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LP Profile on Bill Cadogan: "Failure is a short-term detour on the road to success"

Here at Mutual Capital Partners (MCP), we know that we could not be successful investors and mentors to our portfolio companies if not for the incredibly talented and experienced limited partner investors (LPs) who support our fund. Our investment decisions are often shaped by the knowledge they bring to the table and the guidance they give to our portfolio companies. In this series of profiles on our various LPs we hope to highlight many of their unique experiences and insights and better share how MCP brings expertise along with capital.

We had the chance to speak with Bill Cadogan who serves as the Chairman of MCP and is a key advisor to our portfolio companies. Bill brings many years of experience in running, investing in, growing, and exiting dozens of companies focused in the software and technology space. Recently he has been very involved with the Wharton Private Equity & Venture Capital Club at the University of Pennsylvania where he has played an important role in helping to educate the next generation of investors. You can read his full biography on our website here.

Q: What attracted you to a career in venture capital?

A: I became interested in venture capital because it was a natural intersection of three areas that I really enjoyed in my earlier career; technology, customer interactions and risk assessment. It would be hard to be trained as an engineer and not be truly interested in all kinds of technology. There isn’t a single board meeting that I attend that doesn’t remind me that the customer is the center of everything we do. Finally, the risk assessment this kind of investment requires you to do speaks to my native instincts as somewhat of a gambler who tries to handicap risk. Working in venture capital has allowed me to leverage the experience I have and participate in these different areas I have always found fascinating.

Q: What has been your favorite job experience?

A: My favorite experience was the time that I spent as CEO at ADC Telecommunications. I was CEO for 12 years and came into the business when it was a late-stage startup and grew it to a Fortune 500 company. I greatly enjoyed the experience and learning the different skill sets required in each stage of the business and each new challenge we faced. The best part was building a team and creating shared success among us. It’s an experience that I will remember for the rest of my life.

Q: What are some tech trends you think will play the biggest role in 2018?

A: There are several different trends that I see playing a big role. First, I think that blockchain technology is really interesting, and I’m interested in seeing how it can be applied to areas outside of cryptocurrency. This technology could have big implications for various industries such as security or in workflow processes.

The emergence of intelligent platforms and artificial intelligence will be the biggest transformational technology in the coming years. The advances that have been made in the way that computers are able to learn is incredible. I have already started to see the way that AI is impacting industries such as marketing. Traditionally we have seen mass marketing, but with the power of machine learning companies are able to move towards more personal marketing where they have the ability to focus their marketing on very narrow groups or even individuals. I see this technology changing the world as we know it.

Q: What is the biggest mistake you see entrepreneurs make?

A: I have been a part of around 60-80 startups and watched many entrepreneurs or CEOs of these young companies make the same mistake: they stop focusing on the customer. They may get obsessed with the technology they are creating or obsessed with the financial side of the business, and they stop serving the wants and needs of their customers. Entrepreneurs should always be developing their customer facing skills and continually spending time with them. If you put in the time to listen to your customers, they will guide you.

Q: What is your top advice for entrepreneurs?

A: My biggest advice to entrepreneurs would be don’t be afraid of failure. Failure is a short-term detour on the road to success. Many times, I see entrepreneurs become too conservative due to their fear of making mistakes. You can’t allow that fear to limit what you can accomplish. You can’t become successful without taking risks and dealing with occasional failure.

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