Many of you know that besides my day job at HP I do some work with Highway 12 Ventures, our local VC firm here in Boise, Id.Â I wanted to take some time to explain a little more about Highway 12 and what I’ve been doing with them.
First some basic details. Highway 12 Ventures is an 8 year old firm that is currently on it’s second fund with about $100 Million under management.Â The interesting thing about the firm is that they are a regionally focused firm, not a vertically focused firm like most.Â They only invest in companies in Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Montana and occasionally Oregon and Arizona. Their theory is that these areas have a lot of entrepreneurial activity and are under served by the investment community. They specifically don’t do deals in Seattle or California because start-ups there have lots of VC options locally.
Mark Solon is the founding and managing partner (you can follow him on Twitter @hwy12). Phil Reed, Glenn Michael and George Mulhern are the other partners. Phil and Glenn are both veterans of the start-up world while George was HP’s LaserJet Executive VP for several years (I forget exactly how many – lots).
One of the things that surprised me the most about working with these guys is how much like a start-up they are. They have to go out and raise money just like their companies. They are accountable to their investors just like their portfolio companies are to them. They have to build brand awareness and make there customers (investors and investees) happy if they want to stay viable.
What has really impressed me about working with these guys is how much they care about the entrepreneurs and the communities they invest in. They get it that helping to grow great entrepreneurs and great entrepreneur communities helps everyone, including them.
The fun thing about working with these guys is their willingness to learn. Since starting to work with them they have really gotten into social media. Mark joined Twitter. They are all on Facebook now. There are even talks going on for them to start a blog.
Besides educating them on social media I’ve also been able to advise some of their companies on social media and how it might be help them in their business. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to do as much of this as I would like but hopefully I’ll be able to do more.
What has been the most fun for me is helping them find potential companies for them to invest in and then dig into their business plans to see if it makes sense to invest in. I want to point out that just because they don’t invest in a company doesn’t mean it’s not a good company just that it didn’t make sense for them at this time.
So if you’re in the region and you’re thinking about VC funding now or possibly in the future, let me know (especially if you’re in the social media space).
Their Web site has more information on them and their portfolio companies.
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