Although Will Price was born in Germany and lived overseas until college, Price roots go deep into Montana history. So it was no surprise that Price and his family fell in love with Bozeman and Montana.
“It was a combination of my children’s athletics and my wife and I’s love of Bozeman,” he said. “It was also this corny sense of destiny. Coming home to Montana all these years after my dad left felt like destiny.”
Bringing Venture Capital to Montana
Price’s passion for Montana and venture capital investment knowledge has helped increase awareness about the opportunities companies have in Montana.
After Price moved to Bozeman in 2014, he founded Next Frontier Capital which has now invested in 12 companies. In Fund 1, Price and his partners raised $21 million dollars and they closed it in 2016. In March, Next Frontier Capital announced they closed their second fund at $38 million dollars.
In the Bay Area, Price cut his teeth as a venture capital investor and learned from the best. When he moved to Montana, he realized one of the major limitations in the Treasure State’s economy was its access to capital and investors.
“I met a lot of great people who couldn’t raise money,” Price said. “Given that I had raised money as a CEO, I thought there was a role for someone who could make early investments in technology companies.”
Some of Next Frontier Capital’s investment companies include Submittable, onXmaps, Quiq, Blackmore Sensors and many more.
Making Montana Home
One of the most challenging aspects of starting a business in Montana is the cost of travel, Price said. He said if there were direct flights from the coasts, it would reduce the friction it takes to travel to Montana. But Price said that is the only negative he sees.
On the positive side, Price said Montana offers many characteristics people desire who don’t want to live in a big city. Recently, Price said he’s seen a trend where people are placing quality of life, strong public education, reasonable cost of living and access to good workers as higher priorities than being in a city. This has led to a rise in popularity of cities like Chattanooga, Tenn., Madison, Wis. and Missoula or Bozeman.
“You can have it all in Montana,” he said. “You can have a quality of life for the fraction of the cost.”
Working and Investing in Montana
Price also gave credit to Colorado and Utah for being trailblazers of success in the mountain west. Because of towns like Boulder, Colo. and Provo, Utah, the same people are recognizing they can invest in Montana. He said instead of people considering Montana as just a place to vacation, investors and companies are talking about it as a place to work.
Before he was investing millions into companies, Price grew up around the world. Price’s father went to the University of Montana and after winning a Rhodes Scholarship studied at Pembroke College in Oxford, England, where his father met his mother. Price lived in England for six years and became an avid soccer fan and supporter of Manchester United F.C.
Over the course of his schooling, Price said he attended 10 different schools in 12 years. He came to the U.S. for college and attended Harvard for his undergraduate and went on to Northwestern University for a business degree.
All of Price’s experiences have shaped him into a successful investor, but the best part of his job has been the relationships he’s built.
“They are incredible business people, entrepreneurs, financiers,” Price said. “…It’s like I’ve been able to access 100 mentors that have an invested interest in Montana. It’s a much less transactional relationship. It’s a rewarding and deep relationship that I benefit from as a business person and human.”
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