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Meet a VC: David Berry .

Nasdaq is highlighting the venture capitalists that built the startup landscape we know today. 

This week, meet VC: David Berry, Flagship Ventures

Meet a VC: David Berry

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How did get your start in the venture capital community?

Almost by accident. My initial plan was to be a professor and use that as a position to invent technologies and start companies. I met Flagship in 2005 by happenstance and was intrigued with the approach of thinking big and broad, but also on internally driven innovation. Since the beginning, my focus has been both on conceiving and launching new companies as well as investing, broadly across life science and sustainability.

What’s a day in your life as a VC like?

No two days are alike. Beyond the collaborative work with my partners, my focus splits between founding or running portfolio companies to finding new investments, to managing existing ones. A lot of this of course involves building and working with management teams, engaging with the majors for the relevant industries of our companies and of course networking.

How many companies have you invested in and what is your overall investment?

As a firm, Flagship has invested in about 100 companies. Most of the companies that we have invested in are actually companies that are founded of our Flagship VentureLabs, our innovation foundry, where we conceive, build, and launch companies based on disruptive technologies aimed at being first-in-class and best-in-class. Each of our companies are product platforms in that they can produce a range of products with a strong intellectual property foundation. 70% of the companies are in life sciences, and 30% in sustainability

What stage do you focus on and how much capital do you look to deploy for each portfolio addition?

We focus on early stage companies including founding many of them. The vast majority of the time, we are the first capital in the company. We will typically invest $20-30M per company, but can go higher

What matters to you most when evaluating a company as a potential fit for your firm and how does that relate to the ambitious companies that you have worked with in the past?

The people are the most important. A great team get work through almost any challenge. Next most important is the intellectual property, or at least the potential to have broad, blocking intellectual property. After that, is how transformative the company could be.

What advice do you offer to a first time founder?

Network a lot. Ask a lot of questions. Don’t be discouraged by ‘no,’ but figure out where it comes from. People are always willing to tell you what is wrong with your idea—it’s the second most renewable resource in the world (after the sun)—but take advantage and gain the learnings from this hugely valuable free resource.

What is the one common denominator that stands out to you across all great investments your firm has made during its history?

Great people. The best companies always have outstanding people at their core.

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