Columbus Women in Business: Lindsay Karas, Partner and Chief Legal Officer at NCT Ventures
Meet Lindsay Karas
The venture capital industry is still a predominately male network, but in a few short years, Lindsay Karas has worked her way to the top. At a young age, she is the only female partner at NCT Ventures, a leading venture capital firm in the Midwest.
Here’s How She Got There
While working toward graduating from both The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law and Fisher College of Business (at the same time!), Lindsay was searching for unique career opportunities that meshed her entrepreneurial spirit with her law and business degrees. A business school colleague referred her to an open position at NCT Ventures. She applied for the analyst position, but was disappointed when she didn’t get the job.
That didn’t stop Lindsay from landing a different position in the company. Her JD combined with an MBA provided her a unique set of skills that NCT Ventures wanted on its team. She was offered an internship to provide in-house work for the team.
Eager to learn, she accepted the job that would soon become her most rewarding career choice. Venture capital is a tough business, and the learning curve was steep. Lindsay was up for the challenge. As you’ll learn, Lindsay is never afraid of taking on a new feat.
Lindsay started as an intern at NCT while she was in graduate school. She worked her way up to a full-time associate position for Fund I, and became a partner in November 2013 with the launch of Fund II.
“I had some great mentors, and I’m really grateful for them,” Lindsay said. “This journey has been extremely rewarding.”
Lindsay explained how NCT Ventures works: “We invest in small businesses, primarily located here in Ohio, and we look to help them with business development, strategy, growth, and we provide capital. Then we work with them to a successful exit.”
Each NCT Ventures partner contributes a specialty skill or area of experience to the team, and Lindsay’s are legal and communications. She now runs all the legal and compliance for the company’s two funds.
“Fund I is fully invested and it’s in what we call ‘harvest stage,’” Lindsay said, “so we’re working to sell and find homes for the investments. It’s been around since 2008. Fund II has been around since 2013. It’s in the investing stage, so we’re constantly looking for new investment opportunities to add value, help companies grow, and take them to the next business stage.”
NCT Ventures currently has eight portfolio companies in Fund I and five portfolio companies in Fund II. Lindsay also manages legal work for several companies in NCT’s portfolio.
“The fund also has its own series of legal parameters and documents that it requires, plus investment documentation for each investment we make,” Lindsay said. “Venture capital legal work is sort of this beautiful place where all areas of the law intersect.”
Lindsay also works closely with the business and marketing teams to ensure that the documents she writes portray an accurate understanding of their portfolio companies. Other business documents include the private placement memoranda (PPM), limited partnership agreements, exit documentation, company sales, position sales, mergers and acquisitions, and anything in between.
“It’s like a marriage when you’re going into an investment,” Lindsay says. “You’re stuck with that investment for the next four, five, sometimes ten years. I’m lucky enough to say there’s not a company that I don’t like working with. We have a lot of great companies with potential and great teams, and a lot of them have offices in our building.”
On top of being an attorney, Lindsay also manages the company’s limited partner (LP) and investor relations. On average, she meets with LPs on a quarterly basis to ask how business is going, if they would like to see improvement anywhere, and if they have all the information they need. Her job is to foster healthy relationships with the LPs and provide them with the best investment experience possible.
“I try to be the person who is always available if they have a question,” Lindsay said. “I don’t care if it’s Monday night at 10 p.m. or Sunday at 2 p.m.—If they have a question, I should be able to answer it, and I do.”
She also speaks to students at her alma mater, The Ohio State University, as part of her community outreach initiative.
“There’s a living, breathing ecosystem to it all,” Lindsay said. “You have to have smart minds coming up with creative solutions and people who are passionate about turning their ideas into successful businesses. […] It’s fun to talk to young people who haven’t been working in corporate America for 30 years.”
“CrossFit changed my life.”
One of the biggest excuses that keeps people from hitting the gym is time. On top of her busy work schedule, she works out twice a day and co-owns CrossFit Westerville with her husband and another couple. (I’ll remember her schedule next time I need motivation to hit the gym!)
CrossFit Westerville opened on Dec. 1, 2014, roughly 2.5 years after Lindsay’s CrossFit-iversary, Aug. 6, 2012. She admits that she was afraid of CrossFit when she started, but now CrossFit has changed her life.
“You look at the board and see all the numbers they put up there and think, ‘I could never do that,’ but yesterday I deadlifted 305 pounds,” Lindsay said. “And you would never think you can do that, but you can accomplish these physical feats when you tell yourself you can do anything and figure it out.”
Along with self-improvement, Lindsay gets to be a part of gym members improving themselves every day. She’s passionate about helping people chase their dreams, whether it’s business, investment, fitness, or personal improvement.
“I honestly feel it has made me a better lawyer, business person, and friend,” Lindsay said.
The last of her free time is spent with her husband and two boxer rescue dogs. “I really believe they rescued me,” said Lindsay.
With her charisma and positive attitude, Lindsay Karas will continue to break barriers while navigating her way to the top in venture, law, and entrepreneurship. I look forward to seeing what challenge she takes on next.
To meet Lindsay and learn about her knowledge in entrepreneurship, join us for lunch at her TIGER talk, “Building Your Dream Catcher: Proper Corporate & Investment Structuring to Protect the Entrepreneur’s Vision,” on Nov. 6.
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