As a Connecticut business owner and resident, I have a vested interest in the success of my home state. It is regretful that CT has had such a poor record in job creation over the last 20 years. In fact, the state ranks dead last in net job growth over that period.
As a venture capitalist in the area, we have been focusing the majority of our time on opportunities coming from NYC, where the innovation and investment pace have been meteoric. However, we have made it a goal of the organization to support CT’s growth initiatives as best we can. Cava has decided to headquarter in Norwalk, CT with an office in NYC as well.
Cava has two investments already in Connecticut: etouches; the leading provider of event planning software to organizations worldwide and Zadspace; an innovative advertising technology solution for ecommerce providers. Both are located right in the heart of Fairfield County, which has long been home to many marketing services and direct marketing organizations. Zadspace was originally located in Los Angeles. We decided to relocate the company to CT in order to take advantage of the talent and client base located here.
I am committed to help spur CT job growth and prosperity while still remaining true to Cava’s discipline and approach. On that note, I have decided to do a series of posts recommending how we might all work together to foster a community of high quality opportunities, while reversing the trend of poor job creation in the state.
Recommendation # 1:
Increase access to Venture Capital and Angel Financing
Venture capital financing is the “lifeblood” of emerging growth companies. As part of my dedication to CT, I have been working with several other investors and entrepreneurs on a task force for Economic Development in Connecticut, specifically focusing on the Emerging Companies Sector. In particular, I am a huge believer in starting at the ground floor; building an early stage angel and venture culture. This has been done very successfully in NYC where they have created a friendly environment to spur angels to invest. Some ideas include refining the state angel tax credit system and starting a fund-matching program for early stage VC. This will help get much needed capital into the hands of early entrepreneurs who are very nimble at this stage. We can attract entrepreneurs to relocate to CT or we can keep the incredible talent and resources we have coming out of our fine institutions right here in our state.
Such early stage angel and venture financing is key to building a critical mass of tech companies in Connecticut. If we look around the area, NYC has built an impressive and vibrant community of venture investors, angel and seed investors, entrepreneurs and growth capital. Companies are flocking to New York to start and operate their technology businesses. In fact, New York has shown an incredible burst of innovation, specifically in the Media sector. According to the latest venture data last quarter, NY ranked #2 behind Silicon Valley in dollars invested. We have seen virtually every major VC firm in CA and Boston open offices in NY to take advantage of the deal flow and opportunity. In fact, NYC is now considered the East Coast capital in VC. This took roughly 10 years.
I am committed to making 2012 the year that poor job creation in Connecticut is replaced with exciting and innovative growth.
Subscribe to my blog for Recommendation #2: Stimulate and Develop Other Sources of Capital Financing