The founders of Village Ventures Inc., headquartered in a converted wire mill in Williamstown, have spent the past four years scouring the country searching for investment opportunities in regions where there is plenty of intellectual capital but little venture capital.
“We’ll typically be the scout,” said Matt Harris, the Village Ventures cofounder and chief executive. “We’ll fund a deal, and we’ll bring in a Boston firm or a Silicon Valley firm” as co-investors. “What we’ve found is that 80 percent of venture capital goes to 10 cities in the country. On the face of it, that suggests there is opportunity elsewhere.”
From their mill on the Green River, the dozen-person team at Village Ventures manages the back-office services for 14 regional funds. The rural setting enables Village Ventures to practice what it preaches to the companies it funds: keep down costs. The firm pays an annual rate of $4.50 a square foot for its space, less than a tenth of the rates commanded by the VC office palaces on Winter Street in Waltham.
“Part of being here is a lifestyle thing,” Harris said. “Bo and I and our staff love living out here. But there are also cost advantages.”
Big picture, I am a buyer of the idea that there are business opportunities in out of the way places like Williamstown. Venture capital, alas, is a tough business since, initially, the interests of the VC and the entrepreneur are diametrically opposed. (The more of her company the founder gives up for a given dollar amount, the better off the VC is.) Fortunately, Peabody, as a founder of Tripod, has seen this problem from the other side of the table as well, so he is probably more sensitive to it than most VC’s are.
Peabody, whom I have never met, would certainly have to be considered one of Ephdom’s biggest business success stories of the last 15 years. Is there another post 1990 graduate who has generated more wealth than he has? That being said, I still think his firm bio is a little over the top:
Bo is considered an expert in many areas, including capital raising, media, venture capital, advertising, and commerce.
And stupid old me has trouble just trying to be an expert in one area . . .