Outside In With Jason Lehtinen, Flyover Capital

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Outside In: Q&A with tech investors from outside Minnesota

 
What is your name, title, firm/fund and Linkedin profile?

Jason Lehtinen, Mariner Holdings (majority owner of Flyover Capital)

What City is the firm/fund located and what is the founding history?

Our venture capital firm, Flyover Capital is based in Kansas City, and is focused on investing in markets that they believe are generally underserved by venture capitalists relative to the coasts. The founding partners are a group of technology entrepreneurs and business operators that are passionate about building the next generation of technology success stories in the region. Given our backgrounds of being experienced in building businesses, we aim to align our investments in areas where we believe we can help navigate the waters from fundraising to exit.

What is the firm/fund size and thesis?

Flyover Capital is focused on providing who it views as high-quality tech entrepreneurs the hard to find capital when they need it the most. Although the timing varies for each specific opportunity based on a number of factors, this typically occurs once the product is built and they have early market validation from a customer base willing to use and purchase their product or service.

Using the parlance of the industry, this is sometimes called late seed or early Series A financing. It is likely more instructive to speak in terms of amount invested which is typically $1.0MM to $1.5MM in the first investment with reserve capital to participate in follow-on investment rounds, although it may vary. We are focused on technology companies with an emphasis in industry verticals that align with the backgrounds of the firm’s partners. Some of these include, but are not limited to, EdTech, Mobile, B2B SaaS, Healthcare IT, AdTech, and AgTech, among others.

How many portfolio technology companies do you currently have?

We currently have 9 companies in our portfolio located across flyover region in Wisconsin, Illinois, Nebraska, Kansas, and Missouri. We are still actively looking for innovative early stage companies located outside of Silicon Valley or the northeast corridor to add to our portfolio should the right opportunity exist.

Have you experienced any exits?

While we’re only entering our third year , we’ve been fortunate to already have experienced our first exit in the fall of 2016 when EyeVerify was acquired by ANT Financial, the investment arm of AliPay. EyeVerify is an eye-vein biometric company that created technology to identify and authenticate an individual using blood vessels in the whites of the eyes through the front facing camera on a mobile device.

How many MN-based portfolio technology companies do you currently have?

No investments in Minnesota yet, but it is an area of focus for us given our investment thesis.

We believe the assets of the state could lend themselves to a strong startup technology community and we look forward to helping play a part where we can should the right opportunity arise.

Why are you interested in investing in MN-based technology companies?

We believe that Minnesota has a lot of offer in terms of a dedicated and highly educated work  force, great universities, a growing entrepreneurial ecosystem, as well as several Fortune 500  companies that are producing top talent with great industry insights into where the various  markets are headed. Ultimately, we believe the innovation that these assets can generate is  consistent with Flyover Capital’s investment thesis.

What does an ideal MN-based investment look like to you? 

We look for passionate founding teams that are looking for an investment partner to share their  excitement and help accelerate their path to success. The company is typically raising its first  Series A in the range of $1-5MM and has obtained strong market validation in the form of either  revenue or a marquee group of customers. While we do not expect companies to be profitable  at this early stage, we like to see a team with both a lofty long-term vision as well as clear  milestones for the next phase of their business. We also look to co-invest and syndicate with  other venture firms where possible, especially when investing in a new geographic area.

How do you prefer entrepreneurs connect with and pitch to you? 

We prefer an introduction from a common business partner, however, as we have yet to make  our first investment in Minnesota, it is best to reach out to us via our website,  www.flyovercapital.com, or message us on twitter @flyovercapital.

What else would be valuable to add? 

We are investing in the Midwest, and will be visiting Minneapolis/St. Paul regularly at the various  investment forums hosted in the Twin Cities. Please look to connect with us at events such as  Midwest Capital Call or the Minnesota Venture Conference.

DISCLOSURE:  Please note, Flyover Capital information contained herein is for informational purposes only about  general business matters pertaining to Flyover Capital and does not constitute advice of any kind.  Nothing herein constitutes a solicitation to invest in any product managed by Flyover Capital.

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