Ron Conway on How New York and Chicago Stack Up to Silicon Valley

Entrepreneurs in Chicago and New York until recently stood in the shadow of the nation’s premier tech center, Silicon Valley. No longer.

Today, “these are great centers of innovation as good as Silicon Valley,” said Ron Conway during an on-stage interview Thursday afternoon at the Plug and Play Expo. “I couldn’t say that three years ago.”

Conway, co-founder of the firm SV Angel, shared the stage with Omid Kordestani, senior advisor in the office of the CEO and founders at Google. Here are several observations from his interview:

  • Relationships are the ticket to successful investing. “I believe relationships are literally the lifeblood of Silicon Valley,” Conway said. He was an early investor in Google and today a big slice of his portfolio companies want to develop business arrangements with the company. Ties he made as an investor can help smooth the path.
  • Investors and entrepreneurs shouldn’t argue over “nickels and dimes,” Conway suggested. Investing is a “binary” exercise, and if portfolio companies make it big, the size of an early round valuation will matter little, he said.