Jeff McCarthy, Partner at North Bridge Venture Partners
Former entrepreneur-turned-venture capitalist Jeff McCarthy understands what it’s like to sit on the other side of the table. A partner with North Bridge Venture Partners for the past 13 years, McCarthy spoke to students, faculty and alumni during Global Entrepreneurship Week, describing the challenges faced by entrepreneurs seeking funding.
“We are usually the first money in,” explained McCarthy, describing North Bridge as an early stage investor. “We get 1,000 emails with ideas; we take about 100 meetings; we might do two projects,” he said. “So the odds are stacked against you.”
His recommendation for fighting those odds? “Get networked in.”
“The way to get in is to get networked in through a respected and trusted source,” McCarthy said. He explained that there are several sources of funding to get companies started, and a good entrepreneur will use his or her network to find those entry points.
Without that, “establish your own personal track record of success.”
Once you get a meeting with a venture capitalist, an entrepreneur must focus on three things, according to McCarthy: the people, the technology, and the market. The idea should be “defendable and differentiated,” McCarthy said. With respect to the market, “Find a relatively small part of the market that is going to grow rapidly,” he said. “Those are hard to find, but when you do find them, you can be remarkably successful.”