While it’s not located in the Heartland, I enjoyed writing last week about the challenges Seattle’s tech ecosystem faces. The grass in the Emerald City may look greener to entrepreneurs in the Midwest or the South, but entrepreneurs still struggle to find local investors who are both willing to back them and able to offer guidance in building a hyper-growth startup.

According to one Seattle startup leader, local entrepreneurs face skepticism from investors in the Valley if the city’s best-known venture firm — Madrona Venture Partners — hasn’t invested in them.

I’ve heard entrepreneurs voice similar frustrations in other cities — if the city’s most noted fund doesn’t invest in them, outside VCs assume they aren’t worth investing in. And if an entrepreneur hasn’t worked at one of the city’s prominent startups or in one of its best-known sectors, they can find themselves sidelined in their startup community.

Unfortunately, this narrative of the “superstar” company or venture capital firm tends to influence media coverage (including my own), further exacerbating the problem. Reporters begin to routinely interview the same two to three most active startup leaders when writing about a city.

There’s no easy fix to this problem, especially in cities that seem to lack a critical mass of successful entrepreneurs or experienced investors. But if you are in the position of talking to reporters about the tech community in your city, make sure you have a rotating list of investors and entrepreneurs to recommend — and switch it up often.

Are there any under-the-radar companies or investors in your city that you think I should know about? If so, please send me your thoughts via email.

Thanks for reading,

Anna Hensel
Heartland Tech Reporter

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