Wilmingtonbiz logo
Print
Banking & Finance

Tidewater Brings Investments Dollars To Area

By Jenny Callison, posted May 19, 2017
W. Merrette Moore, founder and managing partner of Tidewater Equity Partners, recently moved to Wilmington, bringing the investment firm he started in Raleigh last year with him to the coast. (Photo by Chris Brehmer)
There’s a new kid on Wilmington’s venture capital block. Tidewater Equity Partners opened its headquarters here earlier this month after launching last September in Raleigh. W. Merrette Moore is the founder and managing partner of the firm, which still maintains that office in Raleigh.

Tidewater is not a fund, Moore explained. He describes it, rather, as having a “deal sourcing and management structure that allows its participants to invest on a deal-by-deal basis.”

In fact, he added, it is possible that each deal could have a separate set of investors. There is no upfront or long-term commitment required from investors, according to Tidewater’s prospectus.

The firm focuses on two investment segments: venture capital and private equity, as of last month.

“We provide startup health care capital, then do more traditional buyouts or acquisition of controlling interest in small companies across a number of industries,” he said, adding that the firm plans to look at venture capital investments of between $500,000 and $5 million. Private equity investments will range between $3 million and $10 million.

Thus far in its short life, Tidewater has made one venture capital and one private equity investment. The venture capital deal was for Durham-based semiconductor company Phononic, which tested its proprietary refrigerators for health care applications with UNC Rex.

The private equity investment was in South Atlantic Packaging, a contract packaging company in Winston- Salem. After making that investment, Tidewater put in a new CEO but retained some other members of the management team there.

Since Moore’s arrival in Wilmington some months ago, Tidewater has been talking with New Hanover Regional Medical Center about possible collaborations, he said.
Those talks with the hospital are to “help the organization find synergies and potentially develop an innovation platform of its own,” company officials said.

Moore’s move to Wilmington from the Triangle area 18 months ago was mostly a lifestyle choice, he said.

“I’m from New Bern – from the coast,” he said. “My family moved to Raleigh when I was a teenager, and I have lived there since the mid-80s. My wife and I decided a couple of years ago we wanted to move down here.”

Most of Moore’s business dealings and his Tidewater associates are still in the Raleigh-Durham area, he said, but he wanted to do more than live in Wilmington; he wanted to establish a business presence here.

“Part of Tidewater’s mission is to foster economic development through entrepreneurship,” he said. “What do I think of the entrepreneurial scene here? It’s early, young. The ecosystem has a lot of growing up to do, but a lot of the necessary components exist down here. I think there will be a vibrant [entrepreneurial] ecosystem in southeast North Carolina. It will just take some time.
 

Tidewater Equity Partners At A Glance


FOUNDED: September 2016

MANAGING PARTNER: W. Merrette Moore

INVESTMENT FOCUS: Venture capital for health care-related startups and private equity buyouts or controlling interest in small businesses that meet certain criteria

PROJECTS THUS FAR: $3.1 million in venture capital for Durham-based Phononic; $6.5 million in private equity funds for South Atlantic Packaging in Winston-Salem
 

“I do find the cycle of investments and entrepreneurship fascinating. You have to do a number of investments to make money. One or two out of 10 will make money. But a lot of investors give up after a few. New people come in. We try to explain the need to put a little money in each [investment] to get a return. That’s part of what Wilmington needs: organizations and people who understand how portfolio investing works in venture capital.”

Moore has been involved in investing – and shaping his business model – since he completed business school in the late 1990s. He started participating in deals along with his father, working with various funds. In 2010, the father and son formalized their own Raleigh-based firm, Lookout Capital, and put together several deals.
Tidewater Equity Partners, Moore said, is a slightly tweaked version of Lookout Capital.

Typically the way Moore works is to research a potential opportunity and then approach possible investors.

“They can pick and choose,” he said. “High-net-worth individuals want to make their investment decisions, they just don’t want to do the dirty work of research and management. That’s what I do, and they can involve themselves as much as they want.”

Tidewater’s model stipulates a fluid investor network that will allow investors to choose investments in industries they understand. That’s good for them and for the companies into which they sink their resources, Moore said.

In addition to Moore and the firm’s four other associates, Tidewater has assembled a group of advisers who are not full time with the firm but are “very hands on in terms of finding deals and investigating deals,” Moore said. “They are all investors and have a stake in our success.”
 
What is an ideal number of investors in any project?

Moore said that an optimal number depends on the particular deal.

“You want more than one or two, because you need expertise,” he said. “But too many investors, and it’s difficult to manage. More than five, fewer than 25 is the kind of Goldilocks point. One Lookout Capital deal had 90 investors, and it was a nightmare.”

How many deals is a good number for a firm like Tidewater?

“That is kind of arbitrary, but I have established a personal goal of one buyout deal and two to three venture deals each year,” he said, explaining that an investment can take as long as 10 years to reach the exit point. Rarely, according to Moore, does a five-year plan pan out in five years.

“You have to plan for the long term,” he said. “Where you have more control, you could exit in three to four years but if you’re doing well, why sell?”

Join The Discussion

Similar Stories

Ico insights

INSIGHTS

SPONSORS' CONTENT
Mike stonestreet 300x300

Service Animals And Your Condominium Or Community Association

Mike Stonestreet - CAMS (Community Association Management Services)
Burrus rob headshot 300x300

The Message In The Stock Market For The Economic Future

Robert Burrus - Cameron School of Business - University of North Carolina Wilmington
Jim ellis headshot 10311631058

Tools To Improve Your Customer Experience

Jim Ellis - Signal

Book On Business

Bob2017

The 2017 WilmingtonBiz: Book on Business is an annual publication showcasing the Wilmington region as a center of business.

Order Your Copy Today!
Print Only
$24.95 - Qty
Print + Excel File
$79.95 - Qty

In The Current Issue

First Bancorp To Grow With Recent Asheville Merger

First Bancorp, parent company of Southern Pines-based First Bank, has signed a definitive merger agreement to acquire ASB Bancorp Inc. The two companies recently announced their plans for the $175 million transaction.

New Hanover Regional Gets Women’s Choice Award

New Hanover Regional Medical Center was recently named a recipient of the Women’s Choice Award as one of America’s 100 Best Hospitals for Pa...

UN Grants ‘Consultative Status’ To Novant Health

Novant Health has been granted special consultative status by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)...

Ico topnews Editor's Picks

Paris Air Show Nets Billions In Sales For GE Aviation

Christina Haley O'Neal - About 5 hours ago

Firm Wins Bid To Buy 17th And 18th Street Lots From ABC Board

Cece Nunn - About 9 hours ago

Mojotone Could Be In New Building By September

Christina Haley O'Neal - Jun 21, 2017 Trending News

Brunswick County Realtors Report Busy May For Home Sales

Cece Nunn - Jun 21, 2017
Technology

Cloudwyze

CloudWyze was created to help businesses focus and perform at their optimal level. It is difficult to find and implement the right technology for your company. That’s where we can help. We have exp ...more

Ico trending Trending News

County Planning Director Retiring, Heading For Job In Colorado

Cece Nunn - Jun 20, 2017

Green Line Pizza & Steak's New Location Opening Soon

Allison Ballard - Jun 21, 2017

Mojotone Could Be In New Building By September

Christina Haley O'Neal - Jun 21, 2017

New Grant Program Aims To Spur Downtown Investment

Christina Haley O'Neal - Jun 19, 2017

Local Nonprofit Group Holds Community Forum On GenX

Christina Haley O'Neal - Jun 20, 2017

Ico newsinimages News in Pictures

Have a tip, pitch or guest column?  Send us a tip.

Gallery Galleries

Video Videos

Wilmington's Most Intriguing People of 2016
WilmingtonBiz Expo - Key Note Lunch with Keynote Lunch with Chip Mahan - 2016

Register to Continue Seeing Wilmington's Best Business Coverage!


There are three ways to register for free.

Sign in with LinkedIn, Facebook or create an account:



Already registered? Login here.

Your free registration includes:

  • Access to 10 articles per month on WilmingtonBiz.com
  • Email updates to stay informed on local business news
  • A mobile optimized website
  • Advanced notification of Business Journal events
  • Management of your digital and print subscriptions
Laptop iphone ipad