Getting to Know Plains Ventures
Author: Justin Wilson
Good morning! I am delighted to officially open the doors on the Plains Ventures blog—almost as delighted as I was about a year ago when I became managing director and president of what is now Plains Ventures, the private, for-profit venture capital fund management firm formerly known as i2E Management Company Inc.
If you didn’t know that i2E had a private venture capital fund component, you’re in good company. It wasn’t so long ago that I didn’t either—which, oddly enough, is one of the many reasons I’m so proud to help lead it.
i2E didn’t start investing in companies because being a VC is cool; they did it because they were in the trenches with some of the most innovative founders that this country has to offer and couldn’t help but notice that these incredible ideas were being overlooked and undervalued, in our state and beyond. They didn’t go to any great lengths to promote themselves as VCs because they were focused on the companies they served.
For them, it wasn’t about the headlines; it was about helping new ideas take root and about proving that real innovation is being born here in the heartland every day–and that innovation had serious potential to scale up if provided the resources and support for growth.
You might be asking yourself, “OK then, if you’ve been doing this for years, why the new branding and promotion now?”
The answer is that we have now proven that venture capital does work in middle America. Alkami Technologies is our state’s first “unicorn.” Selexys Pharmaceuticals was acquired by Novartis for more than $650 million, and Spiers New Technologies, the industry leader in battery management and recycling, was acquired by Cox Automotive.
Our task today is to build on that track record and take it to even greater heights. Furthermore, we are so proud of what this team has accomplished through the years and even prouder of the entrepreneurs and fantastic businesses that we have worked with and continue to work with today. We have a duty to tell the world all about them.
If you are wondering if this means i2E is changing, the answer is emphatically NO! i2E continues to offer the same high-value individualized services to entrepreneurs and early-stage startups that they have created and honed for more than two decades. The Plains team works closely with the i2E team to provide as much added value as possible to the companies we invest in.
So, what exactly does Plains Ventures do?
- We invest in early-stage companies solving high–value problems in large addressable markets across all major industry sectors.
- We deliver high risk-adjusted returns to our LPs through our disciplined approach to investing, our thorough diligence, and our unique value–add strategy built specifically to suit underestimated opportunities here in the heartland.
In the days, months, and years to come, our team will be using this blog to share our perspectives on the market and to discuss specific tools and tactics that company founders can use on their journey to build their businesses. We will also be sharing interesting and inspiring stories about the companies we invest in and those we admire. We will do our best to do that in a manner that is both engaging and informative, for investors, entrepreneurs, and people who simply enjoy learning and reading about the best that the bright minds of today have to offer our collective tomorrow.
As a tribal member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and native Okie, I see our new chapter as symbolic of the spirit of creation, innovation, and resiliency that I’ve witnessed here on the Plains my entire life. As a fund manager, it is thrilling because “overlooked opportunity” also means “untapped value” and “superior risk-adjusted returns.” That is what our Plains Ventures team is dedicated to providing–to the founders we invest in and the investors that entrust us with their capital.
At its most fundamental thesis, venture capital is the promise of a new and better tomorrow. It is the most optimistic asset class in our economy, and it captures the spirit that makes this country so strong. It shouts boldly that we are unafraid of the future, that while we know it will be difficult, we are endowed with the mettle to build something new and meaningful that solves big problems.
I hope you’ll join us.