The data has shown that fundraising is a different kind of beast for Midwest-based startups. Unlike the investing scene in Silicon Valley, which is characterized by fierce competition and bullish investors, fundraising in the Midwest is grounded in a foundation of collaboration and strong relationships. There is funding out there for innovative, fast-growing tech companies in America’s heartland, but founders will struggle to secure it if they try to follow a coastal playbook.
In this first episode of Powderkeg: Igniting Startups’ second season, we dive deep into the intricacies of fundraising in the Midwest with a new and improved episode format. Our first guest, Don Aquilano, is an Indianapolis-based venture capitalist who started his career at major firms in New York. With his decades of experience between the East Coast and Midwest tech ecosystems, he has an intimate understanding of the national investment landscape. He’s joined by Shwetha Pai and Brian Powers, two experienced startup founders who bring knowledge of what it’s like “in the trenches” for Midwest tech entrepreneurs today.
Together, our three guests paint an in-depth picture of the non-Valley fundraising landscape and offer invaluable tips and strategies for finding funding the Midwestern way. Don, Shwetha, and Brian discuss such pressing topics as why you should or shouldn’t seek funding for your startup, which investors you should talk to and how to build relationships with them, and what the current state of Midwest tech investing says about the future.
In this episode with Don Aquilano, Shwetha Pai and Brian Powers, you’ll learn:
- Statistics that show why Midwest tech investing is on the rise (5:37).
- How to start building relationships with investors before you fundraise (14:02).
- Reasons why your startup should or should not seek funding (20:47).
- Who you should raise from and how to approach dealings with coastal VCs (31:47).
- What makes Cincinnati a great place to grow a tech startup today (37:19).
Please enjoy this conversation with Don Aquilano, Shwetha Pai and Brian Powers!
- Listen to it on iTunes.
- Stream by clicking here.
- Download as an MP3 by right-clicking here and choosing “save as.”
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Don Aquilano, Shwetha Pai and Brian Powers quotes from this episode of Powderkeg:
“Seed rounds are hard to raise, period. It may be a little more pronounced in the Midwest, but hopefully that’s changing.” — Don Aquilano on @PowderkegHQ
“Whether it’s seed or any level, you really have to understand why. Why am I going to raise money, why should I raise money, and what does that mean to the business?” — @indyattorney on @PowderkegHQ
“Something I find very exciting about Cincinnati is the big companies and the partnership we have. I’ve been invited to so many different events where I’m surrounded by big companies to practice my pitch and vet customer pain points.” — Shwetha Pai on @PowderkegHQ
“The capital gap, combined with the maturing ecosystem here, is exactly why the Midwest is becoming a pretty interesting place to invest.” — Don Aquilano on @PowderkegHQ
Links and resources mentioned in this episode:
Companies and organizations:
Venture capital firms:
Powderkeg: Igniting Startups #53 on the Indianapolis Tech Census
Powderkeg: Igniting Startups #39 with Don Aquilano and Haresh Gangwani
Don Aquilano (LinkedIn)
Shwetha Pai (LinkedIn)
Brian Powers (@indyattorney)
Haresh Gangwani (LinkedIn)
Mark Hill (LinkedIn)