As we have discussed previously on this blog, Fort Worth is now the 13th largest city in the country, but it ranks 40th in early stage funding when compared to other US cities. In this post we will explore how Fort Worth compares to these cities in a variety of other metrics, plus we will discuss some reasonable targets we could set to move up in the rankings.
Our team analyzed early stage funding using Pitchbook, the proprietary research tool that focuses on early stage investment data, to see where Fort Worth ranked compared to the top 50 largest cities (by population) in the US. We defined early stage capital as all seed and angel investments, plus early stage venture capital investments, which included Series A, B and C funding rounds. As we have previously mentioned, Pitchbook has some limitations but as one of the premier data providers in this space their data is solid enough for us to draw some important conclusions about funding trends. We looked at the last five years, encompassing the 2015-2020 timeframe. Here’s how Fort Worth looks in some of these major categories:
Then, we compared these numbers to the total early stage capital raised over the same period in each of the largest 50 US cities, ranked by the value of early stage capital raised. As the chart below indicates, Fort Worth punches way below its weight compared to other large US cities:
In terms of early stage capital raised, Fort Worth sits squarely between Albuquerque, NM and Bakersfield, CA. For context, Albuquerque has a population of about 560,000 people, about 340,000 fewer than Fort Worth and ranks as the 32nd largest city in the country. Jacksonville is the only one on this list that is relatively close to Fort Worth in population size, ranking just ahead of Fort Worth at #12, but Jacksonville raised nearly $30 million (or ~34%) more early stage capital over the same period of time.
By this metric, Fort Worth is far behind other US cities, but how far does the Fort have to go? To match our population rank (13th) with our early stage capital rank, we’d need 16x more capital, or $1.3 billion more (in addition to the $88M already being invested), up from the $17 million currently being raised by Fort Worth-based startups (on an average annualized basis). To make the top 20, Fort Worth companies would need to raise 7x more capital, or $565 million.
This analysis assumes that startups in all other cities would raise similar amounts of capital. With California emptying out, government stimulus flowing in a new Administration and the cost of borrowing currently being very inexpensive, it is likely that other cities will continue to increase their early stage investments as well. This will be a moving target for sure.
What will it take for Fort Worth to improve its place in these rankings? Here are a few thoughts on some ways that our city could rally around startups and entrepreneurs to move the needle.
- First, our city needs to know where we rank on these kinds of metrics. To our knowledge, no one else has looked at our local economy in this way. We need to all be more educated on this topic and understand the implications it has on our business climate.
- We need to fill critical gaps in our funding ecosystem for startup companies. Fort Worth lacks several funding mechanisms that can jumpstart this kind of activity like a seed fund or a matching fund for local angel investors.
- Fort Worth is the largest city in the country without an accelerator program (that invests directly in startup companies, mentors them and prepares them for a demo day that can raise additional capital for the company). Though not a panacea, this is a missing pathway for local entrepreneurs and investors.
- A focused PR campaign to increase awareness around this issue and define Fort Worth as a great place to start and grow a company.
- Reach out to the numerous investors in Fort Worth to increase their involvement in early stage funding. There is no shortage of investment money in our area and we need to connect them to local startups.
Though none of these will serve as a magic bullet to help Fort Worth-based startups raise more capital, they will certainly help increase funding levels for entrepreneurs.
We’re coming for you, Albuquerque…
Interested in seeing more stats on the Fort Worth entrepreneurial ecosystem? Click here to view other data related posts.
This post is a collaborative effort by Cameron Cushman, Assistant Vice President at HSC Innovation Ecosystems and Trent Barron, a previous Intern at HSC Innovation Ecosystems.