The Importance of Venture Capital in Utah

Todd Crosland Venture Capital Salt Lake CityA recent article on Beehive Startups discussed the venture capital scene in Utah as one of their writers attended the Utah Technology Through Time Conference. The conference was held in Salt Lake City as one of the main focal points of discussion was Utah’s startup environment.
One of the first topics discussed was the venture capital support for Utah’s booming tech startup industry. The conference brought together notable venture capitalists whose presence has been felt in Utah. The panel consisted of Ralph Yarro, founder of Think Atomic; Chris Cooper, partner at Pelion Venture Partners; Dr. Dinesh Patel, founder of Signal Peak Ventures; and Sid Green, founder of TerraTek and former Entrepreneur of the Year for the state of Utah.
The panel discussed Utah’s new investment high and posed the question, “how crucial is Venture Capital to Utah’s budding startup scene?” Recently the private research software company, Qualtrics, had a series B investment round of $150 million. The Provo-based company’s record-breaking investment round brought Utah’s overall investment to a record high. The panel went on to discuss the importance of funding needed to keep up with the innovation taking place in Utah.
Ralph Yarro pointed out Ray Noorda, along with a couple other investors who acted as “sugar daddies” and paved the way for Utah’s startup scene and attracted more venture capitalists. Also, state funded injections to the tech startup scene, such as the Small Business Innovation Research and Utah’s Technology Finance Corporation, made Utah a more attractive place for venture capitalists. These injections along with Utah’s high-profile investors brought Utah from the fringe of IT into a more central role that developed throughout the years.
Two more interesting observations were said about Utah’s developing startup scene. One of Utah’s biggest tech disadvantages was their lack of C-Level executives. It was difficult to convince big business heads to come to Salt Lake City and live in Utah. This is not the case anymore as Salt Lake City is becoming more attractive and bringing in more C-Level executives. Another aspect that was brought up by Dinesh Patel was that many entrepreneurs in Utah are content with quitting after selling a company for $5 to $10 million, whereas in Silicon Valley, entrepreneurs will sell their company and move on to their next venture.