A new venture capital firm is now a reality – not just an SEC filing. But the founders aren’t talking.
Bull City Venture Partners is about to make its first investment – or at least the first ANNOUNCED deal – in an emerging growth company in Raleigh.
However, Jason Caplain and David Jones, who are the two founders of the firm, still decline to discuss any details about what they are doing, especially when it comes to raising money.
They also remain part of Southern Capitol Ventures, the early-stage VC firm based in Raleigh. Just last month South Cap invested in AudienceFuel, a startup launched by a founder of Batanga, which is a Southern Capitol portfolio member. (On the new website, Jones says he remains a partner at Southern Capitol. That website also still lists Caplain as General Partner.)
Bull City Venture Partners is going to emerge as their primary focus now.
Bull City Venture Partners remains based in the Brier Creek area of northwest Raleigh – for the time being. anyway. The firm is expected to move into a Durham office (thus the Bull City name) at some point in the near future.
The VC firm emerged from stealth mode – but just barely – with an SEC filing in January that disclosed a fund-raising goal of $25 million.
To this day, Caplain and Jones refuse to talk about their outfit, citing restrictions surrounding the fund raising. But this is big news for emerging companies because VC funding remains scarce with more and more companies turning to grants, loans, angel investors and such in order to find growth capital.
Keeping silent can’t be easy for the duo. They are among the best known and most active VCs across the southeast. They not only actively promote portfolio companies and seek deals but also put on events such as the Entrepreneurs speakers series and meet-the-VC breakfasts in order to promote startups. The two also help shape the program for the annual Southeast Venture Conference and the Internet Summit put on by Triangle Media.
The fact the two have a proven track record of several profitable exits at Southern Capitol, are known across the country and can therefore help syndicate deals with other firms (such as in the Valley) and are bringing more cash to the table has the startup community eager to meet with them.
At the SEVC event in Charlotte in March, the two were constantly involved in meetings with entrepreneurs about possible deals.
Bull Cities did recently put up a website, which discloses some information.
As expected, its focus remains very similar to that of Southern Capitol.
“We are based in Raleigh, NC and focus on software, health IT, mobile, internet, e-commerce and digital media companies,” Jones and Caplain say.
“While we say we are early stage focused, we have always been known for selectively investing in seed and growth stage companies as well. That stems from our interest in being more focused on investing in the best entrepreneurs we can find.”
Their “What We Believe” section reflects the values anyone who knows the duo already understands:
What We Believe
1. Founders build great companies, not the VCs. But we want to play a supporting role. We do that through introductions to customers, partners, potential acquirers, new potential employees and we get super active securing the next round of funding.
2. High partner-to-company ratios. Each fund is limited to 10-15 companies, which is less than many VC funds. We want to shower our companies with attention. Limiting the number of companies we invest in per fund and the number of board seats we take, helps us be the most impactful.
3. Great companies are not built overnight. It took Microsoft 8 years to get to $50 million in revenue. It took Oracle 10 years. It took Red Hat 9 years. We are patient investors looking to build long term sustainable businesses. We are not in it for the “quick flip”. We invest in great companies for the duration.
4. Hustle alongside the entrepreneurs. The very best entrepreneurs have a lot of options and can get capital from anyone. So we realize it often comes down to what we can bring outside of just our check.
5. Strong alignment with the founders and investors. As a small fund, we’re not getting rich on fees. We feel we are nicely aligned with the entrepreneurs. When they win, we do too.
That Point 5 is a very interesting one. Too many VC firms for too long have relied on fat fees to pay big salaries. The VC business is withering across the country. Caplain and Jones bring a bit of new life to the game, especially in the Triangle.
Caplain, a former executive at Red Hat, helped the Hatters go public in 1999 in his role as a financial executive. He also has worked at an investment banking firm.
Jones, a former technology consultant at Deloitte, helped launch a medical device portal and flew aboard P-3C Orion submarine hunters as a Weapons and Operations Officer in the Navy.
Their “portfolio” of ventures cited on the Bull City website speaks to their success:
- ArtusLabs (acquired by PerkinElmer NYSE:PKI)
- AVIcode (acquired by Microsoft NASDAQ:MSFT)
- Global Value Commerce
- Motricity (IPO – NASDAQ:MOTR)
- Synthematix (acquired by Symyx Technologies)
- Zift Solutions
As for more insight about Bull City, Jones and Caplain say they will talk – but not right now.
But the door for deals is open, and Bull City Venture Partners is on the hunt for business.
[Editor’s note: Capitol Broadcasting, the parent firm of WRALTechWire, is an investor in Southern Capitol Ventures.]