With 2019 just about over, we’re taking a look back at some of what we learned this year. We’ve talked to founders who have created startups worth billions, disrupters who are scaling up in microtransit, a brewer that utilizes crowdfunding to raise awareness, as well as dealmakers who have shared the keys to integration, family offices and tech commercialization.
Here’s a glimpse at some of what we’ve covered in a busy 2019.
Journey to $1 billion valuation
Dan Manges and Alex Timm joined an exclusive club in August 2018: founders of billion-dollar startups. Their Root Insurance became Columbus’ second unicorn — just 20 months after the first.
“It’s quite possible that without Drive Capital being here in Columbus, Root wouldn’t exist at all,” Manges says of the company’s beginnings.
It’s been a meteoric rise for the car insurance company since 2015 — which was valued at $3.65 billion as of September. Earlier this year, Manges described the early days of Root Insurance’s wildly successful capital raising journey.
Safelite’s Tom Feeney on integration
While acquisitions are still an important part of Safelite Group’s growth, they are no longer a prominent part. The company’s pre-2010 growth of 40 percent by acquisition has declined to 10 percent. The parent of Safelite AutoGlass, however, still finds speed and focus critical for deal integration.
“From my experience, the organizations that try to convince themselves that longer is better are making a mistake,” says CEO Tom Feeney, who cannot imagine any acquisition taking more than six months to integrate.
Feeney shares how his integration team stays focused and moves quickly — sometimes completing their work in two to three weeks.
Rise of the family office
Family offices are an attractive financial structure for transferring wealth to the next generation. After working for more than a decade with the area’s family offices, Reese Fields is seeing many local families add outside governance to aid their investing operations.
“If you can put some guard rails around the family and the family money, you can hopefully protect your family from fighting over money once the matriarch or patriarch dies,” says the private wealth consultant with U.S. Bank Private Wealth Management.
SHARE goes full throttle after a $14B industry
Ryan and Hoa McManus are thinking big with SHARE, the ridesharing company they started in 2016 to shuttle people to and from work, school and other frequently traveled routes.
“We found a $14 billion market that fits right between the public bus and ride hailing that was completely untapped,” Ryan says. “We call that market microtransit.”
The Columbus-based startup has quietly raised more than $5 million and is expanding to Cleveland, Cincinnati, Detroit, Indianapolis and Dallas. Ryan and Hoa talk about their vision for SHARE — creating a CarMax-like network of microtransit.
Ikove seeks big returns from tech deals
Ikove Capital Partners has tapped its global network to invest close to $70 million in 14 startups, including local companies Nikola Labs, ParaGen Technologies and Cognovi Labs. The venture development company invests at the founder level to commercialize technologies alongside Midwest research institutions like The Ohio State University.
“As we begin to have exits in the next couple of years and wealth is being created for the universities, for the inventors and for the other stakeholders, I think that process will begin to feed itself, and it’s going to be fantastic for the community,” says Principal Flavio Lobato.
Lobato and Managing Partner John D’Orazio explain why they’re willing to take higher risks for bigger returns in technology commercialization.
BrewDog’s crowdfunding builds its brand and raises money
In the early days of Kickstarter and Indiegogo, a fledgling BrewDog launched its own crowdfunding vehicle. Ten years later, the Scottish brewery has raised more than $50 million, including nearly $10 million through two U.S. campaigns for Columbus-based BrewDog USA.
“It’s not really about the money,” says BrewDog’s Tanisha Robinson. “It’s about building an amazing community of people who are literally invested in our brand, because they are our best customers and our harshest critics.”
Robinson describes BrewDog’s rapid growth journey and how crowdfunding added fuel to the fire.