If you look at the statistics, the Mid-Atlantic region gets probably close to its fair share of [venture capital] money, but it doesn't get it from local sources. As a result, the entrepreneurs have to work harder and reach further. By creating a fund here and a source of capital, the homegrown deals will get to use homegrown money, and we'll avoid having a pull to take the companies away as they grow.
We're finding a reasonably warm reception. The old money/new money debate falls into the category of risk-tolerance, and whether you're willing to make an investment in technology as opposed to lower-risk investment in real estate or bonds. I think that mentality is changing. I think the large deep pockets of East Coast money are still risk-averse. But we're growing our next generation of risk-takers.
It's almost a generational thing. You have to have a generation of entrepreneurs who come from a risk-based source of wealth to then replenish that risk-based source of wealth.
InvestMaryland is Gov. Martin O'Malley's signature plan to jump-start technology investment in Maryland. The program recently raised $84 million from the sale of insurance tax credits. Is $84 million a big deal?
By my estimation, there's probably more than a half a billion needed for early-stage capital in the Mid-Atlantic area. The $84 million is absolutely a great thing. I think it will have as much an emotional kick as it does in terms of absolute dollars in the ecosystem.
You've been talking about plans to organize the angel investor community better in Maryland. You've mentioned organizing a $50 million early-stage fund. How and why would TEDCO play a role in helping organize private investors?
We are not a government agency. We are an instrumentality of the state. We report to our board. We don't report to the governor. We act and function like any other private [corporation]. I think the libertarians would be OK with TEDCO doing this. Organizing private capital is a way for TEDCO to earn income and a way to leverage the shrinking state dollars that we have.