50 Best Companies to Watch 2021
Private equity offers several advantages to companies and startups. Companies favor it as it allows them access to liquidity as an alternative to conventional financial mechanisms, such as high-interest bank loans or listing on public markets. Legion Capital is a publicly-traded FinTech driven private equity lender focused on specialized lending to real estate developers, business owners, and entrepreneurs. It addresses a market segment that has gone largely unserved by banks and conventional lenders. It provides bridge funding, acquisition, development, and growth capital to companies and projects in targeted industries. Legion also takes equity ownership in select companies and projects. We interviewed Jim Byrd, the CEO, and Shane Hackett, the Chief Marketing Officer at Legion Capital, to know more about the company and its services. Here are a few important excerpts of the interview:
Q. What was the motivation behind starting Legion Capital?
Legion Capital was founded around the principles of using direct-to-market capital formation strategies to build a private equity business. We wanted to provide the opportunity for all investors to participate in private equity-type transactions, and we deployed the newest capital formation methodologies, such as Regulation “A,” crowdfunding, and the like to build the company.
Q. What are your focus areas? Would you please share an overview?
Legion Capital is a specialized business lender providing acquisition and growth capital to small and medium-sized companies. We are focused on the areas of real estate development, housing, construction, infrastructure, and related service businesses.
Q. Could you describe your typical management style and the type of employee that works well with you?
As a small but rapidly growing company, we are a very collaborative firm and workplace. Most of our employees have been with us since the very beginning and have been deeply involved in the growth of our company since the inception. As such, our team has a deep understanding of our mission, our plans, and our business methodologies.
Q. Financial technology – or FinTech –the industry is growing quickly, with an increasing number of companies offering an even greater number of online and offline services. How do you distinguish your services from others?
We are a unique blend of FinTech and conventional philosophies. As a specialized lender to small businesses, we are very relationship-oriented, so we develop deep, “high touch” relationships with our business clients, but at the same time, we deploy the most current financial technologies to manage and serve our investor and business client networks, as well as to introduce our newest offerings to our investors.
Q. Compliance is important for any organization. What are the measures you adopt to comply with regulations?
One of our first hires, literally right after opening our doors, was a Compliance Director (who remains with us today), and we have been compliance-focused since Day 1. We are an SEC reporting company and also audited by an SEC-licensed independent audit firm. As a result, we are highly transparent to our investors and the public markets. We are also driven internally by significant protocols and control mechanisms designed to ensure compliance in every facet of our business.
Q. What are the different financial strategies that you implement, and how do you develop one?
Legion utilizes a highly customized and multi-tiered approach to its lending model, which is designed to create equity level yields under a secured lending model. In order to accomplish this, we segment our typical loan into three separate parts: (i) contract interest, (ii) services, and (iii) back-end participation. The first is a typical secured loan arrangement. The second allows us to generate revenue by providing fee-based services to a project. The third piece allows us to participate in the growth, development, or revenues of the business or project. By taking this three-tiered approach, we can maximize yield and return on our capital and efforts while limiting downside exposure to potential capital loss.
Q. How do you plan to transform your company in the future that is unfolding before you?
We are very fortunate to have built a sustainable business with a repeatable growth-oriented business model and to also have the benefit of a historically good marketplace. As a lender to early-stage real estate development and housing, particularly in our home market of Central Florida, Legion is positioned for significant growth for years to come. We just have to continue to serve our investors, our clients, and this incredible marketplace, and our growth potential is limitless.
Q. Tell us in brief about the convenience and economic factors of your business.
As a specialized lender, we work closely with our business borrowers to help them access the capital they need for their business or project. Still, we also collaborate with them throughout the entire venture, bringing a significant basket of skills to the project. This unique combination of capital and expertise allows us to drive higher revenues and return on capital.
Q. How is your service different from that of traditional commercial banking?
Legion provides bridge funding, acquisition finance, development, and growth capital to early-stage real estate and housing, the two markets that have been completely unserved by conventional lenders. The void left by banks in these areas has provided us a tremendous opportunity to serve this vast and growing market with less competition.
Meet the Founders
The company was founded by James Byrd and Shane Hackett, who are long-time business partners and friends.
Jim Byrd is a veteran corporate attorney and venture capital executive who brings a unique blend of both legal and entrepreneurial skills to his role as the CEO of Legion Capital. Jim has served as lead investor, attorney, strategic adviser, venture capital partner, and corporate executive to numerous private and public companies in his distinguished 30-year career. He began his career as an attorney at Baker & Hostetler prior to founding his own law firm in 1987, which he grew into a highly successful full-service commercial firm. As a trial lawyer, Jim has extensive experience trying cases in both State and Federal Courts and has argued cases in front of The Florida Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals.
Shane Hackett serves as the Chief Marketing Officer and Board Member at Legion Capital. Shane is a media veteran, active investor, business owner, and noted philanthropist. He is also the Chairman of the Board & Partner at MarketLeverage, which specializes in integrated digital marketing. He co-created the Success Magazine Conferences training small business owners in all 50 states in management, marketing & sales. Mr. Hackett graduated from William Jewell with B.A. in communication & public relations. Additionally, he studied international business and literature at Harlaxton College in Grantham, England. He sits on the President’s Advisory Council at William Jewell.