Kat Kennedy joins venture fund Kickstart to scale investments in the Mountain West
Salt Lake City—Kickstart, a seed-stage venture capital firm focused on the Mountain West, announced Kat Kennedy as General Partner. Kennedy brings with her 15 years of operating experience, and her appointment will enable the firm to continue creating fruitful opportunities for the Mountain West region.
With the experience of working her way from a startup’s first employee to President — one that grew from seed to late-stage under her watch — Kennedy brings a new perspective and empathy for founders navigating the roller coaster that is growing a venture-backed company.
“Kat has an unmatched skill set when it comes to scaling companies. Her gritty, entrepreneurial spirit and passion for helping other entrepreneurs was exactly what we have been looking for,” says Gavin Christensen, General Partner and founder of Kickstart. “Kat’s addition allows us to scale at a time when so many venture firms are pulling back, not only on investments but on building their teams. Kat truly embodies everything we value here, and we’re excited to see what the future holds with her perspective on board.”
Prior to joining Kickstart, Kennedy spent the last decade at Degreed, a workplace upskilling platform, where she most recently served as the company’s President and Chief Experience Officer. Kennedy helped scale Degreed from a $0 to $1.5B valuation in 9 years and brings with her deep experience in acquisitions, growing into a global company, and scaling a world-class product.
Kennedy’s appointment makes her one of just a few female partners in the state. Despite years of efforts to increase diversity among venture capital decision-makers, a significant gender gap still exists. Women make up only approximately 11 percent of investing partners at firms in the US and, because venture capitalists play a critical gatekeeping role in deciding whose ideas, products, and innovations receive capital, only around 13 percent of venture capital dollars go to startups with a woman on the founding team.
“The goal of venture capital is to generate returns by fostering innovation. As a woman born and raised here in Utah, who has gone through the various stages of growth at a venture-backed company, I saw no better way to drive impact in the Mountain West than by supporting founders who are starting their own journeys,” says Kennedy. “Kickstart has always done an incredible job finding and funding entrepreneurs of all backgrounds, and I’m excited to expand that support.”
“Kat is an inspiration to women in Utah and beyond when it comes to the rising influence that women can and must have in the future of business. I’m proud to see her take this next step in her career, as Kat is proof of the impact a single person can have in their community, their company, and their industry. I’m confident she will take all she’s learned as an operator and deploy not only capital but also her experience,” says David Blake, co-founder and CEO, Degreed.
Kickstart was founded in 2008 as the first ever seed fund in Utah and its fund has grown in tandem with the exploding Utah technology scene. To date, the company has $311M assets under management, 150+ active portfolio companies, and has raised $2.7B in capital.
Kickstart is a seed-stage venture capital firm on a mission to help build great startups in Utah, Colorado, and the Mountain West. Founded in 2008 as the first seed fund in Utah, Kickstart worked with local universities, angel investors, entrepreneurs, venture capital funds, and other key stakeholders to build a seed fund that the community could rally behind. The company is committed to being accessible, leading investments in promising but early teams, and being fair with entrepreneurs and investors alike. Kickstart aspires to always be the choice for seed capital in the region with a reputation for fierce loyalty, deep competence, and complete alignment with founders.