Cedar Rapids, IA – February 8, 2016 -We are pleased to share Involta’s success story and recent recognition below. Thank you to our community of generous supporters; this is the kind of growth your investment helps drive.
In a recent report published by CB Insights, EDC client Involta was listed as the most well-funded tech startup in Iowa. The report aims to show that the tech boom reaches well beyond the traditional areas of California, New York, and Massachusetts, across the entire United States. CB Insights analyzed the most well-funded startups by state based on disclosed equity funding.
In 2014, EDC client Cedar Rapids-based Involta announced that it had secured $50 million of equity financing to enable strategic acquisitions, provide some early investor liquidity, and support Involta’s rapid growth providing colocation and managed services throughout the country.
The investment was led by M/C Partners of Boston and included Morgan Stanley Alternative Investment Partners. With a 25-year track record of active investment in companies delivering aggressive growth and standout shareholder value, M/C Partners is a powerful partner for Involta which now operates 13 data center facilities across the United States.
How does a fairly young Iowa-based business go about attracting this kind of national attention and investment? It all started with serial entrepreneur, Bruce Lehrman and his team, who took the risk to start the business here. Involta was not Lehrman’s first entrepreneurial endeavor. Having founded LIVEware5, a streaming media event company, in 1996, Involta was his third start-up venture.
McleodUSA purchased LIVEware5 from Lehrman in 2000 and after successfully transitioning the company into the McLeodUSA organization, he went to work for RuffaloCODY, another highly successful area startup led by Al Ruffalo. It was while Lehrman was working as CIO for RuffaloCODY that he became aware of an opportunity to use available data center space in downtown Cedar Rapids to get into the datacenter business. Being an entrepreneur himself, Al Ruffalo allowed Lehrman to work part-time to get CoVault Technology (the original company name) up and running.
Soon after getting started, former McleodUSA President, Steve Gray, was successfully completing the purchase of McLeodUSA Cable to form ImOn Communications. As part of this transition, ImOn would need high-quality local datacenter facilities, and with the partnerships thus created, capital was raised, a new state-of-the art datacenter was built (in Marion), and the company changed its name to Involta.
From the very beginning, entrepreneurs supporting each other allowed Lehrman the collaboration needed to clarify and fulfill his vision. Lehrman did the heavy lifting needed to launch a new venture–strategic and business planning, financial modeling, hiring a strong team and acquiring the resources needed to help them succeed in the marketplace.
Lehrman engaged with Curt Nelson and other members of the EDC team early on for support in all areas of his business: strategic planning, business planning, securing state and regional funds, hiring and training talent and more. From the ongoing assistance of EDC to the support of other successful entrepreneurs like Ruffalo and Gray, the business had the benefit of launching and growing in a community that had deep resources to fuel its success.
“It is businesses like McLeodUSA, RuffaloCODY, and now Involta that provide the breeding ground for the success of other area businesses to establish and grow here. We have seen it time and time again. Entrepreneurs like Bruce, Al, and Steve see that potential and are willing to take the risk to capitalize on it,” said Nelson.
Unique to the Creative Corridor is a broad assortment of resources designed specifically to help entrepreneurs like Lehrman improve their odds of success, and from his first steps with Involta, Lehrman has engaged with EDC as one of those resources. “The EDC has been a valuable resource to my team and I as we were mapping out our expansion strategy and building our sales. We have also relied on the EDC time and again for help navigating the various funding options in the state and beyond,” Lehrman said.
Involta’s success should be celebrated not only for its direct impact on the Corridor’s economy but also for the fueling effect it has on future startups, supporting and growing the continuum of economic vitality.