We’ve written a lot about how our investing work at Founders’ Co-op connects to the broader global market for innovation finance (see The Venture Capital Stack or Regional Seed Investing), but we’ve never said much about where our own fund’s capital comes from.
Recent events have shined a bright, and ugly, light on the source of much of the money driving the current Venture Capital boom, and fellow investors and industry journalists are now advocating for greater transparency about whose money you’re actually taking when you accept a VC check (see this post from USV’s Fred Wilson, or this Techcrunch piece from Jon Evans).
As our earlier posts have described, global allocators of capital like Saudi Arabia aren’t much interested in regional or seed-stage investing; they have to deploy money in such huge volumes and with such frequency that only the biggest and most global platforms (like Softbank) are a fit. So if you’re curious, we never asked, and they certainly didn’t come calling.
But we do care, a lot, about where our money comes from. And while it’s not something we talk about publicly, at Founders’ Co-op we’re as proud of our investor base as we are of our investment portfolio.
Our work is intensely local, and intensely personal. We invest in exceptional people who have chosen to build their companies here in the Pacific Northwest. When they succeed, companies like Remitly, Outreach and The Riveter provide exciting, well-paying jobs for hundreds or even thousands of people who live and work here in the region. The leaders of those companies also become civic leaders who give back to our community, and they model the kind of pioneering courage that put our region on the map in the first place.
Our investors trust us to produce a compelling financial return, but they choose us over the thousands of competing alternatives because they believe what we believe: that building great companies in the place where you live produces returns that go way beyond a check in the mail. Well-paying jobs. Engaged citizens. A leadership role in the global economy. Thriving cities that are magnetic to talent from around the globe.
Given the values we practice as a firm, it should come as no surprise that our money is almost entirely local: founders and early leaders from our region’s most successful companies (including many of our own portfolio companies); families and family foundations with a long history in the region, who want to leave it a better place for their children and grandchildren; and even state governments with a voter-endorsed commitment to reinvesting in the next generation of local jobs and growth.
We know our investors and they know us. Our work is personal, and we take it personally.