John Cambier is a founding general partner at IDEA Fund Partners. Over the past 12 years, John has used a deep understanding of technology commercialization and company formation, along with his experience managing intellectual property, licensing and contracts, to help grow technology companies throughout the Southeast.
At IDEA Fund Partners, John holds responsibilities for finance and investor relations functions, in addition to serving as a key member of the investment team and advisor to portfolio companies. John also serves as an advisor to the NC IDEA grants program, playing a key role in the company selection and mentoring process.
John Cambier joins us on today on Develomentor from Idea Fund Partners. John is the guy everyone is always asking for money. He represents a side of technology that is often behind the scenes, venture capital. Join us as John and Grant discuss venture capital and tech. Click here to browse different careers in tech.
In the early 90s John graduated from Michigan State University as a political science undergrad. He started his tech career in 1994 as the one non-technical person in a group of 13 engineers packaging semiconductors.
John eventually decided to attend business school at the Kenan-Flagler Business School at UNC to get an MBA. He was also working full time while attending school and helped spin out three companies during that time. This was his first exposure to venture capital.
After getting his MBA, John was handed the task of assembling a team for investing in early seed tech companies. This became the nonprofit MCNC and John hired a few MBA grads to help him run the 15 million dollar fund. In 2007 Idea Fund Partners was born and became a major investor in MCNC. To this day, Idea Fund has backed 44 different companies and will continue to invest in promising startups.
[1:01] Who is John Cambier?
[10:27] Going back to school while working full time
[13:48] About venture capital and tech
[16:02] Importance of network
[19:22] How jobs differ at small companies versus larger companies
[21:20] What kind of influence does venture capital have
[24:26] What surprised John most about venture capital
[27:04] Being able to read people and communicate
[31:17] Going out and finding investing partners
[34:41] What to look for when starting out in venture capital
[38:58] Advice for those just starting out
“I was getting my MBA while working full time by first doing intellectual property licensing and administration.”
“It’s amazing what having three or four years of experience under your belt can contribute to what you get out of the academic side of things as well.”
“You can’t have everyone doing a little bit of everything once you get to 20 people. You do have to start specilizating and functionalizing roles so there can be some process and scalability…”
“Venture investing is a persuasion business.”
“Out of all the skills that I think are helpful and relevant to being a good venture capitalist, financial expertise is the lowest.”
“You really have to develop a thick skin because you are going to get a lot of no’s.”
“I would actually challenge a little bit that venture has been disrupted much by crowd funding.”
“You aren’t going to be a venture capitalist at age 25 or 28. And if you are, you aren’t going to be a good one. But after you have a little bit of experience under your belt, you can get into it.”
“Experience is the most valuable thing when becoming a venture capitalist because it’s all about pattern recognition.”
CONNECT WITH JOHN CAMBIER HERE