Big things come from small communities. Partner @ Greater Colorado Venture Fund + Kokopelli Capital
In 2020, like nearly every other business, the Greater Colorado Venture Fund had to adapt to a new, remote reality. As a team, we had made hundreds of community visits to learn what was going on in each town. We had planned an eight-city, May-madness parade of pitch events that would all lead up to an in-person finals in Grand Junction during West Slope Startup Week. Come COVID, our plans were nearly the opposite of public health advice.
So began the Greater Colorado Pitch Series. We had invested remotely before, but never simultaneously in public. As we leaned into the remote format, we kept our expectations tempered. Frankly, we just hoped it successfully led to one investment for our fund.
However, the event was a resounding success. We ended up sourcing three investments (including the future of online media, rural-Colorado based, fiercely independent - Hackernoon!). More interestingly, the online format uncovered a ton of companies across Rural Colorado.
By making it a simple online application, the front door of GCVF became that much easier to walk through.
While the value of in-person is not replaced, this demonstrated the obvious need for remote funding opportunities. While we're aiming to solve geographic inequities in venture capital, we inadvertantly uphold them for founders whose locations don't coincide with our travel plans. We're just three partners covering the better part of 104M square miles after all.
This made launching the 2021 Greater Colorado Pitch Series a no-brainer.
That doesn't mean there wasn't obvious room for improvement though.
With about 100 applications in 2020, we had to deliver a lot of No's last year. Our job is to make investment decisions based on merit, and plenty of these No's were merit-based. That's just the nature of investing.
However, plenty of these No's were delivered to really impressive business that simply didn't fit our particular capital product. We are a seed stage venture fund. It turns out, Rural Colorado is chocked full of amazing companies of all shapes and sizes. Many of them don't need our seed stage venture check to continue to grow.
Take Product Movement Technologies for example. They're a veteran-founder top 100 Amazon reseller based in Grand Junction. They needed funding to buy more inventory. Venture capital is really expensive for inventory, especially for a company with healthy revenues and operating history like theirs. Fortunately, after the Pitch Series, we kept conversations going and were able to introduce them to Greenline Ventures. Here's what Product Movement CEO Luke Sutherland had to say:
They seemed to actually understand our business and what we would use the capital for and we discussed the ROI on the inventory we would be purchasing compared to what the interest expense was. It worked for both parties and we closed the deal...We have grown enough to easily manage paying the note back when it comes due without sacrificing growth in the short term. It has been fantastic.
Luke was no exception either. It turns out, we had simply uncovered a lot of great businesses that needed the right capital partner. So we went and found those capital partners.
This year, applicants to the Greater Colorado Pitch Series can apply for four different capital tracks:
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