Postcard From Charlotte: Startup Ecosystem Update From The Queen City

Atmos raised $4M for its home-building platform. Co-Founder Nick Donohue (back row, second from left) went to NC State and the startup, while HQ'd in Silicon Valley, currently operates in two markets: Charlotte and the Triangle.

[Editor’s Note: This is part of a periodic series of updates from other startup ecosystems from across the state—Asheville, Charlotte, the Triad and Wilmington. Click here for past editions.]

Greeting from the Charlotte ecosystem.

If you’re looking to plug into the Queen City’s innovation economy, the best way to do so is to sign up for the Charlotte Inno Beat, a twice-a-week newsletter covering the companies, people and tends impacting and driving the local tech and startup communities. If you’re looking for a quick introductory crash course, be sure to browse through Charlotte Inno’s ‘Get Started’ page.

In the face of unprecedented head winds, the Charlotte ecosystem, like so many throughout the country, continues to grow. We’ve seen some major findings and tech announcements, a few of which we’ve included below.

One of the biggest items over the past couple of months was Charlotte’s presence on CompTia’s annual Tech Town Index, a ranking of the best cities in the U.S. for tech jobs. While there seems to be a new list every week and certain methodology can be tweaked or introduced to re-shuffle the rankings, CompTia, the IT industry’s trade association, is a meaningful benchmark. In 2020, Charlotte came in at No. 5, behind Austin, Dallas, Raleigh and San Jose.

It’s an impressive group to be included with and is representative of Charlotte’s maturation and evolution as a tech hub. When you’re in-market, you’re very aware of the wins, but it’s nice when external third parties start to take notice, too. We’re coming for your spot, Raleigh!

Three Recent Tech News Items To Know

1. In mid-November, Innovation Alley, a new dedicated programming space designed to support the missions of three local non-profits, officially opened in west Charlotte. The 3,000-square-foot space is shared by Digi-Bridge, She Built This City and Rebuilding Together of Greater Charlotte. The Lowe’s Foundation agreed to fund Innovation Alley for three years and has contributed $300,000 to the initiative. The space is outfitted with a workshop and maker space, 3D print lab, tool wall and a virtual studio. [More Here]

2. In late October, Indian Land, S.C.-based (that’s right over the state line) media company Red Ventures officially closed on a $500 million deal with ViacomCBS’ CNET, acquiring the leading tech product review site and bringing it into its portfolio of media brands, which includes Lonely Planet and TV Guide. Mark McCollum, president of Red Ventures media and tech group, said the deal is expected to create about 50 local jobs over the next several months in positions like data engineering, digital marketing, search engine optimization, account management and editorial and design.

3. In late October, SentryOne, a database monitoring and DataOps solutions company, was acquired by SolarWinds, a Texas-based IT management software provider, for $142 million. SolarWinds plans to keep all of SentryOne’s 130 employees, nearly 90 of whom are based in Charlotte. Explained SentryOne CEO Bob Potter, “I see this as an enormous opportunity for us to go everywhere worldwide.”

Three Recent Fundings To Know

1. In late November, health-tech startup Troy Medicare raised a $10 million Series B to expand its technology and customer base. The startup, founded in 2018 by Flaviu Simihaian and Josh Young, is a platform designed to provide accessible and affordable health insurance to older people in rural and underserved communities. The funding round was led by global tech-focused VC firm AXA Venture Partners; Sunwater Capital also participated in the round. [Read More]

2. In November, fintech startup, which scales donor-advised funds by making philanthropy as easy as online banking, closed an $8.7 million Series B. The round was led by The FR Group, a Canada-based family office. The Wells Fargo Startup Accelerator and Chris Jones, a former executive at JPMorgan Chase and Blackrock, also participated in the round. Amicus had previously raised $8.8 million in capital. [Read More]

3. In October, home-building one-stop-shop Atmos closed a $4 million round of funding that cofounder Nick Donahue told Inno will help accelerate its platform. Atmos curates a selection of vetted local realtors, architects and contractors, allowing users to customize their home-building experience from conception to move-in. The startup is HQ’d in Silicon Valley, but Donohue went to NC State and the company is currently building in two markets: Charlotte and the Triangle.

Through its website, clients start by working with a realtor to find a plot of land. Next, users choose a home plan and work with an Atmos concierge to adjust the plan to best fit their needs. Finishes can be customized or selected from a list of pre-existing options, and the entire interior can be designed and ordered.

The startup’s round was led by Khosla Ventures with investments from Dropbox VP of Product and Growth Adam Nash, Lennar board member Scott Stowell, JLL Spark Vice President David Gewrster and a group of TikTok influencers. [More Here]

Three Profiles On Charlotte Startups We Think You’ll Enjoy

If you’d like to learn more about Charlotte tech, reach out!

About Will Flanagan 1 Article
Will Flanagan is the Director of Product and Strategy for American Inno, based in Charlotte.