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February 11, 2021 | Tom Ballard

INVESTOR OUTLOOK PART 10: Final thoughts from the panel

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the final article in a 10-part series capturing the thoughts of Angel and Venture Capitalists who invest in East Tennessee as they look back on 2020 and ahead as we begin 2021.)

Do you have any additional insights you want to share?

  • Kristina Montague, Managing Partner, The JumpFund. This has been an incredibly challenging year and one in which gaps in who has access to resources and who does not have grown wider. I would challenge other investors to continue to look outside of their close networks and collaborate with investors who are leaning into closing these gaps to find new, high potential companies in which to invest. To this point, Next Wave Impact, another fund in which I’m involved, had a short-term, positive exit from a company led by a Black male Founder and one of our JumpFund companies, led by Black female Founder/Chief Executive Officer Sevetri Wilson, successfully completed an $11 million Series A round in 2020. This is not a “feel good” or “do-good” proposition; it is the opportunity to invest in undervalued, under-resourced, yet high growth potential companies in order to make strong returns. We will also need to help our current portfolios even more into this new year with bridge financing as more investors are investing at later stages and moving away from new, unproven start-ups. It has been helpful to our fund to continue to collaborate with other angel investors, groups, and funds with either a Southeast regional and/or female Founder focus to share best practices and find strong companies in which to invest. The next year, coming out of this protracted “lockdown,” will be an even greater test to the resiliency of our portfolio companies and should also be an exciting time to invest in new strategies and opportunities that have arisen due to the pandemic which address a fundamental shift in how we work and live.
  • Grady Vanderhoofven, Founder, President and Chief Executive Officer, Three Roots Capital. No additional thoughts.
  • Ken Woody, President and Partner, Innova Memphis. Where there is great change, there is real opportunity for innovation. If you have a great idea, prove it has real value, build a great team, accept advice and counsel, and then persevere to get the capital you need to make it work. 2021 can be a great year for start-ups.
  • David Belitz, Charlie Brock and Courtney Watson, Partners, Chattanooga Renaissance Fund. No additional thoughts.
  • Eric Dobson, Chief Executive Officer, Sheltowee Angel Network. I will be happy to see 2020 in the rearview mirror. I believe it will be regarded as a “mulligan” in the investing world. It will be shrugged-off as anomalous and will likely have an asterisk beside it for the purpose of statistical analysis. As we approach spring and the population reaches widespread inoculation, I believe we will see a financial recovery that will mimic the recovery from the 1918-1921 period of the Spanish Flu, called the Roaring 20’s. And, I think there will be pronounced focus on the “heartland” through grant and equity investment programs. Finally, with all the “lifestyle” businesses that will (re)launch, I believe crowdfunding will grow significantly in the next three years.
  • Tony Lettich, Managing Director, The Angel Roundtable. We would simply reiterate that one should look for opportunity. Uncertainty and change can create opportunity. Find it and take advantage of it!

We thank all of those who took the time to provide responses for the “2021 Investor Outlook” series. They are champions of the region, investing in the future by investing in those with great ideas.

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