ASHEVILLE — Nine startups, three cities and one van.
That’s what Venture Asheville has planned for its 2020 Startup Road Trip, a three-day whistle-stop tour that includes Atlanta, Chattanooga and Nashville,. It kicked off Monday.
“The primary goal for our startups is exposure,” Venture Asheville director Jeffrey Kaplan told WRAL TechWire.
At each stop on the tour, each startup will give a seven-minute pitch, followed by time for networking and some Q&A. It’s the second time the group has hit the road for funds, but they’re ambitious, hoping to raise upwards of $7 million in total capital.
“We don’t expect anyone to walk out of a pitch with a check, but we do strive for next steps like a group meeting or a fund screening.”
Another perk: checking out other startup scenes.
“For me, as an ecosystem stakeholder, I like to see how other startup ecosystems organize, how collaborate the resources are, what’s unique about use of space, and how sophisticated the investors are,” Kaplan said. “So there’s some benchmarking there, to see how we stack up, and note sharing, as we meet with each of our host communities to talk about the activity in our area and where our ecosystem is going.”
Last year, the tour involved stops in Charlotte, Winston-Salem, Durham and Cary. However, organizers decided to mix it up this year and “keep things interesting.”
“We really wanted to hit Atlanta this trip. That ecosystem is a total powerhouse and we’ve received significant interest in making the Atlanta Tech Village a Road Trip stop,” Kaplan explained. “Then looking at routes from there we could go east to Charleston or West to Nashville. Nashville has a reputation of being a healthcare town, and one of our most promising startups on the tour is Appalachian Specialty Pharmacy, so we chose to go the Tennessee route. Chattanooga is a bright entrepreneurial hub right between Atlanta and Nashville, and much smaller city, so that adds some variety to our trip.”
Jay Worthington, CEO and co-founder of Appalachian Specialty Pharmacy, is among those taking part.
“There’s a really vibrant scene here [in Asheville] of creative businesses, everything from software to healthcare to manufacturing, and we’re flying under the radar. What you see in the road show is an emerging startup scene making a name for itself.”
It’s also just a lot of fun, he added. ” It’s lonely as an entrepreneur, and this road trip brings founders together.”
This event series is co-hosted and presented with the following partners: Atlanta Tech Village, CO.LAB, INCubator at the Hamilton County Business DEvelopment Center, the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, and Wunderfund.
For a full list of participating startups, go here.