Last week, my company RJMetrics announced a Series A investment from West Coast VC firm Trinity Ventures. One hundred percent of this capital came from outside the Philly region. But this city helped us get that support to grow us to the next step.
It’s no secret that the Philadelphia startup scene has been heating up in recent years. Major investments have funneled into suburban companies like Monetate. First Round Capital set up shop right here in town, backing emerging stars like Curalate. Coworking spaces and incubators can’t open fast enough, bootstrapped success stories like motorcycle ecommerce company Revzilla are gaining major scale, and our city government is actively investing in the startup ecosystem.
Despite all of this, I kept hearing the same questions this week: “Did being from Philly make it harder?” “Did you feel like an outsider?” “Are you going to have to move?” The answer to all of these questions is no, and the reason is simple: the game has changed.
Amazing technology companies are being built everywhere, and early-stage investors are expanding their geographic reach to find the most compelling deals. This is great for entrepreneurs because it broadens the universe of potential investors. To play ball, companies don’t need to move. They simply need to have a good answer to the question, “why did you choose this city?”
For us, that answer was simple: we aren’t here to build a Philly company; we’re here to build a great company. Philly is simply the best place for us to build it.
I’ve written about all the reasons I think Philadelphia is an amazing place to start and grow a business, but only recently have I learned that the rest of the world agrees. In the recent discussions we’ve had with investors from coast to coast, Philly has only come up in the context of competitive advantages. These include our proprietary access to talent, our lean infrastructure costs and a tech community that grows stronger every year.
When I take a step back, I find it ironic that the harshest questions I’ve fielded about Philly in this process came from within our city walls. This reminded me of a photo of a 1972 Chamber of Commerce advertisement that hangs in our lobby at RJMetrics:
My fellow entrepreneurs, the time has come: let’s cross Philly off of our list of excuses. It simply doesn’t belong.
This process taught me that raising money is not about hiding your weaknesses, it’s about highlighting your strengths. We proudly put Philly in our strengths column and we hope you’ll do the same. You might be surprised by what you hear.