Postcard From Charlotte: Startup Ecosystem Update From Queen City

The former StartCharlotte team, which last month joined the American Inno group to launch Charlotte Inno.

Greetings from the Queen City where the weather is hot and our startup scene is hotter!

While we hope you’ll visit us soon, for now we’ll catch you up on what’s happening.

First things first. In the past, you may have come to know and love StartCharlotte to get you caught up on all things startup in Charlotte. But, now we’ve got a bigger and better resource. On July 8, we joined American Inno, a network of publications covering tech and innovation around the country and part of American City Business Journals, to launch Charlotte Inno. I am staying on as Charlotte Inno’s General Manager and will be joined by Editor Courtney Gabrielson. Together with our team, we’ll be keeping our community (and yours!) informed. That said, let’s get right to it:

Charlotte’s Seed The South event highlights early stage startups

Q1 and Q2 were big in the Queen City. Consider Falfurrias Capital Partners’ $500 million raise for its fourth fund, which included 82 investors. Then there’s Stratifyd, an AI-powered end-to-end customer analytics platform, which raised $4 million from Arsenal Growth. Check out the complete roundup from Charlotte Inno.

AvidXchange Inc., one of Charlotte’s unicorns, announced it will break ground in the fourth quarter on its second headquarters building, a $41 million investment that will help accommodate its growing workforce., billed as the first-of-its-kind screening platform for property managers and residents alike, closed in June on a Series Seed round. The undisclosed sum was raised by Grotech Ventures, with Camber Creek and Relevance Capital as additional participating partners. The firm is expected to use the capital to pursue additional software integrations, along with plans to increase sales and marketing.

These deals are indicative of some amazing growth, which has led our community to examine its makeup with some very positive outcomes:

In July, BLKTECHCLT, the Charlotte hub for all things black tech and entrepreneurship, announced that it joined the Techstars affiliate partner program. Techstars is a global network of accelerators and other resources for entrepreneurs, and this partnership allows BLKTECHCLT to serve as a conduit between founders and those opportunities that the entity offers.

“We joined the Techstars affiliate partner program earlier this year to help those of you building the next hottest tech company fast-track to interviews for their international programs,” BLKTECHCLT co-founder Sherrell Dorsey wrote in a post announcing the move. “We’re stoked to be part of this network and help BLKTECHCLT companies level up.”

A Charlotte WIN student in class (courtesy photo)

At the beginning of the year Carolina Fintech Hub (CFH) and BLKTECHCLT announced a year-long partnership for CFH’s Workforce Investment Network (WIN program). With sights set on recruiting minorities and women aspiring to jumpstart careers in the high-paying, fast-growing tech industry, the program received more than 1,000 applications for its first cohort. Additionally, participants gained over 700 hours of paid training in JavaScript programming.

Said Tariq Bokhari, co-founder and executive director of Carolina Fintech Hub, “We can match that need for new market talent with the fact that there are a bunch of folks out there in the community who are in the bottom quantile of upward mobility, who never had a chance to go to college, who didn’t have the social capital to learn about coding, but they would have been great.”

In June, a group of nearly 70 black female entrepreneurs (and a few men) gathered in the space occupied by Dupp & Swat at Camp North End. In this town hall meeting organized by Davita Galloway and Melody Gross, the attendees came together and talked about the issues limiting their growth and what it would take to find success as an entrepreneur of color in the Queen City. (Read the article that prompted this gathering.)

While this gathering was a great beginning, Galloway wants more conversations about solutions. As a new ecosystem support organization, Innovate Charlotte wants to do the same—and is actively working with tech and non-tech entrepreneurs, for-profit and nonprofit founders.

As you can see, Charlotte’s startup community is growing and thriving and continuously working on ways to improve. We hope you’ll see us soon!

About Juan Garzon 1 Article
Juan Garzón is the General Manager of Charlotte Inno, a digital publication covering the startup and innovation scene in Charlotte and part of the American Inno network. He was the founder of Charlotte Inno’s predecessor, StartCharlotte, and serves as the Executive Director of PitchBreakfast, a regional nonprofit startup pitch event. Juan has spent over 6 years working with entrepreneurs as a mentor, advisor, and pitch coach and has worked with several accelerators in the community including Queen City Fintech. You can follow him at @jcgarzon on Twitter.