IVCA Feature: New Member Profile of Avathon Capital

IVCA Feature: New Member Profile of Avathon Capital

January 30, 2020

We’re well into 2020, and the membership of the Illinois Venture Capital Association keeps expanding with each new addition, connecting to the comprehensive roster of Venture Capital, Private Equity and the support industries. Members have opportunities in IVCA networking, lobbying support and participation in the development of new ideas and educational events within the association. The latest new member is Avathon Capital, fostering “innovation and impact” across the education and workforce management markets.
The following is a Q&A profile with Avathon Capital, which explores the firm’s background and their expectations for interacting with the IVCA.
New Member: Avathon Capital
Representative: Shoshana Vernick, Managing Director
IVCA: What is a brief history and background of the Avathon Capital?
Avathon Capital: The Sterling Partners’ Education Opportunity Fund was founded over four years ago to invest in mission-driven companies across the education and training sectors. In December 2019, we unveiled our new brand. We chose the name Avathon Capital, which was coined from two ancient Greek words: “av” meaning “to bind together” and “athon” from marathon. Avathon represents our commitment to supporting our partners as they build important companies designed for growth and impact. 
IVCA: What was behind the decision to refocus the Sterling Partners Education Fund toward the Avathon Capital model, and what factors anticipated the evolution?
Avathon Capital: We are proud to carry a legacy as investors and operators that spans multiple decades and believe that our new brand can tap into that legacy while also signaling to others that we are embracing a more holistic view of what it means to succeed. Our typical investment range remains $10 million to $50 million of equity capital. We have a flexible capital approach and seek established businesses with proven product-market fit and a clear path to profitable growth. Our portfolio investments consist of both minority and control situations.

IVCA: Why did the firm decide to join the Illinois Venture Capital Association?
Avathon Capital: Why did we wait so long?! We are thrilled to renew our commitment to the IVCA and proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with its existing membership to carry forward the organization’s mission of increasing awareness and communicating the benefits of the Private Equity industry both locally and nationally. We see IVCA’s work as important and relevant in continuing to promote a strong and diverse business community.

IVCA: You just funded a Series D round for EdCast, an AI-powered personalized learning and knowledge management business. What will the firm contribute going forward as part of the funding?
Avathon Capital: As an investor focused on the future of education and work, we have spent years working with public and private institutions alike to examine opportunities to better align learning outcomes, employment requirements, and business strategy. We use our networks and our own expertise to help our partners navigate important decisions, to action acquisition and organic growth initiatives, and to make key leadership hires.

IVCA: You are a Managing Director in a major Investment Platform as the industry is becoming increasingly more diverse. What would you say to women who are interested in entering the investment arena as to how the industry is changing, based on your experiences?
Avathon Capital: I love my job and the work of private equity … however, I certainly don’t think it’s right for everyone. We ask our own investment team to be curious, creative, determined, and thoughtful in how they identify markets, analyze business opportunities, and interact with executives. We seek candidates that have all the technical skills required to do smart work, then eventually take all that for granted, and ask them to move fluidly between strategy, psychology, and analytics as they become executive coaches and seasoned mentors.
It’s a good thing – our industry and capitalism at large are evolving. There’s a growing recognition that diversity leads to better judgement and better outcomes, and there’s a shortage of minority and female candidates at all levels of our industry. And with that, I hope that women and minorities continue to seek out role models, mentors, and sponsors, and that my peers increasingly find opportunities inside their firms for these candidates.
IVCA: What does Avathon Capital hope to achieve in their interaction with the VC/PC community within the IVCA?
Avathon Capital: As a growing fund, we want to provide our team members with opportunities to learn, share, network, and collaborate across the IVCA community. We hope to strengthen our current relationships and build many new friendships. We look forward to getting involved in events and committees and working alongside of many of you to guide and shape the future of our industry.
For more information on Avathon Capital, go to www.AvathonCapital.com 
Also the first IVCA Education Luncheon of 2020 will take place on Tuesday, February 11th, starting at 11:30am. The event sponsor Gunderson Dettmer Present "Terms, Trends & Launch Considerations for Venture Capital and Growth Equity Funds." For more information and to register, click here.