I find myself traveling again, this time to Cincinnati, Ohio, for a weekend seminar for my favorite non-profit, Children´s International Summer Villages.
My recent trips, work or personal, are giving me an opportunity to survey what´s going with emerging growth companies in smaller cities and to measure the strength of venture capital scene for my own edification and for this blog. (In case you missed it, I did this last month while in New Mexico on a story assignment.)
Of course Cincinnati is the home of Procter & Gamble [PG] and it´s not surprising that Jack Wyant, one of the founders of the city´s premier firms Blue Chip Capital is a P&G alum. Wyant and cofounder David Patterson launched the firm in 1991. It was the first "resident" venture firm in Cincinnati, which, according to them, was the largest market in the country without a venture firm. (Of note, Wyant worked at P&G in the early part of his career, but went on to more entrepreneurial ventures, which is advantageous as corporate executives don´t always understand the emerging growth market or issues entrepreneurial execs face-to put it nicely.)
Today the firm has over $600 million under management and has invested in 100 companies in the United States and Canada. Current Cincinnati portfolio companies include business process management company Bluespring Software and specification management software company Cohesia.
The firm typically seeks to invest in companies with $2 million in annual sales which have achieved profitability or project to achieve profitability within 12 to 18 months. It focuses on a range of industries with a concentration on healthcare, marketing and media services enterprise software and technology infrastructure.
Blue Chip has a sister (or in this case) spouse-fund. Wyant´s wife, Peg Wyant, launched Fund Isabella (named for the queen) in 2000 to bolster access to early stage capital for women-owned companies. The modest, yet active, $6 million fund focuses on early stage, women-led companies (or, those operating in the women´s market). Like her husband, Wyant worked at Proctor & Gamble as a marketing executive, but stayed her entire career until launching Fund Isabella.
Other Cincinnati-based firms include River Cities Capital Funds, comprised of three funds which have a total of $275 million under management. It focuses on companies based in the Midwest and Southeast (with an office in Raleigh). Fort Washington Capital Partners is the private equity investment arm of Fort Washington Investment Advisors (not much info to be had on them!). C-Cap serves the city as a place to turn when looking for angel investors.
(Just a note: much of this information for this piece was compiled via the FREE wi-fi network in the Charlotte International Airport. I took a shot at working on this piece while waiting for my flight in the Cincinnati airport, but the wi-fi provider there [$$$] isn´t opened on Sundays! Cincinnati WAKE UP!)