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Business incubator Startup Virginia forms new partnership with venture capital group

Business incubator Startup Virginia forms new partnership with venture capital group

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The Richmond-based business incubator Startup Virginia has formed a new partnership with the angel investment group VentureSouth, based in Greenville, S.C.

The partnership is aimed at helping to direct investment dollars from Virginia and other states to promising local entrepreneurs and new businesses.

Under the partnership, Startup Virginia will manage investor relationships and startup business contacts in the Richmond region for VentureSouth.

VentureSouth was founded in 2008 by a group of investors in Greenville, S.C., as a way to aggregate local investor money and support entrepreneurs in that community. The fund has since grown to include 16 affiliate groups in various communities of South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.

The angel investment group, which includes more than 300 investors in multiple states, has invested about $52 million in 78 companies.

“We have got a couple of portfolio companies in Virginia already, and we are obviously looking for more,” said Charlie Banks, a managing director for VentureSouth.

Virginia startups that have received investments from VentureSouth include Outdoor Access, a Richmond-based company that manages an online marketplace where landowners can list their property for short-term rentals to outdoor enthusiasts looking for places to hunt, fish or camp.

VentureSouth’s successful investments have included Proterra, a builder of electric buses with operations in South Carolina, which recently announced it is planning to go public at a value of $1.6 billion.

VentureSouth typically invests in about eight to 10 new companies a year, Banks said. “We have looked at a few thousand companies in the last few years,” he said.

With its partnership with VentureSouth, Startup Virginia is discontinuing its CVA Angels, a network of angel investors created in 2016 to provide financial backing for early-stage business ventures in central Virginia.

“We have had good success with that program,” said Richard Wintsch, executive director of Startup Virginia, about CVA Angels. “It has raised over $5 million.”

“We thought there was a need to look at the program and see what we could do to improve it and look at partnerships,” Wintsch said. A committee of 11 local investors and entrepreneurs started meeting last summer and ultimately decided on a partnership with VentureSouth.

“We were really impressed at what they [VentureSouth] had built over the years, the success they have had for investors, and also with the education they provide for both founders and investors,” Wintsch said.

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