Cosmin Panait is the Co-Founder and Managing Partner at GenCap Management, a New York investment firm for pre-IPO and global equity investments. In this interview with TechBullion, Cosmin will be sharing with us, some insights on his career at GenCap Management and other opportunities available.
Please tell us a little more about yourself, and how you started your career?
My name is Cosmin Panait. I am a Co-founder and Managing Partner of GenCap Management. We are a family office investment firm in New York.
I began my career in investment banking for a number of years, and have since moved to the “buy side”. The exposure I got at the beginning of my career, to publicly-traded and private companies in various industries, including energy, technology, biotechnology, media, and consumer-packaged goods really shaped my investment thesis moving forward. I enjoy the chance to help companies identify opportunities for growth and unlock their full potential.
How about prior to starting your career?
I earned my undergraduate degree in Economics from Emory University in Atlanta, and my Master’s degree in Management Studies from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.
What type of investments do you make at GenCap Management?
Our main focus is on making strategic investments in exchange-listed, pre-IPO late and stage VC companies.
As a family office, we don’t take any outside capital and have no clients. As a result we don’t run any carved-out investment strategy nor do we have specific mandates. This allows for a high level of flexibility when it comes to investing across the entire capital stack, and makes it possible to help cultivate strong relationships with our portfolio companies, and to really grasp the potential of each new investment opportunity.
So far our late stage VC arm has been very active, and throughout this year and beyond, we hope to see several portfolio companies going public either on the NYSE or NASDAQ. That to me is really exciting – to see our investment capital elevate portfolio companies to the next level.
The global IPO market has become popular in recent times, what trends are you seeing in 2022?
This year, as the market cools down, we’ve seen many investors including ourselves become more demanding about the deals they fund and the prices they are expected to pay. We’re seeing valuations cut down and a lot of focus on less riskier companies. The appetite among investors for speculative, overvalued growth stories seems to be in sharp decline.
In the coming months, I believe investors will gravitate more toward real growth opportunities, both in terms of revenue and profitability.
What kind of businesses do you invest in, do you have any industries you focus on?
We are somewhat industry agnostic, and have invested in companies ranging from Oil & Gas, DTC, ad-tech, biotech and crypto.
What is similar across most of our portfolio companies is that they are at or reaching the inflection point where they turn from being an R&D company to a sales organization.
That said, our main strategy is to manage and mitigate risk by investing in opportunities we know and understand. This means that if we don’t really understand the path the company needs to succeed, we will likely just pass.
What is one thing to look out for when investing across so many industries?
When investing in earlier stage companies, you’re really betting on both the industry as a whole and specifically management. One thing to look out for is founders that have a vision and most importantly are honest.
Overall, we’ve had the good fortune to invest in well-managed companies, but looking back earlier in my career I was definitely targeted by people that talked a big game and had ill intentions. I’ve learned a lot from those experiences and strive each day to apply that insight toward everything we do.
How did the covid-19 pandemic affect your business at GenCap Management?
The toughest part was not being able to meet some founders in person. Services like Zoom have been a blessing but the human element was unfortunately still missing sometimes.
Fortunately, we’ve managed to maintain a great team of professionals at GenCap, and it’s been the continued hard work and dedication of this core group that has been key to staying on track and achieving growth during this time.
Our success has been quite remarkable, and we know it wouldn’t have been possible without the work of so many exceptional people. We are very lucky to work with such a talented group.
What are you currently working on and what is next on your roadmap at GenCap Management?
We have been very focused on late-stage VC deals and pre-IPO bridges. Currently, we’re leading the funding rounds on two DTC – direct to consumer companies, which you should hear more about very soon.
Over the next few months, we’re hoping to continue our growth and to deploy capital into some promising earlier-stage but high-growth companies. We’re also looking forward to attending in-person investment conferences and to break out of the isolation of the last two years or so.