Title: Founder and CEO, Carson Group
Location: Omaha, Neb.
When Ron Carson looks for a technology company to invest in, he’s not always looking for a financial payout. Even if there is no monetary return, he says the insight and education he receives from working with the entrepreneurs is its own reward.
“By having investments in these companies, it gives us a front row seat for what they’re working on, what they’re doing, what the competitive landscape looks like, and is there another partner that we should consider bringing into the fold,” Carson says. “It gives me direct access to the thought leaders that are running these organizations. So there’s a strategy beyond the investment.”
Carson is currently invested in Quovo, alongside Lockshin and Bicknell, Truelytics, and, most recently, a private fund called Crypto Lotus, which will make angel investments in cryptocurrencies and blockchain companies.
While Carson believes he and his firm can be a valuable resource to these companies—he’s currently advising Truelytics on the user experience important to financial advisors, for example. His motivation for investing is more about his desire to learn.
“We should invest because we think there’s so much that we don’t know that we want to learn,” he said. “We pay a closer attention to some of these areas because we have an investment in them. It would cost us more to hire the consulting that we’re going to get basically for free.”
This is one of a series of profiles on the RIA principals serving as both gatekeepers and early-stage investors for tech startups with the potential to transform the advice industry.
Read more: Skin in the Game | Marty Bicknell | Steve Lockshin
Getting in early puts him in a position of being what he calls a “fast-follower,” yet he is in no hurry to get out. He has yet to exit any of his technology investments.
“You’re really just investing in people, so if they are continuing to keep their money levered to the idea or to the company, then I'm going to stay right with them,” Carson says. “If, on the other hand, they’re dramatically reducing their stake, regardless of how optimistic they may say they are, that’s the tell-tale sign for me it’s time to try and get out of my investment.”