New lower mid-market PE firm The Inkwell Group debuts

The Inkwell Group, a new diversity-focused private equity firm based in Washington, D.C. and Cleveland, has launched. The co-founders are Chijioke Asomugha and Marques Martin. Previously, Asomugha worked at Cyprium Partners and Goldman Sachs while Martin was senior vice president at Key Bank. The Inkwell Group targets lower middle-market manufacturing and service companies with up to $10 million in annual EBITDA.

Correction: An earlier version of this report misspelled Inkwell in both the headline and news item. It has since been corrected. 

PRESS RELEASE

WASHINGTON, D.C. and CLEVELAND – November 16, 2016 – The Inkwell Group, LLC, a new private equity firm, has launched with a distinctive strategy to leverage the proven power of racial and gender diversity to enhance business performance and build value. Co-Founders Chijioke Asomugha and Marques Martin are experienced operators and investors who have previously completed and advised on more than 20 acquisitions and divestitures totaling more than $3 billion of transaction value.

In addition to providing operational expertise and strategic support, The Inkwell Group seeks to enhance lower middle-market companies through the addition of diverse executive and boardroom leadership. Numerous studies have shown correlation between diversity and financial performance, including a 2015 McKinsey report which found companies in the top quartile of gender and racial diversity were 15 and 30 percent more likely to have financial returns above the industry median, respectively.

“We are focused on driving growth and believe in the additive impact that diverse executive perspectives and an inclusive culture can have on that process,” said Asomugha, who previously worked at private equity firm Cyprium Partners and Goldman Sachs. “Small businesses rarely have complete management teams and tend to seek support within their existing network, resulting in group think that runs contrary to igniting innovation. Our approach directly addresses this obstacle to growth.”

Investment Focus
The Inkwell Group targets control investments in fragmented industry sub‐sectors within Healthcare, Financial Services, Industrial Manufacturing and Media & Telecom, where it has strong experience and relationships. The firm will invest from $3 million to $30 million of equity per platform in proven lower middle-market manufacturing and service companies with up to $10 million in annual EBITDA. The Inkwell Group is currently investing on a deal‐by‐deal basis prior to a debut formal fund within three years.

“Our goal is to help owners receive partial liquidity while remaining invested in the growth of their companies, should they so choose,” said Martin, previously at Key Bank, where he directed the small business team with $4 billion of assets, and private equity firms Riverside and H.I.G. Ventures. “We’re confident combining our management and operations expertise with our well-defined investment methodology will achieve this result while generating attractive returns for our investors.”

The Inkwell Executive Suite
As part of its strategy, The Inkwell Group has created and oversees The Inkwell Executive Suite, a leadership platform attracting experienced women and minority executives. The Suite acts as a deal sourcing network for the firm and is a mentoring and coaching resource for Inkwell Group portfolio executives. It also provides a pool of accomplished operating partners to augment existing portfolio company management as C-level executives, advisors or board members.

“The Inkwell Executive Suite enables us to bring our companies the diverse talent and expertise critical to success,” said Martin. “We are excited to discover and provide opportunities to leaders of all backgrounds who can bring value to our portfolio companies.”
Empowering Small Business Management

“Small business is the creative engine that drives economic growth and we are investing at its forefront, helping companies innovate and impact their industries,” said Asomugha. “Our investment goes beyond financial resources, providing businesses with the operational and strategic expertise needed to achieve their next stage of growth.”

The Inkwell Group supports management teams through investment in ongoing education, leadership development and mentorship to drive performance. In addition, Asomugha and Martin seek to apply the latest research and analytics from management science to improve teams’ ability to arrive at optimal solutions to complex business challenges.

“We work to empower, develop and mobilize portfolio companies’ existing and new executives, so each business builds the knowledge and processes for future success,” explained Martin. “The goal is to create a sustainable, vibrant culture that cultivates innovation and spurs growth.”

Founders and Managing Partners
Chijioke Asomugha leverages 15 years of detailed operational leadership and investing experience. Immediately prior to Inkwell, Chijioke was Executive Vice President and Global Head of Corporate Development at ERICO International, a leading industrial manufacturing company. Chijioke led growth initiatives and was responsible for mergers & acquisitions, international expansion and global supply chain development.

In 2015, he helped lead the successful sale of ERICO for $1.8 billion to Pentair.

Previously, Chijioke was a principal investor at Cyprium Partners, a leading middle-market private equity firm, where he executed control and non‐control investments utilizing equity and mezzanine debt securities. Prior to Cyprium, Chijioke worked at Goldman, Sachs & Co. in the Investment Banking division where he executed U.S. domestic and cross‐border M&A transactions.

Chijioke received his B.A. with a double major in Economics and Public Policy from Stanford University and his M.B.A. from Columbia Business School, where he was a Robert Toigo Fellow.

Marques Martin brings over 10 years of experience in private equity investing, strategy development, and corporate finance to Inkwell. Prior to Inkwell, Marques was Senior Vice President at Key Bank, a $98 billion super-regional bank based in Cleveland. He was responsible for leading the $4 billion asset small business team’s product and strategy initiatives.

Previously, Marques was a principal investor at the Riverside Company, a leading global middle‐market private equity firm, where he completed six acquisitions as part of the Riverside Micro‐Cap Fund. Before that he was a principal investor with H.I.G. Ventures focused on investments in rapidly growing SMB enterprises. Prior to H.I.G., he worked at McKinsey & Co. advising Fortune 1,000 clients on critical strategic and operational issues.

Marques holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance from Morehouse College, where he graduated Summa Cum Laude.

About The Inkwell Group
Based in Cleveland and Washington D.C., The Inkwell Group is a growth- and operations-oriented private equity firm focused on control investments in innovative lower middle-market manufacturing and service companies. The Inkwell Group was founded with a vision to build upon the story of its companies by creating a vibrant culture that cultivates innovation and ignites significant growth. It does this by partnering with existing management teams to enhance their executive and boardroom leadership with diverse talent, while maintaining a focus on the personal, professional and economic aspirations of all stakeholders in a transaction. For more information, visit www.theinkwellgroup.com.