Entrepreneurs who until the downturn had multiple funding options may now have only one, he said, "and that one source of funding can really name their price."
Buckhead Investment Partners, or BIP, is targeting a niche in the private equity market: companies in the early stages of development — not start-ups — that are relatively small. BIP takes an active role in helping the companies grow, advising them on business strategy and taking board seats.
The firm has the capacity to make 15-25 investments, said Buffington. Current investments include stakes in three Atlanta-based companies: Ingenious Med, which sells Internet-based management applications for physicians; 2080 Media, a live sporting even production company founded by executives at Turner Broadcasting; and Vendormate, which offers a service to help companies better manage their suppliers.
Private equity investing has been down during the recession both nationally and in Georgia, experts say. But firms able to raise money could find some bargains, said Michael J. Cochran, an attorney at McKenna Long & Aldridge in Atlanta who specializes in private equity and hedge funds.
"It's a good time to put money to work because of the reduced valuations," Cochran said, though he added a note of caution. "Those valuations reflect the difficult economic times we are in, which makes prospects for young companies somewhat risky."