Almost three years after the Durham-based accelerator The Startup Factory shut down, at least half of the 35 companies it invested $6.64 million in are still operating.
Based on a study of websites and LinkedIn profiles, 17 of the companies are still running while 16 are no longer active in the same capacity. Two of the companies have been acquired, according to The Startup Factory’s website.
Andrew McConnell, CEO of Atlanta-based Rented.com, said he is especially thankful for TSF founders Chris Heivly and David Neal and their guidance when his company was just starting out.
“We are really appreciative of them for everything they put in to The Startup Factory and to the companies, and the founders that went into it,” McConnell said. “I think they were instrumental in the early days, so we’re definitely appreciative for our time there.”
McConnell said that when he joined The Startup Factory he was a one-person team, and the investment from TSF allowed him to hire his first employee.
Six years since he left the accelerator, McConnell said his company has grown from two employees to 30 and has raised around $10 million in funding.
Lizzy Hazeltine, who worked at TSF as a venture associate from 2014 to 2016, said investment in early-stage companies in the Triangle was lacking when the fund began. Hazeltine said this has changed with the growth of seed funds such as David Gardner’s Cofounders Capital, but she said Startup Factory played a role in the growth.
“I think knowing that there was deal flow to be had made it easier for people to say yes, we should be doing early-stage investment around here,” Hazeltine said.
Patrick Matos, CEO of 2014 participant CareLuLu, said the connections he made through TSF were very helpful to him.
Matos said through The Startup Factory, he made a connection with the accelerator 500 Startups and joined its program after graduating from TSF.
“After Startup Factory, we got into the 500 Startups accelerator and moved to San Francisco,” he said. “We then raised $1.7 million at the end of 2014. Yes, we’ve expanded operations a lot and grown into what I call a ‘real business.’”
Matos said he enjoyed working with the talented people running The Startup Factory and the professionals they brought to speak with them.
“It was helpful to get advice and guidance from Chris and Dave at the Startup Factory, as well as the mentors they brought in regularly,” Matos said. “The meetings with mentors were the best part for us.”
Looking back, Hazeltine is proud of the work Startup Factory did, especially their commitment to promoting diverse founders like Matos.
“The fund was one of the only funds in the Southeast that was really accessible and open,” she said. “I am particularly proud of our track record in investing in women and people of color.”