Attention Austin Entrepreneurs: A New Venture Firm Is Looking For Deals

By Lori Hawkins
Austin American-Statesman

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Venture capital firm “Trousdale Ventures” has backed plenty of Austin startups including “Revival Cycles”, which makes custom-made motorcycles and “Yellowbird Foods”, which sells hot sauce. Now they’re looking for more budding businesses to back! What is your idea?

Austin American-Statesman

Heads up, Austin entrepreneurs: A new venture capital firm is looking for deals in Central Texas.

Trousdale Ventures, based in Austin and Los Angeles, plans to make investments in a range of industries including IT management, food manufacturing, lifestyle consumer products, entertainment and child development products.

The firm was founded by private investment executive Phillip Sarofim, who previously ran Los Angeles-based PS Ventures, and Brian Grigsby, an Austin-based venture capitalist.

“Brian and I have been long-time investment partners for over a decade, and we thought it would be best to merge forces, especially with Brian being on the ground in Austin,” said Sarofim, who is based in Los Angeles.

Previous investments made by PS Ventures will become part of Trousdale’s portfolio. They include Austin-based startups Revival Cycles, which makes custom-made motorcycles; Yellowbird Foods, which sells hot sauce; and Ziften Technologies, which develops threat detection software.

Grigsby said Trousdale Ventures wants to back the kind of startups that reflect Austin’s culture.

“We love things that are specific to Austin, and we love the idea of maintaining the culture and identity,” he said. “The bread and butter of our business has really been tech. Yellowbird and Revival are passion projects of ours because of how much we love the businesses.”

For Yellowbird, a seed investment from PS Ventures in 2016 helped the company launch an expansion plan, said George Milton, co-founder and CEO of Yellowbird.

Yellowbird, which does not disclose how much capital it raised, was able to open a 14,000-square-foot facility in San Marcos, and now sells its hot sauce in 3,100 stores nationwide, including at Whole Foods, Walmart and H-E-B.

Milton said business advice he has received from Sarofim and Grigsby has been just as important as the funding.

“They’ve been really helpful from the executive guidance role. My business card says CEO, but two years ago I was a full-time kitchen worker making hot sauce in a vat,” he said. “They’ve really helped guide me as the leader.

It’s ‘here are the things that you need to be doing as a CEO of a company that is getting bigger and bigger every year.’ ”

Grigsby is managing partner at Austin-based Corsa Ventures, which has completed its investment period. Trousdale Ventures will take the fund’s follow-on investment in most cases, Grigsby said.

Corsa has co-invested with a number of Austin-based venture firms on previous deals, and Trousdale plans to do the same, he said.

Rather than raising an investment fund, Trousdale raises money on a deal-by-deal basis, with Sarofim and Grigsby investing personal capital along with other investors.

The firm recently completed its first deal under the Trousdale name by investing in Good Shepherd Entertainment, a video game publisher based in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Good Shepherd also has an office in Austin, and Grigsby is serving as the company’s CEO.

Trousdale typically invests between $1 million to $5 million in a firm, and expects to make five to 10 investments a year, Sarofim said.

“Deal flow is really, really strong on the coast and in Austin,” he said. “We may do more deals than that depending on what comes in to our network.”

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