Patty Meagher – Advisor Insight
From Marketing Rep at IBM, to VP of European Technology Research at a British Investment Bank, Principal at a Family Office &Venture Capital Firm, Founder of a CT Innovation Center for entrepreneurs, and finally to Technology Business Advisor at the Connecticut Small Business Development Center (CTSBDC), Patty Meagher has 20+ years of experience with businesses both large and small, and a track record to match. It’s obvious that Patty is incredibly proficient at doing what she loves, with her portfolio of startups clocking in at over $70 million in capital raised in the first three years of working with the SBDC. She likes to think that she played a small part in helping make that happen.
At her core, Patty considers herself to be a connector of people and relationship manager. She is an Advisor, Investor, and Entrepreneur. She believes that a creative force is unstoppable when combined with the power of a network of people.
“It may sound trite; but it really does take a village to raise a startup,” she often says. “It’s important to map out your community and leverage your connections. Entrepreneurship is not a solo act. Who you choose for your extended team can make or break your business.”
Patty has a couple of personal acronyms for the players in a startup ecosystem. Broadly speaking, it is CAPITAL, CUSTOMERS & COMMUNITY. More specifically, she talks about the “ICET’S”. (Five fingers… five categories!) It stands for Investors, Customers, Experts, Talent, and Service Providers. “All five of these categories are critical to the success of an early stage business,” says Patty, “and it is important to build an extended team that will help you reach out to organizations and people in each of those categories. It all boils down to surrounding yourself with great people. That is the starting point.”
Indeed, Patty practices what she preaches when it comes to a strong network. She is a member of the Angel Investor Forum, on the Global Advisory Board for Astia, and has been very involved with a number of other startup focused organizations, such as CTnext, StartUp CT, the Angel and Venture Capital Associations, Crossroads Venture Group, the CT Technology Council etc. With contacts at CT Innovations, the Department of Economic Development (DECD), and various Angel Groups, Family Offices, and VC funds, Patty is an expert at opening doors to potential funding, and helping her clients build their networks, something that would be much more difficult for them to do alone.
Patty also counts the art of preparing her clients to pitch to investors to be one of her strengths.
“I spend 90% of my time helping clients perfect their pitches and then helping them navigate the turbulent waters of fundraising,” Patty says. On the technical aspect of the process, she helps her clients refine their investor presentations, executive summaries, and strategic plans. Together they craft a polished set of documents and a compelling presentation that investors will be more likely to react positively to. “What entrepreneurs need to remember is that the goal of a pitch is simply to get the next meeting. You don’t have to expound on every amazing technical detail (which is very tempting for techies & scientists). You need to get into due diligence!”
“I’ve built a lot of trust with both the investor community and my entrepreneurs over the past ten years,” Patty states. “My clients know that I will do everything in my power to advocate for them. Investors know that I’m an honest and trusted referral source, and that the startups I bring to them are worthy of a closer look. Basically, I’m ‘Switzerland’!”
Another advantage of having Patty on their teams is that she is an advisor from the CTSBDC, a federally & state funded organization. That means she does not have to charge for her services. Of course, the startups are always happy to hear that; but it is also very good news for investors, who generally don’t like to see their potential investment dollars spent on hiring an expensive 3rd party placement agent. “The ideal price of this type of advisory service for an early stage startup is free”, Patty adds, “and getting a warm introduction to an angel investor group or VC is often the 1st big fundraising hurdle that an entrepreneur faces. Investors like to know that you have a strong network… one that is willing to help you connect with the right people. It’s part of the test.”
According to Patty, her in-depth and extensive work with her clients often ends up with them looking at her not so much as an outside advisor, but more like another member of their extended team.
“It is always rewarding to hear the words, ‘I’m so glad that you’re on our team.’” Patty recounts. She gets very personally invested in her clients, and is highly motivated to guide her clients to success. When that magic combination of a great team, a huge market and an awesome product truly exists, she won’t stop until they gain access to the funding they need to achieve greatness. Many of Patty’s clients are in the IT, BioTech, or ‘Green’Tech sectors, and she finds it particularly rewarding to help these entrepreneurs make the proverbial ‘dent in the universe’.
“Helping close deals for my entrepreneurs is a great feeling because I get to see them break out of the starting gate,” Patty admits. “It’s really satisfying to see someone who I have so much confidence in succeed.”
Over the years, Patty has also been an active participant in the economic development of the City of Stamford, Connecticut, through her work with Reinventing Stamford and as a Founder of an Innovation Center that was located at The Old Town Hall. It was the original ‘center of gravity’ for the entrepreneurial ecosystem of the city, offering shared workspace, education and events for the community back when co-working was a relatively new concept. The Old Town Hall has since been passed back to the City for its Continuing Education program; but the baton has been passed to new shared workspaces that have opened in the recently re-developed South End. “We designed the Innovation Center to provide what I call ‘managed serendipity’. That concept really works… and I continue to be part of the mix in the new shared-work spaces where I advise some of the entrepreneurs who have made them their home. These new entrepreneurial hubs of activity are carrying on the mission, and doing a great job.”
As a professional business advisor, Patty has one piece of advice for all of America’s startups: “Entrepreneurship is a team sport. Surround yourself with a community of people who you trust and who will actively support you, and you have already won half the battle.”