Feeling the Momentum

I can feel the momentum building as we come up on our one year anniversary at Hula. Thousands of people have entered the buildings over the last 12 months to experience the energy, the people, and the aesthetic that has come to shape the Hula experience. The biggest take away for me has been the elevated interest and enthusiasm in investing in Vermont-based start ups. The same phenomenon may be occurring in other small cities across the US, but it feels like Burlington is experiencing more than its share relative to its size and population. I'm obviously biased, but it just seems like we have a ton of increased interest and enthusiasm in supporting our local founders.

None of us could have imagined the spark that would be ignited throughout the local investment community by the creation of the Fund at Hula and the amount of deal flow that would become more publicized and accessible as a result. The timing of the Fund couldn't have been better with Benchmark Space Systems and Beta Technologies looking for their first or second early outside investments at the time the Fund was created. Since then both companies have gone on to series A rounds and beyond furthering the growth of their staff and necessary capital to grow.

The most exciting thing to me about our early stage rounds is the fact that most every raise was completed with Vermont dollars. Why is that important? Because it gives us the best chance of keeping these companies in state. If out-of-state investors find their way onto the cap table, there's always a chance that they'll put pressure on the company to move - particularly if they feel Vermont doesn't have an adequate labor pool for staffing up or the necessary access to customers and partners to succeed.

We created Hula to help stimulate job growth in Burlington and we measure ourselves against that metric. But Vermont has its challenges when it comes to recruiting new talent from outside the area. We are the second smallest state by population which means we will be depending on outside talent to fill the open positions at our fastest-growing companies. From an outside perspective, Burlington may not look like it holds much hi-tech opportunity for new recruits. This illusion can be dangerous when courting a new hire who may be wondering what options she/he has if things don't work out. Will they have to move again, or can they find another option in their field nearby? And what about the trailing spouse dilemma? Sure, she may have found her new dream job in Burlington, but what about her partner? Is there enough opportunity in town for both to continue on their respective career paths?

Recruiting talent is always a challenge. There's a lot of competition out there particularly when you consider what the remote workforce movement has done to mix things up even further. Today more than ever, the internet is delivering on the promise of being able to work from anywhere causing almost everyone to reassess where they work and live. We've certainly seen an influx of co-workers at Hula who moved to Vermont for lifestyle choices while keeping their employment out of state. All this new talent is good for our growing labor force, but we're still falling short on the projections and immediate needs of our employers.

Earlier this fall we hosted Tech Jam - the all-day technology job fair created by the team at Seven Days. The level of attendance by both exhibitors and job hunters was impressive. The exhibitor list was a who's who of the most well known tech companies in the area. To an outside recruit, the breadth and diversity of industries and companies had to be startling. I'm hopeful that Tech Jam can grow to become a multi-day recruiting event that not only builds awareness of the companies in our area, but also promotes Burlington itself as an ideal place to live and work.

Announcing the BTV Tech Book
In an effort to showcase the amount of tech activity in the area, our friend Artur Adib (founder of Biocogniv) started a website many years ago that listed the names, bios, and website addresses of every technology company in the area he could find. He did this on his own accord with the simple intention of promoting the technology scene in and around Burlington. Artur was gracious enough to share that database with us so that we could bring it back to life on the pages of the Hula website. We combed through the data the best we could making small updates and additions as needed and are proud to share this first version of the BTV Tech Book with all of you. I'm sure we missed a few of you, so please reach out if you'd like to be included. Do the same if you'd like us to make any edits or changes to your listing. I hope you'll find this directory helpful in your recruiting practices by demonstrating to those hires coming from out of state that there are plenty of technology careers to be found in greater Burlington.

Happy New Year!