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Jennifer Mahon, BEng '04, MASc '06

Materials Engineering, Chemical Engineering

Sizing up the Startups

There’s a thrill in the sheer potential of the startup – it may not be much more than an idea today, but it could be THE idea of tomorrow.

In her role as Vice-President of Operations with NorthBridge Consultants, and as advisor in the firm’s first angel investment arm, Jen Mahon is involved in the search for the next new big thing.

“It’s actually really super interesting,” she says. “I get to see all these startups, in a variety of industries, pitch their business, like you would see on Dragon’s Den but not as dramatic.”

She then tackles the hard work and due diligence that doesn’t make it onto the television show – going through the financial records, checking out the competition, doing market research and reviewing the science and technology behind the company’s offering.

As NorthBridge has become increasingly involved with startups, incubators and angel networks in recent years, Mahon says that work has become a bigger part of her job, and one she really enjoys. Last year, she joined with her boss and a colleague to form NorthTech Capital Investors, so now even has some of her own money in the game.

“I’ve also had the opportunity to speak with companies from The Forge Accelerator, and it’s been really extra special for me to see what’s coming out of Mac,” she says.

Along with the due diligence work, Mahon also manages the firm’s work that helps clients access and apply for government funding programs.

Initially specializing in assisting manufacturers to access the Scientific Research and Experimental Development tax credit, NorthBridge now connects clients with a range of government funding programs for everything from innovation, business expansion, workforce development, exporting and market research work.

“Every day is different, every client is different, every project is different,” say Mahon, who adds that her career has benefitted from the range of areas she explored at McMaster.

She completed her bachelor’s degree in Materials Engineering & Society, earning a minor in environmental science and getting a solid grounding in sustainability principles through the Society program. She then went on to earn a master’s degree in Chemical Engineering.

She says she can see the impact of diverse learning when interviewing engineering candidates for jobs. “That part really stands out. You can tell when they’ve had exposure to areas outside their primary engineering discipline.”