MANCHESTER — Matt Pierson, past chairman of the New Hampshire High Technology Council, is one of six founding members of 10X Venture Partners, a new early-stage venture fund targeting companies within 90 miles of Manchester.
“We’ve been very impressed with the crop of entrepreneurs in New Hampshire,” Pierson said.
“We’ve talked to some incredibly bright people who are passionate about the businesses they are involved in.” he said. “By and by, most are really receptive to getting help and advice from advisers and mentors.”
Besides Pierson, 10X Venture Partners’ founding members include: Tony Giroti, Charlie Northrup, Art Garofalo, James Alvarez and John Gargasz. They have experience in mobile, wireless, Internet and clean-tech companies.
The partners announced the fund earlier this month at the Nantucket Conference in Massachusetts.
They came together with the goal of making investments from $50,000 to $500,000 in promising young technology companies.
10X Partners chose to focus on start-ups within 90 miles of Manchester because it wanted to be active mentors to management of firms within driving distance.
Pierson, 50, an early-stage investor and managing director of Dunn Rush & Co., in Boston, got his start at DTC Communications, a defense electronics business in Nashua, which was sold to Cobham in 2004.
He founded JitterJam, a customer relationship management platform which includes social media monitoring, in 2008. JitterJam was sold to Meltwater in 2011.
He is currently a board member at Nanocomp Technologies Inc. in Merrimack and one of its lead investors.
A seventh member, Tim Quick, joined the 10X team within the last two weeks, Pierson said.
“One of the things we wanted to do is invite other accredited investors who have an interest in angel investing to join us,” he said. The team welcomes “angels who have been on the sidelines and didn’t have a lot of experience investing in start-ups and want to leverage the knowledge that we’ve got as a group to help them get started in investing, which is a great dynamic.”
Two of its first three investments made last quarter were in New Hampshire firms, and 10X Venture expects to complete terms on two more, both in New Hampshire, during the current quarter.
“One that is probably very typical for us is Mosaic archive solutions, one of the start-ups at the abi Innovation Hub,” Pierson said.
Mosaic Storage Systems Inc. offers professional and advanced amateur photographers an online platform for storing, organizing and sharing their photographs.
“They developed a unique way to manage this data and manage this workflow for their target audience,” Pierson said. “That’s just what we like is a scalable software platform, hosted in the cloud so people can access it from anywhere, and very well targeted. They know who their audience is.”
Pierson and Gargasz serve as advisers to Mosaic.
The 10X team meets every two weeks. “At every meeting, we typically host two to four companies who come in and present to us,” Pierson said.
Presentations last 30 to 45 minutes and are highly interactive. “We like to ask a lot of questions,” Pierson said. “We come up with a fast decision whether we want to pursue it.”
“In all these investments, it’s all about the people,” Pierson said. “You’re investing in people. So many times the idea they started with, or the original idea, gets thrown out.”
So the partners look for entrepreneurs who are flexible enough to modify their plan once there is investment in an actual marketplace.
Key questions include what motivated them to come up with the business plan? How committed are they? How flexible are they? Are they willing to listen to mentors?
“We’ll have three or four meetings with an entrepreneur before we’ll go forward with a term sheet,” Pierson said.