In the beginning there was Fish

This is the first blog post for Flying Fish Partners. Over the coming weeks and months we will post more about what we are doing and why we are doing it. We wanted to start with a short post to introduce ourselves and explain at the highest level why we feel there is a need for a new VC firm in Seattle and the greater Pacific Northwest.

The story of Flying Fish Partners begins with an observation about the market for financing startups in Seattle. All of the Partners — Geoff Harris Heather Redman and @FrankFlyingFish — have been angel investors in Seattle. We have watched and contributed as the angel ecosystem in Seattle has gotten better and better over the last five years or so. We often take for granted how much has happened in that time. A very brief list of early stage startup ecosystem components that we now take for granted include: coworking spaces (WeWork, Galvanize, The Riveter etc), incubators and accelerators (Techstars, Pioneer Square Labs, Microsoft and Alexa accelerators) and new angel funds (Seattle Angel Fund, AoA Sidecar fund, Swan Fund, Element8 Fund). It is so much easier to start a company in Seattle than it was five years ago. But then what…?

This is really the genesis of what caused us to start our new fund. We watched over and over as extremely promising companies we funded as angels relatively quickly raised a $1M+ angel round and made some great early traction but then failed utterly to get follow-on financing. Usually this wasn’t yet at the series A phase, but rather what we would call a ‘Seed 2’ — another $1–2M which was necessary to get the metrics to where they needed to be for a meaningful series A. There are very few firms in town that will participate in this raise and the prospects in the Valley for this kind of raise for a Seattle company are bleak.

We felt anecdotally that things were not as they should be in Seattle. When we started to kick around the idea for a fund we started diving into the data and found they were even more dire than we had expected. According to PitchBook data for the markets we cover, Seattle ranks dead last in participation by a local VC in Series A deals among major tech markets. Whatever you think about Seattle’s position in the larger tech ecosystem, I think we can all agree that dead last is not its proper position.

So these are just a few of the factors that caused us to start Flying Fish. We plan to work with the entire Pacific Northwest ecosystem — angels, entrepreneurs, other institutional investors and and the university system — to push Seattle and the broader Pacific Northwest (we love you too, Portland and Vancouver) to realize its full potential.