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Wall Street woes don’t stop startups
Question of the Day
Her company markets frozen organic meals for children. After launching two years ago, self-funded Mom Made Foods can now be found in Whole Foods stores and Wegmans, she said, and soon, Super Targets.
By all accounts, the Washington area seems to have - at least so far - weathered the credit crisis that, according to the National Venture Capital Association, is dragging down the industry nationwide. The trade group cited only one public offering during the third quarter and less mergers and acquisitions activity.
“Should the current situation be prolonged into 2009, we can expect fewer new investments by the venture industry as they will need to spend their time with these later stage companies that are waiting to go public or be acquired,” Mark Heesen, NVCA president, said.
Dendy Young, chief executive officer of private equity firm McLean Capital LLC, said it’s simply too soon to gauge the impact of the market crisis in the D.C. region.
“It’s one of those situations where the pebble has dropped into the middle of the pond - in fact maybe it’s a rock - and we haven’t absorbed what’s happened yet. I think it’s going to take some number of months before we do,” said Mr. Young, a board member of the Northern Virginia Technology Council.
Mr. Young said it’s “business as usual” for his firm, whose average investment is usually between $1 million and $5 million.
“Now, if we were to do a leveraged transaction where we use bank financing for part of that, I’m not sure what’s going to happen,” he said. “Until somebody gets turned down [by a bank] and tells all his friends he’s been turned down, you’re not going to see much impact.”
Melissa Carrier, director of venture investments and social entrepreneurship at the Robert H. Smith School of Business’ Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship, said that “people become more entrepreneurial” during an economic downturn.
“I think part of it is people may lose jobs and they look for other opportunities,” said Ms. Carrier, adding that this particular downturn is unique. “In the past, we haven’t had the same credit crunch go along with the downturns, so the question that we talk about around here is whether or not the capital required for some startups is going to be there to allow people to fund their entrepreneurial endeavors.”
Fundraising also will be limited, as there are fewer companies going public and fewer opportunities for mergers and acquisitions, she said.
“That’s where I think the pullback is going to come. I think investors are going to scrutinize their opportunities more,” she said. “They’re going to be able to affect valuation and pricing in these deals to make sure they have the maximum result. Entrepreneurs should be prepared and brace for that.”
About the Author
Kara Rowland, White House reporter for The Washington Times, is a D.C.-area native. She graduated from the University of Virginia, where she studied American government and spent nearly all her waking hours working as managing editor of the Cavalier Daily, UVa.’s student newspaper.
Her interest in political reporting was piqued by an internship at Roll Call the summer before her ...
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