I’m not one to celebrate financing rounds for the sake of celebrating rounds. But this one had some interesting local flavor. So, stick with me here. Because this will take a minute.
Founders tend to be an optimistic bunch. But optimism can only get you so far. And if you’re looking to pursue venture capital as a means of financing your startup, that optimism is going to take some lumps as you pitch, refine, pitch, refine… Lather rinse repeat. So it’s always nice when that pitch feedback comes with some added perks. Like pizza and beer.
In my opinion, one of the most promising threads in the Portland startup community as of late has been the whole conversation about financing startups. Because not every startup is right for an equity based investment from venture capital. And even if they are, VC brings with it some pressures that can be less than positive for many companies and founders.
With funds raising larger and larger rounds, the economics of cutting smaller checks for seed stage companies get more and more lopsided. And that leaves a gap for the youngest and most vulnerable of companies. That’s why it’s always nice to see folks raising funds specifically targeted at early stage companies. Like Seven Peaks just did.
A couple of years ago, Stephen Green put together an amazing Reverse Pitch event that I got the chance to attend. (If you’re not familiar with the format, a “reverse pitch” is where investors get on stage to describe the types of startups they’re seeking.) During the event, I had the pleasure of hanging out in the audience with a newcomer to the venture capital world who was visiting Portland. Her name? Arlan Hamilton.
In the startup world, there are some prevailing assumptions about venture capital and building companies. But just because those assumptions are prevailing doesn’t mean they’re correct. That’s why I always like resources that help demystify the world of venture capital and its impact on companies. Like Venture Deals by Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson.
One of the challenges of the Portland startup community has always been momentum. We sometimes have great—at times even fantastic—startup news, like an exit or a major announcement. But more often than not, that happens as a solitary instance. And then it’s some time before the next major announcement. So it’s rare to have a day like today where both Torch 3D and Vacasa have major news.
Not so long ago, banks were a viable means of financing business. But as the terms of that financing became more inaccessible and onerous, we saw new models arise. One of those models was venture capital. Now—thanks in part to efforts like the Zebra movement—the VC model is beginning to show its own imperfections, inadequacies, and inaccessibility. So it only makes sense that folks would start thinking about new models for financing. One of those folks is Portland’s Luke Kanies, founder and former CEO of Puppet.