In late 2009 we were actively talking with VCs about raising money as the business had just hit an inflection point and we saw tremendous opportunity. During the proverbial Sand Hill Rd trip we met with quite a few VCs and gave them our pitch. After meeting with about 30 VCs over the period of two months we were asked to do a full partner presentation to six of them (that’s usually the last stage before a term sheet). We were back out in California for one of these full partner pitches, gave our pitch, and were in Q&A mode when a common question came up:
VC: So, what part of North Carolina are you in?
Me: Hmm, we’re actually in Atlanta, Georgia.
VC: Ah, sorry. So, do you have engineers in Silicon Valley, Boston, or off-shore?
Me: No. We do all our engineering in-house in Atlanta.
VC: Where do you find engineers in Atlanta?
Me: Georgia Tech
VC: You hire GA Tech employees without startup experience?
Me: No, there are tons of startups in Atlanta that have Georgia Tech graduates. We look for smart people who get things done, regardless of school, but Georgia Tech grads comprise the majority of our engineering team.
The VC was genuinely asking the question and wasn’t trying to be arrogant. I proceeded to explain that Georgia Tech is the largest engineering school in the country and one of the top academically. Because I’m such a proponent of core product engineering being an in-house function, I need to be in a city with great engineering talent. If Georgia Tech wasn’t in Atlanta I wouldn’t be either.