2010-2011‎ > ‎Finals‎ > ‎

Interview with Bill Geary

Tell us a bit about your background

Professionally, I've been at North Bridge Venture Partners since our founding over 17 years ago, and focus my investing on early-stage technology companies initially in the software then healthcare industries. Prior to the start of North Bridge, I was part of one of the earliest LBO transactions, followed by a founding management team member of a software start-up that subsequently went public and was later acquired, then with another venture capital firm in Boston with one of my current Partners. I started my career as a CPA with a large national accounting firm.

I'm a 1980 graduate of Boston College, School of Management Honors Program, and currently serve as the university's Chair of the Board of Trustees as well as a member of its Executive Committee and of its Investment & Endowment Committee.

Personally, we live in the Boston area and have three sons: Will, a current junior Economics & Philosophy major at Duke; Chris, a recently accepted member of the incoming freshman class at Duke; and James, a sophomore at Noble & Greenough high school.

My wife, Kristi & I are Chairs of the Duke Parents Committee and love being involved at Duke.

What do you spend your time on these days?

I focus on early-stage healthcare investing.

What connections do you have to Duke?

A proud parent, soon to be of 2 Dukies(!), and involved with and Chair the Duke Parents Committee, one of the premier university parents organizations in the country.

What do you think have been some of the keys to your own career success?

Loving what you do coupled with an enduring drive.

What types of businesses are you attracted to?  Are there key industries, markets, or characteristics you look for?

We focus our investing on early-stage technology companies, preferring to back founding entrepreneurs right at the idea's inception -- actively helping them build a management team, finding early customers and partners, and maximizing their probability for building a successful business. We're most attracted to game-changing ideas in big markets around driven, passionate entrepreneurs. The industries in which we focus our investing and in which we have deep experience and a long track-record of success include software, communications, healthcare, materials and digital media. We have had the pleasure of backing and helping entrepreneurs in the start of 180 companies in 17 years, spanning our 7 different venture funds and a recent growth equity fund, with $3.5 billion under management at North Bridge. Our portfolio today consists of 80 active companies.

Many students wonder if they can get started as an entrepreneur while they are still in school. What advice would you have for them?

Absolutely, don't hesitate!

If you had one piece of advice for students that are pitching to you in the Duke Start-Up Challenge, what would it be?

Focus on a game-changing idea in a big market around an opportunity which you uniquely see and which you can crisply, clearly articulate -- and seek out help from experienced people who have the time and the capital to make a difference and work with you to build a business and maximize your probability for success.

Anything else you'd like to say to the Duke students out there?

Pursue what you love, don't hold back, don't take no for an answer and be undeterred in achieving your aspirations. Set your sights high!

Bill will be one of our Finals Judges on March 31, 2011.  Learn more