TulsaPeople Q&A: Vincent LoVoi
Entrepreneur and investor
Vincent LoVoi, shown in his home office, is the publisher of This Land Press, a Tulsa-based “new media” company creating content in print, visual, video and audio formats.
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Google the term “Renaissance man” and you may well find a site dedicated to Vincent LoVoi. With wide-ranging interests and expertise in multiple areas — including law, legislation, intellectual property, mergers and acquisitions, international commerce, biomedical science and aerospace — LoVoi, 55, is perhaps best described as a Tulsa-focused entrepreneur and investor. Among his many pursuits, LoVoi serves as publisher for This Land Press, which he describes as Oklahoma’s first new media company. LoVoi, a native Tulsan, and lifelong friend Joel Kantor grew up together and are now managing partners of Mimosa Tree Capital Partners, a private firm that invests in ventures seeking early-stage or turnaround financing.
How did your early experiences prepare you to be an entrepreneur?
Mimosa Tree Capital Partners is, in a lot of ways, Joel and Vince’s excellent adventure. Joel Kantor and I grew up next door to each other, so we’ve really been together since the beginning of our lives. We played in a mimosa tree in his front yard and a mimosa in my back yard, and that’s where the name came from. He and I are very different. He’s a Jew; I’m a Catholic. He’s a Republican; I’m a Democrat. He wears ties on Saturdays; I rarely wear ties. It’s binocular vision in many ways.
Do your separate skill sets complement each other?
Yes, even though we had very different tracks. I left Tulsa and was away for 30 years. Joel stayed in the world of finance here in Oklahoma. About 10 years ago, he and I had an opportunity — I was living in Brussels at the time, practicing law — to acquire two aerospace companies, one in Los Angeles, one in the U.K., that were very different but were both either heading into or out of bankruptcy. And we saw an opportunity to combine them, and it was exciting, with my being over there and Joel being over here. We ultimately were able to combine it into one company and sell it to a New York Stock Exchange-traded company, and we liked doing that. My strengths tend to be strategy and management. Joel’s are very finance focused. But to answer your original question, I think the experiences the two of us had over 30 years came together into a nice combination.
And now you focus on investments related to Tulsa?
After we sold the aerospace company in 2008, we decided to focus on Tulsa, and we made a range of investments: a group of technology companies that either directly or indirectly revolve around The University of Tulsa and its tremendous cybersecurity program. We are investors in a money management firm. Some real estate. We’ve invested in an urban agriculture enterprise in north Tulsa. And, of course, there’s McNellie’s Group and This Land Press.
Those seem like very different ventures. Do your investments have a common thread?
Twenty years of my life was either directly or indirectly involved in biomedical science, practicing law and management. For example, my legal team put together the funding strategy for the research that led to the development of Lipitor. After that experience, I knew I didn’t want to invest in the biomedical industries because the science is still so serendipitous. The commonality among our current investments is two parts. One is that they make the community better, that they have a social good. And the second is, we like working with bright young people and helping them make qualitative changes in their business ambitions, not just quantitative change. So, if there’s a common element, we feel we are working with an all-star group of people who are doing good things.
People like Michael Mason, the founder and editor of This Land Press?
Yes, and Elliot Nelson with the McNellie’s Group. Or even in our social ventures, people like David Blatt, director of the Oklahoma Policy Institute. If there is a common element, it is getting to partner with — even mentor — extremely talented people. One of the great things about Tulsa that may be an untapped resource is the talent that exists in this city. There is a tremendous amount of talent, and it’s not in the corners that you would expect. It’s not the traditional Tulsa.
So it’s not necessarily around things like the energy sector?
Right. The future of Tulsa will be driven by an entrepreneur whose name we don’t even know right now. William G. Skelly is not coming back, but that’s the good news. There is a ton of talent and a ton of opportunity.
What makes for a good entrepreneur?
There are three essential qualities of a successful entrepreneur. The first is clarity of thinking and the ability to communicate ideas. The second is comfort with risk and a willingness to walk away from common thinking. And the third is discipline and focus.
Are those qualities that you have and that the people you work with have?
I don’t want to invest in people like me. I want to invest in people better than me. Joel and I like to invest in people who are simply amazingly talented.