Capital Ideas: Tom Hillman of Lewis & Clark Ventures
As the St. Louis region continues to cultivate innovative founders, ideas and companies, the need for additional funding sources grows. We asked 10 St. Louis-based venture and private equity firms to comment on the gaps they see for our startups, what they consider when making investments and how they view St. Louis’ current funding climate.
Tom Hillman is the founder and managing director of Lewis & Clark Ventures.
From your perspective, what gaps do you see in local funding for startups?
The biggest gap is series A Venture and high-growth capital with a $3-7 million institutional investor.
What are some of your organization’s current focuses or goals?
To lead the Series A venture and high growth institutional gap by deploying $100 million+ over the next couple years; to be recognized as an anchor for our region to attract other co-investment partners from the coasts.
When looking at potential companies in which to invest, what are the top three factors you consider?
We are operators first, so we look for the best management that can lead as it executes on driving the business forward. Second is the business model, and knowing it’s scalable to a substantial addressable market.
What advice do you have for founders seeking capital right now?
Have skin in the game, network like crazy, solve an important problem and most importantly, understand your business so you know it better than anyone.
Why should investors invest in St. Louis startups right now?
The number and quality of St. Louis early-stage companies is really impressive. St. Louis startups have Midwest values and have tremendous support in the community to succeed.
This article was published in EQ’s Spring 2016 issue.