The Download: Travis Milks, Managing Partner, Topmark Partners

Travis Milks is a Managing Partner of Topmark Partners, a growth equity investment firm focused on high-growth, technology-enabled businesses. Milks also serves as a board member at Topmark portfolio companies Thrive and Choice Legal. In the Triangle, Topmark has invested in Raleigh’s K4Connect and RTP-based Zaloni. While Topmark is headquartered in Tampa, Milks has moved to the Triangle to establish a permanent Topmark presence in this market. (Topmark was previously known as Stonehenge Growth Equity Partners before rebranding in 2020.)

Prior to joining Topmark, Milks worked in the investment banking group at Morgan Keegan & Company, where he assisted clients from various segments of the technology marketplace. They included enterprise software, specialty semiconductors and security technologies.

  1. What is in your pockets?

There isn’t anything in my pockets. I am a keep-your-pockets-empty guy. And I pride myself on that. But embarrassingly, when it comes around to laundry time in my household, I’m reminded quite often that I have stuff in my pockets. So, I don’t know how good I’m doing at keeping my pockets clean, particularly with the amount of time I’m spending at home now. Everything is around me on my desk. I probably should be carrying more stuff in my pockets because I’m the first person to forget my keys, forget my wallet, forget my cell phone. I’m constantly doing that.

  1. What exciting thing has happened recently for you or your organization?

The most obvious thing is that my family moved to Raleigh in November of 2020, and a few things drove the move. For one, we have family in this area. From a Topmark perspective, North Carolina has been a region that our firm focused on for many years. My partners and I, Brian Model and Steve Lux, have been coming to this region for many years, and that has resulted in three investments in the state, including Zaloni and K4Connect here in the Raleigh-Durham area, two companies that we’re obviously very excited about.

Our firm is a growth equity investment firm. We’ve got a 20-year history of focusing on investing in technology-enabled businesses, predominantly in the Southeast United States. We’re very much focused on companies where entrepreneurs are seeing a pain point in the industry and are applying technology to solve that problem. Our firm has invested in 45 companies over the last 20 years, and we recently closed on a new fund. We are continuing to look for new investment opportunities. The target fund size is $75 million, and we’ve closed well over half of that amount so far.

The Topmark Partners leadership team. Travis is at left

As we closed the new fund last year, we knew we wanted to continue to build relationships and look to partner with more companies in this area. For us to have someone here locally to continue that commitment just makes a lot of sense to us, and hopefully, we can be good partners to the region and continue to contribute. On a personal front, my family has absolutely loved it here so far, and everyone, even in the midst of a pandemic, has been incredibly kind, gracious, and welcoming.

  1. What is your favorite coffee spot?

Being new to the area, my favorite spot is wherever anybody suggests that we meet. I love exploring new places. Right now, our family is at least temporarily posted up in Cary. So, I have stumbled on a place that is my more day-to-day coffee shop, a place called Fount Coffee. And they’ve got just a great combination of good coffee and outdoor seating.

  1. What keeps you up at night?

The main thing that keeps me up at night is thinking about whether or not I’m doing a good-enough job and being a good partner for our portfolio companies. It’s a good news-bad news question because the good news is there’s a lot you could do to help and partner with companies, but that list of items never ends. Hopefully, that insecurity drives me to be a good partner. But if there’s one thing that I question myself on, it’s always: can I do a little bit more?

  1. What is your favorite restaurant or happy hour?

I’m probably a terrible person to answer that question having just gotten here. But so far, we’ve had a lot of fun just exploring some of the places in Durham. I’ve had some good recommendations. I think of some names that a lot of people would recognize, like Mateo, but mostly we’re looking for great suggestions from folks. Check back with me in a few months, I’ll have a better answer. I did spend a few years in Memphis, Tenn., so I’m very excited to stumble into some good barbecue here in Carolina.

  1. What is next for you or your organization?

We’re actively deploying capital out of our newest fund. Our goal with this fund is to continue to partner with the next generation of rapidly growing technology companies in the Southeast United States. And we’re hopeful and expect that many of those relationships will come from right here in Raleigh-Durham, and that’s why I’m here. So, it should be a very exciting time over the next few years.

About Brooks Malone 106 Articles
Brooks Malone is a NC CPA and Partner with Hughes Pittman & Gupton, LLP, and leads the Technology practice group. Brooks is also listed contributor to the National Fast Trac Tech Curriculum that was funded by the Kauffman Foundation. Brooks was named one of the 40 Under 40 in May 2005 by the TBJ, received the Outstanding service to Entrepreneurs Award in 2008 by CED, and named to the Leadership Raleigh Hall of Fame in October 2011. Brooks is a graduate of North Carolina State University and is active at American Underground and Raleigh Founded.