Felix Williams is the founder and managing director of Lagomaj Capital. Since beginning the St. Louis, Missouri-based enterprise capital agency quickly after finishing highschool, 23-year-old Williams has backed dozens of firms — with a particular curiosity in agtech and biotech and together with a few very massive tech firms that he’s not at liberty to say. Whereas youthful than the standard investor, Williams believes his youth affords him the power to supply a contemporary perspective on tech and issues that startups are attempting to resolve.
Nob6 sat down with Williams to be taught extra about how he obtained into enterprise capital, and his plans for the long run.
When did you first turn into concerned about enterprise capital? How did you break into it?
Whereas rising up, I had no concept what enterprise capital was. The idea made sense; who wouldn’t wish to be invested in ‘Google’ within the early days, however the concept of an trade that did exactly that was overseas to me till about 16 years outdated. On the time, there was a fund in St. Louis, iSelect Fund, that was rising quickly and wanted some assist doing Excel/database work. I’d should say that performing that grunt work was the most effective factor that has occurred to me in my skilled life. In a number of weeks, I used to be engulfed within the enterprise and startup worlds. Studying about exercise within the ecosystem turned my dopamine hit, and I used to be hooked. I felt just like the luckiest teenager on the planet, having gotten the chance to observe a few of the finest and brightest individuals I had ever seen try to resolve the issues we’re stricken with, the issues we see on the information on daily basis. The notion of labor that I felt in my earlier job at a nationwide tutoring chain fell away and was changed with a way of objective.
When did you begin your enterprise agency? What challenges did you face? Did you discover it troublesome to be taken severely due to your age on the time? How outdated have been you precisely?
Lagomaj was born every week or two earlier than my nineteenth birthday. On the time, our path ahead wasn’t all the time clear. For instance, I used to be mistaken for an intern in a number of conferences and usually not taken too severely at networking or trade occasions. It wasn’t uncommon for founders to take calls mid-pitch or verify their messages when it was my flip to ask questions. I realized rapidly that the easiest way to go about working was to construct a rapport with somebody through e-mail or telephone earlier than a face-to-face assembly. Referrals and testimonials went a great distance in establishing credibility with individuals exterior my rising community, however that community is what saved me going. I used to be impressed by the individuals in my life. There’s something very particular about working with people who dedicate their lives to engaged on large issues. Ardour drives the most effective innovators that we’ve ever identified, and there have been occasions the place founders and I have been in a position to share a typical ardour, and people offers have turned out to be a few of my favourite ones to have been concerned with. As we’ve began constructing a extra strong fame, my age has turn into much less of an impediment and extra of a bonus as a few of my viewpoints are sometimes totally different from the standard GP.
What’s your agency’s funding thesis? How a lot have you ever raised? What are a few of your portfolio firms?
Whereas we don’t disclose how a lot we’ve deployed or how a lot has been dedicated to the fund, I can say that we’ve got carried out greater than 45 offers with verify sizes ranging anyplace from a number of hundred thousand to $5 million, more often than not touchdown someplace within the center. In 2021, we invested greater than we did in 2017-2020 mixed. We presently have a presence in St. Louis, Austin and Southern California, and spend time trying nationally for primarily B2B offers involving early-stage firms. Our fund is particularly eager on aligning incentives with the entrepreneurs we work with by means of a multi-decade investing horizon, participation by means of a number of rounds, and our willingness to do offers exterior of a normal-priced spherical. For instance, we accomplished a cutting-edge analysis and growth facility with one in all our portfolio firms that’s looking for to rework how we produce and take into consideration meals. That deal is sort of totally different from what most VC funds will tackle, however we believed it to be important to the development of a greater meals system, and we pursued it. In contrast to another funds, we don’t think about ourselves an Impression or ESG fund. Our mission is to search out passionate individuals doing extraordinary issues for the world we stay in, and once you do this, you output ESG features. I’m proud to say that almost all firms within the portfolio are working in direction of not less than one UN sustainable growth objective.
An early win we had was with Agrible and its sale to Nutrien. (That $63 million sale happened in 2018.) Different firms in our portfolio embrace Benson Hill, Gosite and GigaIO.
Why did you open an workplace in Austin?
We expect that Austin enhances our presence in St. Louis nicely. Each cities have a rising tech scene that isn’t but saturated with VC companies, and every has totally different focuses on the core of their startup ecosystems. In St. Louis, we see an exceptionally strong exhausting science market, particularly bioscience, whereas in Austin, the main focus and development that we’ve got seen has been extra software-centric. Austin too, has many macro tendencies going for it, resembling its desirability for younger professionals, a tradition that facilitates development and a significantly sturdy expertise pool. The town has been tremendously welcoming, and we’re grateful to be a part of its story.
What are your long-term targets/plans?
Over the subsequent few years, our high precedence is to construct an engine that may make investments at scale utilizing knowledge and software program to enhance the human decision-making course of. Though we’ve been working for a number of years now, I’m not shy in telling individuals we’re nonetheless within the growth levels. Our processes and thesis will proceed to evolve as we usher in new staff members with way more expertise than I’ve. We’re constructing capabilities on each the ventures and assist sides for post-investment portfolio firm steerage. Within the subsequent two years, like lots of our portfolio firms, we plan to forgo profitability and make investments closely within the infrastructure that can place us nicely within the a long time to return. Day-after-day, we refine our providing to buyers and portfolio firms. Day-after-day, we are going to proceed that course of to make sure that once we exit for our subsequent massive fundraising spherical down the street, we shall be poised to do nicely. It’s our opinion that enterprise because it stands now gained’t final without end, and we wish to be positioned nicely for when that paradigm shift begins to present itself.
Though 2022 has actually been fascinating as allocators re-evaluate their portfolios, our conviction particularly know-how and tendencies has by no means been greater. We’re ecstatic about persevering with to put money into firms and partnerships on the confluence of innovation and market adoption.