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Posts Tagged ‘Borealis Ventures’

5 Questions with Phil Ferneau, Borealis Ventures

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

The next best idea that could change the world may just come out of New Hampshire or northern New England. But getting that idea off the ground and into our lives is the challenge, especially if it’s hard to find early stage capital. This is where folks like Phil Ferneau and Borealis Ventures comes in and that’s who we meet in today’s Five Questions.


Phil Ferneau ~ Borealis Ventures

1. Borealis is particularly passionate about supporting New Hampshire businesses. What is it about the Granite State that drives you?

We founded Borealis on our first-hand knowledge of New Hampshire’s entrepreneurial potential and our confidence in its investment opportunities. Beyond that, this is where we live, raise our families, and contribute to our communities. While we have invested elsewhere, the Granite State is where our professional commitment to supporting exceptional entrepreneurs aligns with our personal convictions to make a difference by helping to build the state’s next generation of high-growth technology companies.

2. Where do you see the biggest opportunity for startups and entrepreneurial ventures in New Hampshire?

New Hampshire’s academic campuses and established technology companies have historically helped inspire and launch many of the state’s entrepreneurs. That remains true today with promising startups emerging from, for instance, the software and Internet infrastructure community around Manchester and Nashua, the Upper Valley’s bioengineering cluster, and innovative students and faculty at campuses across the state. More fundamentally, New Hampshire’s attractive business climate, quality of living, and wealth of social capital make the state a compelling place to build companies that can serve customers worldwide. In today’s connected global economy, innovation possesses the same inherent commercial opportunity when the eureka arises in New Hampshire as it does in larger metropolitan areas.

3. What are two or three of your latest New Hampshire-based ventures?

Our newest investment is Adored, which uses Apple’s iBeacon technology to help businesses and brands engage more effectively with their customers. Another recent investment is Builtr, a media intelligence company that we founded to serve the architecture, engineering, and construction professionals who create our built environment. We are also enthusiastic about the progress of our more developed NH investments, including Adimab (antibody discovery), Avitide (biopharmaceutical purification), DYN (Internet as a Service), and Newforma (project information management software).

4. Borealis plays a key role in business competitions like TechOut. How have these events helped the entrepreneurial community in New Hampshire?

Borealis has supported business competitions in New Hampshire from our earliest days – not just TechOut, but also Accelerate NH and Dartmouth Ventures in the past year alone. We believe such events provide invaluable opportunities not only to showcase emerging companies and help them refine their pitches and access the resources needed to build their businesses, but also more generally to rally the state’s entrepreneurial community and inspire new startups.

5. What’s next on the horizon for Borealis? How will you soon be making an even bigger impact in New Hampshire and beyond?

As New Hampshire’s leading early-stage investor over the past decade, we look forward to continuing to invest in the state’s most promising emerging technology startups. Beyond that, we are passionate about furthering the entrepreneurial infrastructure to attract, educate, connect, mentor, and otherwise nurture the state’s next generation of technology innovators and business builders. We are enthusiastic and active supporters of the organizations that are building real momentum in New Hampshire’s startup scene, including Alphaloft in Manchester and the Seacoast, the Dartmouth Entrepreneurial Network (DEN) in the Upper Valley, as well as the statewide Live Free and Start initiative.

Ask CJ: Landing Venture Capital Investment

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

Q: “I just read about a business that has been funded by a venture capital firm.  What type of businesses do they invest in and how can I find one locally?”

A: Like angel investors, venture capital firms invest in businesses that have high growth potential.  They are also similar to angel investors as they provide equity financing and don’t recoup their investment until the company is sold or there is some other sort of exit opportunity such as an IPO or a merger.  Venture capital firms tend to make larger investments and often come in after angel financing.  This isn’t a hard and fast rule but it is a fairly common scenario.

NH Division of Economic Development Seacoast Business Services Specialist Christine J. Davis

I spoke with Jesse Devitte of Borealis Ventures which has an office in Portsmouth and will be celebrating 10 years of investing in entrepreneurs in February.  Jesse originally sat on the other side of the table when he sought venture capital when creating what was at the time Soft Desk which was later acquired and is now known as Auto Desk.  Along with his two partners, Jesse sees himself as a business builder and not simply someone who writes a check to a promising company.  During our conversation, very little was said about numbers and much was said about relationships.  Venture capitalists are investing in a person or team of people and there needs to be a solid relationship for the partnership to work.  He put it quite succinctly when he said, “Imagine your absolute worst week in business.  Would you want those people (the VC’s) to be in the room with you?”  You also want your investors to really understand your business as they will most likely have an active role in your company and you want your “thought partner” to provide advice that is based on relevant industry expertise.

Venture capitalists take on more risk than other types of financing so the reward for them will be higher than for a traditional bank loan.  The terms vary and it is critically important that the entrepreneur spends some time going over the details.  Hire a lawyer who has experience with equity investing and not simply general business law.  Jesse also recommended that the entrepreneur get familiar with the financing documents which can be found at the National Venture Capital Association website, www.nvca.org

It isn’t easy to get VC funding so be prepared to get a lot of rejections and don’t take it personally.  The average yield (percentage of applicants that get funded) is a mere 2%.  So, for every 100 proposals, just two of them will get the green light.  That doesn’t guarantee that those two will succeed either.  The hardest business to get funded is the one that has never been funded.  To improve your odds, make sure you are talking with firms that are interested in your industry.  Avoid cold calling the firm and find someone who can make an introduction for you.  Know your industry inside and out and don’t think for a minute that there aren’t any competitors.  There are.  Are your financial projections conservative?  Perhaps in your eyes, but it is doubtful others will see it that way so I would recommend you restrain yourself from telling them that.

Newforma, a Manchester company, was one of the companies that Borealis Ventures funded around seven years ago.  What started out as a team of six founders now boasts over 80 employees with about half of them working in Manchester.  Ian Howell, the CEO, agreed with Jesse that the relationship with the VC firm is incredibly important as they will be taking an active role in your company.  He agreed that getting funded is much easier if you have been previously funded.  Even having past successes it took Newforma five months to secure their series A funding.  They based their successful fundraising on having done their due diligence which included in depth client interviews and approaching the right investors.

I was amazed to learn that an entrepreneur is given 45 minutes to make their pitch and convince the VC to fund their business.  Even if you possess a great business plan, solid team and real commitment, you still could get rejected.  Timing and fit are incredibly important.  When meeting with one particular investor, the gentleman pushed back from the table, crossed his arms and told Ian he wasn’t interested.  Ian hadn’t even begun his pitch.  However, thanks to a strong business plan and thorough “storyboards” the investor completely changed his mind and offered the funding at the end of the meeting.  You never know.

When asked about his thoughts on current funding opportunities, Ian responded, “There is a lot of money looking for a good home.”  The bar may be set higher these days but if you have the right plan, team and strategy you just might find yourself sharing your success story with tomorrow’s entrepreneurs.

Whether you have been in business for 20 years or just getting started, we have the resources and the expertise to answer your questions. You can e-mail me at Christine.Davis@dred.state.nh.us. I look forward to hearing from you.

 Christine J. Davis works for the N.H. Division of Economic Development as a resource specialist serving businesses in Rockingham and Strafford counties. Her role is to provide the support needed for businesses so that they may remain viable and growing entities in the community. Ms. Davis lives in Exeter with her two daughters.  When not performing her work or parenting duties she can be found volunteering with her girls for the Chamber Children’s Fund, “hitting the gym,” or spending time with friends and family.

Speed Venture Summit a Great Match for Entrepreneurs

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

Speed dating is usually a hit or miss phenomenon – either you’re wowed by the endless array of attractive members of the opposite sex vying for your attention or you’re scouting out an open window in the restroom as an escape hatch.

Thankfully, that’s not the case with next Wednesday’s (10/28/09) 2nd Annual Speed Venture Summit™ scheduled for 2-5 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Nashua with networking to follow from 5:15-7:30 p.m. This Summit is billed as the event “Where Capital and Business Match in Minutes™.”

speed-venture-logoSimply put, the Speed Venture Summit™ is the premier speed dating style event for fast growth businesses and investors in New England, hosted by the New Hampshire High Technology Council and the New Hampshire Small Business Development Center, and brought to you by Gold Sponsor Comcast Business Class.

The Speed Venture Summit™ is an opportunity for companies to privately pitch their growth stories in person to suitable investors.

The first annual Speed Venture Summit™ whisked New England’s hottest young companies together with investors for 15-minute “dates,” leading to dozens of follow-up phone calls and e-mails for promising long-term relationships.

Twenty-six different investor groups ranked the most compelling stories from fifty entrepreneurs, who then pitched to a feverish standing-room crowd of 325 tech leaders from throughout the region.

The fan-o-meter awarded the Summit’s top prizes to Animetrics Inc. of Conway, N.H. for its facial recognition software that uses facial templates like a fingerprint to identify people at a checkpoint, and Foneshow Inc. of Truro, Mass. that enables audio and radio clips to be played on a cell phone.

Corporate sponsors for this year’s event include KBW Financial Staffing & Recruiting and the Alexander Technology Group; networking sponsors include Borealis Ventures, Cook, Little, Rosenblatt & Manson, pllc, Dynamic Network Services, Good Leads and Mass High Tech; promotional partners include the New Hampshire Division of Economic Development and the Amoskeag Business Incubator.

To learn more, visit www.speedventuresummit.org. Don’t worry about bringing roses, chocolate or candy – just bring your excellent business ideas and your enthusiasm!