Among the venture capitalists at this year's Northside was
Barnes returned a third time to colead one of its Innovation sessions with
Barnes and Rose spoke before an audience of about 50 entrepreneurs from start-ups and digital agencies.
In an e-mail, Barnes summarized his theme -- that the venture-capital user experience "is broken and needs to change as the market makes it more and more clear that VCs [venture capitalists] are on the sell-side, not the buy-side."
The topic was urbane, but Barnes' attire was urban from head to toe: jeans, bright sneakers, and a graphic T-shirt that declared "BE A FOUNDER." He looked more like a trendy Brooklynite than a professional investor.
"If I'm more dressed up, I'm uncomfortable," said Barnes, who has sported informal apparel since his days as the creative director of athletic shoe company AND1. Employees wore the company's products. "It's harder to wear a suit with sneakers," he mused.
To an outsider, the relaxed vibe of the ensemble would belie, rather than suggest, financial savvy. But Barnes and Rose (who wore a suit) both meant business.
Barnes discussed how venture capitalists often take their time before decidinge whether or not to fund a project, while Rose added that if a business does not at least promise an outsize return, it may not attract venture capitalist or angel funding in the first place.
Real, these days, looks a lot like hip.
If he wore a tie, Urevick-Ackelsberg said, "people would think that I was going to court or something."
It would be easy to assume that millennials and Gen Xers are responsible for a trend that reflects the simple, streamlined aesthetic of cutting-edge apps and websites such as RoboPhone, which teaches children how to code.
Yet geography, as well as generation, may also be at work. Urevick-Ackelsberg said he thinks, to some extent, that "it seems more like a
Barnes, less sure about the bicoastal origins, said you can spot venture capitalists, management consultants, and wannabe investors donning the same uniform, a blue button-down and khakis, on both sides of the country.
At Northside, though, the impact of geography isn't exclusively sartorial.
And anyway, he prefers his hometown for its sense of community: "Philly has a bit of an envy thing with regard to
First Round, too, has a fair share of pride for its birthplace. "We're big believers in Philly as a city," said Barnes. "We continue to be there and build our company there and see others build their companies there."
No matter what spats over metropolitan cultural cred emerge, there is no denying the ubiquity of the tech set. "The power of the tech community," Barnes said, is that "it's both national and local at the same time," fueled by people "sharing ideas across geographies."
Philadelphia Tech Week may lack the indie/arts pizzazz of Northside, but Urevick-Ackelsberg said the quality is higher.
"The takeaway is that we've got to get better at marketing, which is always the story with Philly," he said. "We have a great thing going on here -- which makes me miss
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