As we head into 2016, we leave behind a year of robust trends for venture capital—or “VC”—funding. In coming months, many entrepreneurs are looking for the best sources to help fund the startups they have planned.

Whether the end goal is to exit, be acquired, or have enough in the bank to launch, it’s important for entrepreneurs to find the companies that can help them do it.

To provide a little guidance, MBA@UNC, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School’s online MBA program, created a map of some of the hottest VC spots in the U.S.

We’ll dig into the regions that are highlighted, and a few companies there that you might want to check out.

Pacific Northwest

The Pacific Northwest had a great overall year for venture capital activity in 2015—even if you count the 59 percent dip in Q4.

According to Pitchbook, the data and technology provider for the global private equity and venture capital markets, the year’s total for this region was a record $2.4 billion invested in 374 startups in that area. That figure was an increase from $2.3 billion in 2014 and $1.4 billion in 2013.

The MBA@UNC map highlights Madrona Venture Group, which Pitchbook reported to be the “most active venture firm in the Northwest” in 2015. Madrona focuses its efforts on funding early-stage companies, especially ones that they determine to have the potential to innovate and disrupt markets.

Southern California

This region is well-known as the home of Silicon Valley, as well as a growing tech hub in the San Francisco Bay Area. In the Bay Area, there’s a very robust tech ecosystem, with an eye on more gender diversity in the VC sector.

One look at sites like socalTECH, which covers tech news for Southern California, and you can see that there’s an ongoing flurry of startup and VC activity in this region. Here’s a snapshot of some of the investment companies highlighted on the MBA@UNC map:

  • Silicon Valley Bank: Silicon Valley Bank provides targeted financial services and expertise to companies of all sizes, to help innovative companies and their investors succeed in business.
  • Bessemer Venture Partners: From seed stage to growth, Bessemer Venture Partners invests in enterprise, consumers, and healthcare technology startups to turn their ideas into market-leading businesses.
  • is a global venture capital firm that backs internet and software founders. They invest from seed to growth with flexibility in ownership and amounts.
  • CrunchFund: The early stage venture capital firm invests in and works with information technology companies at any stage. Sectors CrunchFund invests in include mobile, curated web, software, Bitcoin, information security, enterprise, and SaaS.
  • Qualcomm Ventures: Qualcomm Ventures makes investments in privately owned startup ventures, focusing on wireless communication technologies. Their mission is to enable and foster 3G and wireless internet markets through investments.
  • Upfront Ventures: UpFront Ventures invests in businesses that are technology led. The industries they focus on include digital media, commerce technology and marketplaces, consumers goods and services, and SaaS. UpFront typically writes their first checks at the Seed or Series A round.


Colorado isn’t typically top of mind when it comes to venture capital firms, but there are more located in the state than many entrepreneurs are aware of. One of the more prominent is the Foundry Group, which made the MBA@UNC map. Led by a team of entrepreneurs, this firm focuses on investing in early-stage information technology, internet, and software startups—as well as providing additional support.

Austin, Texas, is a rapidly growing tech hub and has some top venture capital firms located there as well. One of the most well-known—and, of course, on the map—is Austin Ventures. Austin Ventures works with executives and entrepreneurs to build companies predominantly in Texas by making investments in early stage and middle market companies.

See Also: What Venture Capital Firms Want


As noted in this recent article, different regions have unique technical strengths, which also require venture capital strategies that align accordingly. Pittsburgh is a region in the Midwest that is increasingly known for its diverse portfolio of technology services.

Over the last decade, the top 10 technologies funded have included laboratory services, energy exploration, battery storage, medical devices, software, and electronic equipment.

One of the top VC firms there is Innovation Works; Innovation Works invests capital and business expertise into high-potential companies with the greatest likelihood of regional economic impact. They are the single largest investor in seed-stage companies in the region.


Forbes calls New York and New England “regional hotbeds for venture capital activity,” so it’s no wonder firms in this area made the map. In New York City, technology and digital disruption are the top trends, and New England has a strong focus on life sciences. Here are a few of the top firms in the Northeast:

  • Oak Investment Partners: A multi-stage venture capital firm, Oak Investment Partners focuses on high-growth opportunities in the clean energy, financial services technology, healthcare information and services, information technology, and internet and consumer sectors.
  • BoxGroup: BoxGroup is an early stage investment fund that makes investments ranging from $50,000 to $250,000.
  • Flybridge Capital Partners: This early stage firm’s investment focuses include software and next generation hardware markets. They invest in strong teams, massive market opportunities, and novel IP.

Being an entrepreneur with startup goals can offer seemingly endless challenges, but with the right support and the financial backing you need, impacting the world with your “big idea” may happen sooner than you think.

AvatarMolly Greenberg

Molly Greenberg is the community content manager for MBA@UNC, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School's online MBA program. Molly was named one of Washington's 100 top tech leaders by the Washingtonian in 2015 for her in-depth media coverage of the business of higher education, education policy, education technology, and startups across the Washington, D.C., area.