Many in the Pacific Northwest technology scene may already be familiar with Boris Wertz, the Vancouver, B.C. super angel who started his own venture capital fund at Version One Ventures. The former AbeBooks exec is involved in a number of startup companies along the Cascadia corridor, from Seattle cosmetics upstart Julep to Vancouver fashion startup Indochino.
Now, Wertz — who apparently wasn’t busy enough criss-crossing the globe looking for deals —has a new gig that he’s added to his plate. He’s joined the Silicon Valley powerhouse firm of Andreessen Horowitz as a board partner, a part-time role in which the investor will sit on boards and scout new deals. He will continue to invest out of his own fund at Version One, but he’ll also have the credibility and checkbook of Andreessen Horowitz at his disposal too.
The firm writes in a blog post:
Wertz’s nomadic impulse gives him a unique and valuable vantage point from which to view the startup ecosystem, one that we are fortunate Wertz is bringing to Andreessen Horowitz in his new role as a board partner at the firm. If you want to know who the up-and-comers are in Waterloo or Austin or Portland you talk to Wertz, something we already do around here at a16z. Now it’s just going to happen a whole lot more.
That could be good news for startups in the Northwest, one of Wertz’s primary stomping grounds. In fact, a Q&A with Wertz posted on the Andreessen Horowitz blog offers insights into how he makes investments, shedding light on what it is like operating outside of Silicon Valley. He notes:
I think there is Silicon Valley, and then there are smaller ecosystems in places like New York, Toronto, , Seattle and other places. Compared to Silicon Valley, they all lack consistency of deal flow. That said, great companies do get built outside of Silicon Valley, and there are great opportunities. And this is the interesting thing, when you find an entrepreneur outside of the Valley usually they have this extra passion for what they are building because in some ways they have to work much harder to pull it off. They know it’s hard to raise money. They know it’s even harder to build a company. Yet they are still doing it.
He continued later on that theme when asked about advantages of building companies outside of the Valley:
I think the initial advantage is you have much better access to talent when there isn’t like 20 companies competing for the same people. At the same time, the challenge is lack of senior talent. It is actually a relatively easy to build a great company and these smaller ecosystems up to 20 or 25 people. But when you need to hire the first VP of sales, and the first VP of marketing, you often need to start looking elsewhere. So starting companies is one thing, but scaling is tougher outside of Silicon Valley, often much harder than the initial phase of a company.
Here’s Wertz speaking at GeekWire’s Startup Day event last year, telling entrepreneurs how to build a $100 million business.