We all know the names that come up when we talk about the most active early stage investors: 500 Startups and Andreesen Horowitz.
However, when CB Insights released their list of the 150 most active seed investors of 2013 earlier this month, we couldn’t help but notice than an awful lot of the top funds were outside of Silicon Valley. Perhaps this is to be expected. After all, despite the mythical size of the Valley in startup culture, it’s actually a pretty small area. And everywhere else is, well, big.
Still, when 15 of the top 20 most active seed funds are not based in the Valley, it might be time to take notice. It’s probably no surprise that New York had the most number of firms in the top 20. New York is quickly becoming seen as the other tech hub in the United States. However, cities like Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Las Vegas are also represented, and in the expanded list Detroit, Ann Arbor, and Phoenix all made a showing.
Of course, there’s plenty of debate over whether or not so many seed funds are a good idea. (Series A crunch, anyone?) The great news about so many seed funds popping up around the US is that more and more entrepreneurs are getting a shot at testing our their ideas.
And that will ultimately prove to be a good thing for all of us.
20 Most Active Seed Investors Outside Silicon Valley
- Lerer Ventures–The New York-based venture firm is the most active seed investor everywhere else, and they were 4th overall. The guys at Lerer Ventures also run the incubator SohoTechLabs.
- First Round Capital–Often credited with innovation in a field usually afraid of change, First Round Capital focuses on provided services and mentorship, as well as cash, to the companies they invest in. The First Round Review is a great resource for founders looking to better understand startup life.
- Innovation Works–Innovation Works is focused in southwest Pennsylvania, making it the first on our list with a regional focus. They also run the AlphaLab accelerator.
- Atlas Venture–Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Atlas Venture focuses on early stage technology and life sciences. They’ve been in the game for awhile, raising their first fund in 1986.
- Connecticut Innovations–This private/public partnership has been operating in Connecticut since 1989. They partner with other investors to provide seed funds for startups and small businesses around Connecticut.
- Founder Collective–This New York fund boasts that every investor has also started a company, giving them an advantage in helping entrepreneurs. Some of their companies include Buzzfeed and Makerbot.
- Great Oaks Venture Capital–Also based in NYC, Great Oaks focuses on verticals like e-commerce, adtech, mobile and social. Some of their investments include Storify, OKCupid, and ModCloth.
- Red Swan Ventures–Forget the “unicorns.” This New York firm is looking for the “red swans: great companies most of us never saw coming.” Some of those “red swans”? Birchbox, Warby Parker, and Bonobos.
- RRE Ventures–This is a multi-stage firm in New York, but they’re still one of the most active seed investors in the country. At the early stage, they’ve invested in the Skimm and Datadog, among others.
- CIT GAP Funds--This nonprofit works with other investors to coordinate investments in Virginia-based tech companies.
- ENIAC Ventures–ENIAC claims to be the first seed stage fund focused exclusively on mobile technology, raising their first fund in 2009. Based in New York, the firm has invested in companies like Localytics, Thumb, and Shake.
- Vegas Tech Fund–Of all the community-based funds, Vegas Tech Fund is probably the most famous. Powered by Tony Hsieh, they are focused on revitalizing downtown Las Vegas.
- NewSchools Venture Fund–This Boston-based nonprofit is focused on transforming education, especially for lower income kids. They invest in edtech as well as charter schools.
- ff Venture Capital–Another firm based in New York, ff Venture focuses on pouring in resources and mentorship to its portfolio companies. They run an accelerator, and also make a point to keep money back for follow on funding within its portfolio.
- Greycroft Partners–Greycroft also seeks to serve its entrepreneurs, keeping its fund small but boasting of access to networks that would rival the big firms. They’ve seen some big wins like Braintree, paidContent.org, and The Huffington Post, to name a few.
- Bessemer Venture Partners–Bessemer prides itself on seeking out new industries and opportunities. Some of their big areas of focus right now are Brazil, cleantech, and cyber security.
- Upfront Ventures--A discussion of active venture funds would not be complete without Mark Suster’s fund out of LA. Suster is famous for his bluntness, and companies like awe.sm, DataSift, and MoonFrye benefit from the industry experience found at Upfront
- Index Ventures–Based in England, Index Ventures they’re different because they are true partners, instead of free agents under the same umbrella. They focus on companies in tech and life scienes.
- Resolute.vc–The last company in our list is also based in New York and sees itself as a service to entrepreneurs, not just a paycheck. They’ve invested in companies like Barkbox and Homejoy, among others.