CHICAGO — Spool has moved into the VC and startup businesses, with two new units created to support traditionally underrepresented companies with capital and marketing services.

Spool Ventures is the independent agency’s new investment arm that has already made financial and sweat-equity investments in startups and VC funds that promote impact and equity. Spindle is Spool’s startup practice, which officially launches after test runs in the first half of the year.

Both Spool Ventures and Spindle will concentrate on investing and working with startups run by women, BIPOC, LGBTQ+ and other underrepresented founders and leaders.

As a limited partner in four VC funds, Spool Ventures so far has invested in 25 startups and high-growth brands. The funds include Silicon Road Ventures, Supply Change Capital, Portfolia’s Food and AgTech Fund and Portfolia’s Green and Sustainability Fund. Spool is also a sweat-equity investor in sports drink company Coco5 and Blue Blazer, a ready-to-drink cocktail brand.

Spindle charges clients a reduced rate for PR support. Edward Hoffman, a longtime agency leader with expertise in food and sustainability, will lead the division. Spindle worked with Pop Up Grocer during its test run and is looking for new clients.

“To see these two extensions of Spool come to fruition in tandem with the agency’s fourth anniversary is a testament to everyone at Spool and the vision we share of propelling brands that improve our homes, communities and planets for all,” said Spool founder and CEO Catherine Merritt.

“By growing, investing and reimagining brands, we’re harnessing the work we do every day for our clients and bringing these services and mindsets to startups who are rooted in impact, sustainability and equity. The lack of investment that goes towards women, BIPOC and otherwise underrepresented founders is wrong and reflects a broken system, which Spool is set out to shake up and reimagine. Make no mistake, this is a cohesive ecosystem, one that will fuel Spool’s entrepreneurial mindset, connect current clients with emerging technology and startup solutions within their industries and use our industry to drive positive change in the world,” she said.