Software. Burns was the CEO of EXOS, a human performance company that trains athletes and measures health outcomes for large companies, for over 10 years. Eckstein is the founder and CEO of Cornerstone CMO, which helps companies develop and measure a strong marketing strategy. Groman is the founding principal at Crown Canyon Capital, a consulting and strategic investment firm that invests in underserved sustainable areas, which recently broke ground on a high-end residential community between Paradise Valley and Biltmore.

Dhillon told the Phoenix Business Journal that Sonoran Founders Fund was a natural progression from the Arizona Founders Fund. It’s a larger fund that has the opportunity to make a bigger impact.

“The next generation of Arizona entrepreneurs should not have to leave the state to raise seed capital. We just have so much conviction about that,” Dhillon told PBJ. “We think that there’s going to be more fantastic startups here, and that we’re going to be able to recycle the next generation of seed returns back into the state.”

The Sonoran Founders Fund team is excited to share their knowledge with the Southwest startup community.

“We believe in the market here,” Burns told PBJ. “And we’ve seen it come so far, over the 17 years we’ve been here, and we’ve seen the ecosystem for startup companies just evolve dramatically.”