The rest of the 100 (in alphabetical order by company): Michael Mahan, Stanley Ventures
Michael Mahan, an investment manager at Stanley Ventures, the corporate venture capital (CVC) unit of US-based industrials group Stanley Black & Decker (SBD), was the first team member to join under its vice-president, Larry Harper, back in April 2016.
Mahan said: “We make investments on behalf of the five SBD business units in support of strategic initiatives and breakthrough innovation.”
And added that he was interested in joining CVC after consulting roles at White Light Consulting and Arcadia Healthcare Solutions following graduation in mathematical economics from Brown University in 2007 because “the strategic nature of corporate VC was the most exciting element to me.
“Understanding how innovation can make significant impacts on our business units, products, and breakthrough initiatives is a complex puzzle to solve. It is an additional layer on top of the already exciting nature of venture capital, and navigating that challenge is truly what sets us apart from traditional investors.”
His first two deals, both announced in September, were in US-based smart home security product developer Sunflower Labs and mobile and networked energy storage technology developer FreeWire Technologies. Mahan joined FreeWire’s board of directors in conjunction with the funding, and said: “My greatest success would have to be my first two deals.
“They were running in parallel, and I closed them both in the same week. Combined they totalled $10m, and they were on opposite ends of the spectrum – one was an early stage business with a long roadmap to success, and the other was a more established business where we negotiated an investment plus a buyout call option.
“It was a lot of fun, hard work, and totally different approaches required for each. I learned a lot over the course of those two deals.”
Part of the experience was in finding strategically relevant innovation, which Mahan described as “probably the biggest challenge, but that’s what makes every deal an exciting opportunity.
“Stanley is tackling difficult problems with innovative solutions, and we work hard to find the best technology and negotiate the best deals for our business units. Our team is positioned with the unique ability to impact every project and product coming out of Stanley’s breakthrough innovation teams, and we meet that challenge head-on every day.”
And this informs his own ambitions, which, outside of spending time with his wife and daughter, play golf and watch baseball and college football, were, “simply put, to be looked at as a leader in my industry, and hopefully that’s within CVC.
“I would like to be known not only for some monumental exits but also for investments that substantially transformed my corporation’s influence on the market and industry.”
And this is something all CVCs could do better at, he added: “Having a close strategic alignment between startups and business teams is the best way to drive strength in our industry. You can have a powerful impact on any market when you take a startup’s ability to think freely and be agile and combine it with corporate teams that know their customers and how to scale products.”
SBD might have been making tools since 1843 “for the builders and protectors, for the makers and explorers, for those shaping and reshaping our world through hard work and inspiration,” but in Mahan they have someone looking for the next-generation.
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