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Category Archives: Venture Capital Industry
The individual income tax-rate cuts of the 1980s helped make LLCs the default business structure for startups – but the 2017 reduction in corporate tax rates, coupled with the capital gains tax rate increases in the 2010s, have changed the dynamic.
As last week’s Wall Street Journal explains in “Startups Discover the Allure of the C Corporation,” in some circumstances the ‘C’ structure creates potential tax benefits for entrepreneurs and their investors:
For years, Mr. Bisges started ventures using limited-liability companies, known for their flexibility and tax advantages. But when Mr. Bisges and his nephew, Aaron, started planning StillFire Brewing, their accountant suggested the C corporation.
Mr. Bisges is pinning this part of his business plan on Section 1202 of the Internal Revenue Code, an underused provision expanded under Mr. Obama, and one that is gaining new attention after the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act made it more attractive.
The strategy is particularly advantageous for business founders who expect to start small, keep earnings inside the company, make annual profits and then cash out. If a taxpayer holds C corporation stock for five years and follows the technical rules, capital-gains taxes on a subsequent sale get erased—on gains up to $10 million or 10 times the original investment, whichever is greater.
In a nutshell, the article argues that it may now be tax advantageous for entrepreneurs to realize their profits in the form of long-term capital gains instead of ordinary income because they can exclude from federal income tax 100% of the gain from the sale of qualified small business stock.
LLCs, S-Corps, and C-Corps each offer different advantages and restrictions, and choosing poorly can lead to expensive and difficult changes down the road. There are many complexities and issues to consider and no one right answer. Just as people shouldn’t decide to have children for the tax benefits, we advise founders to not view tax considerations in a vacuum when choosing the legal structure for their businesses. They need to think hard about the long term goals for the business and seek expert advice on the optimal legal structure.
You can, however, reduce the number of future headaches (and possibly legal bills) if you choose the structure that is most appropriate for both your current situation and your long-term objectives. Aside from avoiding personal exposure to business liabilities, the main considerations when choosing from among the three structures are tax consequences and corporate governance issues.
We ourselves have invested in both C’s and LLC’s, and have found the defined governance structure of a C-corp is almost always preferable. For a more expansive view of our thinking on the subject, we recommend you check out our 2010 white paper, To LLC or Not to LLC.
Source: Prepaid Technologies
Deal more than doubles Prepaid Technologies’ purchasing card portfolio, adds exciting new product enhancements for the business payments leader
BIRMINGHAM, Ala., March 20, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Prepaid Technologies, a leading provider of business payment solutions, announced the acquisition of Karmic Labs’ dash™, the San Francisco-based purchasing card portfolio and expense management solution, as well as other select assets.
The deal, which closed on March 1, 2019, adds several members of Karmic’s key personnel to the Prepaid Technologies team, with team members now operating throughout North America. The addition of the dash platform also adds a robust expense management solution and extensive card portfolio to the Prepaid Technologies suite of offerings, including payroll programs, business purchasing cards, reward and incentives and per-diem card offerings. Current Karmic and dash customers will benefit from an expanded range of services, products, and resources including Prepaid Technologies’ dedicated customer support.
“Integrating the dash purchasing card structure into our existing portfolio increases efficiencies and enhances our growing suite of solutions for businesses and payments service providers,” said Prepaid Technologies CEO, Stephen Faust. “This cardholder portfolio more than doubles our existing expense management business, elevating purchasing to the level of our payroll, incentive and rewards lines of business.”
Prepaid Technologies’ solutions provide customers with a mobile-focused platform enabling business owners to move money in real-time to individual cards and accounts for everyday purchases. It also empowers administrators with key insights into spending, providing better control in the expense reconciliation process. These solutions are significantly enhancing traditional payments for many business segments, particularly universities and municipalities.
“The addition of dash is another prime example of how we’re fulfilling our commitment to provide the broadest suite of payment solutions to our partners and commercial clients, with a focus on quality,” said Faust.
Over the next several months, Prepaid Technologies will integrate the dash portfolio into its service offering, working diligently to transition existing clients, while also providing them with access to additional payments and business management solutions including:
- Revolutionary payroll card programs that improves bottom-line performance and provide value to employees.
- Reward and incentive cards to support stronger customer and employee relationships.
- State-of-the-art API Payment Integrations that transform internal operations, speed-up payments and create operational efficiencies.
For the past 20 years, Prepaid Technologies has built an extraordinary reputation as a trusted partner and advisor in prepaid payments, helping bank partners and clients deliver efficient and meaningful payment experiences, from concept to cardholder. Learn more at in-prepaid.com.
About Prepaid Technologies
A pioneer in financial technology, Prepaid Technologies has been providing innovative electronic payment solutions including payroll, expense, gift, reward and incentive card products to employers, financial institutions, and government agencies for more than 20 years. Learn more at www.in-prepaid.com.
Prepaid Technologies is celebrating 20 years as a leader in the business payments space. Learn more about our history and vision for the future at https://www.in-prepaid.com/prepaid-technologies-marks-20-years-of-prepaid-innovation-and-success/
Tampa, FL – February 21, 2019
Ballast Point Ventures II, LP and Ballast Point Ventures I, LP (“BPV”) are pleased to announce that they have successfully exited their growth equity investments in MolecularMD, a molecular diagnostics company founded in West Palm Beach, FL. MolecularMD was acquired by ICON plc (NASDAQ: ILCR), a global provider of outsourced development services to the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device industries.
Founded in 2006 by Dr. Brian Druker and Sheridan Snyder, MolecularMD developed a core competency in streamlining the development, regulatory approval, and clinical development deployment of precision oncology medicines for well-established, long-term biopharma clients. Drew Graham and Matt Rice, Partners with BPV, served on MolecularMD’s board of directors prior to the acquisition.
Dan Snyder, the Company’s CEO since 2014, remarked, “Our team has worked tirelessly to provide our clients with an exceptional, full-service diagnostics offering aimed at accelerating the approval of cancer drugs and therapies. Ballast Point Ventures has been a great partner and tremendous resource for us in driving growth in our business. We have relished the leadership, guidance, and expertise that Drew and Matt have provided, and we appreciate the support that the entire BPV team has provided MolecularMD throughout our multi-year partnership.” He continued, “ICON plc has a very complementary strategy to our focus at MolecularMD, and we are excited to become part of the ICON team.”
Drew Graham, a Partner with BPV who served as Chairman of MolecularMD, said, “We are proud of our partnership with MolecularMD and the Company’s growth from a small business in West Palm Beach to a highly regarded player in the molecular diagnostics industry with a blue chip client base around the world. Dan Snyder and his talented team built a great company, and I have no doubt they will help ICON achieve even greater success.”
Please see here for full press release.
About Ballast Point Ventures
Ballast Point Ventures, headquartered in Tampa, Florida, is a later-stage venture capital and growth equity fund founded in 2002 to provide expansion capital for rapidly growing, privately owned companies, with a particular emphasis on companies located in Florida, the Southeast and Texas. The BPV partners have more than 80 years of combined experience investing in and building high-growth companies in several industries, including healthcare, software, technology-enabled business services and consumer. BPV has $360 million under management across three funds and seeks to make initial equity investments ranging in size from $4 million to $10 million. For more information, visit www.ballastpointventures.com.
Source: Business Observer FL
By: Brian Hartz
Tucker says hiring employees who want to stay and grow with the company is a priority. That’s one reason why PowerChord has been diligent about implementing a unique organizational culture that involves staff from all departments in high-level decisions.
“I want to hire people who are smarter than me,” Tucker says. “What I’ve found is that great ideas, whether related to products or strategy or anything else, don’t always come from your top dozen executives. They come from people who are out there facing the customer, who understand the customer and deal with them
Proving the theory, Tucker involved some 30 employees outside PowerChord’s C-suite in the firm’s 2019 strategic planning sessions. That means hundreds of ideas can be brought forward. Then, through a distillation process, the sessions will produce a few key companywide strategic initiatives, as well as department-level goals ripe for execution.
Tucker, in the process, balances pushing staff with realistic expectations. “We’ve got to challenge employees, but we’ve also got to guide them,” he says. “As employees grow and mature, and as the company grows, you can start taking on more things and still not have plates hit the floor.”
Employee empowerment is also a major part of PowerChord’s culture. Company policy allows for a generous amount of paid time off, for one, and managers are instructed to be tolerant of mistakes. “You have to be able to accept good news and bad news equally quick,” he says. “I’m a huge believer in that because if you’re not out there trying, you can say, ‘Well, I’ve never had a failure.’ But if you say that, you’ve never pushed yourself and you’ve never really tried.”
(This story has been updated to clarify that PowerChord does not offer unlimited paid time off to employees.)
Tampa, FL – February 7, 2019
Ballast Point Ventures II, LP (“BPV”) is pleased to announce that Flexpoint Ford has led a majority recapitalization of BPV portfolio company YPrime, a global leader in cloud-based eClinical solutions. Ballast Point Ventures II has retained a substantial minority stake in the Company, and BPV Partner Matt Rice will continue to serve on the Board. BPV II originally invested in YPrime in 2013 to help the Company grow its sales and marketing teams and further enhance its technology platform with additional product offerings. BPV’s investment facilitated the Company becoming a premier provider of electronic Clinical Outcomes Assessments (eCOA), a large and rapidly growing segment within the eClinical landscape.
“When we decided to raise our first round of outside growth capital in 2013, we knew the Ballast Point Ventures team was aligned with our vision for YPrime and would be a great partner as we scaled the business,” said Shawn Blackburn, co-founder and CEO of YPrime. “We are grateful for the leadership and guidance that Matt and the team at BPV have provided over the years, and we are excited to continue our partnership with BPV as YPrime expands. The new investment from Flexpoint Ford will allow us to accelerate our growth of technology solutions across global clinical trial operations and will provide us with additional strategic resources and capabilities to support our continued rapid growth.”
Matt Rice, Partner at BPV, remarked, “At YPrime, we saw the opportunity to partner with a tenacious and innovative management team operating in a large, rapidly growing industry undergoing fundamental change. Shawn and the YPrime team made the right investments in both people and technology and have positioned the Company as a leader in the eCOA market. We are proud to support YPrime in this next chapter, and we look forward to the Company’s continued success during our partnership with Flexpoint Ford.”
Founded in 2006 by Shawn Blackburn and Jaime Cook, YPrime provides innovative software solutions and consulting services to pharmaceutical, biotechnology and life sciences sponsors, clinical research organizations, research sites and patient users to enable efficient and collaborative clinical trial data collection and information management. Data services tools eliminate data silos and help sponsors bring together fragmented clinical research data into contextual and actionable information. For more information, please visit www.yprime.com.
About Ballast Point Ventures
Ballast Point Ventures, headquartered in Tampa, Florida, is a later-stage venture capital and growth equity fund founded in 2002 to provide expansion capital for rapidly growing, privately owned companies, with a particular emphasis on companies located in Florida, the Southeast and Texas. The BPV partners have more than 80 years of combined experience investing in and building high-growth companies in several industries, including healthcare, software, technology-enabled business services and consumer. BPV has $360 million under management across three funds and seeks to make initial equity investments ranging in size from $4 million to $10 million. For more information, please visit www.ballastpointventures.com.
About Flexpoint Ford
Flexpoint Ford is a private equity investment firm that has raised more than $2.3 billion in capital and specializes in privately negotiated investments in the healthcare and financial services industries. Since the firm’s formation in 2005, Flexpoint Ford has completed investments in more than 30 companies across a broad range of investment sizes, structures and asset classes. Flexpoint Ford is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. For more information about Flexpoint Ford, please visit www.flexpointford.com.
Source: St. Pete Catalyst
By: Margie Manning
Drew Graham (left), managing partner, Ballast Point Ventures, interviewed Jeff Vinik at the Florida Venture Capital Conference. (Photo credit: Stuart Rudolph, ScaleUp Executives)
Jeff Vinik opened up about getting back into money management, his investment philosophy and the infamous “Florida man” during a candid interview at the Florida Venture Forum’s Venture Capital Conference.
It was the first public interview Vinik has done since announcing earlier this month he would relaunch Vinik Asset Management, a fund he ran between 1996 and 2013.
Vinik, who owns the Tampa Bay Lightning and is partnering with Cascade Investment on the $3 billion Water Street Tampa development, became a well-known name in the investment community when he managed the Fidelity Magellan Fund in the mid-1990s. Vinik — who described himself as “relentless”— said he still spends five or six hours a day reading Wall Street reports.
“I love it so much I can’t stop doing it,” Vinik told Drew Graham, managing partner of Ballast Point Ventures, during the interview. “I don’t put many trades in, but I follow companies. Today is the busiest day of earnings season. There will be 300 companies that will report earnings today and from my analysts I’ll get Wall Street research on every one of them. I’ll spend 10 seconds on some, two minutes on others, looking for ideas.
“I’ve been doing that for the last two years and I thought, as long as I was doing all this work I might as well get paid for it.”
The market has shifted from active money management to passive management and computerized trading strategies. Vinik said he sees opportunity in active management.
“The story that I’m telling is that active has underperformed for so long and competition has decreased, that we are now finally at the time for active to outperform passive and I’m going to be taking advantage of that. I don’t really believe that,” he said. “I actually think passive will still outperform. I think the human emotions of greed and fear are every bit as strong as they were 20 or 30 years ago. I see hedge fund managers making the same mistakes, buying high and selling low … but reading so many hours a day like I do and having people feed me information, like a point guard in basketball, and being such a generalist, I think I can make it work for me, but I’ve got to prove it.”
He described his investment philosophy for public companies as simple — buy good companies with good earnings and good management. He’s industry agnostic but singled out Software-as-a-Service as a hot sector right now.
Vinik also has been active in private company investing, including putting money into local startups such as digital health firm Peerfit and educational technology company Knack. He’s also backing Embarc Collective, a downtown Tampa hub that will bring together entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and other funders, and academic resources in one space.
“We want to make it as easy as possible for entrepreneurs to get to the next level. Many won’t but some will,” Vinik said.
Vinik – who has called on everyone in the area to be an evangelist for Tampa Bay — said he was speaking to a group of high school students a few years ago and was surprised by how many of them said they wanted to leave Tampa after graduation.
“That was like a light bulb going on. How do we keep talent here and attract talent, which I believe we can. It’s education, it’s getting this entrepreneurial movement. It will build on itself as we go along. It’s still early, but we do have momentum.”
Florida traditionally has been better known for tourism and for “Florida man,” a Twitter handle and a euphemism for weird news that comes out of the state.
“There’s an Arkansas man. There’s a Texas man. But it’s the Florida man that’s getting published every day … We’ve got to do a better job of getting the word out,” Vinik said. “I moved from Boston and it’s fantastic here … People don’t know what they’re missing.”
He predicted growth in Florida’s business community and the venture industry would outpace tourism over the next 20 years.
He touched on a couple of other topics in response to audience questions.
Sports. “If sports were a stock, it wouldn’t be the first stock I would buy.” That’s because young people spend less time playing and watching sports than they used to, as the internet has captured more of their interest. He has an investment in an e-sports company, Team Liquid, and said he’s bullish on that investment.
Attracting entrepreneurs to the area. It’s key to build critical mass, Vinik said, so that someone moving here from out of town knows there’s a fallback to go to if their venture fails. “The type of people we attract are early adopters,” Vinik said. “Tampa Bay is not Miami, which has blossomed and exploded. I’d like to think we have that ahead of us. People who are the early adopters come in and want to be part of that movement, as do I.”
November 21, 2018 – Ballast Point Ventures is pleased to announce a growth equity investment in SkuVault, based in Louisville, Kentucky. BPV led the $8 million Series A investment with participation from Poplar Ventures and Endeavor Catalyst. SkuVault will use the investment to amplify marketing efforts, add to the sales force, and further enhance its software product offering.
SkuVault provides a cloud-based inventory and warehouse management software platform designed primarily for businesses looking to scale with a competitive eCommerce and omni-channel distribution solution. The platform enables warehouse employees to fulfill customer orders more efficiently and allows purchasing managers to actively track inventory levels across disparate geographic footprints. Customers are able to scan products in and out of warehouses and retail stores via a simple barcoding system and sync real-time inventory data across multiple online marketplaces such as Amazon, Ebay and Jet.
“Billions of dollars are lost each year in the retail industry due to inefficient warehouse operations and substandard inventory processes. SkuVault’s real-time insight into inventory levels prevents overselling and out of stocks, and its barcoding and quality control features reduce picking and shipping errors, thereby increasing operational efficiency,” said SkuVault Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Andy Eastes. “SkuVault is excited to partner with Ballast Point Ventures and the Series A co-investors and for the possibilities this minority investment will provide. We are looking forward to expanding our profile within eCommerce and continuing to support our long-standing customers with world-class technology tools and customer service.”
“SkuVault’s success to this point without any outside funding is a testament to the vision and technology platform developed by a great team over the last several years”, said Ballast Point Ventures’ Sean Barkman, who will join the SkuVault Board of Directors. “We are very excited to partner with Andy and the SkuVault team and look forward to working with the Company to build a leading cloud-based inventory and warehouse management software platform.”
About SkuVault SkuVault, headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky, provides a cloud-based inventory and warehouse management software platform designed primarily for businesses looking to scale with a competitive eCommerce and omni-channel distribution solution. Delivered via a Software-as-a-Service model, SkuVault’s product is directly integrated with channel management systems, eCommerce store platforms, shipping software, and many other operational technology platforms, creating a more seamless experience for its customers and allowing for more streamlined product fulfillment. SkuVault makes it easy for clients to connect their warehouses to the world while increasing fulfillment speed, accuracy, and profit. For additional information, visit www.skuvault.com.
About Ballast Point Ventures Ballast Point Ventures, headquartered in Tampa, Florida, is a later-stage venture capital and growth equity fund founded in 2002 to provide expansion capital for rapidly growing, privately owned companies, with a particular emphasis on companies located in Florida, the Southeast and Texas. The BPV partners have more than 80 years of combined experience investing in and building high-growth companies in several industries, including software, technology-enabled business services, healthcare, and consumer. Ballast Point Ventures has $360 million under management across three Funds and seeks to make initial equity investments ranging in size from $4 million to $10 million. For additional information, visit www.ballastpointventures.com.
Source: AtlantaInno By: Madison Hogan
David Wise, AVOXI founder and CEO, said the investment will be used to accelerate product development, sales and marketing at the company.
“We plan in a very large global marketplace to use the money kind of across the board to continue to accelerate the growth of the company,” he said. “There’s a huge, huge market for us. We’re not limited in terms of geography or even in industry.”
AVOXI will also grow its Atlanta team of 80 employees significantly, Wise said. The company will look to add employees to its marketing and software engineering team.
“We’re looking at the business and trying to evaluate what is the maximum levers we need to work to kind of optimize the opportunity,” he said.
The company provides toll free virtual numbers to more than 2,400 corporate contact centers around the world.
“We help customers connect to their clients globally,” Wise said. “So we sell global virtual phone numbers. Clients selling goods or services located in Atlanta, Georgia—they want to reach customers in Singapore, we can give them local phone numbers in those markets and those phone numbers can ring over the top of any premise-based communication system.”
AVOXI also offers a cloud-based contact center technology that allows clients to deliver calls on their platform and measure the productivity of agents making the phones calls, Wise said. Clients can then look for ways to improve their sales closing ratio and how to better serve their customers.
Wise said Ballast Point was a perfect fit for AVOXI as an investor, because the team understands the market.
“They understand and appreciate the reputation that we bring to the table and what it takes,” he said. “And for them, they’re really smart, savvy guys that have the ability to do more if we need it and they also have the right connections in the Southeast for us to use as we continue to scale and grow the business.”
“We are excited to partner with David and his team to drive continued contact center market leadership and technology innovation,” Paul Johan, partner at Ballast Point Ventures, who will join AVOXI’s board of directors, said in a statement. “BPV has a strong history of supporting high-growth cloud software and communications companies throughout the Southeast, and we believe AVOXI has done an impressive job building a global communications business to serve the ever-evolving needs of its customers.”
Source: Tampa Bay Business Journal
By: Margie Manning
In the nearly one year since Ballast Point Ventures in Tampa invested $4 million in venture capital in Symphonic Distribution Inc., the digital music distribution company in Tampa has been able to make moves needed to scale the business.
Full Article: Tampa Bay Business Journal
Source: Florida High Tech Magazine
Home to more than 383,000 millionaire households and 34 people on Forbes’ list of the 400 richest people in America, Florida has ample funding available. While success stories from across The Corridor exhibit how startups like Orlando’s Fattmerchant, Tampa’s Morphogenesis and Gainesville’s Captozyme have tapped into such wealth, the reality is most entrepreneurs struggle in an increasingly competitive environment.
Fundraising has accelerated rapidly in recent years. While funds grow in dollar amounts, the number of funds has remained relatively the same. This dynamic causes investors to write fewer, larger checks, making it more difficult for smaller companies seeking less capital to benefit unless they boast a disruptive or scalable idea. Indeed, MoneyTree’s Q1 report this year ranked Florida among the top five states for largest deals by dollar amount, with $511 million in financing distributed amongst just 20 contracts.
“On one hand, The Corridor region is a much more credible geographic area to invest in than it was 15 years ago and investors from all over the country now consider investing here,” said Randy Scott, partner at Gainesville’s HealthQuest Capital and advisory board member for the Florida Institute for the Commercialization of Public Research. “On the other hand, the businesses starting here tend to be the ones raising smaller amounts of capital, which will make it tougher to raise capital in this era of bigger deals.”
Randy has been an executive, board member, entrepreneur and investor in health care and medical technology companies for more than 30 years. He recommends smaller companies in The Corridor seek funding from “less traditional sources like angel groups or family offices,” which offer assets from wealthy individuals or families with longer investment horizons.
Tampa’s Ballast Point Ventures, the most active venture investor in Florida over the past 10 years, is not an angel group or family office, yet it does assist companies in earlier stages generating around $3 million in revenue. According to Principal Sean Barkman, who works largely with software-as-a-service companies, this segment of the entrepreneurial ecosystem is underserved by larger funds.
“We are pleased that five of our first 10 investments in Ballast Point Ventures III (a $164-million fund raised in early 2015) are based in Florida and three of those companies are based in Central Florida,” said Sean.
Similarly, IDEA Fund Partners is one of the most active seed and early-stage venture investors throughout the Southeast with stakes in three Florida companies, including one in The Corridor. With offices in North Carolina and Orlando, its managers review over 1,000 business plans a year, but typically make only one investment a month. This scenario is not uncommon among firms, said Founding Partner Richard Fox.
All three investors would agree success stems from investing not only in funds, but also in entrepreneurs. For Florida and The Corridor to advance the entrepreneurial ecosystem, assisting early-stage companies in the competitive environment is key. As Randy explained, venture capital money “chases talent more than technology.”
“We need to turn Florida into a destination for high potential and already successful entrepreneurs to move to. Then, everything will take care of itself in time.”
Several groups across the region, such as NEXUS and Seed Tampa Bay, are aware of the challenges facing early-stage companies and are working to help company founders more easily access funds. Before entrepreneurs utter one word of their business pitch, however, much preparation is required. Investors are more likely to work with founders who possess strong business acumen, leadership capability, industry awareness and a realistic company valuation. They must also be adaptable.
“In all the companies we invested in that were successful, every one of them had to pivot because of outside influences, surprise competitors and deeper opportunities in adjacent areas,” explained Richard. “It’s not all about the brilliant idea; it’s whether the company has thought through every scenario.”
It’s not unusual, added Sean, for investment firms and entrepreneurs to build relationships long before any capital is raised.
“The most rewarding part of our job is developing relationships with entrepreneurs and working alongside them to help grow their businesses,” he said. “The entrepreneurial spirit is truly unique, and we are thrilled to be part of the growing ecosystem here.”
In the world of venture capital, progress begets progress. As early investments in some of The Corridor’s leading technology entrepreneurs are coming to fruition, the region faces immense potential. Crucial to growth is reinvestment by successful entrepreneurs. We need them to serve as angel investors and advisors for the next wave of pioneers. This cycle proves efficacy, enticing even more investors and entrepreneurs to The Corridor, where a favorable business tax climate, modern infrastructure, talented workforce and lifestyle amenities provide refuge from the rising costs and bloated markets of other high tech hubs.