Life can be hard if you do not presently live near a typical hub of VC activity — San Francisco, London, New York City, etc. And if you don’t have the gonads like ZeroCater founder Arram Sabeti to just hitchhike up the coast to your city of choice, your entrepreneurship dreams may be especially confounding — what’s a would-be Steve Jobs to do?
In a blog post, Mark Suster of GRP Partners acknowledges that most VCs prefer a certain degree of proximity to their investments, so they can check in and easily mentor, recruit local talent, and string together their own ecosystem. However, if you truly can’t afford to relocate to a major city, he suggests, first and foremost, to make do with what ya got — raise money from all potential VCs and angel investors in your region. Next, do some guerilla research and find out which national VCs grew up in your region — who knows, maybe a partner at Andreessen Horowitz happens to be from your hometown and comes back a few times a year anyway?
Once you’ve exhausted these options, Suster suggests really putting your cards on the table, and telling prominent VCs that you are willing to travel to NYC/San Francisco/whatever major tech hub city for board meetings 8-12 times a year. The key is, you shouldn’t expect them to do all the traveling — for all their pomp, VCs are a surprisingly cash-strapped bunch, after all.
He notes that he personally is in the Bay Area between 12-14 times a year, Dallas 2 times a year, Washington D.C. 3 times a year, and Santa Barbara 8 times a year.
He also suggests offering “rocking bbq to make it worth your time” to national VCs, which I find inspiring — if only all my networking problems could be solved with bbq!