An angel is a high net-worth individual who invests his or her own money in start-up companies in exchange for an equity share of the businesses. Angels tend to invest in companies that are located near them regionally (or to co-invest in a wider geography if a local investor they know and trust is involved).
Even though North Carolina has strong entrepreneurial ecosystem, the region still does not have significant number of angel investors. We believe that we have listed most investment groups that are active in North Carolina that will help startup co-founders start building relationships with potential investors before they are ready to actually pitch and ask for an investment.
Angel Investor Groups in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee
This is the list of angel investor groups that are members of Angel Capital Association, Southeast Region:
- Asheville Angels – Asheville, NC
- Atlanta Technology Angels – Atlanta, GA
- Chattanooga Renaissance Fund – Chattanooga, TN
- Capital Angels – Columbia, SC
- Charleston Angel Partners – Charleston, SC
- Duke Angel Network – Durham, NC
- Excelerate Health Ventures – Research Triangle Park, NC
- Full Tilt Capital, led by Anthony “Pomp” Pompliano, Raleigh, NC.
- Piedmont Angel Network – Winston-Salem, NC
- RTP Capital Associates – Research Triangle Park, NC
- The Angel Roundtable– Johnson City, TN
- The JumpFund – Chattanooga, TN
- Triangle Angel Partners – Research Triangle Park, NC
- Upstate Carolina Angel Network – Greenville, SC. As of January 2017, the group grew to 200 angel investors. UCAN has been named a top 10 angel group in the USA.
- Wilmington Investor Network – Wilmington, NC
North Carolina angel groups that are not members of Angel Capital Association:
- Charlotte Angel Fund — Charlotte, NC
Angel List has added a list of people that are self-proclamed angel investors in North Carolina. I would use this list carefully, as unlike venture capital investors, angel investors are not make with the same cookie cutter, they come in all shapes, size, and motivations for investing.
Startup Accelerators in North Carolina
For new entrepreneurs that do not have a significant or meaningful experience with the rapidly growing startup in the past, accelerators could be helpful in getting them educated make them investor-ready. Some accelerators take a healthy chunk of equity from their participants in exchange for their services, small stipend, and potential to make introduction to investors. Some accelerators are more effective than others, so I recommend that entrepreneurs understand the financial strategy of an accelerator and its mission before they commit their time and equity with a particular group.
- Groundwork Labs – provides a community of professionals and peers for selected entrepreneurs to test their idea and get expert guidance.
The Startup Factory – 12-week startup accelerator with seed capital, hands-on mentorship and access to network of advisors. Unfortunately, The Startup Factory, the longest running and the most successful accelerator in the region has closed its doors in late 2016.
- Cleantech Open, Southeast Region, well established, nationwide accelerator with industry vertical focus (sustainability, clean technologies, energy, environment). As a non-profit, it does not take equity stake in startup it supports.
- RevTech Labs Three month program focusing on early stage mobile, software and web companies that provides free work space, mentorship and programming all geared toward revolutionary technology startups
Venture Capital Funds & Investment Funds, North Carolina
This list represents various investment groups, including venture capital groups in Raleigh-Durham, NC:
- 8 Rivers Capital, LLC
- Bull City Venture Partners
- Carousel Capital
- Cherokee – McDonough Challenge
- Contender Capital
- ECU Investor Network
- Frontier Capital
- Golden Pine Ventures (a venture capital group)
- Hatteras Funds (a venture capital group)
- Hatteras Venture Partners
- IDEA Fund Partners (a venture capital group. Non-profit arm organizes semi-annual NC IDEA competition that gives $50K grants to startups)
- IMAF – Cape Fear
- IMAF – East
- IMAF – RTP
- IMAF – Triad
- Inter south Partners (a venture capital group)
- Investors’ Circle North Carolina local network
- Lookout Capital
- Morgan Creek Capital (a venture capital group)
- NC Innovation Funds, $40M Venture Capital Multiplier Fund (venture capital fund managed by NC Treasury)
- Nova Quest
- Pappas Ventures (a venture capital group)
- Rex Health Ventures
- River Cities Capital Funds (a venture capital group)
- SJF Ventures
- Side Effect
- Southern Capital Ventures (a venture capital group)
- Solidarity Capital Group
- SunBridge Partners
- The Aurora Funds
- Triangle Angel Partners (TAP)
- Wakefield Group