Sequoia Capital vet Mark Kvamme has tired of all of the opportunities in Sunnyvale and Santa Clara, Menlo Park and Mountain View, Cupertino and Palo Alto. The future of America, as he sees it, is on the frozen plains of his brief political career: Silicon Cornfield, if you will. In Chillicothe and Kalamazoo, Muncie and Muskegon, Gary and Green Bay, Carbondale and Cleveland….
Mr. Kvamme and another former Sequoia partner, Chris Olsen, have finished raising an inaugural $250 million fund for Drive Capital, their new venture capital firm focused on companies in the Midwest region, according to an announcement on Tuesday….
If there is one thing that unites their investments, it is location. So far, their portfolio companies include: a start-up in Chicago that collects online retail data; another in Columbus, Ohio, that is creating a health information exchange; one in Ann Arbor, Mich., that makes farm management software; and one in Cincinnati that helps travelers plan road trips.
“We truly believe the best place in America to build your company is in the Midwest,” Mr. Kvamme said….
Mr. Kvamme made his way to the Midwest in 2011, when Gov. John R. Kasich of Ohio tapped him for a cabinet role. But he did not stay long in the job, becoming the center of a controversy when an advocacy group filed a lawsuit challenging the appointment on the grounds that Mr. Kvamme was a California resident….
“I started to see all this opportunity in the Midwest and in Ohio and got really excited about the companies,” Mr. Kvamme said. “What was clear to me was they were really lacking Silicon Valley-style venture capital.”