Outside capital is often (but not always!) the lifeblood of any growing startup. Here is a summary of the VCs, angel groups and other sources of investment for software startups in the Triangle.
There are three active venture capital firms primarily doing early stage investments in the area. These firms are great places to start if you are raising a seed round.
BCVP makes early stage tech investments in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic. Experience is especially important to them as they tend to invest in serial entrepreneurs and more mature startups. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule; maybe your startup will be one! Past investments include Spiffy (Scot Wingo’s startup), Levitate (Jes Lipson’s startup), Reveal Mobile and Adwerx. BCVP also hosts the popular Entrepreneurship Series Venture Outlook every year.
- Based out of the American Underground in Downtown Durham.
- Managed by Jason Caplain and David Jones.
- Typical check size is between $250k and $2m.
- Learn more from bcvp.com
Cofounders Capital is an early-stage seed fund for B2B software startups, including pre-revenue companies, focused primarily in the Triangle and elsewhere in NC. CFC tends to be the first institutional money in a startup and is more hands-on than some of its peers, frequently encouraging newbie firms to work out of its Cary offices for a stretch. Past investments include Feedtrail, Myxx, and RewardStock.
- Based in Cary.
- Managed by David Gardner and Tim McLoughlin.
- Typical check size is between $400k and $500k with larger follow-on investments.
- Fun Fact: CB INSIGHTS ranks Cofounders Capital as the most active VC in North Carolina.
- Learn more from cofounderscapital.com
- Based in Durham.
- Managed by John Cambier and Lister Delgado.
- Typical check size is between $100k and $750k and up to $1.5m in a company’s lifespan.
- Learn more from ideafundpartners.com
Angel Funds and Networks
Angel groups are great places to look for startup capital. There are two types — angel funds and angel networks. Angels funds operate like venture capital funds but the funds are often smaller and made up of more smaller individual investors. The most active angel fund in the area is Triangle Angel Partners.
Angel networks are becoming more popular. These networks differ from funds in that they don’t have standing funds but rather raise capital from their members on an investment-by-investment basis. In this area, most of them are associated with the local universities and invest in startups led by someone with an association with the university. These networks are great places to look for capital if someone on the founding team is connected to the university. Here are the local ones:
- Carolina Angel Network
- Duke Angel Network
- Wolfpack Investor Network (North Carolina State University)
- Unicorn Angel Network (North Carolina School of Science and Math)
RTP Capital is an angel network not associated with a university but also worth a look.
One of the best sources of very early stage capital is NC IDEA (not to be confused with IdeaFund.) NC IDEA is a non-profit tasked with spurring on entrepreneurial activity throughout North Carolina. Every year, the organization offers a number of $50k grants to startups. These are grants, not investments, so they are non-dilutive — basically free money. Many of the area’s most successful startups have been recipients of these grants in the past.
There are other organizations that invest in area startups with more specific areas of focus. Here are some of them:
- Colopy Ventures. They invest in early stage software startups, particularly around B2B SaaS. (Disclosure: GrepBeat is financially supported by CV)
- The Launch Place. They are based in Danville, Virginia and RTP. They invest in a little bit of everything.
- SJF Ventures. They are based in Durham and invest in social conscious companies with more than $1m in revenue.
- Bootstrap Advisors. They are based in Durham and focus on building and investing in consumer-focused startups.
Good luck raising capital!