Venture Capital in Mid-America

Venture Capitalists tend to cluster in Boston and the Bay area of California. Many of them also like to be close to the companies they invest in. Consequently, many startups and growing small businesses located in the mid-America regions find it difficult to interest VCs.

No longer. There is a source of VC funding for small businesses in areas the U.S. Census Bureau defines as rural. These VCs are called Community Development Venture Capitalists (CDVC) and most of them are looking for a “double bottom line”–financial and social returns. Many of the CDVCs also provide money for operations assistance and to guarantee debt.

Although the concept of investing in “rural” companies began in the late 90’s, it has only become popular more recently. There are now about 80 CDVCs actively investing. There is a large untapped pool of talented entrepreneurs in small-town America, and even the traditional VCs are starting to realize that becoming successful does not require a big-city address. Ideas hatched in a small town diner are just as viable as those hatched in fancy high-rise buildings.

At the same time, don’t forget that these are still Venture Capitalists, and they don’t just hand out money without expecting a high rate of return. You still have to do your homework, and present a “knock their socks off” business plan–that is believable. There are thousands of people constantly seeking VC money across the country, and very few of them get funded. You must have a great concept, great team, and a great presentation, or your idea will never even get looked at. Do your homework…get help if you need it.

If you are starting a business in “rural” America, or trying to expand your existing business, you may be interested in what CDVCs have to offer. For more specific information on CDVCs, check them out at the Association of CDVCS.

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