The secrets of raising money if you don’t live in Silicon Valley
This weekend, a Wall Street Journal Tweet caught my eye:
In 1995, 30% of venture capital invested in U.S. went into Bay Area. By 2015: close to 50%https://t.co/1hSDDi2798— Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) July 11, 2016
When I moved to the Bay Area in 1999, the prevailing thesis was that the Internet would make it easier to start a company anywhere, not contrate the power in Silicon Valley even more.
But there’s a difference between starting a company and building a large one. Starting a company anywhere has never been easier. And as super angels argued eight years ago or so, it’s never been cheaper. But actually building one still requires shit loads of capital. That capital-- and a lot of other unfair advantages you need-- are just found in greater concentration in the Valley. And if you won’t take the unfair leg-up, someone else will.
That said, we choose not to host our annual conference, Pandoland, outside Silicon Valley for a reason: There are dangers of life in an ecochamber. While the vast majority of large companies are still built here, consider the leaders of the two biggest mobile trends: Messaging and transportation. Three of the largest entrants-- Line, Snapchat, and Didi-- are all located outside of the Valley.
The percentage of deals may be concentrating in the Valley, but the homeruns aren’t necessarily. And this is a business of homeruns.
Still, startups built elsewhere frequently need to have a different playbook. And that’s why our VC panel at Pandoland didn’t have a single Silicon Valley VC. Because they just would have given a lot of irrelevant advice for a non-Silicon Valley audience. Instead we had Logan LaHive, Brent Hill, and Paul Lee. Our own Pando alum turned LA VC Michael Carney moderated the talk.
It was by far the most tactical session of the day, debating in essence how you make your own luck when it comes to penetrating the Silicon Valley bubble from outside of it.
Should you have regular meetings with VCs when you aren’t raising funds? How much of your time (and cash) should you waste traveling to the Valley? If you raise Valley cash once do you set yourself up to be priced out of any local round ever again?
This was a conversation that actually mattered for all those VCs not based here.