Venture capitalist Matthew Harris believes many entrepreneurs would do well to understand military strategy. There is conflict in entrepreneurship, says the Bain Capital Ventures managing director. It aint apple pie. It is hard to disrupt with a bouquet of roses. As head of BCVs five-person fintech team, Harris has invested more than $250 million in what he calls financial insurgents. With such concepts as flanking (attacking from the side rather than head-on) and resource deployment in mind, the 43-year-old has advised the likes of upstart exchange operator IEX Group and human resources automation platform Justworks on how to compete against much bigger incumbents. You dont build a plan against the enemys current position; you build a plan against the enemys capabilities, he explains. Thats a military cliché, but a lot of entrepreneurs miss the point. Harriss obsession with military history began during his senior spring at Williams College, when he read The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916, the second book in Alistair Hornes trilogy on 19th- and 20th-century conflicts between France and Germany. After graduating in 1994 with a BA in political economy, he spent a year at consulting firm Bain & Co. before moving to its private equity business. The first deal he worked on was the acquisition by Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee Co. of TRWs credit reporting business, later renamed Experian. In 2000, with backing from Bain, Harris co-founded Village Ventures to do early-stage investing. He rejoined Bain in 2012 to oversee Boston-based Bain Capital Ventures nine-person New York office. His biggest investment to date: $105 million in AvidXchange, a Charlotte, North Carolinabased company that he says basically digitizes the invoice flow for middle-market businesses, part of a $225 million September 2015 financing round led by BCV. Most recently, he invested $3 million in former World Gold Trust Services CEO William Rhinds GraniteShares, a New Yorkbased company that is building a platform to issue exchange-traded funds. BCV typically makes follow-up investments over time, generally averaging about $25 million per portfolio company.
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