If you want to understand LOUD Capital’s investment philosophy, it’s inherently apparent in their name.
“We will give capital, but we all will be very involved,” says LOUD co-founder Navin Goyal. With a tagline of ‘Entrepreneurship. Amplified.’ this is not a team of silent investors. This is a team of investor-entrepreneurs ready to roll up their sleeves right along with their portfolio companies.
“We don’t sit on other side of table; we sit on the same side of the table with the entrepreneur,” says LOUD Partner Dave Hunegnaw.
Hunegnaw’s photography app BYLINED, was the first Goyal and fellow Co-Founder Darshan Vyas invested in about a year and a half ago.
“The purpose of it, really, was just taking advantage of opportunity around us,” Goyal says of their beginnings.
And the opportunities are many in the early-stage pool in which LOUD plays. The team is able to provide two of the things these businesses need most: entrepreneurial expertise and capital.
The LOUD team, which has grown to six to seven core investors, has had their hands in an extensive list of startups and business development engines in the Columbus entrepreneurial community. Hunegnaw, a serial entrepreneur, is joined by Goyal, one of the founders of SmileMD. Dustin Byers, another partner, heads up business development for LOUD portfolio company, hansya – and that’s just to name a few. They’ve been through (or are going through) those same early-stage obstacles and successes.
Being entrepreneurs also helps the investment team know where to cut the inefficiencies in the traditional venture capital process. LOUD is not in the business of wasting people’s time.
“If we call you or are trying to get involved with you, it’s really because we’re interested,” Goyal says.
The drive to expedite the process between entrepreneur and investor, as Vyas describes it, has propelled LOUD to 17 investments since its inception. It’s a big number and one that shows the team’s nimbleness. LOUD invests in more than just ideas, seeking revenue-generating companies, but balance sheets are only part of the equation. Goyal says there has to be some risk taking on the entrepreneur and the vision, and that’s not something that can be researched. That takes facetime and getting to know an entrepreneur.
Those 17 companies in LOUD’s investment portfolio stretch from coast to coast and cover everything from social enterprise to aerospace.
“We’re opportunistic,” Goyal says. “When we see a visionary entrepreneur or team of entrepreneurs and we feel we can help in any way, we consider that investment, so we don’t stay away from any industry.”
LOUD’s early-stage investments averaging $150,000 have made their mark. Locally it’s facilitating outcomes like Hot Chicken Takeover adding two new locations in Clintonville and at Easton. InXite Health, another early investment, recently announced they will be adding 163 new jobs in Columbus over the next six years.
The 10X Accelerator connected automated moving platform, MoveEasy, with the LOUD investment team.
“We were able to make investments in technology which helped us move from a beta product to a market-ready product,” MoveEasy CEO Venkatesh Ganapathy says of LOUD’s impact on their business. “We were also able to make sufficient investments in sales and marketing efforts which has played a major role in ramping up our customer base as well as revenue.”
Recently LOUD far surpassed their average investment, raising $1 million in a month to support a work package for Elite Aerospace group based in California. The investment directly supported manufacturing job growth and will likely lead to additional opportunities.
“LOUD is a disruptive VC firm,” says Angelo Kafantaris, director of development at Hyperion Motors, a hydrogen fuel cell technology company focused on vehicle transportation, in which LOUD is invested. “They don’t go around pretending to be larger than life. They are very down to Earth and honest. This is the essence of Ohio people, and why I’m a proud native. They honestly want your company and you to succeed. That foundation of trust and respect is what great companies are built on.”
That Ohio essence has been an advantage. When asked if people are surprised to find this style of early-stage venture firm hailing from Columbus, Goyal tells a story of a visit to California. Representatives from BYLINED and hansya took a trip to LA to grow their networks.
“The talent, the vision, they said if these companies were out here, the valuation would be very high and there would be a lot of hype, so that was a great validation,” Goyal says. The LOUD team didn’t necessarily need the reassurance, “But it doesn’t hurt to hear that from people who see investments all the time.”
Being companies based in the Midwest has kept the valuations reasonable for many in the portfolio. And Goyal say being able to invest in reasonably valued companies with good folks at the helm has been an attractive proposition, supporting a whole new investor community that wasn’t involved before.
“VC firms are raising larger and larger funds and making fewer and fewer investments,” Hunegnaw says. “Which means those investments are much larger.”
For LOUD, that’s a great opportunity.
“Early stage, there’s a lot of challenges in it, and as we know, there’s not enough people really involved in it as there could, so we think we’re going to always be early stage,” Goyal says.
For more information, visit loudcapital.com.