River Valley Investors Invests in Apprentiscope

Western-Massachusetts based angel network River Valley Investors (RVI) has completed an investment in ApprentiScope, committing to lead the round.

ApprentiScope is revolutionizing the way businesses implement and manage modern Registered Apprenticeship and Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Programs. By combining modern software automation practices with deep industry knowledge, ApprentiScope is helping employers across the country train productive employees more efficiently than ever, while simultaneously increasing retention, decreasing spending, adding redundancy, and eliminating compliance errors.

Paul Silva, RVI Manager said, “Will Lippolis, ApprentiScope founder, really impressed us – he’s built an impressive list of customers as a one-man show, giving us confidence in his ability to scale. ApprentiScope is also a local company, and a member of Launch413’s portfolio, so we felt ApprentiScope was a no-brainer. Will further proved us right with his openness to feedback throughout the process.”

Will Lippolis, Founder of ApprentiScope said, “In this day in age, businesses can no longer rely on higher education as their main recruiting channel, which has led to a near unilateral investment in Registered Apprenticeship and Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Programs by some of the largest companies in the world. Our platform allows these companies to easily implement, manage, and scale their programs by automating every aspect of their complex and specific management processes. We’ve had great success so far and are on track to be nationwide by 2021 with the support of VCET, RVI, and Launch413.”

This is River Valley Investors’ first investment in ApprentiScope.

River Valley Investors is the premier angel investor group in western Massachusetts.

Launch413 is a group of serial entrepreneurs and veteran executives dedicated to helping startups become profitable engines of prosperity in our region.

Unruly Studios and NextShift Robotics Pitching to RVI on Feb 19th

At RVI’s next meeting, two syndicated startups are set to pitch to members.

Unruly Studios – We engage elementary and middle school students in developing STEM coding skills with an experience designed for fun, active recess-style play. You may remember that Unruly presented to RVI before. They are now raising their next round!

NextShift Robotics – NextShift produces a mobile robotic system for eCommerce and Manufacturing warehouses.

The meeting will take place on Feb 19th at 8am. If you are interested in attending, email for an invitation.

Local Startups Outperform in RVI Portfolio

We recently did a quick review of the 50+ investments RVI made over the past 17 years. There is a bunch of interesting learnings from this analysis, but one correlation stood out as worthy of further review.

Local startups were about 50% more likely to generate a positive return.

9 out of 19 local startup exits generated a positive return (47%).

But only 5 out of 16 non-local startups generated positive exits (31%)

Correlation is not the same as causation, so there is plenty more to study here. But we thought people might find the data interesting.

And while we’re talking about interesting, we’d like to give a shout out to all the local companies that gave us a win (so far):

1. Bolt

2. Colony Hills Capital

3. Envoy Health

4. Exford Performance Materials


6. Pet Angel World Services


8. Valt

9. WaterDog II

Pivots Aren’t Just for Startups: RVI Evolves to be Faster, Cheaper, Stronger

We all tell startups to have a well-thought-out process to determine if they should “persist, pivot or perish.” It is just as crucial for mature organizations.

There are many people with the wealth to invest and a keen interest in becoming angel investors. But, some of them are working full-time-plus in their careers. They want to write small checks ($5-25k). They don’t have much time for due diligence assisting the companies. RVI has the opportunity to bring this large group of people into seed-stage investing. If successful, we can significantly increase the amount of funding available to startups, especially local ones.

This requires a pivot. When RVI formed in 2003, it was designed to support the members it had – people who wrote big checks, took their time to decide what to invest in and were actively involved in the startups. Now RVI focuses on speed and convenience. To better reflect this, RVI is making the following changes:

1. We only bring in companies that are already backed by a trusted partner. This saves our members time because they only see deals that are already vetted. It also gives members enhanced confidence because the deal is being assisted post-investment by experienced people whom we trust. Lastly, due diligence is streamlined and led by a member of RVI’s staff. What used to take 30 days now takes a few hours to see pitches and one follow-on conference call per deal.

2. We’ve lowered the minimum investment per deal to $5k, making it easier for members to build a more significant portfolio by backing more companies.

3. Our yearly dues dropped to $1,000, making this a much more affordable membership.

If this is of interest to you, contact us by emailing

RVI Portfolio Company Kalion Featured in Leading Trade Journal

RVI portfolio company Kalion was featured in CEP (Chemical Engineering Progress) a magazine published by AICHE, the largest professional organization for chemical engineers.  The National Science Foundation (NSF) chooses an NSF-funded company each month to talk about in their Catalyzing Commercialization column.  In the CEP Dec 2019th edition, they chose Kalion out of the many companies they have funded.

 Read the full article here:

RVI Portfolio Company Fortify’s Founders Named to Forbes Manufacturing 30-Under-30

It takes cash and chutzpah to start an industrial business from scratch. But that hasn’t stopped this year’s crop of entrepreneurs in the Manufacturing & Industry category of Forbes 30 Under 30, who are building businesses in robotics, 3D printing, new types of transportation and advanced materials. 

Joshua Martin and his cofounders at Fortify, who met in the Northeastern University lab of Dr. Randall Erb, spun out a company that developed a new type of composite 3D printing and have raised $13 million with Accel as a backer.

You can read the full article here.

RVI is very glad to see Fortify being publicly recognized. Fortify has consistently delivered on their promises and made stunning progress since RVI invested in early 2018.

When Fortify initially presented to RVI, members were impressed by their early achievements. At the time, Fortify was a MassChallenge finalist, and the company went on to become a 2016 Gold Prize winner. In 2017, the company won the JEC Group’s 2017 International Startup award.