We’ve heard the complaints loud and clear that the Pacific Northwest simply needs more money flowing into early-stage startups. Well, Boris Wertz wants to do something about it.
The Vancouver, B.C. angel investor and former COO of AbeBooks (sold to Amazon.com in 2008) has been investing his own money for some time, bankrolling more than 35 startups.
Now, Wertz is picking up the pace by forming Version One Ventures, a $15 million “micro-VC fund” that will invest $250,000 to $500,000 in seed and series A deals in the consumer Internet, SaaS and mobile arenas.
“My simple investment thesis: back passionate entrepreneurs who are trying to solve a big problem with a strong product vision,” Wertz writes.
An active angel whose past investments include Yapta, Julep, Smore and Sparkbuy, Wertz sees big opportunities in the Seattle-Portland-Vancouver corridor.
“The Pacific Northwest has tons of great engineering and design talent and entrepreneurs who have proven that they can build great companies,” said Wertz, who prior to AbeBooks co-founded Germany’s JustBooks. ”It might not have the exposure of the Valley or New York but also lacks the noise that sometimes distracts from creating real value for customers.”
Wertz said that in this day and age, startups need help “cutting through the noise” and getting to a place where they can scale.
“Too many start-ups end up being great product features, but cannot survive on their own,” he says. Wertz plans to use his deep operational background to help entrepreneurs jump over that chasm, noting that he wants to help entrepreneurs “avoid a few mistakes I did during my start-up years.”
“With the web rapidly moving to mobile and billions of new people having access to the Internet through smart phones, it is a really exciting time to start a company – and I want to be in the front row helping entrepreneurs build the next generation of companies. Having a larger check book available to me will help this goal.”
Version One is backed by former Yahoo president Jeff Mallett, as well as more than a dozen other entrepreneurs from the U.S. and Canada.