Last night’s featured guest at Startup Grind Sacrament was Dave McClure, co-founder of 500 Startups. Speaking with Rich Foreman at a packed Urban Hive, Dave recounted his early days in Silicon Valley, initially as a programmer, then a startup founder, angel investor and launching 500 Startups.
Of particular interest to many in attendance was 500 Startup’s interest in Sacramento. When asked about his thoughts on Sacramento after spending the day meeting with the likes of Mayor Kevin Johnson and Barry Broom:
“What we’ve really been trying to look at is what kind of areas is Sacramento good at. What kind of things are going on here that already are unique and differentiated. I think there’s probably at least 3 to 5 sectors we feel are already working.” You can see what those 3 – 5 sectors are in the video below.
Continuing on the same thread, Dave said, “Maybe there’s some opportunities in education and a few other places. But I think sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the trend of the day. The thing is you’re going to be competing with the rest of the world, and competing with Silicon Valley. If you want to do AI or drones or some other areas that are very, very competitive, realize that you gotta be really good at those things because about an hour and a half south there’s a very, very large number of people working on those same ideas. There may be less of them working on a few of those other ideas. So for people who are working on AgTech, healthcare and medical, working on solving government-related issues – those are differentiated things, those are kind of the super powers for Sacramento.”
“So I’m not saying you shouldn’t build the most awesome drone-based AI delivery system, but maybe you do that for AgTech or healthcare and medical. Maybe you find how those tools and technologies are relevant to areas that are specific to the region.”
When asked by an audience member about an article in February about 500 Startups partnering with Sacramento and what that meant, Dave responded:
“We hope it means that Sacramento is going to give us some money. The statement was around the Sacramento region investing in our fund. That’s what we’re working towards. We’re still trying to figure out the right structure for that. We want to kind of be able to invest in this region. We want to be able to work with other accelerators, angel investors, seed funds, maybe even the government organizations and academic organizations themselves. A lot of it [the statement] was how do we figure out what type of ecosystem will work in Sacramento and can we find some big opportunities. Some of it is selfishly around the investments that we’re making but it’s also trying to figure out what kind of businesses and investment models are going to work here. I’m not saying we’re going to figure that all out, but hopefully we learn about what’s working here and try to dive into some of that.”
If you’d like to catch the video of the entire interview, keep an eye out on Startup Grind Sacramento for the full video when it’s published.