By guest authors Irina Patterson and Candice Arnold
I am talking to John McIntyre, senior director at Citrix Startup Accelerator, which is an outgrowth of Citrix Labs, an internal research and innovation organization at Citrix with offices in Sydney (Australia) and Redmond (Washington), as well as a presence in Cambridge (UK), Santa Clara (California) and Fort Lauderdale (Florida).
Lunched in December 2010, Citrix Startup Accelerator is looking to invest and accelerate early stage businesses that are doing cutting-edge work in software technology, especially in the areas of mobile and cloud computing. They have a physical location in Santa Clara, but it’s a global program. They don’t want to be seen as exclusive to Silicon Valley.
Irina: Hi, John. How did you get to this point in your life?
John: I got an electrical engineering degree from Marquette University [in Milwaukee, Wisconsin] more than 20 years ago. I worked for Intel Corporation through the 1990s. One of my last jobs there was working with startups. Intel Capital had just come into its own at that point. I was on one of the teams that was looking for startups to invest in, in the dot-com days. That was my first experience with actually doing direct investments and sitting on boards as an observer. Then, of course, I had to try it myself.
I left Intel in 2000 and went and did my startup. I was co-founder of a company called InnerWorkings that’s still going. I did that with a hybrid group of folks. I was the Silicon Valley guy along with one other, but most of the guys who were co-founders were from Ireland. I got experience working with international entrepreneurs. We did our software development in Dublin and, of course, sales, marketing, business development here in the states, focused here on Silicon Valley. I did that for about five, six years.
About four years ago, I decided to get back into supporting startups and worked for Enterprise Ireland, which directly invests seed investments in 70 to 100 startups a year [that are] coming out of Ireland. Now they’re expanding even beyond Ireland. Entrepreneurs don’t have to necessarily be Irish to be in that program.
In December 2010, I joined Citrix to launch their startup accelerator, and that’s where we are today.
Irina: What does InnerWorkings do?
John: InnerWorkings, when we launched it in 2004, was focused on online professional development for software developers. Our observation at that point in time was that software developers learned not online but that they used books and went to classes.
They used traditional learning methods, which are fine. Nothing wrong with traditional learning methods, but we wanted to develop a tool set where they could learn the latest development techniques right in their development environment. We worked very closely with Microsoft, because its ,NET framework [a software framework that runs primarily on Microsoft Windows] was new at that time.
So, we built into Microsoft Visual Studio [an integrated development environment (IDE) from Microsoft] the capability to learn new programming techniques, so the developers could learn by actually working with code instead of reading material or watching a video, which is more passive learning experience.
Irina: What did you do at Enterprise Ireland?
John: Enterprise Ireland, as I said, invests in 70 to 100 startups a year. The home market in Ireland itself is tiny, so Enterprise Ireland’s investments are export driven by definition. The United States and North America would be a larger market for an Irish software company. So, I ran a software team in North America that supported Irish entrepreneurs as they came over here to find partners, find follow-on investors and find customers, of course.
We worked, literally, with hundreds of companies. Some of them chose to move over here. We had a small incubator center both here in Silicon Valley as well as in New York and Boston. Some of them just chose to hire sales and business development people. We would assist them in locating talent over here. Some of them, particularly when they were early, would come over here for a week or two, trying to explore the market, and we would assist them with that activity as well.
Irina: How was this funded?
John: By the government of Ireland. Enterprise Ireland is a government agency. Of course, the entrepreneurs themselves would use their own resources. The way Enterprise Ireland funds companies is you have to bring your own money from whatever resource, whether it’s from your own pocket, your friends and family, from another investor and Enterprise Ireland matches those funds.