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Nashville's Axios LLC builds platform for Tech, Logistics companies
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AXIOS LLC, a Nashville company with a backbone of U.S. military veterans, is likely to seek $2MM in Series A investment for its Tech, Logistics, Services and Sensor-solutions businesses -- and may launch a corporate IT talent-development company.

Co-founder, majority owner and CEO Mike Jones told VNC yesterday that each of the four companies now in 18-month-old Axios' portfolio has begun generating revenue, making a larger A-round unnecessary. Current scenarios call for a substantially larger Series B raise, perhaps six months after the A-round.

Jones' and his four co-owners in Axios LLC have substantial U.S. military backgrounds. The other owners:

Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Brad Pray, whose last active-duty assignment was as plans/policy deputy director in the U.S. Cyber Command, at Fort George G. Meade. Meade, of course, is also home to the National Security Agency.

James Mackler, attorney with Nashville-based Bone McAllester, who previously served as a U.S. Army trial counsel, after serving as a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter pilot in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Mackler is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Forrest Shoaf, the local Angel investor who previously served as managing director of Avondale Partners' investment banking, and as an officer of Cracker Barrel. Also a West Point graduate, Shoaf's 20-year U.S. Army career was spent mainly as an Airborne Ranger.

Chris Christi, 40, is the fifth Axios LLC co-owner, as well as CEO of AxiosTEC, the portfolio company that offers "Big Data" analytics, Cloud, Cybersecurity, Mobile solutions and related IT services. It now has five customers, including the Army National Guard and four private-sector companies, Christi told VNC. Christi previously served in business-development roles for a series of IT and software companies, in addition to his nearly 13 years in the U.S. Army, Army Reserves and Army National Guard.

Christi's AxiosTEC has recruited an advisory board that includes Marcus Whitney (Nashville) of Moontoast, Jumpstart Foundry and Emma; Rich Robinson (Austin) of Sun Power Corp.; Kent Cunningham (Nashville) of Microsoft; and, Kevin Williams (Nashville) of HP. Most of the advisors have prior military experience.

Jones, 39, is to be the point man for any future Axios LLC raises, with proceeds used to accelerate growth in its companies. The company receives legal counsel from Bone McAllester and it recently chose Lattimore Black Morgan & Cain for accounting. Axios banks with Fifth Third.

Axios companies' total workforce is now about 32, Jones said. The other three existing portfolio companies are led by the following operators:

Castellaw

FarmSpace Systems is led by CEO John "Glad" Castellaw, a USMC Lt. Gen. who retired in 2008 after 36 years on active duty. FarmSpace explains it offers precision agricultural services and equipment, with a focus on unmanned aerial systems (UAS). It explains it supports growers with "cost-effective combinations of sensors, data-collection architecture, and analytics programs" to increase farm productivity. In a 2013 hearing, the FAA took pains to differentiate commercial agricultural use of UAS from deployment of weaponry.

RangerUp Logistics is led by Ben Beasley, who recently completed four years on active duty as a U.S. Marine officer, including duty in Afghanistan. RangerUp operates at breakeven, with 16 trucks. The business came via Axios' 2013 acquisition of a small West Tennessee logistics company. Jones said Shoaf advised on that deal, drawing on his prior Avondale experience with the industry.

Erin Coleman

Yad Consulting LLC is led by President Erin Coleman, a former U.S. Army Engineer officer and attorney for the Corps of Engineers. Nashville-based Yad Consulting supports energy, engineering and construction projects with project planning, management and execution services for project delivery.

The potential fifth business: Axios is earnestly pursuing an opportunity it has identified to design and launch a "factory" for training-up military veterans to fulfill IT jobs requiring certifications that are specifically in demand by individual "high-end" companies in Nashville and elsewhere. Jones confirmed that a lead potential partner is a local tech-enabled company in the Healthcare sector. Axios plans to stand-up the new unit -- now dubbed AxiosU -- within the next 12 months.

Mike Jones

Jones, himself, is a 1996 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, and served four years in the U.S. Army, with deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Post-service, he was with Avondale Partners and Harpeth Capital, and then founded and led nonprofit NotAlone. That program now operates as Courage Beyond, serving combatants, other veterans, and veterans' families who deal with "invisible wounds." It is an offering of Nashville-based Centerstone of America.

Veteran-driven Axios is not alone: Other recent local startups by military veterans include ExBellum, as previously reported by VNC.

In choosing their brands, companies often pick names they feel are consistent with the founders' values, traditions and mettle-testing experiences.

Axios, from the Greek, and Yad, from Hebrew, have their roots in religion and-or customs of respect, according to Wikipedia. VNC

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Tags: Air Force, angels, Army, Axios LLC, AxiosTEC, AxiosU, Ben Beasley, Bone McAllester, Brad Pray, capital, Chris Christi, cloud, cybersecurity, drone, drones, entrepreneurs, Erin Coleman, FarmSpace Systems, Forrest Shoaf, information technology, investors, John Castellaw, Kent Cunningham, Kevin Williams, Marcus Whitney, Marines, Mike Jones, military, RangerUp Logistics, Rich Robinson, software, startups, training, UAS, UAV, unmanned aerial vehicle, Yad Consulting


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