In 2010, Bailye took over as Chief Executive Officer of another New Jersey-based business, EKR Therapeutics. The specialty pharmaceutical company was struggling after a key patent loss. Bailye and his team helped to successfully turn the business around and sell the profitable enterprise in June 2012.
Bailye has used his experience and success to strengthen New Jersey’s technology industry and help promote the next generation of pioneers.
He is a founding member and former chairman of the New Jersey Technology Council (NJTC), and is currently part of the Edison Director Network, an initiative of growth equity firm Edison Partners, which seeks to bring C-level operational expertise to its portfolio companies in the form of board director, mentor or consultant.
“I love the engaged mentor role, where I am active in giving specific guidance regarding growth and other issues to the CEO, as well as a general strategic and operating mentor to the company,” Bailye explained. “I frequently focus young entrepreneurs to watch cost/revenue timing; and don’t plan only for the best outcomes. Along those same lines, understand that cash is king, so plan ahead. And remember, Rome was not built in a day, but it was built on a LOT of VERY LONG/HARD days.”
Bailye benefited from an Edison Partners investment while he was growing Dendrite, and later became an active investor himself. In addition to investing in NJTC’s Venture Fund, which was founded in 2001 and completed 33 portfolio investments during its active investment period, Bailye founded Woomera Partners last year to invest in and contribute knowledge to healthcare-focused technology and service businesses. To date, Woomera has invested in two New Jersey businesses - Systech International, a global leader in brand protection technologies located in Princeton, and Bergen Medical Products, Inc., a Cedar Knolls-based medical device manufacturer. The EDA is a limited partner in both Edison Partners and NJTC Venture Fund.
“As an executive, an investor and a mentor, John Bailye has consistently helped to grow New Jersey’s technology industry,” said EDA Chief Executive Officer Melissa Orsen. “New Jersey continues to benefit from his expertise and his commitment to nurturing the State’s future innovators.”
@NJEDATech spoke with Bailye about his experience as an entrepreneur and investor in New Jersey:
You founded Dendrite in Australia, but moved to New Jersey one year later. What initially attracted you to the State? What unique benefits does New Jersey offer to emerging companies?
We came to New Jersey because we served the pharmaceutical industry and New Jersey was largely their home. We used a computer language C++, very modern at the time, and New Jersey had a lot of technical skills centered on that “new” language. So while others were going to San Francisco, we chose New Jersey for its unique advantages.
We know that venture capital was an important part of Dendrite’s early growth and expansion. Does Dendrite’s success help to fuel your commitment as an Angel investor? What qualities do you look for in a company?
Absolutely! We found capital through Edison and the venture community when VC’s were generally staffed with operating people, not investment or financial people. We wanted, and received, operational insight, the help to “see around corners” and to recognize the “Peter Principle” which plagues most growing companies, as well their investments. It was a valuable lesson. I try to deliver the same today in my angel and Woomera investments.
When reviewing the angel opportunities, I always look first at whether the idea is big or clever enough to “move the needle.” Then the team – and in particular look at what motivates them, how big they dream and whether they take advice well. Do they want a big piece of a small cake or a large piece of a very BIG platter?
What recommendations do you have for other serial entrepreneurs thinking about giving back to the emerging entrepreneurs?
These days, New Jersey has a real depth of serial entrepreneurs. Often, after several successful companies, the fire that drove the initial ventures for the entrepreneur, and the willingness to work 80 hours a week is not the current issue, but retirement is out of the question. So mentoring becomes attractive.
The satisfaction of being regularly engaged (but not on a daily basis) in the entrepreneurial fire is like an injection of adrenaline. To know you are helping a new company reach its higher potential is a very, very worthwhile use of time and experience.
Remarkably, the knowledge serial entrepreneurs have acquired is much broader than the industry they are in. So they can help new entrepreneurs avoid traps and problems that are generic to most fast-growth companies with very ambitious leaders.
How do you recommend that entrepreneurs find individuals like yourself who have built successful NJ businesses and are now willing to provide mentoring and support?
Great question! We are not on every street corner! Initially, ask yourself if you want the answer to a current problem or want a mentor to help you grow. They are different things. If the answer is really the latter, don’t expect the help to be free – are you ready to sign up?
Write a half-page bio and a one page summary business plan. Then contact NJTC and join. Go to events and ask others – a good list will appear.
For more information about resources available to support New Jersey’s technology industry, visit http://www.njeda.com/tls and follow @NJEDATech on Twitter and LinkedIn.