October Hopes to Fit into VC Niche

Hoping to serve what he sees as an underappreciated regional market, entrepreneur Lance LeMay officially opened shop last week with October Capital LLC. The new venture capital fund will concentrate primarily on business-to-business Internet and technology companies in the Kansas City and St. Louis areas.

“We’ve been seeing a lot more venture activity in the local marketplace here recently,” LeMay said from his Kansas City office, “but I really think that there’s a lot of room for someone like us who focuses exclusively on techs.”

Because October Capital is a private partnership between LeMay and father Ron LeMay, chief operating officer at Sprint Corp., the fund does not yet have any final target. “We didn’t formalize ourselves and raise institutional money, so we really have the flexibility to decide how we want to invest,” said the younger LeMay, who will handle all of the fund’s day-to-day business operations.

Target: People Skills

However, he adds that October’s ideal investments would be in the range of $1 million to $3 million. “With us it would be great if we could get in and sit on the board of directors, but we’re really not looking to buy and operate companies here because we want to invest in people who already understand their companies.”

One such firm, apparently, is Kansas City-based BizSpace Inc. Indeed, b-to-b Web site developer and operator recently completed its second round of venture funding with October Capital as the lead investor. The $3.5 million deal also included The New Economy Fund and a pair of corporate participants. Founded in 1996, BizSpace was last in the market in August 1999 when it raised $1.35 million through a private placement of Series A preferred stock.

LeMay also reports that October Capital has made an additional investment that should be announced sometime later this week. “We’ve been overwhelmed by business plans and voice mails from people asking us to look at their companies and ideas,” said LeMay, “so we can be pretty selective when it comes to making our investments.”