Forging the Future is on the road in San Francisco this week for TechCrunch Disrupt. In this information-packed episode, Chris interviews two VCs from Oklahoma, Nathaniel Harding and Michael Basch, and another investor that’s recently relocated from San Fran to Texas, George Munguia. Topics include derisking tech investments, expanding venture in the mid-continent US, pushing back against negative economic narratives, mentoring founders with past operator experiences, and raising funds in a down market.
Visit Nathaniel Harding on LinkedIn.
Visit George Munguia on LinkedIn.
Visit Michael Basch on LinkedIn.
Check out TechCrunch Disrupt on the TechCrunch website.
Connect with Chris Howard on LinkedIn.
Check out Softeq on the Softeq website.
[00:00] Podcast begins - Unleashing Innovation and Wisdom at TechCrunch Disrupt
[00:36] Mid-continent investing with Nathaniel Harding
[10:33] Raising an $80 million fund for Cortado Ventures
[15:25] Going stealth for your startup with George Munguia
[21:06] Tackling the negative venture narrative
[27:26] Reinvigorating Tulsa with Michael Basch
[33:49] Building relationships with other venture funds
Nathaniel Harding, Managing Partner at Cortado Ventures
Cortado Ventures is focused on mid-continent startups. What’s going on mid-continent?
Mid-continent is a region comprised of states like Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Texas, Arkansas, and New Mexico. Although many people would consider those “fly-over” states, Nathaniel sees massive potential for tech investment. While coastal VCs might overlook these areas, venture has grown massively in recent years, especially in states like Oklahoma. Nathaniel explains that investors in these areas have traditionally been in oil, gas, and real estate, but the tides are turning and Cortado is helping investors get a risk appetite for tech.
“Oklahoma is similar to places like Dallas, where you have people that traditionally had invested in things like retail or real estate, oil and gas, there's lots of money in these areas. That the same kind of risk appetite and entrepreneurial spirit that drove developments in those industries, is actually a pretty natural fit and a very easy parallel to invest in technology.” - Nathaniel
George Munguia, Strategic Partnerships Manager at Forecastr
You recently became involved in a stealth startup. What is that, and why go stealth?
Alongside his work with Forecastr, George has involved himself with a new stealth startup slowly making the rounds and talking with potential customers. Traditionally, stealth startups don’t share much information publicly, often to hide certain tech advancements. George explains that his startup is stealth partly because he and his team want the freedom to pivot throughout this growth period. As they continue to network and speak with customers and investors, George is confident that many things will change for them, so stealth seems best.
“I think, at least for me, it might be a little bit different from a lot of other people. I genuinely believe that when you're building, you're gonna pivot a lot. For us, we're really just trying to talk to as many customers as possible.” - George
Michael Basch, CEO & General Partner at Atento Capital
Atento is focused heavily on getting startups to relocate to Tulsa, Oklahoma. Why?
While Atento Capital is an independent company, Michael explains that they’re actually the venture arm of a family foundation, the George Kaiser Foundation. This foundation aims to help Tulsans tackle intergenerational poverty and improve their local economy. For Atento, encouraging startups to relocate to Tulsa proves jobs, income, and economic growth for people residing in the area. By focusing on Tulsa-based investing, Atento can boost the economy in the surrounding area and build up the region and the state in terms of venture opportunity.
“We're really trying to change the circumstance of a specific geography. And so, things that we're thinking about is, how do we create paths of upward mobility for Tulsans? How do we democratize access to capital for Tulsans? We want to provide not just the financial capital, but the human capital and the bridging of networks for the people.” - Michael