IVCA Feature: New IVCA Board of Director Officer, Chip Grace of May River Capital

IVCA Feature: New IVCA Board of Director Officer, Chip Grace of May River Capital

June 10, 2020

In what seems like eons ago (December 24th, 2019), the Illinois Venture Capital Association (IVCA) announced their latest Board of Directors, who will serve from January 1st, 2020, to June 30th, 2021. There are many new faces and perspectives on the Board, so the IVCA is kicking off a series of profiles for those recently minted BOD officers. We begin below …
 
New IVCA Board of Director Officer: Chip Grace, Partner
Member Firm: May River Capital
 
IVCA: Tell us a little about your firm and your tenure there.
 
Chip Grace: May River Capital is a lower middle market private equity firm focused exclusively on investing in industrial growth businesses.  We target companies under $100M in revenue that are primarily high-value manufacturing, engineered products and instrumentation, as well as technical industrial services and specialized industrial distribution companies.  We are managing two funds totaling over $500M of assets under management.  My two partners and I founded the firm in 2012, and we have a team of 11 professionals, all in Chicago. 

IVCA: What made you decide to Join IVCA’s board?
 
Grace: I wanted to become more active in the broader Chicago PE/VC community and be supportive of the IVCA’s mission. 
 
IVCA: The IVCA’s mission is to support and promote private company investing in the Midwest. Can you talk about your involvement in correcting some of the misperceptions of the VC/PE business model and how it promotes economic growth? Any ideas for how IVCA can do this more effectively?
 
Grace: Most of my and our firm’s activity around correcting Private Equity (PE) misperceptions has been at a very micro level … specifically in our dialogue with individual business owners. I think raising this discussion to a more macro level would likely require some type of Public Relations initiative, supported by aggregated data, across Illinois-based PE/VC backed companies and/or involving Illinois-based PE/VC firms. 

Aggregating some key data – revenue growth, employee growth and more during investment periods, across the IVCA membership, might be a useful exercise. We could then utilize that data in a PR campaign through relevant press avenues, such as Crain’s Chicago Business, the Tribune and the Wall Street Journal.  Lynne Marek [Senior Reporter] at Crain’s would likely be all over this type of piece. 
 
IVCA: The coming months will be difficult as we figure out how to move through the pandemic and expected recession, any thoughts on how VC & PE will fare?
 
Grace: I would expect PE and VC firms and their backed portfolio companies to fare relatively well, assuming the pandemic and negative halo effects mitigate over the course of the summer.
 
IVCA: The IVCA works to share ‘best in class’ operational practices across firms, any thoughts on how that might help firms weather our current storms?
 
Grace: We might want to create smaller group forums of relevancy to share best practices – PE firms under $500M fund size, for example, so long as they aren’t competitive firms in the same forum. 
 
IVCA: What are you hoping to offer and gain from IVCA Board Participation?
 
Grace: In addition to the communal benefit I described above, I would like to get closer to the legislative activities, as I suspect the next year will be a pivotal one – and likely will entail some meaningful change – in the context of the election. I’m happy to offer my time as well as share best practices with other members. 
 
For the May River Capital bio of Chip Grace, click here.