CARY — Greensboro native Daniel Coley is the newest member of the Durham-based tech VC firm Cofounders Capital—and he’s bringing an impact-focused perspective to his new role.

Coley, who joins Cofounders as an Associate, will support fundraising, deal sourcing, due diligence, and managing portfolio companies, he told WRAL TechWire in an exclusive interview.

Daniel Coley

In his previous role, Colely worked at BrightEdge, the impact investment arm of the American Cancer Society—an experience that gives him a unique perspective.

“Coming from an impact investment background, I think a lot about how the end consumer or product user may benefit from a company’s offering,” said Coley. “I seek to support companies that can have an enduring positive impact on people’s lives.”

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He also shared that he thinks of working in venture capital as “a front-row seat” to the kinds of innovation that “could one day be used by large parts of the population.”

“Whether it’s a better way to manage patients, a new use case for artificial intelligence, or something else, the job is constantly challenging the way I think,” said Coley. “With a focus on b2b software in the Southeast US, and a track record of working with many of the best founders in the region, I believe the team will continue to back the best founders and support game-changing businesses.”

University partnerships

Coley graduated from Boston’s Babson College, where he played varsity rugby. He says his college experience continues to influence him as an investor.

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“Having gone to college in the Greater Boston area, I was impressed at the pace at which university students innovated on traditional business models and technologies to build companies,” said Coley. “I believe that North Carolina has the same level of university talent, we just need to provide the resources for students to get started.”

From Intern to Associate

Coley’s new role with Cofounders is actually his second experience with the firm; he completed an internship program with Cofounders in the summer of 2017, while he was at Babson.

“The program was crucial in creating a path for me to enter the venture capital industry,” Coley told me. “The Partners spent time teaching the basics of how the industry works, how to structure investments, the best ways to conduct diligence, and more.”

Tim McLoughlin, Managing Partner at Cofounders, told me that the program was designed to give students earlier access to the VC world.

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“Years ago I realized our industry had a problem when the first hire we made at CFC had a job description that started with ‘prior venture experience’ as a pre-requisite,” said McLoughlin. “Yet we, as a firm, weren’t doing anything to help students and/or professionals get that start. For that reason we started building a much more robust, structured internship program. Daniel is a product of seeding that talent pool years ago.”

Coley said the program opened him up to a “network” of entrepreneurs and other investors.

“This experience led to my eventual entry to the industry, which is notoriously hard to break into,” said Coley. “The internship provided me access and opportunity for which I could not be more grateful.”

McLoughlin told me that Coley was an easy choice.

“When we made the decision to hire an Associate, Daniel was the first person I called,” McLoughlin said. “He was one of the original interns at Cofounders Capital, played a critical role in the diligence of some of our best investments to date, and has created a blueprint for our Intern program that now has helped over 100 students get their first venture capital experience on their resume.”

Coley told me he’s excited to work at Cofounders with a team of “seasoned” investors.

“Cofounders’ has been a stalwart in the North Carolina entrepreneurial community for nearly a decade and has an incredible network of entrepreneurs and advisors,” said Coley.