I’ve visited enough Midwest startup communities to have the ‘lack of local venture capital’ conversation more times than I wish to remember. The cities change, but the message never does.
What pains me is that the focus is always on location vs. what really matters, which is VC involvement.
By focusing on location, people make the assumption that local VCs will be super involved in the startup community and fund a bunch of local companies.
When that assumption holds true, which there are some great examples of, it is truly fantastic.
The problem is that often times it doesn’t.
If that is the case in your city, don’t waste your efforts trying to turn the inactive to active.
Focus your efforts on better integrating those that have shown interest in funding companies in your market regardless of where they are located.
They are typically easy to spot. They are the investors outside your market that proactively calling on founders, they come visit for startup events, maybe they’ve actually funded a company, etc.
If you are an event organizer, be sure to get them to your next event. If you’re a startup content site, reach out to them to learn more about their interests. If you’re a founder who has had a positive experience with them, spread the word.
This probably comes across as self-serving given my role, but the real motivation for the post is that I feel that Minneapolis suffers from this problem, but we have done a much better job over the last year on integrating new VCs outside of our city into our community.
New VCs outside of MN are making, or actively trying to make, investments here. We are putting a spotlight on those who are interested. We are getting fresh faces at our events. And best of all, they want to be here vs. just being located here.
I truly believe it is having a positive impact here and I think it can do the same for other Midwest communities.