BetaBoston

Can’t find funding? Try an investor LDR — or simply bootstrap and stay single, says Matthew Bellows

Matthew Bellows, chief executive of Yesware, argues that start-ups need to be flexible and that funding doesn’t have to come from around the corner.
Matthew Bellows, chief executive of Yesware, argues that start-ups need to be flexible and that funding doesn’t have to come from around the corner.Credit:

Last week, when Scott Kirsner reported that Buzzient had left town and was looking for funding out West, he noted that Buzzient chief executive Timothy Jones had blogged his frustration with the lack of interest and investment in social enterprise tools from Boston and Cambridge investors.

Stingy investors — or investors who drag their feet for weeks or months during due diligence — are a common target for area entrepreneurs enamored with stories of Silicon Valley’s signing checks over dinner, but Yesware chief executive Matthew Bellows said that the gripes are often misplaced.

”You’re not going to the place that has the most gross-investment dollars,” he said. “You’re going to go to the place that best helps you to ramp.”

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And with capital becoming increasingly liquid across long distances, areas without large numbers of investors offer other benefits, ranging from a rich talent pool to reduced rent. When you need to reach investors across the country, they are often just a GChat or Skype call away.

Yesware itself recently raised $4 million in Series A funding, with some coming locally from Google Ventures, but others investors hailing from farther away: Golden Venture Partners in Toronto, Foundry Group in Boulder Colorado, and IDG Ventures USA in San Francisco are all stakeholders.

”Everywhere that they say there’s not enough capital, that might be true in that region, but it’s not enough to stop you from doing business,” Bellows said. “Any entrepreneur would say how else can I get this done, either by getting my capital elsewhere or by figuring out a way to run their business without that capital.”

Bellows said when he was fundraising, he worried that Yesware’s Boston location would become an issue for investors, or that they would ask the young company to move out to Boulder or California. He said it never even came up.

”Money is a commodity, and it flows where it can best be put to work,” he said. “Boston is well-known around the world as a great place to build a company.”

And as for individual horror stories, he warned that it’s difficult to draw macro conclusions from one company’s experience — or even several. Too many things go into investors’ decision making, and what seems like stingy investing on one side might appear like a bad investment on the other, or simply not the right time for an investment. But either way, Bellows said that entrepreneurs are entrepreneurs because they can figure out how to overcome unplanned obstacles.

”Complaining rarely solves problems,” he said. “The way to solve problems is to do something about it, whether it’s moving your company, or going out to find an investor, or becoming an investor yourself.”

What’s been your experience? Has building a long-distance relationship with an investor worked out for your company — or have you seen start-ups too eager for seed cash before they’re ready? Let me know at Michael.Morisy@Boston.com, or on Twitter at @Morisy.

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