Note: The Skinny blog is written by Rick Smith, editor and co-founder of WRAL Tech Wire and business editor of WRAL.com.
RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Talk to virtually anyone in the Triangle startup business, either as investors or as entrepreneurs, and one complaint is almost always at the top:
Lack of startup capital.
Interestingly, one of the early-stage venture funds in the Triangle – Southern Capitol Ventures – is attempting to bring more money and attention to the area. The firm’s “Entrepreneur Series” is designed to bring top VCs from around the country to this area for a “meet and greet” with entrepreneurs hoping to build the next Groupon or LivingSocial or Jud Bowman’s home-grown Appia in Durham.
“We put Entrepreneur’s Series together based on the needs of the entrepreneurial community,” says Southern Capitol’s Jason Caplain. “There are more promising startups here today than at any point since we launched our firm, over 10 years ago. But the amount of capital sources for these startups seems to be shrinking.
“The entrepreneurs don’t have the relationships with out of state investors, like we do,” he adds. “So, we are using our network to create more opportunities for the entrepreneurial community. At the same time, these events are easy to do and we’re having a lot of fun doing them.”
Southern Capitol’s next event is set for May 18 in Raleigh. The four VCs who will participate include three from the West Coast and another who is an active investor in Silcon Valley, according to Caplain.
One of the firms to be represented is especially hot right now – Andreessen Horowitz, the recently launched fund led by Netscape co-founder Marc Andreessen.
• Scott Kupor, Managing Director, Andreessen Horowitz. Based in Menlo Park, CA, the firm has invested in companies like Twitter, Facebook, Zynga, Foursquare, Skype and Groupon.
• Court Coursey, Managing Director, TomorrowVentures. Based in Palo Alto, CA, this is the investment vehicle for Eric Schmidt, former CEO at Google.
• Len Jordan, Venture Partner, Madrona Venture Group. The Seattle firm were investors in Classmates.com and Amazon.
• Chris Holden, General Partner, Court Square Ventures. Based in Charlottesville, Va., the firm invests in digital media, communications and IT companies.
“The panelists were all picked based on their interest in our region,” Caplain says. “Three of them are based on the west coast. Out of that, two of them invested in North Carolina companies for the first time this year. They would like to invest in more and by hosting Entrepreneur’s Series, we are highlighting their interest. They would all like to meet more great entrepreneurs.”
For the full agenda and registration information, read here.
“This is an exciting time to be a venture capitalist,” Caplain adds. “Many of these entrepreneurs have clustered around the downtown Durham area. We are seeing more people quit their jobs at large regional technology companies with the goal of starting something new. Some of these new companies started as a hobby and were worked on while being employed somewhere else. As these entrepreneurs watched some success build, they decided to make a more serious, full time run at it.”
Now if they can just find some capital.
(In the interest of full disclosure, Capitol Broadcasting, the parent company of WRAL Tech Wire, is an investor in Southern Capitol.)
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