Following are Trelys fund manager Adrian Wilson's remarks from a press conference held on July 16, 2001, to announce the formation of Trelys:
The announcement of the establishment of Trelys Venture Partners is truly an exciting event. Some might view it as the culmination of several months of planning, strategizing, and document drafting. Its genesis, however, began in 1995. It was in that year that two Florence businessmen, Fred DuBard, Jr. and Stephen Imbeau, began contemplating the creation of an early stage venture fund with a focus on South Carolina and the surrounding region. They spent the next eighteen months learning about venture capital, discussing the concept with state and local leaders, and learning of the successes and failures of earlier efforts. With the backing and support of eight other leaders in the Pee Dee, the decision was made in the spring of 1997 to form Coastal Growth Partners. I joined the team shortly thereafter and, after gaining the commitment of 43 limited partners from across the State and in North Carolina, we began investing in June 1998 and now have an investment portfolio of eight companies (including Conita Technologies and Syneractive/Levity Technologies, both located here in Columbia).
One of the co-founders of Coastal Growth Partners is here with us today, and I would be remiss if I didn't recognize Fred DuBard and the contribution he made in bringing today's announcement from concept to reality. He and Dr. Imbeau's vision, commitment and persistence in the mid-90s helped to pave the way for the enterprise that we are announcing today. We are fortunate to have the continued involvement of Coastal's co-founders in Trelys Venture Partners.
Trelys, as Larry mentioned earlier, is a private venture capital fund. In simplest terms, a venture capital fund invests money and provides financial, operational and strategic guidance to young, rapidly growing companies that have the potential to develop into significant economic contributors. Venture capitalists accept the high risks associated with investing in such enterprises with the expectation of high financial returns if the enterprise is ultimately successful.
I'd like to reiterate that we are not raising capital today, nor are we soliciting investors. This is a private placement fund and we will be seeking support only from pre-existing contacts with qualified investors.
We are very sensitive to securities laws which preclude us from making any public solicitation of investments. Nothing we are saying today should be in any way construed as a public solicitation of investments. Investors will be sought through private placement only. I can talk about our management and what we hope to achieve, so let me focus on that.
The fund will be managed by Larry Wilson and me. Larry will devote approximately one-half of this time to this endeavor and will be paid a salary of $1 per year. He is, however, a significant investor in the fund, as well, and expects to generate a substantial return on his money. I will be the fund's full-time manager and will relocate my family to Columbia in the next several weeks. Linda Hodgson, who was Larry's Administrative Assistant at Mynd, will join us as the office manager and executive assistant, and we will be adding a senior associate (with outstanding credentials) in the near future.
Trelys Venture Partners is fortunate to possess a number of distinguishing characteristics: First is our strategic focus. We intend to make investments primarily in early to middle stage companies with significant growth potential, including emerging technology-based companies. Typically, these companies will have a product or service that is poised to enter the commercial marketplace or may already have products or services in the marketplace producing revenues but not necessarily profits. In seeking out such investment opportunities, the partnership intends to focus on companies in South Carolina, but will also consider promising opportunities elsewhere. We firmly believe that South Carolina provides a great opportunity for venture investments because there are a number of promising companies in the state but little available capital to support their growth.
A second characteristic is the involvement of experienced and respected business professionals. Larry and I have together a tremendous amount of experience in growing businesses, and we possess a set of distinct but complementary skills that will enable Trelys to approach investment opportunities from a variety of perspectives before we make an investment decision. The perspectives, experiences and collective wisdom of the members of our outstanding advisory board will also be of tremendous value.
Third, the principals of the fund have the ability to generate a high quality deal flow through our extensive networks of relationships with bankers, broker dealers, attorneys, accountants, venture capitalists, and private equity investors.
A final characteristic of the fund is the capital commitment of its principals. The principals have committed to purchase around $3 million of the interests in the fund. Thus, assuming we are successful in raising $25 million, then the principals will have contributed in excess of 10% of the total. Collectively, we are backing up our belief in the ultimate success of the fund with our own money.
Trelys Venture Partners has the opportunity to make a significant long-term contribution to South Carolina. Successful investment strategy and execution on our part will serve the financial interests of our investors (which of course is the primary goal) but also the young companies in which we invest. As these young companies grow and prosper, South Carolina will gain clean, high paying, knowledge-based jobs and the benefits that come with them. In short, we hope to do good for South Carolina by doing well for our investors.
As I mentioned earlier, we will commence fundraising efforts in earnest later this week. However, it is my pleasure to announce our first limited partner, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Carolina, through its subsidiary, Companion Technologies, has agreed to invest $2 million in the fund. Along with the funds committed by the principles, we are now at the $5 million level. We hope that the example set by Companion Technologies will generate enthusiasm and support from investors across the state.
Before I turn the podium back over to Mayor Coble, I would like to ask Ed Sellers to step forward and give a few remarks. Ed, Judy Davis and others at Blue Cross and Blue Shield have been part of the planning process for the fund from the beginning and I am grateful for their interest, participation and involvement.
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