Richard Wintsch, executive director of Startup Virginia, said Richmond has long been a hub in the commonwealth for startups and innovation, but it’s lacked the same local investment opportunities other regions like Hampton Roads have with 757 Angels, of Norfolk, and CAV Angels, of Charlottesville.
“We’re super fortunate that we’ve had CAV and 757, but we really haven’t had the same investment impact locally,” he said. “We started thinking about the best solution for Richmond… We were introduced to VentureSouth and were really impressed.”
VentureSouth is based in Greenville, South Carolina, and has a network of more than 300 accredited investors across the southeast. Wintsch said that introduction led to the formation of VentureSouth, Virginia, an angel investment network that will operate out of and provide funding to early-stage startups in Richmond and other regions in Virginia.
“Founders have told us [Startup Virginia] does a good job in identifying and supporting Virginia-based deals, but once they get to a certain point, they have to look outside the state,” he said. “Our partnership with VentureSouth will expand the amount of investment opportunity to Virginia startups.”
Charlie Banks, managing director at VentureSouth, said the group already has a handful of portfolio companies in Virginia, and as the new group gains traction, it will continue to increase the state’s investor base.
“The way we generate our pipeline is from our investor base and relationships with groups like Startup Virginia,” he said. “We think we can grow that… There are plenty of investors sitting on the sidelines who we feel like, if educated, can become active in the investment ecosystem here.”
Wintsch said Startup Virginia would play a role in helping to draw more angel investors into the network.
“We’re hopeful we can grow a very successful chapter by continuing to educate them on the importance of angel investment,” he said. “To grow a successful entrepreneurial ecosystem, you need investors to be successful. If we can make them so, they’re more likely to invest in earlier-stage companies.”