February 6, 2014 | by Billy Mitchell
Up in Chevy Chase, Enlightenment Capital announced this week the raising of its first fund. In this inaugural raise, the private investment firm took in $80 million to back companies in the aerospace, defense and governmental sectors.
The fairly new firm founded by Devin Talbott and Pierre Chao in 2012 differs from typical venture capital firms in that most of its deals are debt-based, though it does invest some in equity deals with private companies that serve critical governmental functions and emerging technology issues in defense and security. Still, it provides a source of capital for emerging technology companies, which makes it important to the innovative landscape in D.C.
Whereas many companies in the government- and defense-facing industries depend on contracting and agency grants to achieve growth, Enlightenment gives them another option.
"The defense and government industry is going through a period of reorientation and prioritization," Talbott said. "There is a surfeit of businesses in the sector that need both capital and help in navigating through today's market. The industry needs knowledgeable, long-term investor support, and that is what we strive to provide."
Initially, according to the firm's SEC filing, they were seeking $100 million to complete its first round. Anonymous sources in an earlier PEHub story were cited saying that investments will range between $1 million to $10 million per deal, referring to the new firm as a "smaller version of the Carlyle Group."
Currently, Enlightenment has a fairly small protfolio including Vistronix, REI (not the outerwear retailer), and Opera Solutions.