No Better Time to Be an Entrepreneur,
Says Key Investor
March 16, 2017
Under the Trump administration, there
will likely be challenges for the U.S. tech industry when it comes to
attracting foreign talent.
But it's never been a better time to start a company, said Dave McClure,
a prominent Silicon Valley venture capitalist.
"The general trend for start-ups under Trump or anyone else is still
fantastic," according to McClure, who was interviewed on stage this week
at South by Southwest, the tech, music, gaming and film conference and
festival in Austin, Texas.
McClure is a founding partner of 500 Startups, a global venture capital
seed fund firm. Since its inception in 2010, the firm has invested in
more than 1,500 technology companies in more than 60 countries.
It also takes investors, start-up founders and Silicon Valley executives
on several tours each year - dubbed "Geeks on a Plane" - to burgeoning
high-growth technology markets. Its next trip will be later this month
to four cities in Africa — Lagos, Nigeria; Accra, Ghana; Johannesburg
and Cape Town, South Africa.
Some aspects of 500 Startups’ work have become more uncertain since
President Donald Trump took office, such as whether the firm can bring
foreign entrepreneurs to the United States, as it does for its
four-month seed program, McClure said. The United States is "shooting
ourselves in the head by limiting immigration," he said.
But when McClure looks out across the world, he sees entrepreneurship as
a global phenomenon not relegated just to U.S. tech industry hubs or
even hot spots such as China and Western Europe.
One sign of whether a region has the potential to take off is whether
there are large investors beyond those offering an entrepreneur initial
funding. Another sign is whether there have been successful “exits,”
which can be when a company is bought by a larger firm or has a
successful public offering.
countries might tout their number of entrepreneurs or point to high tech
industrial parks as signs of a growing innovation ecosystem. But McClure
looks at another measurement - the number of venture capitalists per
capita. The United States and China have the most venture capitalist per
capita, he said, whereas countries such as Brazil and Mexico have just a
But as the U.S. government helped plant the seeds of Silicon Valley,
foreign governments can step in and help a region’s start-up culture
take root, he said.“Get that cycle going,” he said. “And that's what
gets the cycle going in other parts of the world.”
As for people interested in investing globally, by all means, write the
checks, he said. The key is patience.
"If you are going to do international investing, you have to do it for
the long haul," McClure said. "You need to wait three to five years
before it takes off."