GREENWICH , Conn. – Brand Equity Ventures, an independent venture firm that spun out of Consumer Venture Partners in late 1996, invests in early-stage consumer businesses, as well as small mezzanine financings, recapitalizations and management-led buyouts.
The firm closed the $95 million Brand Equity Ventures I in April 1998. The vehicle, which was about 40% committed at press time, invests in consumer companies nationwide that are ready for rapid expansion and have demonstrated the potential for widespread brand recognition. Portfolio companies need not be profitable at the time of investment.
Brand Equity Ventures invests $5 million to $8 million per company, with initial investments of as little as $1.5 million. Sectors of interest include retailing, niche products, restaurants, consumer services and e-commerce. Unlike most firms that make e-commerce investments from a technology angle, Brand Equity evaluates deals from a retail standpoint, said General Partner David Yarnell. Mr. Yarnell expects about half of the firm’s portfolio to be dedicated to e-commerce.
Limited partners include a mix of state pension funds, corporate pension funds, insurance companies, strategic partners and high-net-worth individuals.
The firm comprises Managing Partner Chris Kirchen, Mr. Yarnell, Vice Presidents Bill Meurer and Marc Singer, Senior Associate Josh Silberstein and Associate Tal Zamir.
Following are Brand Equity Partners portfolio companies:
Alloy Designs Inc. (New York) is a teen apparel mail order and an e-commerce site featuring e-mail, chat rooms and an extensive online shopping area.
Cyberian Outpost Inc. (Kent, Conn.) is an online computer and computer-related products retailer that went public in July 1998.
Primus Venture Partners and T. Rowe Price are co-investors.
Furniture.com Inc. (Worcester, Mass.) is an online retailer of furniture and accessories.
Co-investors include Bessemer Venture Partners and CMP@Ventures.
HC Holdings Inc. (Columbus, Ohio) owns The Custom Shop, which sells custom-made shirts and suits through its retail stores, and Huntington Clothiers & Shirtmakers, which markets ready-made shirts, ties and accessories through its catalog.
Co-investors include Greystone Venture Partners and The Corber Group.
The J. Peterman Co. Inc. (Lexington, Ky.) markets its own brand of apparel and home furnishings through catalogs and retail stores.
GE Capital and BMO Nesbitt-Burns are co-investors.
Pink Dot Inc. (Los Angeles) is a home delivery retailer of prepared foods and other household products.
Co-investors include GE Capital, St. Paul Venture Capital, Greystone Venture Partners and The Corber Group.
Franchise Concepts Group Inc. (New York) operates the RANCH *1 quick-service restaurants located mostly in the New York city area.
David Sculley and Silver Ventures are co-investors.
Brand Equity Ventures is located at Three Pickwick Plaza, Greenwich, CT 06830, tel. (203) 862-5500, fax. (203) 629-2019. The firm’s Web address is www.brand-equity.com.