I’ve made a lot of different kinds of investments in my career, in addition to the “normal” ones like Stocks, Mutual Funds, 401K, 529’s, etc. I’ve outlined some samples below, but first, a disclaimer – I am not a registered financial adviser and I am neither recommending or suggesting that my investments are suitable for anyone but me. It’s probably a good idea for you to consult a professional financial adviser before you make any investment.
Myself And My Partners:
The best investments I’ve made so far have been in myself, and my partners, when we started Advanced Waste Services and other businesses.
Advanced was a thing we cobbled together initially, combining savings from our 401K’s, loans from parents, bank debt, etc. with a belief in ourselves, a work ethic and, as my partner Butch used to say, strong backs, which helped us make up for the many mistakes we made.
The return on this investment in ourselves was phenomenal. Not only did we have our equity returned to us several times over during the company’s history, we were also able to create something of great value to us, the marketplace and our team members, from the ‘next to nothing’ with which we started.
None of my other investments would have been possible
if I hadn’t invested in myself first.
I was first introduced to Private Equity when we went through a recapitalization process in the late 2000’s. We didn’t end up taking any PE money, but I learned a lot about how PE’s look at and value companies.
I decided to continue that learning process by joining 2 Private Equity funds as a Limited Partner (LP) which is what they call investors. Doing so has given me the chance to buy into more than 15 well-established companies, in a wide range of industries, and be a fly on the wall as to how the deals got structured, financed, closed and operated.
It’s also helped broaden my perspective on how the PE funds deal with fast & slow growth, good & bad management, add-on acquisitions and more. Their goal is to buy a company at Value X – help it improve and build value through better management, product development, acquisition, etc. – and sell it at some point in the future for a higher price – Value Y (and/or higher multiple) than where they bought it.
Being an LP has made me a better investor and businessman. I’d encourage you to learn more about Private Equity.
Early Stage and Angel Investing:
Early Stage – To augment my Private Equity experience, I also joined an Early Stage Venture Capital fund that invests in early, but post-start-up, technology-based companies. They make biggish bets in promising companies that are in the early revenue or pre-revenue stage.
This participation has helped round out my experience as an investor and businessman, exposing me to smart people, interesting companies and complex technologies that I’ll admit I don’t always understand fully, at least at first. The investments are larger and concentrated in a hand full of companies. It’s a bet on a lot of risk equating into a lot of reward.
Angel Investing – After I sold my company, I decided to turn more of my attention to start-ups. I figured that if my most successful investment was my own start-up, paying that forward by backing promising new start-ups as an Angel Investor made economic sense and the exposure to these opportunities would continue my education as an investor and businessman.
At this point, I’ve Angel-Invested in over 50 startups. While the investment in each has been modest but meaningful, it’s been gratifying to be a small part of helping the companies take their business and technology to a new level.
It’s given me exposure to a bunch of new companies and ideas and I feel like that keeps my thinking cool, fresh and active.
The majority of my investments have been made through Investing Syndicates like:
I’m anxious to do and learn more. Keep in mind of course that it’s likely that many of these will fail (fingers crossed – only 1 so far), or fall well short of their expectations.
This kind of investing is for what I call “impact” money that I can afford to lose.
Investment Snapshot: Below is a sampling of companies and funds that I’ve invested in. Maybe some might be interesting to you.
Cafe X: For many people, coffee is a daily ritual that sets the tone for the rest of their day. Cafe X offers consistent, premium quality at affordable prices by designing, manufacturing, and operating robotic coffee bars that serve specialty coffee precisely brewed to the roaster’s specifications.
Kloudio: Automated Self Service Reporting. Access and update business data from spreadsheets. Schedule to have your business spreadsheets updated every week, day, or minute. Change filters and parameters on a whim for instant ad-hoc analysis, all without bothering IT.
EOS “Traction”: EOS®, the Entrepreneurial Operating System, is a complete set of simple concepts and practical tools that has helped thousands of entrepreneurs get what they want from their businesses. Implementing EOS will help you and your leadership team get better at three things: Vision, Traction®, and Healthy.
RoadBotics: The RoadBotics solution provides a complete and comprehensive road surface condition assessment on a color-coded map that can be accessed through a web browser from anywhere, at anytime – allows engineer and public works staff to narrow down on what requires immediate attention.
Somna Therapeutics: The REZA BAND® UES Assist Device “First-of-its-kind,” non-medication, non-surgical medical device designed to reduce symptoms of laryngopharyngeal reflux disease by preventing the regurgitation of stomach contents from passing through the upper esophageal sphincter (UES). FDA Cleared. No prescription required. Shop Now.
Bluffworks: Travel outfits, suits, shirts and blazers. Designed to live at the intersection of adventure and life, Bluffworks melds technical performance with office ready looks. Our gear uses quick drying, breathable and wrinkle resistant materials with innovative features to create products that you can wear every day, whether you’re climbing mountains or the corporate ladder. Our comfort, style and durability are built to last, so you can focus on the road ahead. If you’re ready to begin your Bluffworks adventure, browse our newest collection now.
Marble: Your friendly neighborhood robot is reimagining urban logistics. We are creating a fleet of intelligent courier robots to reliably and securely transport the goods that people need and want in a way that is accessible to everyone. Marble’s robot is perfectly suited to transport the essentials including groceries, meals, and medicine.
CMX Twenty: A Milwaukee-based pharmaceutical company focused on development of a non-narcotic treatment for pain using a unique lipid molecule called CMX-020. Unlike opioid pain therapeutics, CMX-020 does not activate the mu-opioid receptor that produces devastating effects. CMX-020 mitigates side effect complications and the risk of addiction to the patient.
Care Revolutions: A better way to book your per diem. Hospitals and Ambulatory Surgery Centers use Care Revolutions daily to book Registered Nurses and Technologists shifts. Healthcare facilities post shifts and assignments. A flexible, qualified workforce for your facility. As a healthcare professional, find shifts and assignments you are qualified for and schedule yourself.
Anyplace: Live in a Hotel. A new way of living from $1,320 per month. Flexible living with month to month contracts. Live like a guest with hotel-quality hospitality for your life. Live affordably with WiFi, amenities included. Some hotels provide complimentary breakfast.
Fitspot Wellness: Active wellness at work. Starting an Active Wellness plan is a big deal. And there’s a lot you’re probably unsure about. So here are the basics: Fitspot saves on health insurance and increases your bottom line by making employees healthier and happier with health screenings, fitness classes and educational workshops at work.
Open Fan: Your customers. Your data. Analytics and targeting based on customer spending history. When you sell your product through third parties, those platforms rarely share customer purchase data back with you. With Open Fan you can understand where else your customers spend their money and on what products. You can identify your top customers and honor them with the respect they deserve.
Frabric8labs: A first of its kind: This patented Stereo-Electrochemical Deposition (SED) process can produce objects in solid metal, like: Copper, Nickel, Iron, CoCr, Inconel, Stainless Steel, Silver and Gold (just to name a few). Since we don’t use metal powders, these parts are infinitely recyclable, low in porosity, and are an order of magnitude cheaper than current metal printing technologies.
Gearbox Express: The only independent company in North America solely focused on providing down-tower, wind gearbox remanufacturing solutions.
VitaCup: Take your vitamins in a tastier way with VitaCup! Keurig® compatible vitamin coffees & tea that boost productivity, metabolism & more.
Blokable: Manufactures a housing product that comes from a single, flexible framework that can be configured and inspected at scale. As a result, the process cut costs for builders and residents alike through the construction of tech-powered manufactured housing.
De-Ice: The developer of an electric de-icing technology designed to help the aerospace industry eliminate all chemicals. The company’s electric de-icing technology offers a complete coverage de-icing device that entirely eliminates all chemicals and de-icing delays and makes de-icing 50% cheaper and an average of 30+ minutes faster than incumbent technology, enabling aerospace industries to save 25 million gallons of glycol and 170 million gallons of water per year in the U.S.
Lawn Love: Revolutionizing the lawn care industry. Great rates, great service, and a total satisfaction guarantee!
Finexio: The smart B2B payment network integrates into large payment aggregators, accounts payable automation, and procurement software platforms to enable them with a more efficient payment modality.
Fitbod: Step-by-step strength training designed to push your limits. Fitbod for iOS equips gym-goers with a deeply personalized workout plan, allowing users to maximize the use of indoor gym equipment and practice effective strength-training.
PS Capital Partners: A private equity holding firm located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin that serves the Manufacturing and Industrial Industry
Tonka Bay Equity Partners: A private equity firm helping businesses grow and thrive in their communities.
Prescient Capital Partners: Innovative lending to companies unable to obtain sufficient financing through conventional bank sources.
Capital Midwest Fund: A venture capital firm that invests in advanced manufacturing, B2B, and healthcare technology companies based in the Midwest.
Simplexity Fund: Our purpose is to powerfully help our entrepreneurs to found, launch, and achieve traction or to help companies go from bootstrapped success to venture scale.
BrightStar Wisconsin: Focused on investing in rapidly scalable, early-stage companies throughout all of Wisconsin in order to catalyze economic, job-creating activity.
FloWater: The World’s Best-Tasting, Most Sustainable Water. FloWater is the best-tasting, healthiest water on the planet, for a fraction of the cost of bottled water, and 100% less plastic waste.
Beauty By Design: Skincare Shouldn’t be a Guessing Game. Beauty By Design is the first skincare company providing advanced formulas with unlimited guidance from your own personal Esthetician.
Panda: A voice-controlled camera that brings your words to life. Talk about anything and watch it appear as you trigger magic AR effects.
Inside.com: Real news, curated by real human beings. Packed with the trends, news and links you need to be smart, informed and ahead of the curve.
15/Five: 15Five is a continuous performance management suite that allows you to coach your employees as fast as you sprint. Makes continuous employee feedback simple to drive high-performing cultures.
Steezy: Online dance classes with the world’s best instructors. It’s hard to learn without actually being taught. Our choreographers break it down step by step so you’re learning all the techniques and intentions.
Grin: Grin isn’t a marketplace or a network looking for a cut of your budget, it’s software that helps you run influencer marketing programs your way. With Grin, you get the systems and data you need, while retaining complete control of your influencer relationships.
MUD\WTR: An amalgam of organic, earth-grown ingredients lauded by cultures old and young around the world for their health and performance benefits.
CareRev: Staffing software that brings a flexible workforce to your healthcare facility. CareRev connects you directly to healthcare professionals through a mobile app. No vendors, no agencies and no middlemen, which lowers your overall staffing costs.