Tag: Russell Tweeddale

A 30-Year Veteran Investor On the Mistake He Wishes You’d Stop Making, and Why He Prefers Younger Entrepreneurs

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Russell Tweeddale
Former Managing Director, Investments

 

 

 

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Douglas Roth Director, Investments

Russell “Russ” Tweeddale, an engineer, Marine, and investor with Connecticut Innovations for more than three decades, sat down this week to talk shop with Douglas Roth, CI’s director of investments. Over the course of their hour-long chat, during which they covered everything from fuel cells to the importance of strong advisory boards, Russ imparted some hard-won pearls of wisdom he gained while investing more than $75 million in numerous Connecticut companies. Russ’s notable successes include many of today’s industry leaders, such as Affomix, AxioMx, Proton Energy Systems, CuraGen Corporation, Genaissance Pharmaceuticals, Bio-Plexus, International Telecommunication Data Systems, Open Solutions, and Ipsogen.

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CI Reaches Out Beyond Connecticut Borders

While Connecticut Innovations’ risk capital/equity investment team focuses primarily on assisting homegrown technology entrepreneurs and startups, we are stepping up efforts to reach out to and recruit entrepreneurial ventures residing beyond our borders – in the U.S. and other countries. We have been active in recruiting and relocating new ventures for many years, so we will build on that experience in the months ahead. In the past five years, we have recruited 19 companies from six states and four foreign countries. Last year alone, we recruited six companies to Connecticut.

Yesterday we announced our investment in one of these companies, Advent Technologies Inc. (Advent), which is in the process of relocating its headquarters from Athens, Greece, to East Hartford, Connecticut. The company also plans to establish R&D and manufacturing operations here in Connecticut.

We welcome Advent, a developer of innovative renewable energy technologies, to Connecticut and look forward to assisting the company as it settles into its new home in East Hartford.

To learn more about Advent, see our CI press release and the Advent website.

Russell E. Tweeddale
Managing Director, Investments
Connecticut Innovations

Pamela Bunes: a Business New Haven Rising Star

Congratulations, Pamela Bunes, on being named a Business New Haven Rising Star for 2011! We are proud that New Haven-based EpiEP Inc., the company you founded and now lead, is a member of our Connecticut Innovations portfolio.

EpiEP is about to initiate its first manned study to test its medical device on a small number of patients before taking it to market. The EpiEP device, invented by a University of Virginia electrophysiologist, is designed to “facilitate access or enable access to the pericardial sac of the heart without puncturing the heart or the lower chambers of the heart,” said Bunes. With the device “a lot of things can be done on the surface of the heart safely, more effectively and with better outcomes.”

CI invested $1 million in EpiEP in 2010.

Read more about Rising Star Pamela Bunes in the September issue of Business New Haven

Russell Tweeddale
Managing Director, Investments

One Step Closer to Human Clinical Trials

During recently conducted animal studies, Soft Tissue Regeneration (STR) demonstrated for the first time the complete regeneration of a native, natural and load-carrying anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) with its proprietary L-C Ligament® product. Great progress! L-C Ligament® is a biocompatible and degradable synthetic braided scaffold that is surgically attached to the femur and tibia bones and facilitates the regrowth of ACL tissue following an ACL injury.

Last week Connecticut Innovations, along with previous co-investors, rewarded this and additional achievements of STR with a follow-on investment. The investment round of up to $2.5 million was led by CI and MentorTech Ventures II LP.

Read more about CI’s investment, here.

Russell Tweeddale
Managing Director, Investments

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How to Select the Best “Prospects”

My wife and I lost our best friend last May, Günter von Kleist, a German Shepherd Dog (“GSD”). Günter was just eight-and-a-half years old and had developed the canine version of MS. He was in severe pain and had a “lick” sore on his front leg that he had torn down to the tendon. After trying everything to heal the wound, we knew we had to put him to sleep but left that decision to the vet.

We brought him to the vet very early on a sunny morning, and after working one last time on the wound, the vet quietly said, “It’s time folks.” Like everything else in life, Günter was not going down without a fight. He tried to get off the table and struggled with the vet tech until he was slipping into sleep.

Now you are asking: “Why am I reading this?” and “What does this have to do with selecting prospects for investments?” Please be patient and read on.
My wife and I were true empty nesters for the first time in over a half century of marriage. We had always talked about the wonderful trips we would take and adventures to be experienced when we no longer had responsibilities. But now it didn’t seem important. The house was dead, and we had never realized how important our dogs and cats were to making us happy and whole.

So the big decision was made – email the GSD breeder and put our name in for a puppy. The breeder emailed back that a litter was expected in October. Now we were hooked. We sent our deposit immediately so we would be first to choose a male. Then we started worrying. How does one select a puppy that will fill Günter’s big paws? We asked to see the puppies as soon as they were born. The breeder said we could come see them once they were two weeks old. We visited, met the bitch who was very friendly and outgoing, and met eight blind, deaf bundles of hair. We asked to come back, and four weeks later we returned to meet eight little hellions trying to tear down a gate to get outside. I asked the next question: “When confronted with options that all seem acceptable, how do you choose? Eenie, meenie,miney, moe?” The breeder said, “That works as well as anything.” 

That approach, however, does NOT work with investment prospects. Read on.

Now the big day arrives, and it’s decision time. All the way down to the kennel, we kept asking ourselves: “Are we doing the right thing?” After all, these are rambunctious puppies.
The five males were segregated in a pen with different color ribbons placed on their necks, so we could distinguish one from another. One was rejected immediately because he needed to put on more weight before leaving. One just didn’t seem interested in us. We were then told to enter the pen. I picked up one, and he pulled his head back; his look said “Why do you touch me earthling?” Reject. Now we were down to two: the one sporting the red ribbon and the one with the green ribbon. My wife picked up one and then the other. They both responded to her, so she copped out.  Then it was my turn. I picked up “greenie,” and he was okay, then “red.” Smooch, smooch, lick, lick. I declared, “This is the one!”

Now the Smooch Test is a well-proven method for choosing a GSD puppy, but I wouldn’t use that method to select investment prospects.

So let’s perform a thought experiment. Picture a quiet room where we mingle with investment prospects and carry on casual conversations with them, discussing their business plans and aspirations. We begin to notice that the prospects can be separated into two categories: those offering products or services that satisfy wants, and those offering products or services that satisfy needs.

Now wants are those “things” that drive our consumer-oriented economy. Wants are things we don’t need, such as that new cell phone with the larger screen, but items we just have to have because the advertiser says so. Wants come and go quickly, and while there often are big profits to be made, the success of those products or services will depend more on the timing and correct reading of market conditions than on long-term demand for the products or services.

The other prospects are trying to satisfy needs, offering products or services that go to the very heart of our daily lives
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Now it’s due diligence time. We must seek answers to many questions about the prospect, its technology and its market. What is the market size? Who are the key players? What other companies offer competing products? Is there any intellectual property? Does the prospect have “freedom to operate,” i.e., is it stepping on someone else’s toes? Have the founders done this before, and what is their track record? Does the team “mesh” well, and will other talent have to be brought in?
  
I think you are getting the picture. BUT, there is one test that only comes with experience and is something an investor probably has to be born with: an “educated gut.”
While one’s “gut” may guide one to select the “best” puppy, it alone should not be used to select the best investment prospects. One must consider several factors – the sum total of one’s due diligence AND one’s “gut.”

Good luck with your puppy and prospect shopping!

Russell Tweeddale, Managing Director, Investments

 

 

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Optimism Abounds at Annual Technology Celebration

We just turned 20 and are proud that we have the fortitude, vitality and exuberance of a 20-year-old!  Like most 20-year-olds, we’ve faced and overcome a number of challenges, can point to many accomplishments and remain very much optimistic about our future.
 
As you will see in the press release issued yesterday, our Annual Technology Celebration on Tuesday was a vibrant forum which engaged more than 600 members of the state’s technology community.  You may view a short slide presentation here to get a flavor of the event. 

At the event, we celebrated not only CI’s 20th anniversary but also the successes of our portfolio companies, past and present.  And we looked to the future by sharing experiences and advice with the next generation of Connecticut entrepreneurs.

Our guests ranged from grade school students, who displayed innovative inventions, to established, successful entrepreneurs.

As noted in the press release, the event featured an Economic Stimulus Forum, a Collegiate Entrepreneurship and Innovation Conference, 40 exhibitors and an evening program opened by Governor M. Jodi Rell.  Governor Rell announced the winners of the Elevator Pitch Olympics and presented long-time CI board member John Olsen with a gubernatorial proclamation declaring April 7 John Olsen Day!  Additionally, we presented the E. Charles McClenachan Award to our very own Russell Tweeddale, the Outstanding Portfolio Company Award to Premise Corporation and the Most Promising New Portfolio Company Award to ShopText.

We are extremely grateful for the support we’ve received over the years from Connecticut’s technology community – from partners, co-investors, sponsors, board members, government officials and particularly from our portfolio companies, who are our best advocates.

Here’s to the next 20 years of investing in Connecticut’s high-tech entrepreneurs! 

Peter Longo
President and Executive Director

 

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Cell Therapy Treatment Company Gets Boost from CI

On Wednesday we announced our latest investment – a $515,000 investment in Helix Therapeutics of New Haven, the first company to “graduate” from our Pre-Seed Support Services Program and then go on to qualify for an investment through our Eli Whitney Fund. 

We are excited by this opportunity to help advance a cutting-edge, Yale-grown technology – a cell therapy technology that holds great promise in the treatment of HIV/AIDS and genetic disorders.  

Read more about our investment in Helix here.

Russell Tweeddale
Managing Director, Investments

 

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Ipsogen Reports Strong Sales Growth in 2008

2008 was a successful year for CI portfolio company Ipsogen Inc., the New Haven-based subsidiary of Ipsogen SA, of Marseille, France.  According to a press release issued yesterday by parent company Ipsogen SA, Ipsogen Inc.’s sales in North America rose 208 percent in 2008 and accounted for roughly one third of the parent company’s product revenue.

Hats off to the team at Ipsogen Inc.!  They’ve established a strong presence here in Connecticut and are making great strides in the cancer molecular diagnosis market. 

Russell Tweeddale
Managing Director, Investments

 

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