Venture-Backed Innovation Thrives Across the U.S.

As an Arkansas native, I’ve learned an important rule of thumb for visiting cities like Chicago: Get there before it gets cold. I don’t think I accomplished that last week when I blew into the Windy City as part of my nationwide NVCA “listen and learn” tour. But I certainly appreciated the warm reception I received from the Illinois Venture Capital Association.

Two months into my tenure at NVCA, a review of my travel itinerary has me feeling a bit like my fellow Arkansan Johnny Cash: “I’ve been everywhere.” But I’m glad to say I’ve already learned a lot in the process. First, I’ve confirmed that venture capital truly is a national phenomenon. I’ve been up and down the East Coast and out to California a couple of times, and recently I’ve made stops in Detroit, Cleveland and Chicago. At each hub, I am even more impressed with the breadth of activity I see – from angels to growth equity to corporate VC. Second, I am continually amazed by the innovations that VCs and their portfolio companies work so hard to bring to market. Our future is in great hands, and I want to do my part by telling venture’s story of transformative innovation and growth to those who are in a position to impact it – whether positively or negatively. Third, I’ve learned just how important it is to reach out to all of the participants in this impressive innovation ecosystem of ours – from entrepreneurs to journalists to policy-makers. Each of them offers insights that can help NVCA and VCs tell our story better.

While I have enjoyed these interactions immensely, I realize that they are only the prelude to the true task at hand: Translating what I have seen and heard into a vision for leading NVCA forward. Two months in, my enthusiasm for this challenge remains the perfect antidote for any jetlag I may experience along the way.