Sleepless in Seattle
Actually, not totally accurate, more like sleepless in New York while worrying about Seattle.
We’re heading to Seattle next week to try and connect with some investors and clients on the west coast. Why Seattle? Well to start, I went to high school in Victoria, just across the border in British Columbia so I feel like I’m coming home when I head back to the Pacific North West. This leads to the second reason, which is that I have a lot of friends in Seattle who I want to get involved with my company and their families are also willing to lend a hand in getting me the meetings that I need. The last reason is my wholly unscientific view of the funding landscape in the US:
New York City is undoubtedly the bastion of wealth in the US and possibly the world. This wealth is present in the form of hedge funds, mutual funds, large corporations and other forms of institutionalized capital. It’s hard to get investment from them because they tend to focus on the stock market. Of course, New York City has a few great venture capital firms but they’re far and few in between.
San Francisco has a lot of venture capital firms. Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park is to venture capital what Wall Street is to stock traders. Allegedly the rent is higher too! Fun fact: The first VC firm on Sand Hill was Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers (KPCB) led by Polytechnic’s very own Eugene Kleiner. We can thank Kleiner and his fellow Fairchild Eight for kickstarting the tech industry that would eventually become Silicon Valley. San Francisco also has a lot of startups vying for that VC money.
What Seattle has, is a lot of wealthy, tech savvy, friendly individuals who are all seemingly connected to each other. To me, the investment scene in Seattle is characterized by the prominence of the University of Washington and the wealth generating machine that is Microsoft (and Amazon, Costco and Boeing to a lesser extent) which concentrated wealth in the hands of a small group of friends who know each other. The goal is to find an introduction into this group and grow from there. Contrasting with the permanent rainy weather in Seattle, I always find the people to be warm and welcoming.
I’ve enlisted the help of two of my best friends to help me get things off the ground in Seattle. One of them was my roommate in boarding school, the other spent so much time in our room despite living down the hall we probably should have charged him rent. What makes this so great is that I trust them both completely and I’ve spent enough time with their families to know that they’re sincere in their efforts to help me. I also don’t have to get a hotel when I go to Seattle.
So why am I sleepless? We only have a couple of confirmed meetings and three previously scheduled meetings were abruptly canceled this week. My meeting with the shakers and movers of Seattle aren’t happening until towards the end of the week so I’m worried about being dead in the water until then. It’s not a pleasant feeling to have, not knowing what’s going to happen. At least I have a meeting scheduled at Ivars, it’s a pretty awesome restaurant.