Intersouth Partners, the oldest venture capital firm in North Carolina’s Research Triangle region, is also one of the oldest in the Southeast. Like other entrepreneurial endeavors, Intersouth had relatively humble beginnings. Dennis Dougherty and Roy Rodwell founded the first Intersouth fund in 1985 with just $6.4 million in committed capital. They believed that entrepreneurship would be an important part of the successful growth of the Research Triangle and North Carolina and that a venture fund located in and focused on the region would help catalyze that growth.
Dougherty was introduced to Eugene Kleiner, founder of the pioneer venture firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caulfield and Byers. Mr. Kleiner joined Intersouth as a Special Limited Partner and Chairman of the first Intersouth Advisory Board. He remained active with the firm until his retirement in 1998.
Intersouth Partners II was raised in 1989. Shortly thereafter, the firm added a third partner, Mitch Mumma, who had been involved in several of Intersouth’s portfolio companies as a CFO.
Over the course of investment cycles, Intersouth has refined and institutionalized its core investment philosophy of diversification among life science and technology companies – a philosophy that reflects the rich resources of the Research Triangle Park’s world-class scientific community and the area’s unusual configuration of three major universities: North Carolina State University, the University of North Carolina and Duke University.
Beyond the growth of the firm’s funds, Intersouth also increased its manpower. The firm has grown to seven investment professionals – six full-time members and a venture partner, who brings to bear significant industry and business experience.
In many ways, the history of Intersouth Partners tracks the development of the region as an entrepreneurial community. Dennis Dougherty was a founding director of the North Carolina Council for Entrepreneurial Development (CED), today recognized as one of the nation’s premiere entrepreneurial support organizations. Firm members have been intricately involved in key entrepreneurial initiatives across the region including the North Carolina Electronics and Information Technology Association (NCTA), the State of Maryland’s Enterprise Investment Advisory Committee, the State of Virginia’s Investment Advisory Board, the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, the Florida Venture Forum and the Triangle Community Foundation’s Entrepreneurs Advisory Committee.