The best companies are built on strong foundations.

Our Mission

We are a partner in your success.

Significant value creation doesn't happen by accident. You have to get the big things right: a large and growing market opportunity; a unique and defensible product or service; and the people to execute. But you also have to take care of the basics and do things the right way even when no one will know the difference. That's what we call building a strong foundation.


Our job is to help you navigate the critical inflection points of your business. We leverage our experience with growth stage companies, our industry knowledge, and our skills with strategic corporate transactions to help you make the right decisions at the right time.


We make private investments and provide business advisory services for early and growth stage companies in the mobile, enterprise software, and technology sectors.

“If you are looking for someone who will give it to you straight and get things done, look no further. John possesses the unique combination of financial expertise and significant operational experience that helps companies achieve the next level of success.” – Tim Donahue, Former Chairman and CEO, Nextel Communications, Inc.

Private Investments

We invest where we can make a contribution.

We contribute through industry knowledge, an understanding of growth stage operational challenges, and guidance on strategic corporate transactions. Our experience includes personal, institutional, and corporate venture investing. We invest our capital along with capital from a select group of private investors who can contribute their own industry and operational expertise. We prefer growth stage companies who have demonstrated an ability to generate revenue and cash flow, but are willing to invest in earlier stage companies who we feel have a compelling strategic opportunity.
Previous Investments

Our desired criteria

  • Mobile, Enterprise Software, or Technology sectors
  • Sizable and evolving market opportunity
  • Compelling and “relevant” management team
  • Recurring revenue businesses
  • Demonstrated customer adoption
  • Operational and financial scalability
  • Ability to invest $500k -$2M

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Business Advisory

We work with business owners and executives to close important corporate transactions

We help you build value in your business. We get things done. We have experience with companies at all stages of development (private early-stage companies through large publicly-traded companies). We work directly with Boards and C-Level executives and we operate as a seamless extension of your team. Experience with:
  • Executing all aspects of the investment process (due diligence, deal structuring, etc.);
  • Providing guidance on corporate financing transactions;
  • Identifying, evaluating and negotiating mergers or acquisitions;
  • Managing the implementation of joint ventures, spin-offs and divestitures;
  • Advising Boards on strategic matters;
  • Serving on Boards (typically along with investment).
Who should partner with us?

Early and growth stage companies who need assistance with key corporate transactions (financing, M&A)

Private investors who need industry or transactional expertise at any stage of the investment life cycle

Corporate investors who are seeking minority investments in private companies for growth or industry insight

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John Willmoth

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 technology companies in the enterprise software and mobility sectors. Recent investments include Zirmed (now Waystar), a provider of revenue cycle management software to healthcare providers (acquired by Bain Capital in 2017), QA Symphony, a provider of software testing tools (acquired by Insight Venture Partners in 2017), Aprimo, a provider of enterprise marketing software (acquired by Teradata in 2011), Switcher, a provider of mobile video creation solutions, and Regent Education, a provider of financial aid software. John has also served as a Venture Partner at Chrysalis Ventures since 2008, leading investments in Open Kernel Labs, a provider of mobile virtualization software (acquired by General Dynamics in 2012) and Continuum 700, owner of 700 MHz wireless spectrum (acquired by T-Mobile in 2016).

Prior to Poplar Ventures, John served in senior corporate development roles over a seventeen year career at Nextel Communications. At Nextel, he helped lead an intensive growth phase via a series of mergers and acquisitions and completed several significant new business transactions, including the creation of Nextel Partners and Boost Mobile. In later years, John managed Nextel’s minority equity investments, making strategic 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 Vice 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.