SL #40: Value Plus Ventures

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Welcome to SL #40! There have been a number of new venture funds cropping up in Atlanta lately, which is helping to propel Atlanta’s early stage scene.  One of those funds, Value Plus Ventures (co-founded by former Noro-Moseley partner Steve Nusrallah), has entered the market with a very unique, hybrid venture model.  There have been a lot of questions floating around about the viability and credibility of their model, so we invited VPV partner Lee Provow to come on and share their story.  We’re not big fans of the “consultative” venture model, but I’ll tell you, we were pleasantly surprised with what we learned.

Unblakeable brings the heat behind the wheel of the bus, this time knocking some pretenders silly.  And, to commemorate Memorial Day, Scott spontaneously bursts into song with an acappella stadium rendition of the Star Spangled Banner (yes, lol – that is really Scott singing – your call as to whether it is comedy, tragedy, or both). Another great selection of listener emails and a dash of StartupLounge humor to top it all off. Enjoy!

Sponsors for this episode:
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Shownotes and Interview Questions:

As usual, we had lots of related follow-up questions and side discussions, but here is a good sampling of the questions we asked on the show:

  • Give us the 30-second elevator pitch on Value Plus Ventures
  • Describe your consulting/investing hybrid model
  • The model sounds as if you invest in companies with the result that they turn around and pay you for consulting fees?  Is that an accurate picture?
  • How does the hybrid model differ from any active early stage investment firm’s model?
  • Are there other investment firms that have had success with a similar model?
  • Have you found the model makes it harder or easier to do deals?
  • Why did you choose that model?
  • Your web site mentions that VPV will look at deals across most any sector – but are there sectors or trends that are of particular interest to you right now?
  • Can you talk about some deals that VPV has done recently?
  • Was it hard to raise this fund, given the economic climate?
  • What is the story you tell potential limited partners that excites them about investing in Georgia and the Southeastern US?
  • How long does your deal evaluation process take?
  • How do deals generally find you?
  • What is the impact of the current economic climate on your investing behavior?
  • What impact is the current economic climate having on your portfolio companies?
  • What advice do you give to entrepreneurs regarding addressing the current economic environment?
  • What impact is the current economic climate having on your deal flow?
  • What is the VPV view of the Atlanta and Southeast early stage venture scene right now?
  • When looking at a deal or an entrepreneur, what gets you very excited?
  • When dealing with you guys, what’s one thing that’s an absolute no-no?
  • How involved are you day to day with your portfolio companies?
  • If you were to “sell” yourself to an entrepreneur to take you on as an investor, what do you think is your biggest selling point?
  • What is a piece of advice you would give to new early-stage investors?
  • If you could change something in the environment to make your jobs easier, what would that be?
  • What is the best way to get an opportunity in front of you?
  • If you were to give one piece of advice to entrepreneurs that might want to approach you for capital, what would that be?

Listener Emails Read and Answered on the Show:

Bill: I have reached the point where I am talking to an angel investor about my project. They are interested and trying to evaluate whether my invention has the potential to succeed. O.K. that’s great… but my mind is reeling, what happens next? What are the next steps to when an angel does say, “Yes, I want to get involved and supply you with funding.”???I want to stay ahead of the curve, and not get caught flat footed, if I get the green light.

MarketMaker John: All investors are obviously looking for a strong return on their investments. I’m interested in those who want a high capital ROI but also want those investments to simultaneously influence positive change in the world. I am of the belief that “social” and “capital” investments do not need to be separate. How do I find investors that share this same viewpoint? Do they exist?

MGreene: Scott has said many times before that entrepreneurs should never be afraid to reinvent themselves (as it pertains to the direction and focus of their company).  Thinking about that earlier today made me curious about something.  If you guys (Scott and Mike) could create StartupLounge all over again, what would you do differently?

Guest Bio:
Lee Provow, Partner, Value Plus Ventures

Prior to joining Value Plus Ventures, Lee served as President, Global Operations for Premier Global Services and has more than 20 years experience in the data and business services industry.

Prior to joining Premiere Global in 2003, Lee served as Chairman of the Executive Committee and Chairman of the Board of Comdial Corporation, a converged voice and data communications service provider offering advanced business phone systems, Voice over IP (VoIP), voice processing, unified messaging, and computer telephony integration solutions.

In 2002, Lee was President and Managing Director of Commonwealth Holdings, LLC, a private investment fund. He served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Intelispan, a provider of network solutions and enabler of electronic communications, from January 2000 until McLeod USA acquired it in December 2001, and he served as a director since August 1988.

Provow was a founder and Chief Operating Officer of GridNet International, a provider of enhanced data communications services, from 1995 to July 1997 when it was acquired by WorldCom. Lee began his career in the transaction processing division of NCR where he spent 15 years in various domestic and international technical, marketing, product management, strategic planning, and execution positions.

He is married, has two children, and is a resident of Atlanta, Georgia.

Miscellany:

Enjoy! To play it, use the tools at the top of this post – you can play it via the embedded Flash player by pressing the big play button at the top, or download it to play on your computer or MP3 player.  You can also take advantage of our iTunes feed.

Podsafe music used within this episode:

  • Underground by Roadside Attraction
  • 10,000 Friends on MySpace by Project Sisyphus
  • All the Money in the World by Hutch

Our format is a little out of the norm as far as podcasts go. We treat our efforts as a true “show” rather than a super-concise (limited) vehicle for delivery of information. Therefore, the podcasts can run a bit long (actually, it is largely driven by the guests and their responses.) While we try to have very substantive discussions, we also try to have a lot of fun along the way (and that tends to elongate the programming a wee bit.) :) Our theory is that if we are having fun during the show, hopefully, you will be having a little fun listening as well.

Here is the breakdown for the show, in case you want to hop around.

Segment Starts At:
Intro 00:00
Opening Dialog: 02:25
Under the Bus/Look Who Gets It 09:10
StartupLounge Mailbag: 13:30
Comedy Break: 23:16
Main Discussion Topic: 26:55
Wrap-up/Analysis 87:00

A special thanks to Lee for coming in and hanging out with us!

We welcome your continued feedback as well! If you have an interest in appearing on the show, becoming a show sponsor (hint, hint), have some suggestions for topics, have feedback, or would just like to email us and tell us to “shove off”, we invite you to contact us.

Enjoy!

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2 Comments so far »

  1. Brent Brooks said

    on July 14 2009 @ 11:58 am

    Great show you guys!

    I will be tuning in for more Start-up advice.

    I LOVE all the creative banter and other choices you guys have made to make the show fun.

    Thanks again ~ Brent

  2. Maurice Brooks said

    on December 9 2009 @ 5:13 am

    Very informative show! Thank you guys for reaching back and helping us up and coming entrepreneurs!
    I have one questioned I would like to ask your guest of VC’s and Angel investors; would they have invested in a Facebook or MySpace business model if it was pitched to them?

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