(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first in a two-part series focused on Roger Kiger, one of the region’s serial entrepreneurs who has also been involved in angel capital activities and has just launched his own software product.)
By Tom Ballard, Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurial Initiatives, Pershing Yoakley & Associates, P.C.
“My resume looks like a lot of jobs because I had two at a time,” Roger Kiger told us in a recent interview.
His matter-of-fact explanation underscores how the Knoxville business executive and other entrepreneurs succeed in their start-up ventures. They have their proverbial day job and night job.
Today, Kiger’s resume continues to show multiple jobs. He is Chief Manager and Wealth Strategist at Visionary Horizons Wealth Management, a company providing customized asset management and financial planning for high net worth clients and retirement plans. The firm has three offices in Knoxville and one in Kentucky.
Kiger is also Chief Executive Officer of Smart-RIA, a web-based practice management company for financial advisors; co-owns several marinas; and is involved in the Lighthouse Fund, the community’s first locally-based angel fund.
Like many entrepreneurs, his entrepreneurial journey started early and involved family – David, his identical twin brother, to be exact.
“I was working at Fox Road Marina while a student at UT,” Kiger told us. Meanwhile, his brother was a manager at the Orangery Restaurant.
“We decided we wanted to own a marina and restaurant,” Kiger explained, adding that neither of the brothers had any capital to fund their vision.
Enter Jim Gray, the famed artist who owned a marina near the Knox-Blount County line in Rockford.
“We struck a deal standing in the parking lot,” Kiger said. Suddenly, the brothers were in business with Willow Point Marina and Kiger’s Restaurant.
“It was supposed to be just a snack bar,” Kiger says of the restaurant that became a popular destination. His mother, a German by birth, even pitched-in, making her famous potato salad.
Roger relinquished the day-to-day management of Willow Point and Kiger’s to David so that he could enter the financial planning business, initially at Ameriprise, then First American National Bank and later at AmSouth, when it acquired First American, and ultimately at SunTrust Bank. Kiger founded Visionary Horizons in 2007.
Roger’s decision to enter the financial planning profession did not stop the duo’s entrepreneurial journey in the marina business. They built Volunteer Landing in downtown Knoxville and also bought Fox Road Marina.
In 2009, Kiger accepted the role of Managing Director of Angel Capital Group’s Knoxville operation, bringing his financial expertise to the all-important early funding that start-ups need.
NEXT: Kiger draws on his financial experience to launch a new product.