Chris Heivly has a lot to celebrate, and a lot to mourn.
After five years accelerating and funding early stage startups in downtown Durham, his brainchild The Startup Factory announced today it will no longer make new investments and will eventually shut down. Over the last year spent raising a second fund of much greater size than the first and creating a new model of bootcamps, accelerators and venture investments, it became clear to Heivly, partner Dave Neal and associate Lizzy Hazeltine, that the market wasn’t ready to support The Startup Factory version two.
“We got about two thirds of the way to a first close—and we set a high bar,” Heivly says. “But at the end of the day, we just couldn’t get it to go.”
The news is a shock in some ways—the accelerator funded 35 new companies and brought at least a third of those to our region from outside of it. In other ways, it’s a sign of the times.
There are more early stage funding options than ever before in the Triangle region, and nationally, many accelerators have either shuttered or changed their business models to adapt to the needs of entrepreneurs as they grow their companies.
According to Heivly, it feels as bittersweet as when he sent his three kids off to college.
“You’re excited for them, but you don’t need to be a parent to this thing any more,” he says.
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