Hello, Austin!

Han Shen
Published in
3 min readApr 20, 2021

After having lived and worked in the San Francisco Bay Area for 11 years, 10 months, and 10 days, I moved to Austin, TX. iFly.vc will become an Austin-based VC fund. We’re looking to expand the team and make more friends here!

Austin, TX (Credit: ?)

Companies, talents, and capital have been migrating from California to other states for various reasons like tax, politics, cost of living, etc. The topic has been widely covered. Although the Bay Area will remain the top location for VCs and start-ups, iFly.vc must embrace the trend and engage founders outside the Bay Area proactively. We have seen many exciting start-ups and investment opportunities across the United States. At the time of this writing, we’re finalizing investments in companies located on the east coast and in the midwest as a lead investor.

Personally, I have been very familiar with Texas and made lots of friends here. I used to come to Texas often when I worked at Formation 8. During my last year at firm, I led the investment in Motive Drilling, a real-time data analytics start-up in Dallas, TX. The company was acquired by Helmerich & Payne 18 months later in 2017 that generated a solid return.

My visit to an oil rig somewhere south of Fowlerton, TX to watch how Motive Drilling’s real-time data tools improve the productivity of directional drilling. Motive Drilling had a strong team. We had a great time working together (including having incredible BBQs in downtown San Antonio)

Over time, Austin has developed a robust and fast-growing local start-up ecosystem. Success stories go from Dell and Whole Foods to more recent Bumble, WP Engine, BigCommerce, Dosh, etc. We have met a number of smart and energetic founders and investors.

Austin is a great hub for air travel. It takes no more than 3 to 4 hours of flight time to go from Austin to other major metro areas in the US, which makes it easier to make more short trips.

Non-stop flight routes from Austin, TX (Source: FlightConnections.com)

Last but not least, we are quite glad that our portfolio company Weee! started grocery delivery services in Austin in January. We were the sole investor of Weee! in December 2018. Since then, the company has grown to become the largest and fastest-growing e-grocer in the US. Customers get free deliveries for orders above $35. Weee! closed the oversubscribed Series D round led by DST with new investors including Blackstone, Tiger, Arena, and so on. After this round, iFly remains the second-largest shareholder. (Click here to get $15 off your first order.)

States where Weee! currently serves or will start operation soon

Austin will be a perfect city for iFly’s next home base. The idea of relocation from the Bay Area to Austin first occurred to me last fall. From the initial idea to the actual action, it took about 6 months. Throughout the process, quite a few friends in Austin have been so supportive and helpful. Thank you! And to all my friends in the Bay Area and elsewhere, when you feel comfortable and safe to travel again, please come and visit us!