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Texas Women Ventures Raises Second Fund to Invest in Women-Led Businesses

The Boone Family Foundation is Lead Investor; New Investors Include Owner/CEO of Former Portfolio Company

DALLAS, October 19, 2009– Texas Women Ventures Fund announced that it is raising a second fund as a sidecar to its first fund, Texas Women Ventures Fund I (TWVF I). In making the announcement, Whitney Johns Martin, managing partner of TWVF I, also revealed that the lead investor committing $1 million to the new fund is The Dallas-based Boone Family Foundation, the philanthropic entity created by the family of Garrett and Cecilia Boone.

Mr. Boone is well known as the co-founder and Chairman Emeritus of Container Store, while Mrs. Boone is a notable civic leader and philanthropist, particularly regarding women’s issues. www.TheBooneFamilyFoundation.org

“We at The Boone Family Foundation think it is important to use the Foundation’s endowment to achieve its mission goals,” commented Cynthia Yung, vice president for grants of The Boone Family Foundation. “A private foundation can have a positive impact on society in three ways: through grant making, by supporting proper advocacy by nonprofits and by leveraging its biggest asset – the foundation endowment – to achieve both economic and social returns.”

The Boone Family Foundation also hopes that its investment in Texas Women Ventures Fund-Side, LP will encourage other private foundations to consider mission investing that can positively impact important social issues, such as improving access to capital for women-led businesses.

“It is gratifying to have such a distinguished lead investor as The Boone Family Foundation adding both its capital and its enthusiasm for entrepreneurship to Texas Women Ventures’ new sidecar fund,” said Ms. Johns Martin.

Johns Martin explained that Texas Women Venture’s new fund would invest alongside TWVF I. Together, the funds will typically invest $2 million total in each portfolio company.

“Raising this new fund enables us to deploy more capital to help growing, women-led businesses achieve their potential and also allows more women investors to become directly engaged in private equity investing,” Johns Martin added.

Since 2006, TWVF I has invested in four companies, offering each company mezzanine loans of $1 million of TWVF’s money and also bringing in a co-investor with an additional $1 million. The portfolio companies include Karlee Inc – a custom metal manufacturer; Warrior Group – a construction management company; Joy Foods Inc. – a pizza maker and Joy Products Corp a foodservice company. TWVF’s first four portfolio companies generate revenues of nearly $300 million and employ more than 420 people.

Warrior Group’s CEO Gail Warrior-Lawrence demonstrates the investment cycle TWVF hopes to encourage. With TWVF funding, Ms. Warrior-Lawrence grew her business from $42 million in 2007 to $135 million this year and has repaid TWVF I early. Now, she is personally investing in the new sidecar fund, to help other women similarly grow their businesses.

Media contact:
C. Pharr & Company
Cynthia Pharr Lee, 972-931-7576, ext. 24
[email protected]
Investment contact:
Texas Women Ventures Fund
Whitney Johns Martin, 972-887-9572
[email protected]

Texas Women Ventures Fund helps female entrepreneurs – Fund offers loans to help women-led businesses grow

11:51 AM CDT on Friday, October 2, 2009

DeSoto entrepreneur Gail Warrior-Lawrence is a poster child for investment in businesses led by women.

In 2007, the Texas Women Ventures Fund lent $1 million to the Warrior Group, the construction firm she co-founded and leads. She repaid the money in March and now is becoming an investor to help other female entrepreneurs.

“I’m always about paying it forward, if I can turn it around and do the same thing for someone else,” Warrior-Lawrence said. She is investing an undisclosed amount in a $5 million sidecar fund being raised for use along with the Texas Women Ventures Fund’s initial $5 million.

“It’s on point with our mission to grow women-led businesses, to grow women business investors and to prove to the marketplace you can make money investing in women,” said Cynthia Pharr Lee, co-founder of the Richardson-based investment firm along with Whitney Johns Martin, Valerie Freeman and Carol Nichols.

“We’ve completed the cycle with Gail and the Warrior group.”

So far, $4 million has been committed to the sidecar fund, which requires investors to put up at least $60,000, said Johns Martin, managing member of the Texas Women Ventures Fund. She hopes to finish fundraising by November.

The Boone Family Foundation is the lead investor, with a $1 million commitment, said Jim Adams, vice president of the foundation started by Container Store founder and chairman emeritus Garrett Boone and his wife, Cecilia.

“We think they’re good at what they do,” Adams said of the Texas Women Ventures Fund. “And it’s directly related to one of our three mission focuses – to advance gender equity for women and girls.”

Johns Martin said the new capital will allow the fund to make more investments and write larger checks.

“It’s designed to bring in some new investors and additional talent,” she said. “The key to our fund is that we provide more than money – we provide advisory services and connections, not just to people but to expertise.”

The group’s assistance helped the Warrior Group hire key people to grow, Warrior-Lawrence said. She projects that the company will post $135 million in revenue this year, up from $42 million in 2007. It has 62 employees, vs. 25 in 2007.

“Our experience with the Texas Women Ventures Fund was great – from the due diligence to getting the loan done,” Warrior-Lawrence said. “Now we’re in a position to grow even more.”

The Texas Women Ventures Fund makes loans to be repaid within three to five years. Venture capital firms, by contrast, typically invest in exchange for common stock or convertible preferred stock in a company.

Since 2006, the fund has invested about $4 million in four companies: Warrior Group; Karlee Inc., a Garland firm that provides custom manufacturing services such as sheet metal fabrication and cabling; Joy Foods Inc., a Dallas pizza maker; and Joy Products Corp., a related food service company.

A fifth, $2 million investment (half will come from the sidecar fund) is in the works, Johns Martin said.

New investors, mostly women, include Valerie Davisson, chief “peopleworks” officer at Brinker International Inc.; Wendy Lopez, vice president of URS Corp. and chairwoman of the National Association of Women Business Owners; and Joan Voeller, a partner at Hartman, Leito & Bolt.The Texas Women Ventures Fund has been able to raise money in a recession because it keeps its projects small and seeks investors who believe in its mission, Johns Martin said.

Performance helps, too.

“Our return has outperformed every other asset class investment over the past three years,” Johns Martin said. The fund aims for a rate of return per investment in the high 20 percent to high 30 percent range, she said.

Next year, the firm plans to raise another fund, she said.