It was reported today (via PopCity) that eighteen Pittsburgh companies raised $78.27 million in venture capital in the third quarter of 2009. This is obviously very good and echoes what my hunch was in my post about the feelings of optimism at AlphaLab’s Demo Day. The more money we can get across the continuum, the better, especially in the very early- to early-stage funding categories.
However, this is only part of the story. If you look at the PricewaterhouseCoopers (my spell check believes this word should be ‘slaughterhouses’, by the way) MoneyTree report (the source of the VC funding data point), you’ll find that a lot of critical investment money isn’t included in their research, including angel investment (see the criteria summary here). Obviously, the report is invaluable in allowing us to track what kind of investment activity is happening across the country, but I feel like there are some gaping holes in really being able to assess how much entrepreneurial funding activity is happening in a given area.
I suppose this is because it is very difficult to track this type of investment. For instance, a business plan project on which I worked will likely be funded within the next three weeks at about $50,000 (obviously a very early-stage investment). The individuals involved aren’t what I would consider part of the “entrepreneurial community” in the region, so no one will know about it. This also goes for another project on which I worked, which secured $500,000 in its first round; there were no trumpets sounded or press releases written, yet the company opened the offices in the heart of Pittsburgh with six new jobs within city limits.
Is the nature of angel investment such that tracking it just doesn’t work? Are angels usually uncomfortable having their investments publicly discussed? Or do many people in the realm simply not care about having this type of investment counted? While there are good arguments to be made that Pittsburgh needs more risk capital than it has available, I believe the picture has to be better than even what the PWC report says.
So, how do we keep better track of this information? How do we make it easier to brag about Pittsburgh’s entrepreneurial community?