James Thayer is the Managing Director of Clarke Capital Partners, a Family Office Investment Firm Headquartered in Utah. James has a broad set of experiences that he has acquired working overseas at a Global Law firm, as an in house attorney and as an entrepreneur. Prior to joining Clarke thayer capital partners, James founded UnifyLegal, a Tech company in the legal industry that helps companies locate business lawyers at a fair price. James attended the Duke University of Law where he received his Master’s in International & Comparative Law and his Juris Doctorate.
Can you give a background on your career path before you came over to Clark Capital Partners?
I started out as a as an attorney doing patent litigation. My first big case was with Blackberry, Blackberry have been sued, and there was an injunction against them, they almost got shut down. So it was a fascinating time to be a lawyer was in Washington DC, I pivoted, went overseas, worked for a large global law firm then went in the house, an investment bank. So, I was first in Frankfurt, and then in London, and then decided I wanted to get home, my dad was sick, he was passing away, and I want to start a company. So, we moved back to Utah, where my wife and I had grown up and became an entrepreneur.
And it how’s the experience been?
So I wouldn’t trade it. I stayed in my core competency in the legal world, did a legal tech company, a platform to provide matters matchmaking between clients, and attorneys, I found that a lot of my colleagues at this big law firm, they get ushered through the door after working 10 years really hard- and not because they weren’t good lawyers, but because the partners didn’t want to share the pie with these lawyers.
And so, then these lawyers didn’t know how to get clients because they never had to. And I had also seen a number of clients that they couldn’t get the attention of the big law firms. And I thought, well, that’s silly. We got to get matchmaking going on here.
And so that’s why I left to do that. And I learned a lot of lessons, I found that kind of the first two years of doing something, that’s when you learn the most. And so, kind of having been a big law firm, then in the house, then going to be an entrepreneur. I’ve been able to keep learning, which is something I like to do.
Now joining Clark Capital Partners can you give some background on the company and some of the things that you’ve done.
Sure. So, Clark’s capital was started by James Clark. He was an entrepreneur, he started a company in his in the basement, when he was in college, and he built that up, a company called ClearLink. And he sold it off, and then started investing, went back to school, started investing and started his own family office.
So, it’s like a private equity fund, but it’s, it’s the family’s money. And he met another gentleman named James, James Harrison, one of our partners, they were at grad school together. And James Harrison had also built a successful business out in Europe. He was from London and had done some online insurance. And it sold his company they met in grad school got together, and then they met me through after I started my business, and so we have the three James’s we’re all James, none of us are called Jim Thayer, I was called Jimmer when I was a kid, but we’re so we’re all James.
And what we do is we look for companies we can invest in where we can add value, other than just putting cash. Can we actually add value to the company, and that is two things that it de-risks our investment, and it helps the people that we’re investing in. So, we generally say we invest growth equity. We’ve invested in a company called Pet IQ, which does health and wellness for pets, which is run by a fabulous CEO, McCord Christensen, that company went public over a year and a half ago and is doing great.
James Clark Utah sits on the board, we invest in another company called Contour. They were the main competitor with GoPro that, we had been a limited partner investor there, James market bought assets out of bankruptcy and really turned the business around into more of an intellectual property play. We sold the majority of that business as well. So, we’ve done a lot of different things.
We also have a basic pharmaceutical company called Curza, we licensed technology out of the University of Utah. And that’s in an anti-infection space, which we feel really good about it’s a company that can make good money, but also save people’s lives. So, we’ve done everything from software to drug development to consumer retail, consumer electronics, we don’t really have a specific area we focus on where we can add value,
Is there certain criteria that you want to evaluate before somebody comes to you, you won’t even consider working with them because you have a great track record. And value-added. But from your standpoint, is there a decision tree to say this is the type of company we want with revenue or you don’t want to start up with no revenue
We generally don’t invest in startups, we have that privilege. We do a lot of mentoring to startups and we love to meet with startups. So, we always tell them to come to talk to us. But when we put dollars in general, you’re already making, say a million of, net income before. It’s interesting for us.
And there are always exceptions to the rule. And, we’ve, since we’ve had some recent sales, that’s probably pushing up, even more, we want even more income than just a million annually. But we do like companies that have some good traction.
How does a company go about contacting you or Clarke Capital?
ClarkeCP.com Since all three of us have been entrepreneurs, we know what it’s like to be out there. It might be a phone meeting, but we generally don’t just say no.