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Private Equity Strategies

New Private Equity Firm Focuses On Diversity

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

The Inkwell Group, a new private equity firm based in Cleveland, Ohio and Washington D.C. is launching with a unique strategy - they want to focus on executive diversity. Co-founders Chijioke Asomugha and Marques Martin tell Private Equity Strategies that they think it is important to help their portfolio companies realize the power of diverse management teams.

“We want to work with our companies to embed diversity throughout their organizations and put those folks in positions with real decision making power,” Martin says.

In addition to providing operational expertise and strategic support, The Inkwell Group will work with lower middle-market companies to add diverse executive and boardroom leadership. Numerous studies have shown a correlation between diversity and financial performance, including a 2015 McKinsey report which found companies in the top quartile of gender and racial diversity were 15 and 30 percent more likely to have financial returns above the industry median, respectively.

“We are focused on driving growth and believe in the additive impact that diverse executive perspectives and an inclusive culture can have on that process,” said Asomugha. “Small businesses rarely have complete management teams and tend to seek support within their existing network, resulting in group think that runs contrary to igniting innovation. Our approach directly addresses this obstacle to growth.”

The Inkwell Group targets control investments in healthcare, financial services, industrial manufacturing and media & telecom, where it has strong experience and relationships. The firm will invest from $3 million to $30 million of equity per platform in proven lower middle-market manufacturing and service companies with up to $10 million in annual EBITDA. The Inkwell Group is currently investing on a deal?by?deal basis prior to a debut formal fund within three years.

“Our goal is to help owners receive partial liquidity while remaining invested in the growth of their companies, should they so choose,” Martin explains.

As part of its strategy, The Inkwell Group has created and oversees The Inkwell Executive Suite, a leadership platform attracting experienced women and minority executives. The suite acts as a deal sourcing network for the firm and is a mentoring and coaching resource for Inkwell Group portfolio executives.

Both founders are long-time private equity investors. Asomugha was previously an investor with Cyprium Partners, a middle market private equity firm. Prior to that, he was in the investment management group at Goldman Sachs. Martin was a senior vice president at Key Bank, a Cleveland-based regional bank that invests in middle market businesses.

This article was published in Opalesque's Private Equity Strategies our monthly research update on the global private equity landscape including all sectors and market caps.
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