Laundromat sets VC on political path

Rhode Island already has a private equity pro running for governor, Rory Smith of Nautic Partners, so why not a venture capitalist running for state treasurer?

Gina Raimondo, a general partner of Point Judith Capital, has thrown her hat in the ring. Raimondo helped found Providence, R.I.-based Point Judith in 2002, after having spent three years running fund development and leading a handful of health care deals for Village Ventures. Point Judith is part of the Village Ventures network.

Her Point Judith portfolio companies include GetWellNetwork, NABsys, Novare Surgical and Spirus Medical.

“I can think of no one I would rather have as the steward of the public’s capital,” says Matt Harris, a managing general partner of Village Ventures.

In an interview with the Providence Journal, Raimondo says her interest in business long precedes her venture capital resume. In fact, Raimondo traces her passion for public service to a laundromat.

It was the late 1990s, and residents of the poor neighborhood just beyond the ivy-covered campus of Yale Law School, where she was a student, lamented that they had no local supermarket and no laundromat.

With the help of a group of fellow law students, Raimondo organized support from local community development associations, landlords and investors to build the neighborhood’s first.

“That was a turning point for me in my career,” she says. “I realized I could use my skills as a lawyer to build businesses.”

Raimondo so far has at least one challenger for the Democratic Party nomination, a software engineer named Thomas Sgouros, and also may face off against some more experienced politicos. Were she to win both the primary and the general, she would resign from Point Judith, which counts Rhode Island’s $7 billion pension system among its limited partners.