When we first announced the plan to travel around the country covering startups, a big motivation was to cover the companies that would be getting press if they were in Silicon Valley. Thousands of companies are routinely ignored, simply because they aren’t near the press corps of New York or the Valley.
The need for this coverage has never been more clear than when I met with FullContact CEO and cofounder Bart Lorang. Lorang shared with me that the company had recently closed a $7 million Series B round of funding from Foundry Group, with participation from High Country Venture, Nancy Pierce, Walter Winshall, Jove Equity Partners, Bullet Time Ventures, 500 Startups, SK Ventures, Zelkova Ventures. But no one really noticed, because this isn’t the coast, and right or wrong, that means there’s less coverage.
This lack of attention also comes with advantages. One of the biggest assets of startup ecosystem like Austin and Boulder is that the community is incredibly tight. First-time entrepreneurs can get meetings with VCs and founders with relative ease, with information flowing freely. According to Lorang, who was a relative newbie to the Boulder startup community when he got here a few years ago, this is immensely useful for people choosing to start companies.
When FullContact was first pitching the idea of tying together contact information and address books into a single location, it wasn’t like the company was “just another startup.” Instead, after FullContact started to share its plans with the public, David Cohen of TechStars reached out and “asked us to apply to TechStars,” says Lorang.
The team was accepted, and graduated from the TechStars class last year, eventually raising $1.5 million in funding from outside investors. But the advantages of the program didn’t stop when the program ended.
This went a long way towards helping FullContact raise its latest round of funding, according to Lorang. Earlier this summer, when the company decided that it was going to actively raise a round of funding, Lorang reached out to Foundry Group partner Seth Levine for advice on the company’s pitch deck. Lorang’s initial plan was to iron out the details of his pitch, and then spend the summer flying between New York and California, pitching VCs.
Things didn’t go according to plan, though, because Foundry decided to preempt the entire process. According to Lorang, after the group at Foundry had seen the basic facts in the draft of the pitch, the funding round moved quickly.
According to Lorang, he met with Brad Feld, and while going for a walk, the two talked about the company and where the future lay. The two hashed out the basic details of the deal via email, and when they agreed on the basics, according to Lorang, “we cc’d our lawyers on the thread and told them to write up the deal.”
This wouldn’t normally happen in a larger community filled with formalities, or with a different VC, according to Lorang. There would be countless meetings, and a partner meeting, and term sheets. Which is why, much to his relief, he was able to send out an email to investors on the coasts and effectively say that the deal was closed, and the meetings wouldn’t be necessary.
The speed of the deal isn’t unique to FullContact, either. Foundry elicits strong feelings in Boulder, and a big part of that, according to the people I’ve spoke to, is that the firm is responsive and is willing to get things done quickly. In an industry where startups need to move quickly and decisively, this is incredibly valuable.