By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA
Having grown-up in Glasgow, KY where his parents were farmers, Wes Barton had some familiarity with the Middle Tennessee region. When COVID-19 literally closed many offices in New York City, he decided to relocate his family to Nashville to be closer to his Kentucky relatives.
That decision means one of two Managing Partners at Third Prime, a five-year old venture capital firm, is based in the Volunteer State. The fund currently has more than $100 million in investments under management and will launch fundraising for its third fund soon.
We talked to Barton recently to learn more about Third Prime.
“We’re still investing in the early stages,” he told us. “Our sweet spot is leading a seed round and taking a board seat. We will continue to invest through a Series B round.”
Third Prime’s first fund is “doing incredibly well,” Barton said. Fund 2, launched in 2019, leaned heavily toward health tech, fintech and what he called “the future of work.” For Fund 3, he said “Third Prime expects to raise $75 million that will be invested into companies that disintermediate inefficient incumbents in large markets, including fintech, property tech, and health tech.”
In addition to the flagship Fund 3, Barton says that Third Prime will raise a dedicated crypto fund later this year that will focus on DeFi and protocols.
“We back truly exceptional entrepreneurs in large, addressable markets,” Barton explains, adding that he is very interested in transformative technologies.
Two Nashville-based companies are among Third Prime’s portfolio of 36 investments. They are:
- Alto IRA which enables individuals to invest their retirement dollars in alternative assets; and
- STRONGEST which is dedicated to maximizing the performance of the fitness community through AI-driven products and
Third Prime has also invested in companies in neighboring states such as:
- Kafene, a Louisville, KY-based start-up with the goal of empowering flexible ownership solutions in the “buy now, pay later” category;
- Phase Change Solutions, based in Greensboro, NC, that bills itself as a global leader in temperature control and energy efficient solutions, using phase change materials that stabilize temperatures across a wide range of applications; and
- The New Primal, a Charleston, SC-based start-up that is selling high-integrity foods and condiments.
Barton earned his undergraduate degree at Western Kentucky University before getting a law degree from Duke University. After law school, he joined Skadden, Arps as an attorney in New York City before spending the next decade as an investor with hedge funds and private equity firms where, among other things, Barton took a company public. He co-founded Third Prime in January 2016 and currently serves as Managing Partner.