Q&A with Tim McLoughlin, Partner at Cofounders Capital

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Tim McLoughlin

Today we chat with Tim McLoughlin, partner at Cofounders Capital.

This Q&A is a part of our series called interviews with locals where we interview local Raleigh thought leaders, entrepreneurs and business owners to share their story with our community.

Where did you grow up and go to school? How long have you lived in Raleigh?

I was born in New York, but moved to Raleigh when I was 5 after my dad retired from the police force. He spent some time in the FBI in Quantico, VA, and realized that moving south might be a great decision for the family!

I went to Raleigh public schools; Lead Mine Elementary, Magellan Charter School, Carroll Middle School before going to a prep school in North Andover, MA called Brooks School when I was 14. I played ice hockey which was the main driver for my move up there.

After Brooks I went to Harvard, where I graduated with a B.A. in Psychology in 2008. I then went back to business school full-time and got an M.B.A. from UNC Kenan-Flagler in 2016.

Give us your 30 second elevator pitch for your business?

Cofounders Capital is a seed-stage venture capital firm that invests in B2B software startups at the earliest stages (sometimes pre-revenue). We raise funds from investors that want exposure to that asset class, invest in 15-20 startups per fund, take equity in the companies in exchange for our capital, and when those companies exit we return capital to our investors.

We work very closely with the portfolio companies to try and add value based on our past experience working with companies at that stage.

How did you get into the industry you are in now?

Before business school I had my own startup, a hockey training company called Prime Time Hockey. We had a headquarters in Wake Forest, and had programs scaled across the country.

The idea of raising capital was foreign to me, so we always grew it organically. When I went back to business school I took every class I could find on startup financing, entrepreneurship, and VC which I absolutely loved. I had internships with great organizations like NC IDEA, Idea Fund Partners, and River Cities Capital Fund which started me on my VC career path.

Capital to entrepreneurs. Cofounders invests much earlier in the lifecycle of a company than a typical venture capital firm, so our differentiation in the market is the large checks ($750K-$1.5M) that we can write into very early companies.

If you had a friend visiting from out of town, where in Raleigh would you take them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner?

Breakfast would have to be Big Ed’s over in Quail Corners in North Raleigh.

Lunch could be a toss up, but I’ve been going to Piper’s Tavern since it first opened.

For dinner, I’d make sure we stopped by the Angus Barn, even if it was just to grab a drink at the Meat Locker or Wild Turkey Lounge before or after our meal.

Best thing about living in Raleigh?

This is where my family is and where I know we’re all planning on staying. Both my parents and my in-laws live in North Raleigh in the same houses my wife and I grew up in and they are 10 minutes away from our two young boys that are so lucky to have their grandparents close by!

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Least favorite thing about living in Raleigh?

Knowing that if there is an inch of snow in the forecast my kids’ daycare is probably going to be shut down for a few days!

What would someone learn about Raleigh by engaging with your business?

The collaborative and thriving nature of the entrepreneurial ecosystem here. Through our network we could connect you to basically all of the tech entrepreneurs and their local investors while they were in town!

Can’t miss experience/attraction in Raleigh for an out-of-town visitor? 

Catch a Hurricanes playoff game. I started playing ice hockey in 1990 at Dorton Arena when it was home to the Raleigh Ice Caps ECHL team and no local folks knew much about the sport. I’ve seen the sport grow here, the Canes win a Stanley Cup, and the atmosphere in PNC Arena during a playoff game is unmatched!

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Your favorite business in Raleigh that you like to frequent? 

I always love going into a local co-working space, especially one that seems to have an entrepreneurial focus. Visiting the Raleigh Founded locations, WeWorks, and American Underground locations in the Triangle let you know that innovation is alive and thriving in our community.

What excites you the most about doing business in Raleigh over the next 5-10 years?

I love working with talented people, and there is going to be no shortage of new talent moving to the area. We see entrepreneurs and great businesses relocating to Raleigh all the time, but now with Google and Apple setting up HQs here I really think it is going to be at an all time high in the next decade.

What concerns you the most about doing business in Raleigh over the next 5-10  years?

I always look at this from a perspective of starting and growing companies here locally. As talent moves in and there are more corporate jobs available is Raleigh still going to have as much of a competitive edge when it comes to cost of living and being able to start and grow a business with capital efficiency.

Which local Raleigh entrepreneur inspires you to do better?

My partner, David Gardner, has inspired me to do better since we started working together about 7 years ago. I know how hard he worked on his successful startups, and then instead of retiring he created a venture capital fund.

He doesn’t have to, but he works incredibly hard still which has had a tremendous impact on job creation and growth in the entrepreneurial ecosystem here. Oh, and on the side, he speaks multiple languages, is a great musician, and has written multiple books! 

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What’s one piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to start a business in Raleigh?

When thinking about networking, make sure you are “building a bench” of great and diverse talent in your network. You may not understand how or why someone could help your business at any point, but business needs are always changing.

Try to set some time aside to meet with people each week where there may not be an obvious way they can help your business right now and take notes on their skillset. Business needs are always changing, and it is great to be able to have a warm contact if you need to reach out years from now.

Favorite thing about running your business?

We help entrepreneurs start companies that can be life changing for themselves, their families, and their employees. Our work creates jobs, growth to our region, and spurs innovation. I may not have honed in on just one thing, but there is a lot to love!

Drink of choice? Where in Raleigh do you get it?

A good 7 Saturdays IPA from R&D Brewing!

Favorite getaway spot in North Carolina?

My wife’s family had one of the original plots of land and houses on Ocean Isle when it was first being developed. My in-laws still have a place down there which we visit quite a bit, especially over the past two years.

My 4.5 year old and 1.5 year old absolutely love the beach, so it doesn’t get much better than that!

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When you hear the words “THIS IS RALEIGH” what comes to mind?

For some reason, my mind goes to a downtown festival paired with live music and a show. I love going to events like that, and being able to hang outside during the day and catch a show at Red Hat Amphitheatre or Lincoln Theatre is what pops in my head and makes me smile!

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