Charlotte, North Carolina is not yet known for its startup community. But it’s on its way.
Historically, Charlotte has been a national financial center. More than $2.3 trillion in banking resources are located in Charlotte, and Bank of America, the second largest bank in the world, is headquartered in the city. Charlotte is also home to major energy companies like Duke Energy and Siemens and is a part of the infamous Research Triangle with mega-companies like Cisco and IBM.
However, despite all of these major players operating within the space and the massive funding available, connecting startups to these funds and proving their value to investors has proved to be a challenge.
“There is not the depth of people that are savvy to, or interested in startups that there needs to be for us to see a groundswell,” says Grotech Ventures partner Don Rainey.
Start Charlotte, a resource for Charlotte’s entrepreneurial community, hopes to change that. Founded in 2011 by Jim Van Fleet, Start Charlotte shares news about startups and holds events, like PitchBreakfast, to support budding entrepreneurs.
“Start Charlotte represents an independent, grass-roots community that promotes the best that Charlotte has to offer,” says Fleet. “We value connectivity, community, and creativity.”
Startups that have made use of Start Charlotte’s resources in the past include eCampus Ventures, which has raised professional funds and won the Charlotte Chamber Power-Up competition last year. A PitchBreakfast alum, Fundanoodle, was a finalist for the same award this year. Start Charlotte has also housed several semi-finalists for the NC IDEA grant competition.
Recently, Start Charlotte held an event for SierraMaya 360, a venture capital firm that hopes to build stronger relationships between investors and entrepreneurs. It’s these kinds of relationships that will lead to a stronger entrepreneurial network in Charlotte.
“I want to ensure that those with interests in the entrepreneurial communities who want to get engaged and have an impact in Charlotte understand how to do that,” Fleet explains. “A connected community has tremendous power, and I want share the news about the one that Charlotte already has, and to tell even bigger and better stories tomorrow.”
Photo Credit: James Willamor via Flickr