Bushwick Venture Partners
I’ve been thinking a lot this week about the geography of finance – specifically, the changing geographical landscape of venture capital and how it plays into broader trends in startup financing. Within each of the three major centers of American innovation (Bay Area, Boston, NYC) we are seeing a major secular shift in financial venture infrastructure from traditional hotbeds (Sand Hill Road, Route 280, Midtown East) to hipper, cheaper, more entrepreneur-friendly neighborhoods (SoMa, Cambridge, Flatiron). This is happening for a number of reasons, but foremost among them is the increasing competition for early-stage deals, specifically in the consumer internet space. These companies are often run by young, scrappy entrepreneurs that put big value on a venture firm’s alignment with the entrepreneur’s aesthetics, principles and business philosophy. True alignment is difficult to convey when the firm is cloistered in offices worthy of corporate law or private equity on 53rd and Lex. But for some reason – despite all the investor interest in NYC – no one has taken this trend to its logical conclusion: to establish a mainline VC firm in Brooklyn.
So here’s my proposal to anyone who wants to create the next big early stage venture brand in New York: found Bushwick Venture Partners. Find a warehouse five stops deep on the L train and rent the top floor. Recruit a couple scrappy young associates. Give your portfolio companies free office space – it’s not like your rent will be a big line item, after all. Throw parties and startup events. Within six months, your firm will have one of the sexiest VC brands in the city.
Worried that views of Newtown creek won’t appeal to your CEOs? Bullshit. Some of the most talented engineers and designers in the world live in Brooklyn and would love to work on a hot company in their backyard. Good NYC consumer internet CEOs know this. It’s why DUMBO and Williamsburg are two of the fastest-growing startup neighborhoods on the east coast.
The best part about this is that Bushwick Venture Partners won’t have to work hard to build a cool, aspirational brand. Geography does the work for you. And it’s a signal to CEOs everywhere that your firm values your portfolio companies’ access to top engineering talent over a need to show a shiny midtown office to LPs.
You can read more of my thoughts on this and other things in this week’s Interesting Meeting of the Week.
As a counterpoint, Matthew Brimer referred to this as “gentrification gone haywire”. Fair enough.