Zionsville, Ind., a town of about 30,000, is a few hours south of Flint, Mich., by car. So when evidence emerged in 2014 that Flint’s water supply was dangerously contaminated, a Zionsville business executive, Megan Glover, began looking into ways to test the water coming from her own family’s tap. What she uncovered surprised her—not that the local supply was contaminated, but that a testing kit typically cost $3,000, an exorbitant amount most families in her neighborhood would never consider. So Ms. Glover did the most American thing possible: She researched the issue, developed a more affordable alternative, founded a company, sought out investors (my venture firm among them) and emerged as CEO of 120Water, a successful enterprise that now helps monitor the quality of the nation’s water supply. (Zionsville’s water turned out to be clean.)
The basic arc of Ms. Glover’s story—identifying a pain point, then creating a venture to provide a solution—is common in the nation’s premier tech hubs. That is largely because the talent and capital required to build a successful venture are widely available to entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, New York and Boston.