Silicon Valley Super Bowl: A look at the Colorado and North Carolina ecosystems

On Sunday night the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers will square off in the 50th installment of America’s greatest televised sporting event.  With Super Bowl 50 being held at Levi Stadium in Santa Clara, CA and big name corporate tech sponsors like Apple, Google, Uber and others attaching their brands to the event, it’s no surprise people are dubbing it the “Silicon Valley Super Bowl.”

While each of the competing teams’ entrepreneurial ecosystems may not be on the same playing field as Silicon Valley in terms of startup activity, they do register as proven bright spots of innovation outside of the traditional hubs of San Francisco, Boston and New York.  Colorado, for example, is home to 74 startup companies that received venture funding in 2015 totaling $783 million.  North Carolina counts 57 startups that received $676 million in venture funding in 2015.

Digging deeper into the data, we find that Colorado and North Carolina companies aren’t just attracting venture investment, but registering some of the biggest deals for the year.  For example, Charlotte, North Carolina-based AvidXchange, which is a provider of accounts payable and payment automation solutions, raised $225 million during a financing round in 2015, ranking as one of the top 20 largest deals of the year.  Similarly, Checkmarx, a Greenwood Village, Colorado-based provider of application security solutions, received $84 million in venture funding in 2015, the largest deal in Colorado for the year.

If you unpack the geographic distribution of startup activity within each state, you find that neither state is overly concentrated in one particular area.  North Carolina is home to three MSAs with healthy startup activity.  Looking at our annual ranking of venture activity by MSA, the Durham, NC MSA, Raleigh-Cary, NC MSA and Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord, NC-SC MSA all rank in the top 45 based on the number of companies receiving venture funding.  In Colorado, both the Denver-Aurora, CO MSA and Boulder, CO MSA rank in the top 20 at number 14 and 20 respectively.

What this all means, is that even though Silicon Valley continues to reign supreme, our analysis of startup activity in Colorado and North Carolina reinforces the fact that there are pockets of innovation all across our country.  Venture capital investment is not a coastal phenomenon.  If you are an entrepreneur with a groundbreaking idea that will disrupt an entrenched industry or create an entirely new industry altogether, venture capital will find you.