Business

Profile: Polaris Founders Capital – powerhouses in venture capital, Flint and McGuire are now building their own family office

When it comes to the top people in venture investing, you don’t get much higher than Jon Flint and Terry McGuire. The two founded Polaris Partners, a Boston and San Francisco based firm that has had enormous success in life sciences, technology, and consumer. 

What has changed is now more family offices also want to invest directly into our portfolio companies

Its 100-plus limited partners include large family offices, endowments and pension funds. With their diversified strategy of investing across markets and stages, over the last twenty-five years, they have been successful in timing the technology and life sciences markets. 

For example, in the last decade, they have emphasized life sciences and their biotech portfolio has been one of the most successful in venture capital.  Moreover, the Polaris founders have been successful in bringing younger partners whom they mentored into the management of the firm while staying actively involved.

Flint and McGuire remain as managing partners of the funds they co-managed.  McGuire, as a general partner in the new Polaris funds, continues to be among the most active and successful investor in life sciences in the US.  “We love the business”, says McGuire. “It’s a great time in history to be building new companies with the chance to impact the world.”

Jon Flint: “On the consumer side there is less venture capital, so it’s less competitive, and pricing is better.”

As a result of their success, Flint and McGuire now have their own joint family office and are deploying their own capital through, Polaris Founders Capital, based in Boston and New York.  Flint manages PFC, which has the flexibility to invest alongside Polaris Partners and other family offices in a wider range of transactions…including companies that they create (more on that, below). While McGuire continues to build Polaris Partners, which also enables them to bring a portfolio of life sciences companies to PFC.  

Flint and McGuire founded Polaris Partners in 1996 after working for more than a decade with three of the pioneers of the venture capital world – Bill Egan, Jean Deleage, and Craig Burr and their firm, Burr, Egan, Deleage & Co. (BEDCO). 

Polaris grew out of BEDCO and has since invested in more than 250 companies. These companies include Acceleron, Adimab, Ironwood, Alector, Pandion, Alnylam, Seer, Akamai, WordPress, Legalzoom, LogMeIn, Living Proof, and Quantcast.

The family office is building on that success. Together with Gregg Rubin, a partner in the Polaris Founders Fund and a former Polaris associate, PFC has invested in 27 life sciences, consumer, and technology companies to-date.  

One of their most prominent family office investments is through their connections with Iceland. After, McGuire backed an Icelandic Harvard professor to start a genomics company in Iceland, “…we fell in love with the country and its yoghurt, called skyr,” says Flint. 

This led to Icelandic Provisions. Co-founded by PFC and Iceland’s largest dairy, MS Iceland Dairies, the company makes skyr and has become, since its launch in 2016, one of the fastest-growing yoghurt companies in the US. 

Another successful endeavour backed by PFC is Caledonia Spirits, maker of the multiple award-winning Vermont based Barr Hill Gin. “Liquor companies can often realize seven to even 20 times their revenues when they sell because it’s so difficult to develop a brand in the sector,” says Flint.

While PFC is investing in life sciences and technology companies, investing in consumer companies like Icelandic Provisions and Barr Hill has become a significant part of their strategy. “On the consumer side”, says Flint, “there is less venture capital, so it’s less competitive, and pricing is better,” says Flint. “That’s a big reason why we like it…and, as we did with Living Proof, we like building brands.”

Brands like Sarah Flint, a luxury, direct-to-consumer shoe business based in New York City and Milan, and founded by Jon’s daughter, Sarah. The company, which signed up Cindy Crawford as an investor and advisor a few years ago, handcrafts its shoes in eight luxury factories outside Milan, Italy and has become a favourite of celebrities like Meghan Markle.

Polaris has partnered with family offices since it was created, mostly by bringing family offices into the Polaris funds as LPs.  “They’ve been consistent and long-term investors with us,” says McGuire. 

“What has changed is now more family offices also want to invest directly into our portfolio companies,” says Flint.  “That is a development we embrace.  Family offices tend to be long-term investors like us and they represent an increasing percentage of our direct co-investors.”  

PFC also targets family offices in the portfolio companies that are located outside the US because of the value they can bring.   They brought several Icelandic family offices into Icelandic Provisions and are now targeting family offices in Italy for Sarah Flint.

They learnt from the family offices who invested in Polaris, but developed their own model with PFC. As Flint says: “We bring the best of venture capital and the family office investing to what we do.”

Subscribe

You will need a Premium Plus Subscription to access this database.

Exclusive news, analysis and research on global family enterprise and private investment offices.

Access to the most comprehensive fully interactive database on global family offices, principal investment offices, and family enterprises.

Check Deal Data, Senior Staff, and New Analysis on more than 500 family/principal investment and holding groups

Already have an account? Login

Subscribe

You need at least a Premium Subscription to read this article.

The most comprehensive information service on the global family enterprise world, featuring exclusive news, analysis, research and data on global family enterprises, family offices, and private investment offices.

Premium

£299

per year

  • Exclusive reports, analysis and commentary
  • Exclusive access to family/private investment office deal information
  • Exclusive interviews with principals and senior management of family/investment offices
SUBSCRIBE NOW

Premium+

£399

per year

  • Access to All of Premium
  • Access to all of FamilyCapital Analytics, our interactive database with more than 500 detailed profiles of family investment groups

More Info

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Already have an account? Login

You've reached the end.

Continue reading free articles by registering as a Member.
Or choose a Premium Plan.

Membership

Free

  • Exclusive reports, analysis and commentary
REGISTER NOW

Premium

£299

per year

  • Exclusive reports, analysis and commentary
  • Exclusive access to family/private investment office deal information
  • Exclusive interviews with principals and senior management of family/investment offices
SUBSCRIBE NOW

Premium+

£399

per year

  • Access to All of Premium
  • Access to all of FamilyCapital Analytics, our interactive database with more than 500 detailed profiles of family investment groups

More Info

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Already have an account? Login

Leave a Reply