Opinion: Ohio’s Well To Do – Time to Get Off The Bench – Seriously, Stop Being a Bunch of Wimps and Invest

You fell for the click-bait in the title…excellent. I have your attention for the next five seconds. I’m going to throw out a number: $700 million. Still have your attention? Good. $700 million is my estimate of the cash Ohio-based startups are looking to find, but can’t find because there are not enough investors and not enough capital sloshing around in the system. So what? Here’s the so what: those are startups that would be creating jobs, inventing new stuff, taking new products to market and…wait for it…returning s#&t loads of cash to investors.

So why aren’t the well-to-do jumping at this chance to put money into these startups that have capable founders, strong go-to-market strategies and an actual market with paying customers lined up? It’s simple…you are a bunch of wimps. Complacency has made you soft. That P&G stock you have been holding onto for the past five years giving you that 1.6x return is good enough in your mind. Fine. Sit on your comfy bench as you watch the world go right on past.

However, can I interest you in a 2x return? Maybe a 3x? Or a 5x? Or if we are lucky, maybe a 10x return on your cash? But there’s one catch, these investments are a bit risky – you might lose some or all of your investment. But, you’ve seen 1,500 point swings in the market and aren’t phased in the least, so how is this any different? Oh, and the cool thing here is that you actually can take an active role in helping the startup if you want. You can call up the CEO of the company you are invested in and they will actually take your call and know who you are. Can you do that with your P&G stock? Oh, I didn’t think so.

If you’ve made it this far, you probably see what I am getting at. If you follow the media, press releases, congratulatory this and that, and the dog and pony shows masked as public industry awards, the casual observer would think everything is all hunky-dory in Ohio startup land. The fact of the matter is that it’s not. We have tremendous talent coming out of Ohio Universities. We have a smart workforce. We have state programs focusing on technology commercialization and providing what amounts to a 50 percent discount on raising capital. We have trained successful executives to be mentors and board members to these new companies. But, we are still falling way behind in the demand for capital to invest in startups. It’s a problem of too many deals chasing too few dollars.

 

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