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Thank God for Early Stage Innovation

March 7, 2009


Polaris had our Annual Meeting with our LPs this past week. This is kind of like a VC’s once-per-year board meeting. Our investors come to town and we talk about how everything is going, how the past year looked and what we are expecting in the upcoming year.

Needless to say, we discussed the overall economic environment, which is weighing heavily on the LP community right now.

In addition to the dark mood around the economy, though, we heard lots and lots of comments from our LPs what a bright spot it was for them to see a whole bunch of startups working on really interesting and exciting innovation.  One of the things we do every year at our Annual Meeting is invite 15-20 of our recently backed portfolio companies to show their stuff at a “portfolio fair.” And, having now been to 10 of our Annual Meetings, I have to say this year’s batch of portfolio fair participants was the most interesting and exciting ever. I am, of course, biased, but it was a pretty inspiring group, not just by dint of what they are building but also the passion the entrepreneurs are all bringing to their work.

And it was this that, at least for me and several others, was the key takeaway from our meeting. No matter how bad the overall economy, you can’t keep a great entrepreneur down. Which makes early stage investing a good place to be when the economy is filled with storm clouds.


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  1. March 8, 2009

    Good post. It is about time to think of something other than doom and gloom. Visibility on what the entrepreneurial economy will look like in the next few years (after the turn around) is near zero, but transition periods are always periods of low visibility into the future. They are also fertile times for innovation and creation. The last year has provided many great conversations on doom and gloom, but it is time to think about tomorrow. Like water coming through a leaky roof, great entrepreneurs and great investors will always find a way.

  2. March 9, 2009

    mike –

    would you say that the GP posture is however more cautious? there are mumblings in boston of the ‘spigot’ being all but turned off to first timers.

  3. March 10, 2009

    Unfortunately, while this is a great “feel good” story, 10 to 15 startups are not going to create the many jobs with need. It would be nice to see next year the VC community tell us that they have invested in 10 thousands startups in 2009, as it would be real innovation and real progress. Can the VC community re-invent itself and start doing this?

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