The BSV Story
The story of the Boyd Street Ventures starts in 2016, when James Spann and Jeff Moore met at a University of Oklahoma event. James, a Marine veteran and OU alum who was winding down a highly successful 30-year executive career in major life sciences corporations, had served for several years on numerous OU boards and committees. Jeff was a veteran of the U.S. Navy, McKinsey & Company, and several entrepreneurial firms and agencies, and had been the Executive Director of the Ronnie K. Irani Center for the Creation of Economic Wealth (I-CCEW) since 2010. James and Jeff had both spent the past several years witnessing the same problem: Too many promising OU-affiliated startups had great ideas and supporting research but were unable to raise the funding necessary to launch and scale their innovations.
The underlying cause of the problem was obvious: Oklahoma-based startups weren’t getting the attention of the country’s leading venture capital firms based on the East and West Coasts, and the VCs based in Oklahoma were few in number and small in stature. James and Jeff saw only one viable solution: to found a VC firm that would be based in Oklahoma – OU’s hometown of Norman, to be specific – and be the only VC firm to focus primarily on Oklahoma-connected startups. In 2021, after six years of extensive study and planning, they opened Boyd Street Ventures. And in 2022, they launched our Fund I and moved into their current headquarters located across the street from OU in the former home of the legendary Harold’s clothing store, where James had worked as an OU student.
Early in the planning process, James and Jeff made two crucial decisions:
Focus on Under-the-Radar Startups
Rather than investing in startups whose prices are being bid up by large East and West Coast VCs, they would focus on “under-the-radar startups” - particularly ones located in or otherwise connected with the state of Oklahoma.
Pursue Above-the-Crowd Returns by Being Active Investors
Rather than taking a hands-off approach like most VCs, they would be “active investors” in their portfolio companies by assembling a high-powered Strategic Advisory Board available to assist the BSV management team in providing strategic and operational advice. This de-risking guidance would allow companies to avoid costly mistakes, get to market sooner, and scale faster.
A Passion for Diversity
Another important way we differ from other VCs is our passionate dedication to diversity. In addition to having a Black General Partner, significant percentages of our Management Team, our Strategic and OU Advisory Boards, our Investment Committee members and our portfolio company founders are minorities and/or females.
Embracing diversity isn’t just the right thing to do. It’s also the smart thing to do: McKinsey & Company* studies have repeatedly documented that companies with highly diverse management teams are significantly more profitable than other companies.
Embracing diversification is also the smart thing to do when it comes to managing your portfolio. Investing in a VC fund can be a smart way to diversify. And we believe investing in a fund managed by a groundbreaking VC like Boyd Street Ventures is an especially smart way to diversify.
Since launching Fund I in March 2022, BSV has invested in 12 portfolio companies, six of which have received follow-on investments. The firm intends to make more investments in Fund I over the next several months, and to launch Fund II in 2024.