Getting There First in Delaware
April 13, 2022 –
Pedro Moore likes to invest in companies pre-IPO. The First State provides fertile ground for them.
Pedro Moore developed his business acumen at a young age. The native Delawarean spent summers on his grandfather’s North Carolina farm, where he picked melons and pecans to sell to grocery stores. “That was my first taste of entrepreneurship,” he recalls.
Today, the enterprising Moore is an analyst for Daymond John, an investor on the TV program “Shark Tank.” Moore, a Delaware-based advocate for funding startups, is also starting a venture fund. And he knows both sides of the equation: he’s launched several businesses outside the venture capital world.
Moore, however, is just getting started.
The William Penn High School graduate grew up in New Castle, Delaware. At the University of Delaware, he studied marketing and management. But he founded an entrepreneurship club that was open to all majors, not just business students.
Venture capitalist David Freschman, a prominent Delaware businessman, spoke to club members. The colorful personality was famous in tech circles for starting Early Stage East, a must-do angel venture fair. Moore had always wondered how to invest in a company before it went public, and Freschman was doing just that. The student volunteered to work at the conferences that Freschman organized, and a few years after Moore graduated, he joined Innovation Ventures, which Freschman managed.
Moore, an analyst, meticulously reviewed potential investments. Freschman had plenty of words of wisdom about the process. “He always said that when you are doing due diligence on a company, make sure you collect the facts,” Moore says of his mentor. “Don’t write that something is an amazing product. Write that the product got five-star reviews on Amazon.”
Freschman also told him to “trust but verify.” “Every entrepreneur will say their product or service is amazing,” Moore says. “We will take it at face value, but we are going to verify it as part of our due diligence.”
Moore then became the executive director of the nonprofit Delaware Innovation Fund, which Freschman also started. Both that fund and Innovation Ventures focused on growth and early stage investment in information technology, software and business-information services for legal and financial services.
First State Angels, which was affiliated with the Delaware Innovation Fund, pulled together high net worth investors to fund entrepreneurial ventures.
“The rest is history,” says Moore, who has been creating his own legacy since Freschman died in 2015.
Moore is no one-trick pony, and all his endeavors are laced with his entrepreneurial spirit. In 2010, for instance, he helped start the coIN Loft, Delaware’s first coworking space. Moore is also the owner of Bump N Play, the state’s first bubble soccer company. Players encased in plastic bubbles careen safely into each other like human bumper cars. The outfits also add a cardio challenge to the game.
However, his bread and butter is serving as an analyst for clients, such as Wilmington-based True Access Capital.
Moore met Daymond John at one of Freschman’s conferences before the businessman and investor appeared on “Shark Tank.” Freschman offered to do John’s due diligence, and Moore took the lead.
John is now a busy speaker, motivational speaker and, of course, TV personality. He also is one of Moore’s clients. In addition to due diligence, Moore handles deal structures.
Not surprisingly, there is a demand for angel and venture capital funding. But there also is a need for guidance. “A doctor knows how to be a doctor, but he does not know how to invest,” Moore notes. “If he doesn’t have anyone to help him look at a deal, he’ll just hold onto his money. You need someone who can analyze the deals.”
Next up, Moore is building a venture capital firm, Leverage Us Capital, which will provide flexible capital to women and minority-led companies in the mid-Atlantic region.
Delaware is liberally peppered with such entrepreneurs and startup companies. Consider a female business owner who sells “virgin” hair (chemically unprocessed human hair used for extensions). “She has a nice warehouse in Middletown and a great social media presence,” he says. “We talk about access to capital and how she can double her revenue.”
It is Moore’s goal to see her succeed, along with others who need funding. Because venture capital is a “people business,” Delaware is a good place for it, he says.
“I can’t imagine trying to get a hold of key people in Silicon Valley,” Moore says. “In Delaware, you’re only a few touch points away from a high-profile person. When the state is smaller, you’re closer, and you can reach the right people faster.”
And that, he says, gets the deal sealed that much quicker.