Startups in Hartford, New Haven, Worcester, Vermont, Western New Hampshire, and my own Western Massachusetts often struggle to get funding from the investors in Boston and NYC. I understand why: there is so much good deal flow in those places that investors don’t need to look farther to find great opportunities.
Meanwhile, because of our low population density and a cultural norm of meeting in person, there are few parts of the CT River Valley (From New Haven, CT up to Burlington, VT) that have enough angel investors to form and sustain a group. The groups that formed are small, so they tend to write smaller checks and have less specialization than our counterparts in Boston and NYC.
COVID-19 has changed everything. Our group, River Valley Investors, switched to meeting online back in March. Originally this was so that we could continue to serve our members and entrepreneurs. But now it is starting to look like the path we should keep. Within a month of switching to online meetings, we signed up our first member from Worcester (an hour away by car). At this month’s meeting, we had more than a dozen potential members from Connecticut attending. I’ve now had conversations with many regional leaders up and down the CT River Valley who have long wished for a way to aggregate enough angel investors to have an impact.
We are stronger together. Our cultures are more similar to each other than they are to the big cities. And perhaps most importantly, we know there are great startups in our region that the big cities are overlooking. If we work together, we can fund these companies and see them create prosperity in our communities and financial returns for us.
If you are interested in investing in startups in the CT river basin, I invite you to learn more about us and attend a meeting.