Utah has a glut of investment capital available to fund new and growing businesses, a local venture capitalist said Wednesday.
At the kick-off event for vSpring Capital's Top 100 Venture Entrepreneurs, Greg Warnock, managing director of the firm, and Utah Gov. Jon M. Huntsman Jr. hailed entrepreneurship as one of the key drivers of Utah's economic future.
"V/100 entrepreneurs make a difference, in that you improve the human condition," Warnock said, citing entrepreneurs' contribution to the Human Genome Project and in the fields of radiation therapy, technology and engineering. "These innovations make our lives more convenient, safer, easier and more productive."
Today, thanks to increased contributions from angel investors and others, Warnock said, "there is an oversupply of investment capital. There's more capital per deal then ever before. Access to capital is clearly becoming a less-credible scapegoat" for entrepreneurial performance in Utah.
The v/100 class of 2005 includes 42 new "inductees." To date, the v/100 group has raised more than $4 billion in capital and formed companies and created more than 15,000 jobs, according to vSpring, an early-stage venture capital fund based in Salt Lake City.
The v/100 was designed to help entrepreneurs and vSpring locate and build relationships with the top executives in the region. Members of the v/100 are chosen through a peer-nominated and peer-selected process.
The 2005 class includes Patrick M. Byrne, chief executive of Overstock.com; Nicole Toomey Davis, president of Enclavix; Eric Jacobsen, managing director of Dolphin II; and James Sorenson Jr., chief executive of Sorenson Media.
Entrepreneurs are innovators, risk takers and trend-setters, Warnock said. They are passionate, forward-thinking, persistent and self-determined.
"You are problem solvers. You undertake difficult things because they are worthwhile and should be done," he said. "You do it because you accept the risks. . . . You believe you can personally make a difference. And so you do."
Entrepreneurs will play a key role as Utah and the rest of the world deal with the emergence of China and India on the economic playing field, Huntsman said.
"This is an uncertain future, and we've got to compete," Huntsman said. So, he asked, "What do we need to do to make sure that our state maintains a level of relevance and competitiveness?"
Huntsman reiterated six priorities of his administration: tax reform and simplification for individual, corporate and sales tax; ensuring a "fair, but not over-reaching" regulatory environment; focusing on entrepreneurship; recognizing the need for both capital and advisory services; building strong partnerships with higher education, including the formation of more centers of excellence; and "playing to Utah's strengths," including biotechnology, computer technology, aerospace design and engineering, Homeland Security technologies and energy."Our main objective is to maintain an environment where you as entrepreneurs can thrive," he said. "That is our charge, and I believe that together we can get it done."