Friday Nooner: Oval Park’s Justin Wright-Eakes Talks Underserved Markets, Chicks

During this week’s Friday Nooner, Joe provided his commentary all the way from Cartagena, Colombia, and Jackie came to us from inside the Monsters Inc. headquarters (yes, that was a green screen). Pete, on the other hand, joined the team from his typical office setup (yawn). 

Before getting into much-anticipated GrepBeat news, the crew discussed mobile car-care startup Spiffy’s $30M Series C investment. Joe, a small early investor in Spiffy, expressed his excitement for the development. He followed his Spiffy discussion with a short tour of his hotel room and view in sunny Cartagena. 

Pete and Joe also touched on the (relative) decline of digital nomad-ness as Covid-19 flexibility for remote workers starts to change. Although Joe joined the episode from across the globe, our other beloved GrepBeat team members launched some new media this week… from the office. This week, our For Starters podcast premiered a new episode with Erkang Zheng, the Founder and CEO of Morrisville-based JupiterOne—a cybersecurity platform that has reached unicorn status in just two years. We also ran new profiles on startups Project Trace and Nomad Development.

The gang then welcomed this week’s guest, Justin Wright-Eakes of VC firm Oval Park Capital, onto the show. Here are some highlights of his conversation:

  • After graduating from UNC (go Heels!), Justin spent some time in New York as an investment banker and at a hedge fund. Following his exit from the “dark side” of finance—his words—Justin returned to North Carolina, where he started Raleigh-based Oval Park Capital. His firm aims to serve a unique market of what he calls “deep technology” startups, which have some defensible technological edge but aren’t FDA-regulated.
  • The firm’s name was inspired by Oval Park in Durham, where Justin used to play sports after school. According to Justin’s old boss, the names of most financial firms can be traced back to some rock, tree, or body of water, and Oval Park only gives further evidence for that statement. The creatively named firm typically invests in seed-stage startups with a clear path to commercialization. 
  • One notable startup Oval Park has invested in is Morrisville-based Targan, which has developed a spray vaccine for protecting chicks against a poultry disease. Although Oval Park also invests in a second startup that involves chickens, Joe warned against Justin investing in anything to do with ducks (apparently Joe doesn’t have a great track record with quacking creatures).

You can watch the full episode on LinkedIn here or Facebook here.

Or on YouTube:

Auditory learners can listen (and subscribe to!) our podcast version here: