Randy Myer is the Managing Director of the Carolina Angel Network.
Besides leading the Carolina Angel Network, Myer is presently a professor at the Kenan-Flagler Business School of the University of North Carolina. He teaches entrepreneurship classes in the MBA program. He joined the UNC faculty in 1999 as a part-time instructor and became a full-time faculty member in 2002. He assumed the leadership of CAN in November 2016.
Beyond his CAN responsibilities and teaching, Myer is an active angel investor and board member. He is an investor in two N.C. venture capital funds, a private equity fund and two local angel groups, as well as one in Seattle. He is a board member of the Carolina Research Venture Fund. He is a current board member and former Executive Committee member of the N.C. School of Science & Mathematics Foundation.
In 1991, Myer founded Best Friends Pet Care, a national chain of quality hotels and day care facilities for dogs and cats. Beginning with just an idea, he raised $3 million in seed capital and then did three more rounds of financing to raise another $45 million. He built the company into a large national chain before successfully selling his interest to a private equity firm. After Best Friends Pet Care he served as President of Lindblad Expeditions, a high-end travel company.
Before starting Best Friends, Myer was a partner with Booz, Allen & Hamilton for 13 years. He specialized in the consumer product and services industries. In 1989 he authored an article in the Harvard Business Review on customer service strategy.
Myer graduated with a B.A. from the University of North Carolina and received his MBA from Harvard University.
1. What is in your pockets?
The usual amount of credit cards, debit cards, business cards and a little bit of money.
2. What exciting thing has happened recently for you or your organization?
The Carolina Angel Network is a venture capital firm that is not using limited partners, but rather is using a network of alumni. In two years, 200 alumni have joined the Carolina Angel Network and between the three [university] groups, we’ve had almost 500 alumni who have joined. In my case, half of my alumni are more than 50 miles from here, so it’s a national network. We’re about one-third tech; one-third life science, although within that life science we’ve only done one biotech; and then, believe it or not, we’re about a third consumer products, which you wouldn’t have expected for this area, but that’s our mix.
The Carolina Angel Network, Duke Angel Network, and the Wolfpack Investment Angel Network work closely together in what is called the Triangle Venture Alliance. It originally started because there was an economic development grant from the federal government and then a grant from NC IDEA that was originally set up by a consortium of the three senior innovation and entrepreneurship vice chancellors of the three universities. The exciting part is what started as an initial grant request ended up being this consortium where half of the deals I’ve done at the Carolina Angel Network have been with one of the other universities, and between Duke, NC State, and ourselves, we’ve done $28 million in the last two-plus years in 52 different deals, of which 43 are in the Triangle, and that’s money that wasn’t there before.
3. What is your favorite coffee spot?
I’m not a coffee drinker so that would eliminate certain coffee-specific shops, but I would say Guglhupf in Durham is my favorite. It’s central to meeting folks that are from Duke and UNC—and oddly enough, we do like working with each other.
4. What keeps you up at night?
The first one I’d say is deals that I can’t get done that I wanted to get done for the founders, and for our network. It’s always a disappointment to me when I see a really good deal, and for whatever reason it just doesn’t work out; either they’re not far enough along, or their terms are too onerous, or it doesn’t quite fit the profile of what my members want to see. We have had to say “no” 230 times out of 250.
The other thing that keeps me up at night is wondering, in a portfolio of 15 companies, what I missed in the few that aren’t doing very well and how could I do it better. Everybody will always say in any angel investing portfolio, there’s probably seven that aren’t doing all that well. We’ve been fortunate that we have one exit. Of the other 14 deals that we’ve done, we probably have 10 that are on a really good trajectory but we have three or four that aren’t, and I always wonder what did I miss about them, and what did I learn, and what could I do differently as I screen and find better deals. The second one is more important than the first one.
5. What is your favorite restaurant or happy hour?
My favorite restaurant is Merritt’s BLTs in Chapel Hill. It’s a world class BLT and I noticed Saturday that every graduating senior seemed to be in the parking lot trying to get their last BLT.
6. What is next for you or your organization?
What’s next for the Carolina Angel Network is expanding the horizon of the deals that we look at both from a location point of view and from a stage-of-development point of view. All 15 of the deals have been in the Triangle, but we’re bringing our first one from Portland to the table in the next month and that’s exciting to think about. The scope of our focus has been regional as it has been for almost every angel group that I’m in, but this is an opportunity to look beyond that.
The other is we started out as basically early stage, not seed stage, but as we’re growing, we’re looking at Series C and Series D deals, a little bit later-stage ones as well, and that’s in part because our average deal size now is between $800,000 and $1 million. We’re now capable of playing in a later stage. We’re not going to lead at a later stage but we’re capable of playing at that stage.