Barth Quoted on Foley Ventures

26 July 2011 BizTimes News

Law firm launches $4 million venture fund to invest in clients

Foley & Lardner LLP recently launched Foley Ventures, a $4 million venture capital fund exclusively to invest in or with Foley clients.

"We were looking for more ways for us to support and directly partner with our clients," said Steven Barth, attorney at Foley & Lardner LLP. "A lot of individual attorneys have already been investing in our client's businesses, but we wanted to make it more organized and do more than just give legal advice. We want to invest alongside our clients and not only help them succeed but grow with them as well."

According to Barth, the venture fund was designed to make the investment process simple and is focused on early-stage investment.

"As a firm we decided that early-stage capital is the most needed right now," Barth said. "If one of our venture fund clients is funding a company, Foley Ventures will also invest if that company is projected to have adequate cash flow after the investment for one year."

For startup or emerging companies, the Foley Ventures will invest if the group receives a simultaneous investment from a professionally managed venture fund, and if, with both investments, adequate cash flow for one year is projected.

"We're not funding these companies alone," Barth said. "In order to be careful about any potential conflicts of interest our goal is to piggy back on investments already being made by third party angel investment groups and venture capital firms."

The third party firms set the stipulations for the investment and Foley Ventures goes along with the agreement, Barth said.

Twenty partners from around the country contributed to the $4 million venture fund and Foley Ventures has either invested in or is signing final paper work for 12 different deals in different parts of the U.S.

"The success we've had has been outstanding," Barth said. "We're really gaining momentum, and that is always our hope; that our clients are embracing what we are trying to do here."

Foley Ventures has invested in companies doing biotech, software development, emerging education-based companies in cities across the country including Milwaukee, Madison, Chicago, Ill; Boston, Mass; and Silicon Valley, Calif.

Foley attorneys from all practice groups, from intellectual property to government regulations, and from all U.S. and international offices, are free to submit qualified investment opportunities, regardless of whether or not they invested in the Foley venture fund.

"It has been really exciting to see," Barth said. "We're hoping that at the rate we're going we'll be able to establish at least a second fund in the future if not more. Funds in the future may not be centered on just early-stage investment. We'll take a look at where we see the most need, the most demand and the most potential for growth and we'll base our plans on that."

Watch the video interview with Barth.