Anthony Choe
IMPACT INVESTING

Ryan Else

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Founder at Provenance

Finding your tribe – Anthony Choe

“When you have this tribe it’s actually a good thing because it means you’re not a commodity. It means you’re resonating very strongly with a specific subset”

ABOUT

Anthony Choe is the founder of Provenance, a growth-stage private investment firm focused on digitally-intensive omni channel brands. Provenance uses a highly analytical approach for due diligence and strategy development that is unique in the marketplace, partnering with the thought leaders in statistically-driven predictive customer lifetime value analytics to help identify and drive growth and efficiency in its investments, as well as using proprietary methods to help define a brand’s “tribe.” A value-added investor, Provenance assists its companies in multiple areas including brand development, digital optimization, retail, direct mail, and wholesale strategies.

Anthony is a veteran investor in the consumer space, and prior to founding Provenance, was a partner at Brentwood Associate, where he built the first dedicated private equity strategy for omnichannel brand investing in 2005, leading to top-quartile investment results.  In aggregate, Anthony has led investments totaling over $400 million, generating over $1.4 billion for investors, with no losses on new platform investments since 1999.

Prior to Brentwood, Anthony was an analyst at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette in New York from 1994-1996, where he focused on mergers & acquisitions, high yield financings, and leveraged buyouts. He is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Harvard, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in economics, magna cum laude. In addition to his investing activities, Anthony is a guest lecturer on private investing at the UCLA Anderson School and is a member of YPO.

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THE FULL INTERVIEW

Anthony Choe

The full #OPNAskAnAngel talk

Jeffery: Welcome to the supporters fund ask an investor I’m your host Jeffrey Potvin let’s please welcome Anthony Choe founder at Providence growth stage Investment Group as our investor today welcome Anthony it’s a real pleasure having you join us.

Anthony: Thanks for having me Jeffrey I’m excited to be chatting

Jeffery: Likewise I’m pretty excited about this for many reasons but the main one that really stands out for me is that we don’t always get the opportunity to dive in and chat with an investor with your level experience but also the fact that you’re in cpg and I’m a huge fan of that category uh not only because I worked in it through many many years as a kid working I love laws all the way through to working at the head office and building products and then being obviously on the on the tech side but man there’s such a tough tough tough space to really find businesses so they can Thrive and there’s so many that start up every day and they just don’t seem to get to where they need to and I I’m going to say you have all the answers Anthony I believe you have all of them and we’re excited to learn about those today so we’re going to kick this off by first love you to share a little bit about your background please go all the way back to your your Harvard days I think that’s important through all the different types of businesses that you’ve operated worked in direct director in and of course today what providence is all about and then one thing about you that nobody would know.

Anthony: Yeah for sure uh so I’ll actually go one step earlier than uh my Harvard days so uh I got the entrepreneurial bug from my father actually and uh interesting that you spent time at Loblaws because my dad was uh you know by hooker Crook in one way or the other in retail businesses his entire life uh I think the most meaningful experience he had uh you know right before I went to college was he became a franchisee of uh Texaco which was a big oil company and it was right when the gas stations were being converted from service stations to really convenience stores that had you know gas stations as kind of the front end draw and so he was considered one of the best operators in the system and I tried to understand what the heck that meant when everyone had the same draw at the front end and everyone’s gas prices were exactly the same like how do you how do you make the back of that house that convenience store actually operate better than your competition so got the bug there um even though I was uh Southern California uh raised my entire life I decided to go to the east coast and go to Harvard because I felt like if I never left California at that point I probably would never leave and once I saw brick in the sidewalk I realized this is a different place I I’ve got to see it I’ve got to experience it I’m really glad I did but I still couldn’t get that entrepreneurial bug out of my blood while I was there so uh my roommates and I we all started an on-campus Eatery and uh let’s just say the first six months were an incredible success we thought we were really brilliant and then we went away for holiday uh came back and two other uh restaurants had opened up on campus nearby and I learned very quickly the importance of having some barriers to entry around your business so uh that’s always been in my blood and uh post post Harvard uh I knew I wanted to do something that would train me to to you know learn part of that entrepreneurial journey and so I chose Investment Banking not because I love Finance per se uh it was just it was a path to learn as much as I could as quickly as I could and I didn’t mind not sleeping not eating not working out or whatever the case might be I just wanted to learn as much as I could in two years so um so I was very fortunate while I was slaving away uh on Wall Street in New York I got a call from a firm called Brentwood Associates out in LA and I’d never heard of them but I heard two things I heard LA and private equity and uh and back then it’s uh you could count on one hand how many private Equity firms were in La yeah and even though I wasn’t looking to leave New York at that moment uh I you know when there weren’t that many firms in La I felt like it was a unique opportunity to get back to uh the hometown and uh start doing what I thought would be super interesting so joined Brentwood in 1996 and uh was there for 20 years and I was very fortunate because one of the co-founders of the firm uh made me his right hand in 2006 handed the keys to the strategy to me at that point and that’s when I focused The Firm entirely on Brands selling direct to the end consumer in multiple channels and it was a really difficult strategy to explain to our LPS in 2006. so I wrote 120 page white paper deck explaining why e-commerce was going to be transformative for Brands but they in order to scale they were all going to have to be omnichannel and Omni channel is really complex and difficult so all of them are going to need help so uh the good news is that strategy turned out pretty well so or that fund that we raised around 2006. it’s about a 400 million dollar fund became a top quartile performer even though we were half deployed before the Great Recession uh Our Brands had extraordinary resilience during that time and that was kind of the proof in the pudding of both the Omni channel strategy but also the fact that brand matters and there was no better test than going through the most severe downturn since the Great Depression to prove that brand matters so we’re o