The latest venture capital statistics out this week in three major reports include good news for startups in North Carolina, especially in the Triangle where most of the deals were made as usual in 2014. WRAL TechWire reached out to some of the players on both sides of the game to gauge their reaction. Startup CEO Matt Williamson of Windsor Circle, which raised more than $5 million last year, goes one-on-one with The Skinny.
- North Carolina ranked 10th nationally in 4th quarter with 19 deals worth $201 million, according to the National Venture Capital Association and PricewaterhouseCooper’s Moneytree report. Your reaction?
I love it. NC is fantastically positioned for entrepreneurial growth and venture investment, and it wouldn’t be the first time that you’ve heard me refer to the Triangle as the Entrepreneurial Hub of the South.
We have a tremendous density of world class research universities and we regularly score among the top locations in the country to live. Successful entrepreneurial hubs like the American Underground (a Google tech campus) and HQ Raleigh are providing the infrastructure for driven, entrepreneurial professionals to take big risks and build companies that will change the world.
My question… and my challenge to my local compatriots… is how to we move into the top decile? I want entrepreneurs from around the world to ask “should I start my company in San Francisco, New York, or Raleigh-Durham? And then to decide that the best possible place to change the world is from North Carolina!
- Several of the deals are outside the Triangle – Waynesville, Waxhaw, Charlotte, Asheville. What does this mean from an investor’s perspective? More reasons to travel here beyond the triangle? Is this good for the triangle by spreading the wealth?
I’ve never been a zero-sum guy. Innovation is, in part, the act of creating more opportunity. So, I’m excited that these other companies and locales are seeing funding.
[AOL founder] Steve Case, a Windsor Circle investor, deems this “the rise of the rest” and actively highlights how much innovation and wealth creation is happening outside of the traditional geographies for venture investment.
- Pharmaceutical and medical device firms got the big deals but numerous software/internet plays such as Raleigh-based WedPics. Is the deal floe you are seeing as good as seems to be reflected in the attitude of the VCs who were here on Wednesday for Bull City Venture Partners’ “Entrepreneur Series?”
Deal flow is definitively up from where it was when we got started. I’m not sure that I ever fully got comfortable with the idea of a Series A crunch, but the VCs we’re speaking with are very actively putting money to work across a nice range of verticals and opportunities.
- How is 2015 shaping up for you and for startups?
[F]or venture investing, I can tell you that the American Underground [in Durham and Raleigh] has nearly 200 startups hammering away in downtown Durham and is doubling its space to take on the demand.
The Triangle Startup Factory continues to churn out exciting companies who are raising money, getting acquired and making great progress. I’d say that the pipeline of really smart entrepreneurs working on great ideas is as full as it has ever been.
For Windsor Circle, we’re fired up!
We closed out Q4 at 142% of our prior best quarter, and December at 151% of our prior best month. We’ve tripled our team in the last 8 months and have a dozen open positions, including two executive roles (all of which are listed at www.windsorcircle.com/jobs). We’re ahead of pace for our Q115 targets and excited about the notable brands that we are signing.