Paul Singh, global investor and founder of five companies, is coming to Fargo next week as part of his cross-country Results Junkies tour. He’s stacking his week with events and opportunities to meet local founders and investors, with the possibility of investing in a few companies as well. The goal, he said, is to “shine a spotlight on what’s happening in these cities.”
The origin of this road trip started after Singh, who was flying around a quarter million miles a year, realized he hated it.
“I started to see cities from the inside of Ubers,” he said. “For five years I lived on airplanes. It sounds sexy and cool, but you’re eating hotel food everyday. You can’t make friends, you can’t do anything.”
It was, he thought, simply the life of an investor. Singh started investing in 2010, and in that time developed a portfolio of over 1,600 companies in 60 countries and almost every state. He started as one of the original partners in venture capital firm 500 Startups, then founded Disruption Corporation which was then acquired by global incubator and seed fund 1776. He was working as a managing director at 1776 until July of last year, when he had his realization.
“Last year I said, I gotta stop,” he said.
The aftershock of this thought was immediate. He sold his house. He bought a pickup truck. He concocted a vision, a grand voyage, wherein he would spend not just a few hours but a full week in the cities where startups are being built. He began to design an extensive, nationwide, research experiment – traveling and learning how startups are growing across America.
In preparation for his journey, and inspired by the housing of Tony Hsieh of Las Vegas’ Downtown Project, Singh found himself driving his pick-up 15 hours to Jackson, Ohio, straight to the headquarters of Airstream.
“’I’ve never camped. I’ve never owned an RV. I like long showers,” Singh said.
The result? One of the heaviest custom-built 30′ Airstream trailers in existence, with the largest electrical system, solar array and water tank of any Airstream. His truck and trailer combined weigh in around 17,000 pounds. He even had the interior cabinets and design to replicate his house in Ashburn, Virginia.
“I’ve got a small house and a huge backyard I can change everyday,” he said.
“When I say it out loud it just sounds crazy,” he said.
At each spot, he rolls in in his 8-wheeler and camps for a few days to a week. He spends most of his time meeting with local founders, investors and policy-makers, digging in to what’s working and what is not.
He’s not just investing his time, either. Singh said in each city he typically finds one or two companies worth investing in financially. Last week in Pittsburgh, for example, he invested $100,000 in a company and then helped raise a $400,000 round for them by e-mailing his investor network.
“I’m writing checks,” he said, noting that he is drawn to supporting companies that show promise but have been turned down by other angel investors.
On the first lap across the country, Singh cut through the middle and into the southwest. Now he’s making his way through the southern and northern parts, before making his way down into the southeast for the third lap.
With him, he’s bringing not just himself, but a newsletter that goes out to over 125,000 people and a network of thousands of investors around the world. He hopes that his national spotlight can bring attention to what’s going on the smaller cities of America, he said.
“By shining a spotlight I’m using my audience, and investor audience, to finally see what’s happening in a city,” he said. “I think we’re building this API for venture capital.”
Singh will be pulling into Fargo this Monday, May 30th, and spending a week mentoring entrepreneurs and meeting with investors. He’s also a speaker at the second annual Drone Focus Con 2016 on June 1, at the Stage at Island Park.
Other chances to meet with Paul will be available through Emerging Prairie. (Here is his full schedule: How to Meet Paul Singh in Fargo) Otherwise, keep your eye out for him downtown and at the Prairie Den — or cruising downtown on his electric long board, if the weather’s nice.
Photo courtesy of Paul Singh.