Being a big fish in a small pond can have more downside than upside.

Small ball is traditionally a baseball term applied to a scoring strategy that involves singles, walks, stolen bases (all easier to create) all coupled together to manufacture a run as opposed to hoping for the big swing for a home run (which are more difficult to make happen).

In the context of a startup and especially in an emerging market area, some companies are content to play small ball as a strategy to build their company. In a region where a lack of capital and hyper-relevant experienced mentors (home run hitters) creates additional challenges, I applaud companies that work around those to create business momentum. But there are just as many negative consequences of that approach and you need to be aware of those.

This July will mark 10 years of my living in the Raleigh/Durham North Carolina area of the country, which is referred to some as RTP (Research Triangle Park) or “The Triangle”. To date we have thankfully not tried to adopt some cute area moniker like Silicon BBQ.

There is much written these days about the “Rise of the Rest” as coined by Steve Case and I am a firm believer that great companies can be started AND executed outside of San Francisco and New York City. This is now and integral part of my life’s mission and the basis for my investment of personal capital and time in The Startup Factory. My thesis is that there are at least 10 areas of the country that are poised to deliver on the promise of the rise of the rest.

My challenge is then to identify, invest & mentor the best companies and The Startup Factory is my vehicle to do that. With 31 investments over the last 3 years and another 1,000 companies that we have interacted with, I have seen many versions of small ball in an emerging market.

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