bill trainor and wayne wallace
Meet Bill Trainor and Wayne Wallace, founders of Mutual Capital Partners Funds
(MCPF), a two-person venture funds firm investing in rapidly growing, post-revenue technology businesses in the Midwest. MCPF has combined the best elements of an angel fund into a committed capital, professionally managed venture fund.
Wayne and Bill work with angel funds, economic development entities, and entrepreneurs to assist them through the capital continuum.
How did you come to be an entrepreneur?
We met at McDonald Investments, where Bill started the e-commerce investment group focusing on consumer, retail, healthcare and service companies. He worked closely with entrepreneurs and their companies that were using technology to expand and complement their existing business structures.
We started discussions around creating a fund that would provide growth capital for rapidly growing, post-revenue technology companies located here in the Midwest.
Why did you start Mutual Capital Partners?
Due to the lack of venture capital in the Midwest, we created MCPF in 2004 to lead or co-lead investments in promising companies looking for capital. Management is a key focus for us and we work with our 100-plus investors in our funds to assist us in due diligence, customer introductions and ongoing counsel to our portfolio executives.
Is there actually a lack of venture capital in the Midwest?
We don’t believe there is a lack of capital in Ohio or the Midwest in general. The good companies get funded every day; the best companies take that funding and build great companies that create value for their customers, employees and shareholders. The market is efficient. Often people who don’t get funded say it’s because of a lack of venture capital or a lack of understanding like Silicon Valley.
Not every company is worth investing in. Most times it’s just that the company isn’t likely to be as big or meaningful as a founder might expect.
What initially attracted you to investment banking?
The usual: Glamorous travel, huge expense accounts and tons of money.
In reality, we both wanted to work for an entrepreneurial organization: Travel via car across the Midwest; stay in Signature Inns; order take-out when we worked all-nighters; and make enough money to just about afford the dry cleaning, parking, food and rent with the remainder going to student loans.
What is the biggest struggle or hurdle you had to overcome and how did you overcome it?
The easiest thing to do is to invest in a company. The hardest thing to do is help them over the next five to 10 years to build a business that some other company wants to buy. Initially, we placed too much confidence in the management teams and didn’t surround them with enough capital and talented executives. Now, we partner with many other funds and actively involve our investors and executives at the management, board, advisory board, and mentor levels.
What’s the most interesting company that has approached you for an investment?
They are all interesting to us, as they are usually the culmination of an entrepreneur’s dreams. We may not believe in their investment thesis but that doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of the thousands of opportunities we’ve seen.
For us the fish that got away was Turning Technologies
. Great team, great technology, great market and great opportunity. Unfortunately, we were too young in our VC careers to recognize the potential and figure out a way to increase our investment offer to match the needs of the entrepreneurs and their company.
Why is Cleveland a good location for your firm?
Cleveland has long been a leader in innovation, work ethic and appreciation for entrepreneurialism. We are fortunate to be here during the revival of those features and are a bit opportunistic in that. Sometimes timing is everything!
What advice would you give a startup company looking for investors?
Understand what the investment criteria and expectations are for the investor to whom you are pitching. Also, make sure you have a well-thought out executive summary that tells the who, what, when, where, why and how of what you are doing.