Green park & golf ventures investing at rapid clip dallas business journal
From the Dallas Business Journal
SUBSCRIBER CONTENT: Aug 9, 2013, 5:00am CDT
Green Park & Golf Ventures investing at
Green Park & Golf looks to invest in health care ‘gamechangers’
Staff Writer- Dallas Business Journal
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Twenty-three deals in 24 months. That’s the track record for Dallas-based Green Park & Golf
Ventures, an angel investment firm with an unusual name and a penchant for investing in
Texas-based health care-related startups.
Investment in the two-year span totaled $10.2 million.
Dr. Hubert Zajicek, a co-founder, partner and executive director of Dallas-based health care
accelerator Health Wildcatters, called Green Park & Golf’s deal count “very rare.”
“They’re very, very active,” Zajicek said. “To my knowledge, they’re the most active early-stage
health investors in Dallas, if not Texas. And they may even be the most active in the whole
Nineteen of the 23 deals were in Texas, and 70 percent of the deals and the money invested
went to health care companies, said Carl Soderstrom, founding partner of Green Park & Golf.
The other 30 percent of the firm’s investments are primarily in technology companies, he said.
Why so heavy into health care?
“That’s what we know,” Soderstrom said.
Soderstrom and co-founder Dr. Clay Heighten launched Green Park & Golf in 2011 after selling
their own companies to Arlington-based Texas Health Resources in one of the largest
transactions of its kind that year.
Heighten founded MedicalEdge Healthcare Group in 1993, and Soderstrom started PhyServe
Physician Services in 1998 to administer the financial and operational needs of MedicalEdge.
Together, the companies managed more than 550 providers before being sold to THR, a $3.8
billion health care system.
Soderstrom, who lives on a street called Green Park, and Heighten, who lives on Golf, named
the company after their addresses.
About 40 percent of Green Park & Golf’s investment comes from Soderstrom and Heighten,
and the rest comes from physicians and executives who worked at Medical Edge and PhyServe,
He credits that network of investors with the firm’s ability to complete 23 deals in 24 months.
“They choose what they like and opt out of what they do not like,” Soderstrom said. “They
have decided to make angel investing a strategy within their portfolios — one that they
understand is higher risk, but likely, higher return. Our jobs at GPG is to find great
opportunities to put in front of them.”
Green Park & Golf looks for companies with fresh ideas and a passionate, seasoned and
energetic management team, Soderstrom said. The firm typically looks for companies whose
founders have their own money in the deal and companies that are “disruptive” in their industry
or market space, Soderstrom said.
In other words, companies that are out to shake things up.
“We want a gamechanger,” Soderstrom said, “not just tweaking a existing product.”
One company that he feels fits that criteria is Dallas-based PerioSciences LLC, which makes
antioxidant-infused gels, mouth rinses and toothpaste. The products help alleviate dry mouth
caused by many medications and can be used to treat oral inflammation. The products, sold
only through dental professionals, are being used by more than 700 dentists nationally.
Antioxidant products fight free radicals, or unstable molecules in the body which harm cells,
causing tissue damage.
“Antioxidants have not been used before in that manner,” Soderstrom said. “They’re redefining
Green Park & Golf committed about $400,000 on the PerioSciences deal, but more importantly
orchestrated a round of investing that brought together three other angel investment firms,
about 25 dentists who sell PerioSciences products and a handful of other wealthy individual
investors to commit a total of about $2.5 million to PerioSciences, Soderstrom said.It’s one of
the first times angel investors in North Texas have collaborated to that extent to share a deal,
Russell Moon, PerioSciences’ founder and CEO, said the cash is being used to more than double
PerioSciences’ 11-person staff this year, including additional sales and marketing people, along
with accounting and back office support.
“We’re putting feet on the street,” Moon said. “It’s an expensive proposition to build a sales
force and that’s what we’re doing with the money.”
Green Park & Golf’s ability to rally other angel investors and pool resources makes the firm
unique, Moon said.
“You now have the ability to raise an amount of money that has traditionally been reserved for
equity funds or venture capitalists,” he said. “Green Park & Golf was the first group to assemble
and facilitate introductions with other (angel) networks.”
Green Park & Golf also shared the background research and other due diligence they’d
conducted on PerioSciences and its management team, which made the deal come together
much more quickly than if Moon had to approach each angel individually for funds, he said.
Green Park & Golf listens to new ideas and hears new companies’ pitches almost every day, and
chooses three to four companies to invest in each quarter, Soderstrom said. The average deal
size is $400,000 to $500,000.
Angel investment is important for young companies because it often is the first money outside
of a company founder’s personal stash or that provided by family and friends, Zajicek said.
Those companies often can’t get bank funding and are too new for venture capitalists, who look
for companies that are a bit more established.
Soderstrom and Heighten also invested a combined $400,000 in Health Wildcatters, joining
Zajicek and Gabriella Draney as co-founders of the group. The mentor-driven startup
accelerator, launched in June, will provide seed funding to health-care startups in exchange for
equity stakes. Slightly more than $1 million has been invested in Health Wildcatters so far,
In its first investment, 12 companies picked from more than 50 applicants will receive $30,000
cash, 90 days of free office space in the Wildcatters’ Dallas building and intensive mentoring. In
exchange, Health Wildcatters will get an 8 percent equity stake in each company.
Health Wildcatters goals are to connect health care ideas with the money and know-how to
make them happen, and to turn Dallas-Fort Worth into a health-tech hotbed, Soderstrom said.
“It shows that we’re really committed to the early-stage space in Dallas,” he said. “That (Health
Wildcatters) was another way to tell the world that Dallas is trying to help young companies get
started, and that we have interesting investors and interesting forums for those young
companies to get started.”
Green Park & Golf investments
• Vapogenix, $785,000. Vapogenix is discovering new pain relief technologies using fast-acting
topical analgesics. Possible applications include venipuncture, infusions, dermatological
procedures, infant heel-sticks, circumcisions, mole removal and shots.
• Savara Pharmaceuticals, $620,000. Savara is attempting to develop an inhaled antibiotic for
treatment of cystic fibrosis patients who are infected with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus
aureus, a life-threatening condition, as well as other lung infections.
• Pure Discovery, $275,000. The technology company is developing a computer search engine
platform designed to create an environment in which people are connected almost constantly
with all things that matter to them. Instead of searching for information, the information users
are interested in comes to them.
NAME: Green Park & Golf Ventures BUSINESS: Investment in health care and other startups
TOP EXECUTIVES: Carl Soderstrom and Dr. Clay Heighten, founding partners address: 5910
N. Central Expwy, Ste. 200, Dallas 75206 Phone: 214-916-5750 WEB: gpgventures.com
email@example.com | 214-706-7125
Bill covers health care, law and education.