February 6, 2020 – Executive search firm Cowen Partners has launched a new venture fund that will focus solely on seed funding and early stage start-ups in the Pacific Northwest.
The Cowen Partners Venture Fund has raised an undisclosed amount of money and is derived almost entirely from company and personal contributions of its founders, Shawn Cole and Ash Wendt.
“This is really exciting for us and frankly makes a lot of sense,” said Mr. Cole, managing partner. “We have the capital to invest, have access to a large network of talented and successful people, and work with a lot of venture backed clients.”
The fund is small by design. “The fund is intentionally small because let’s face it, this isn’t our day job,” said Mr. Cole. “The capital is almost entirely made up of investments from the company and its founders, not endowments and pension funds. We only partner with a select group of community organizations so we can really get involved and identify potential investment opportunities early on.”
Focusing almost entirely on niche markets, community businesses and minority entrepreneurs, the fund is “part community and part experiment,” said Mr. Wendt, managing partner. “The concept is to bring together our existing network of successful founders and operators who have built companies from the ground up. The goal is to come together, pool capital, networks and expertise to support the next generation.”
Cowen Partners, founded in 2015, is a national executive search and consulting firm. Its clients are both small and large, publicly traded, private and non-profit organizations. Clients typically are $50 million to multi-billion dollar revenue Fortune 100 companies or have assets between $500 million to $15 billion. The firm’s placements span the entire C-suite and include director and manager-level leadership roles.
In addition to executive search, Cowen Partners Consulting offers CEO succession planning and CFO consulting for middle market companies on an interim, project and fractional basis. CFO consultants provide forecasting, financial cash flow, treasury, software implementation and M & A services. Cowen Partners maintains a multimillion dollar payroll service for even the largest of client consulting and staffing engagements.
Cowen Partners has offices in Seattle; Vancouver, WA; Portland, OR; Los Angeles; and Dallas-Fort Worth, TX. Clients range from start-ups backed by venture capital to Fortune 100 public companies.
Mr. Cole, to a large degree, focuses on recruiting for executive accounting and finance positions. One of his specialties, he said, is finding talent for growth companies in need of experienced senior financial leaders capable of raising capital and scaling.
Mr. Wendt specializes in enterprise B2B sales and marketing recruiting. His clients typically are looking to expand their sales team nationally. Client industries include; software, telecom, packaging, and food and beverage.
Last summer, Cowen Partners opened its office in Vancouver, which is led by Mr. Wendt. “I’ve been a long-time resident of Vancouver and watching the tremendous growth in recent years has been exciting,” said Mr. Wendt. “We can’t wait to hire several additional recruiters to work and live in Vancouver serving not only our local clients, but national clients as well. We are dedicated to our existing relationships and look forward to working with more companies in the Vancouver and Southwest Washington area in the coming years.”
The Vancouver economy is characterized by border economics with neighboring Portland, OR. The region has seen the job market increase by 0.9 percent over the last year. Future job growth over the next 10 years is predicted to be 38.8 percent, which is higher than the U.S. average of 33.5 percent.
“With over 30 active search engagements and demand for qualified professionals anticipated to increase, the Vancouver location will make it easier for us to hire additional recruiters, invite candidates to visit us onsite for interviews, and increase accessibility for our clients along I-5, between Portland and Seattle,” said Cowen Partners at the time.
Last year, the firm added Trina Green, senior recruiter, to its Seattle team. Previously, she was a senior recruiter with Seattle Search Group. Ms. Green will be involved in finding talent for the accounting, finance, sales and tech sectors. “I am excited to be part of a team that is motivated and has common goals of being successful,” she said.
Another recent addition was Christie Harms, director of accounting and finance. Ms. Harms has been a controller/director of finance in the Seattle area for upwards of 15 years and has been recruiting for more than three years. Prior to Cowen Partners she was a director at Robert Half’s Seattle office where she achieved company wide recognition for top billings.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media