Trailblazer Capital Seeks Serial Entrepreneur

Trailblazer Capital founder David Matthews may have opened his first state office in Oklahoma City, but you can bet he will be looking for venture capital opportunities in Tulsa, too.
Founded in 2006, Dallas-based Trailblazer Capital is a $5.15 million venture capital fund that provides early-stage financing primarily to business software and services companies in the Southwest.
Last month, Matthews, an Oklahoma native, opened an office in Oklahoma City and has begun the search for Oklahoman’s top serial entrepreneurs.
“We are based in Dallas/Fort Worth, but we are looking at a 250-mile radius with a geographic focus on Texas and Oklahoma,” he said.
The most important criteria for a Trailblazer Capital investment is a proven record of entrepreneurial success.
“We look for the successful serial entrepreneur, usually not first timers,” Matthews said. “As an investor, it gives me comfort to know that an entrepreneur has been through the full cycle of a business from inception to successful exit. I also like entrepreneurs who have had both success and failure. With someone who hasn’t demonstrated success, you wonder if they ever will. With someone who has had only success, you wonder how they will handle things when the going gets rough.”
Trailblazer Capital’s average investment is $500,000. Trailblazer does not invest in biotech or life science companies.
“An ideal company would include a management team that has previously worked together to take a business from the seed stage to an exit event such as an acquisition or an IPO,” Matthews said. “We also look for disruptive business models with high growth potential. The businesses most attractive to us are those with high margins and recurring revenue streams not requiring large amounts of capitalization.”
Matthews has always been an entrepreneur, starting with his lawnmowing business as a teenager in Putnam City and an audio engineering tradeshow he started while a student at Ohio State University.
“My first real entrepreneurial venture was Intelecon, a Dallas-based audio-visual services company I started with a couple of partners in 1991,” he said. “We grew wildly from ‘91 to ‘98 when I sold out to my two co-founders.”
Intelecon had grown to $22 million in revenues by the time he sold his interest and joined private equity firm Red River Ventures.
“I wanted to go from being invested in one single private equity venture in one industry to being a little more diversified,” he said.
Intelecon also gave Matthews his first taste of failure.
“About six months after I exited Intelecon, a spinoff of that company bounced back in my lap like a hot potato,” he said. “I became the distressed equity turnaround CEO and got to go in and take it from 100 employees down to 10 over the next year.”
He describes the event as his best learning experience.
“I think I got about 20 years experience out of that two years and learned that I enjoy venture and growth investing much more than distressed equity investing,” he said.
Matthews said he hopes to expand on his experiences and relationships developed while working with Red River Ventures, his own venture capital efforts and his involvement with the Entrepreneurs’ Organization.
He is a co-founder of the Oklahoma chapter of the international Entrepreneurs’ Organization. The Entrepreneurs’ Organization, a global community of business owners, formed an Oklahoma EO group, sponsored by the Dallas EO chapter, last year.
“It is fair to say I am replaying how things came together in Dallas,” Matthews said. “I was a longtime EO member as an entrepreneur operating a business. Struggling with all the entrepreneurial issues of growth, capital and hiring and firing employees, I got a lot of benefit out of EO as a member.”
He said around 2000 when he started shifting into private equity, “a lot of these relationships I had developed, either directly or indirectly were introducing me to deal flow, with or without a fund in place, and so I helped a number of guys who were doing startups while I was with Red River, which was focused more on later stage private equity.”
“That’s what set the stage for Trailblazer. I did some hip pocket angel investing, and it went real well, and I liked it a lot.,” he said. “I am looking to recreate what worked for me in Dallas.”
For companies that don’t fit Trailblazer Capital’s primary investment focus, a $1 million Oklahoma Opportunity Fund has been established to provide seed capital to serial entrepreneurs who have demonstrated success in their prior ventures.
“This is a pure angel capital seed fund,” Matthews said. “It’s another way for us to engage Oklahoma entrepreneurs, while helping with job creation and economic development.”
Capital investments from the Oklahoma Opportunity Fund average $100,000.
The first Oklahoma-based company to benefit from Trailblazer Capital’s alternate fund is Giant Leaders, an exclusive executive coaching company for business executives, CEOs and senior executives.
Tulsa-native William Lissau has been named Oklahoma state president and Tulsa market president, announced Bank of America Market President Executive Walter Elcock. Lissau will continue to serve as private client adviser for U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management.
In his new role, Lissau will provide business, civic and philanthropic leadership for Bank of America throughout the state. He will focus on strong communication and integration among the company’s local business lines, enhancements to the customer experience, revenue growth and efforts to strengthen Bank of America’s presence in the community.
“Bill has an exceptional track record in financial services and has excelled at working with local U.S,” Elcock said. SDLqTrust professionals to deliver sophisticated wealth management solutions to high net worth individuals and families in the market. His commitment to the state, as a long-time resident and business leader, will serve us well.”
A third-generation Oklahoman, Lissau has a long history of community service, including serving as a board member of the Alzheimer’s Association of Oklahoma/Arkansas Chapter. For more than 14 years, Lissau has been a volunteer/mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Green Country. He is a member of the Committee of One Hundred, a select group of corporate and philanthropic citizens of Tulsa who support the families of fallen or injured law enforcement personnel.
Born in Tulsa, Lissau earned a BS in business administration from Regis University in Denver.
The University of Tulsa’s Friends of Finance announced its 2008-09 Executive Speaker series. Speakers include nationally and regionally known business executives, including Cary Evert, president North American Operations, Hilti, Inc., and Donald Humphreys, senior vice president and treasurer, Exxon Mobil Corp.
“The caliber of these speakers is unmatched by any other finance lecture series in the region,” said Jim Arens, Friends of Finance president.
Last year, every speaker luncheon sold out, making it one of the most successful years to date for Friends of Finance. This year’s speaker list includes:
Sept. 10%9Richard Kunzer
?irector, Credit Suisse
Asset Management
Oct. 24%9 Randy Foutch
?hairman & CEO
%9Laredo Petroleum
Dec. 3?ary Evert
President North American
Operations, Hilti, Inc.
Jan. 14?onald Humphreys
%9SVP & Treasurer
Exxon Mobil Corp.
Feb. 10?layton Bennett
Chairman
Dorchester Capital, LLC
Mar. 13%9Nancy Buese
SVP & CFO
Mark West Energy
April 13%9Michael A. Cawley
CEO & President
Noble Foundation
May 12%9Stanley Lybarger
%9President & CEO
BOK Financial Corp.
For information or to register online, please visit https://bus.collins.utulsa.edu/FOF or contact Judy Adair at (918) 631-2588.
First Fidelity Bank has named Mike McClendon as a commercial relationship manager. He brings more than 22 years of financial strategy and consulting experience to his position.
As a commercial relationship manager, McClendon is responsible for the acquisition, retention and expansion of commercial business clients. Previously, he was the principal of Michael McClendon Independent Consulting, a capital acquisition and business development firm based in Dallas.
Chase has recruited Jennifer Kalvaitis to relocate to Tulsa, where she will work with businesses to meet their banking needs.
Kalvaitis works for Chase in Detroit, where she specializes in international financial products including trade, foreign exchange, and specialty lending programs. She has worked with a variety of companies including manufacturing, distribution, and service firms. She has 11 years experience in banking.
Acquisition Advisors has completed the recapitalization of Tulsa Power LLC, the Tulsa-based mergers and acquisitions firm said.
A 35-year industry veteran, Tulsa Power, manufactures specialty, proprietary, branded material handling equipment used in the manufacture and handling of wire, cable, hose, pipe, tube and other flexible materials. End users include cable and wire manufacturers and distributors, and equipment manufacturers that incorporate Tulsa Power components into their products (e.g., construction, mining and drilling equipment manufacturers).
Tulsa Power services the oil and gas, marine, telecom, power, hose, pipe, tube and wire rope industries. Products include drill line spoolers, wireline units, umbilical reels, raw water reels, the Reel Thing, cablers, take-ups, and general spoolers.



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