• Enlightenment Capital Closes $147 million Fund for Aerospace and Defense Deals

    November 1, 2016  |  by James Bach

    Chevy Chase-based aerospace and defense investment firm Enlightenment Capital announced Tuesday that it raised $147 million for its second fund, exceeding the firm’s original $125 million goal.

    The firm, founded in 2012 by investors Devin Talbott and Pierre Chao, closed its first $80 million fund for hybrid debt-equity deals in 2014.

    Enlightenment typically invests $5 million to $25 million to help management teams develop and build out their companies, co-founder and Managing Partner Talbott told me. That differs from other private equity investors in the space, such as Arlington Capital Partners and Veritas Capital, which typically take over management of their portfolio companies.

    Enlightenment targets midsized aerospace, defense and government services investments with a focus on founder-CEO companies and those in the cyber, data, IT and drone spaces. Some of its more notable investments include Alexandria-based Phase One Consulting Group and Aurora Flight Sciences.

    Enlightenment was also the first backer of Reston-based Vistronix, which was sold in August to the Beltsville-based federal business of Arctic Slope Regional Corp. Talbott declined to comment on how big his firm’s stake was or how much it gained on its investment.

    Other current investments include SolAero Technologies (which merged with Vanguard Space Technologies), Gleason Research Associates, North American Rescue, The Diplomat Group, MicroPact (which merged with Iron Data), Opera Solutions and REI. Talbott declined to disclose his firm’s stake in those companies.

    Enlightenment currently has five people on its investment team. The most recent hire was partner Jason Rigoli, who previously led the aerospace, defense, security, and government services practice at private equity firm LLR Partners.