Investor Karim Faris loves Silicon Valley, but when he’s looking for deals, he’s a big fan of escaping it, too.
A general partner at Mountain View-based GV (formerly Google Ventures), Faris makes a point of creating ample time to explore other entrepreneurial hotbeds.
“I’m a fan of emerging ecosystems that are not in the Valley — other areas where the talent pools are unbelievable,” he tells Business Insider. “Where it just feels like you can be a lot more thoughtful recruiting, where there’s no frenzy. I like going and looking for entrepreneurs in those pockets.”
Faris has funded startups in Atlanta, Georgia (FullStory, Ionic Security), Ann Arbor, Michigan (Duo), Portland, Oregon (Puppet), and Austin (RetailMeNot), and has built up connections in those cities and others.
“It’s a breath of fresh air to be able to poke your head in and see what kind of innovation these areas have,” he says. “Each ecosystem thinks in different ways. They have expertise in certain domains that others aren’t as strong in. It’s so fascinating to learn from.”
This principle means he’s racked up his frequent flyer miles.
“The best way to find these companies is actually to go there. It takes work and the willingness to fly over on a regular basis to discover, learn the ecosystem, and make the connections. Some [startups] do come to Boston or Silicon Valley to look for investors, but I think the right way to do it is just to build connections by going there personally.”
His trick: Prepare to alternate board meeting locations or try out teleconferencing.
Google cofounder Sergey Brin actually made a similar statement recently, advising wannabe entrepreneurs to start their companies outside of Silicon Valley rather than in it.
“During the boom cycles, the expectations around the costs — real estate, salaries — the expectations people and employees have … it can be hard to make a scrappy initial business that’s self-sustaining,” he said. “Whereas in other parts of the world you might have an easier time for that.”
Although Brin did say that Silicon Valley is better for raising more capital, Faris proves that it doesn’t have to be a necessity.