Three local software companies received a fresh round of venture capital last week, taking advantage of a warmer investment climate for early and later-stage companies. Each company has one...

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Three local software companies received a fresh round of venture capital last week, taking advantage of a warmer investment climate for early and later-stage companies.

Each company has one thing in common: Seattle-based Madrona Venture Group was an investor in all three.

“With the economy picking up, we are seeing a much more optimistic atmosphere,” said Tom Alberg, Madrona’s founder and managing director. “We are seeing very strong companies right now compared to two years ago.”

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Redmond-based SchemaLogic, which helps companies manage content over different software platforms, said it raised $4.6 million.

Seattle-based Mercent, which assists retailers in selling their merchandise on Web sites such as Amazon.com, received an undisclosed amount of money.

And Bellevue-based Bocada, which protects a company’s data, secured $9.5 million.

Madrona Managing Director Greg Gottesman said although SchemaLogic has been around since 2001, he invested now because of all the attention it was getting from large customers.

“It’s exploded,” he said.

In the past few months, SchemaLogic has added blue-chip corporate giants to its customer list, including Hewlett-Packard, Raytheon, IBM, Abbott Laboratories and Procter & Gamble.

In many cases, SchemaLogic says customers are seeking it out on Google. The company pays to be prominently placed among results when users search terms such as metadata management, vocabulary management and information architecture.

“The guerrilla marketing style nets two to three leads a day,” said Peter Hallett, the company’s vice president of marketing. “I’m very happy to pay per click when they are searching key words in SchemaLogic’s business.”

SchemaLogic, which has 25 employees, plans to use the money to hire 10 people in the next three months. In addition to Madrona, SchemaLogic’s existing investors, including co-founder Trevor Traina and The Phoenix Partners, participated in the round. So far, the company has raised $6.7 million.

Mercent, which plans to announce its undisclosed investment today, expects to use it to further develop its product.

A retailer uses Mercent’s software to help manage merchandise, inventory, incoming orders and financial relationships with a third-party Web site.

As part of the investment, Alberg, who was one of Amazon.com’s first investors, will join the Mercent board.

Alberg said Mercent is the glue between its customers, which include Lucky Brand jeans, Car Toys and Crabtree & Evelyn, as well as online marketplaces such as Amazon.com, Yahoo! Shopping and MSN Shopping.

Because it can be challenging to get people to a Web site, Alberg said, “We think this idea of existing merchants wanting to sell their products through other people’s sites” is the interesting component of the company.

“Internet retailing is going to be one of the important ways that goods are going to be sold over the Internet in the future,” Alberg said.

Bocada, which closed its third round of financing for $9.5 million last week, plans to use the money to expand its distribution and marketing.

The round was led by new investor Partech International. Madrona, Second Avenue Partners, Guide Ventures and Catamount Ventures all existing investors also participated.

Meanwhile, Alberg said Madrona was leveraging the stronger economic environment to raise a new fund in the first half of this year.

He said the new fund would be similar in size and focus with its current $250 million fund, which is targeted at early-stage technology companies.

If successful, Madrona will be one of a handful of local venture-capital firms that have raised fresh money recently, including Maveron, Ignition Partners and Frazier Healthcare Ventures.

“I think the region continues to be undercapitalized at the early stage,” Alberg said. “There’s enough activity that there is a need for more capital.”

Tricia Duryee: 206-464-3283 or tduryee@seattletimes.com