by Jason Parker — May 26, 2021
Hutchison PLLC, founded in May 1996, turns 25 years old this month. The firm, founded by Fred Hutchison, celebrates its origins as one with a sole focus on supporting entrepreneurs along the entrepreneurial journey, from early-stage, including participation in an incubator or accelerator, to exit.
“We continue with that entrepreneurial focus today,” said Hutchison. “It is the combination of fast-paced business and visionary entrepreneurs that our attorneys love and the excitement of seeing innovative ideas every day that has kept the practice going for this long.”
The story goes: one day, while practicing in Raleigh, Hutchison was asked to cover a meeting on the topic of incubators and accelerators. After the meeting, Hutchison oriented his law practice to focus specifically on startups. Now, 25 years later, the firm is ranked by PitchBook as a top 5 venture law firm in the Southeast.
“Entrepreneurs are unique individuals with the drive and determination to venture out into areas with a large number of unknowns, particularly funding, and yet they thrive in that environment,” Hutchison wrote five years ago, in celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the firm he founded. “Someone once said to me that most entrepreneurs are unemployable. I guess that is right in the sense that most of them don’t follow the rules and are always finding ways to do things differently and hopefully better and more efficiently. I think that being “unemployable” in some ways is really a badge of honor for entrepreneurs and what makes them successful.”
The firm faced challenges, notably stiff competition from more established “big brand name” firms based out of the region and lack of suitable, available real estate that led to a small office adjacent to a chiropractor’s office, with the onset of Hurricane Fran soon after the firm’s move-in date, which resulted in a flood, a lack of air conditioning, and the stench of kitty litter for two weeks following the storm.
“It was hard in some ways but we all pulled together and were all excited to be part of our new venture,” said Hutchison.
Before and beyond the ‘dot com boom’
The firm’s first five years saw growth, and the run-up of interest in technology firms, followed by the dot-com bust in the early 2000s. Five lawyers completed 100 financing deals in 2001, noted Hutchison, as the technology sector took a big hit. The firm also worked with clients in the life sciences, an industry which was still affected by the dot-com crash, but was less volatile compared to technology startups.
By the firm’s 15th anniversary, it had weathered yet another crash: the Great Recession. The fallout from the early days of that recession were long lasting, and the firm responded by cutting expenses, and cutting some staff positions as well. By the firm’s 15th birthday in May 2011, there were early signs of economic recovery and renewed interest in startups.
Original Source: WRAL TechWire