Great technology companies can emerge anywhere…

Mission

Building compelling technology companies in middle America.

Cloud-Based Software

We invest in companies who deliver B2B software technology services via the cloud using a subscription based business model. The solution doesn’t have to be bleeding edge but it should give the company a unique opportunity to target a new emerging market or to disrupt an existing market. In either case, this means potential for outsized growth.

Middle America

We will invest anywhere in the U.S. but our roots are in middle America and like the fact that companies here tend to be a little more pragmatic. We will not be shy about investing for growth when the conditions warrant, but growing your business in a capital efficient manner works just fine too.

Early Growth

We prefer to invest the bulk of our capital once the company has achieved $5+ million in annualized recurring revenue. This means better clarity on customer traction and the operating characteristics of the business. Having said that, most of our investments have come from pre-existing relationships, so we do like to get to know entrepreneurs early.

Companies

We invest where we can make a contribution.

Cloud-based inventory and warehouse management system Website
Mobile Video Creation Platform for Brands

Website

Financial Aid Management Software Solutions

Website

Healthcare Revenue Cycle Management Software

Acquired by Bain Capital in 2017

Software Testing and
QA Tools

Acquired by Insight Venture Partners in 2017

700 MHz Spectrum Licenses Covering 14.2 Million People

Acquired by T-Mobile in 2016

Open Source Virtualization Software for Mobile Devices

Acquired by General Dynamics in 2012

Integrated Enterprise Marketing Software

Acquired by Teradata in 2011

Wireless Application Services Provider

Acquired by Velti in 2011

Mobile Device
Security Software

Acquired by Trend Micro in 2010

Wireless Network Radio Access Solutions

Acquired by Motorola in 2009

3G and 4G Wireless Broadband Solutions

Acquired by Next Wave in 2007

OFDM Equipment and Technology

Acquired by Qualcomm in 2006

Prepaid Wireless
Services

Acquired by Nextel in 2003

Mobile Content Delivery System Software

Acquired by Motorola in 2002

Ethos

Life is short... choose your partners carefully.

Roots
Small beginnings. Humble, hungry, and competitive. The belief that you can do something better, but that nothing is preordained and you have to work your tail off to achieve it. It's those early experiences that guide you and become part of your culture. We value founders and entrepreneurs who are well grounded.
Authenticity
The genesis of a company is important. Our experience suggests the best companies and entrepreneurs evolve naturally from a customer need or a deep understanding that there is a better way. We don't claim to be visionaries but we do recognize that the ongoing democratization of technology creates opportunities. We leverage our experience with growth companies and subscription based software technology to help entrepreneurs build compelling companies in places you might not expect.
Execution
Having a passion for what you are doing is important. But it's not enough. You still have to pay attention to the details and get things done. It helps to have investors who have been there before. We have been on the front lines of Nextel's growth from a startup to a $15 billion revenue company. We have worked side by side with management at both pre-revenue companies and emerging companies scaling past $100 million in revenues. We understand what a growth company looks like and what is needed to scale.
Tenacity
We don't believe in shortcuts and we don't believe in overnight success. We know firsthand that being part of an early growth stage company is not always pretty. But our experience also tells us that there are almost always solutions. The best companies and entrepreneurs are transparent about what they are facing and keep solving for answers. We are not afraid of being on that journey with you.
Adaptability
Never stop learning. Don't assume that what works today will work tomorrow. And figure out what works best for your individual company. Not every industry is the same. Not every customer profile is the same. Some products are more complicated to build, sell, or deliver. Entrepreneurs bring different skill sets. We believe that every company should be treated on its own merits.

Team

John H. Willmoth

Founder and Managing Partner

John has over thirty years of corporate development, merger and acquisition, and investment experience, having completed over 200 corporate transactions in excess of $1 billion in aggregate value, led over a dozen venture investments, and served on multiple corporate Boards. He is the founder of Poplar Ventures, an investment firm focused on early and growth stage cloud based software technology companies in middle America.  John also served as a Venture Partner at Chrysalis Ventures for over ten years.

Prior to Poplar Ventures, John served in senior corporate development roles over a seventeen year career at Nextel Communications where he helped lead an intensive growth phase via a series of mergers and acquisitions. In later years, John managed Nextel’s strategic corporate transactions, including Nextel Partners and Boost Mobile, as well as minority equity investments totaling $50 million in seven companies. Before joining Nextel, John worked for First Chicago in the areas of venture capital, mezzanine capital and private equity.

John has a BA from Amherst College and an MBA from the University of Chicago. He currently serves as the Chairman of the Louisville Sports Commission, as a member of the Investment Committee of the Muhammad Ali Center, and as a mentor with Endeavor Louisville. John is married and has three children.

Skill Set

Venture Capital, Corporate Development, Strategic Planning, M&A

Industry Knowledge

Software (SaaS), Wireless/Mobility, Healthcare

Board Experience

SkuVault, Switcher, Zirmed, Open Kernel Labs, Mobile Armor, Boost Mobile, Continuum, RadioFrame, Flarion, 4th Pass, Air2Web

Investment Advisory Partners

Poplar Ventures’ investor group is exclusively comprised of successful business people from a wide variety of industries. Included within this group are a handful of Investment Advisory Partners who have C-suite experience in scaling software technology companies to $100+ million in revenue. These Investment Advisory Partners are available to Poplar and its portfolio companies for industry, operational, technology, and financial guidance.