3 Big Ideas from Frank Artale: Seattle’s Startup Ecosystem, VC Ground Rules, & the New Inflection Point

7/15/11Follow @curtwoodward

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increasing willingness of IT leaders in businesses of all sizes to use technology services from small, early stage companies—and big companies will always go where there’s clear customer demand.

On the entrepreneur side, Artale says the Seattle area is simply getting a fuller roster of startup veterans, including entrepreneurs who know how to lead a new company and engineers who have a few small-company experiences under their belts.

“Now, you’re seeing folks who are on their third company. They’re starting those companies with the kind of understanding of what it takes to raise money, what it takes to be successful,” Artale says. “Because we’re having more and more of that, we’re able to combine more of those sorts of people with people who are now coming out and working maybe at an early stage company for the first time.”

Investment Philosophies
Simplest things first, and probably least surprising for someone with his resume: “I like software,” Artale says. “You can be very capital-efficient, especially these days, building a software company. You can keep the company alive for a long time while it achieves its goals, and even makes some mistakes, as opposed to a company that’s going to be very capital-intensive and consume a bunch of money.”

Familiarity is another key. “Personally, I like to invest in companies that I’ve gotten to know over a period of time as opposed to something that was pitched to me,” Artale says. “If you look at the investments that I’ve sponsored so far at Ignition, these are all companies that I’ve known or otherwise had involvement with for at least a year.”

He’s talking about Ignition’s recent investments in BlueStacks, which lets Android apps run on Windows PC operating systems; ScaleXtreme, which provides online IT management software; and Bromium, a stealthy cloud-computing security startup.

“For me, it’s harder to invest in a company that I’m going to see in a 45 minute pitch … Next Page »

Curt Woodward is a senior editor for Xconomy based in Boston. Email: cwoodward@xconomy.com Follow @curtwoodward

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