If you’re a Charlottesville founder, I know something about you. You’re thinking about how your startup can raise money. Every startup needs more money to accelerate its success, and here are some ideas for where to look locally, organized from earliest stage to later stage…
Friends & family. Nobody else will support you like friends and family, and that’s where you should look first for money. Around here, there are some well-off or even wealthy folks you may know, and they are actually investing in you at this stage, not your idea. If you don’t know these people yet, then get out there and network! Figure out the right groups to join or conferences to attend, and get involved!
Grant funding. Money may not grow on trees, but grant funding can sometimes feel like found money. There are many places to look, and you can start with this list from the Governor’s office, information from CIT, and the City of Charlottesville.
Incubators & accelerators. The cash can sometimes be an afterthought compared to other benefits, such as work space, expertise and networking. But check out the following programs in Charlottesville and Richmond to see whether you might be accepted.
Angel groups. If you’re looking for some serious funding (6 or 7 figures), angel investing groups can be a great option. Locally you should talk to CAV Angels and the Charlottesville Angel Network. Another option for startups with a UVa connection is the $10 million UVA LVG Seed Fund. You can find other angel groups in Richmond, NoVa/DC and beyond, of course.
Venture capital. Once you’re past the angel stage and looking for venture capital money (upper 7 or even 8 figures), then you’ll be looking for funds anywhere and everywhere. There are some VC funds based in Charlottesville, as well as some family offices that make startup investments. Local companies have been successful in raising big money lately.
You may be thinking: wa-hoo-whataboutUVa? Well if you were paying attention above, you noticed that the University of Virginia is the thread running through all of the categories above, and there are some excellent resources there. There is no doubt that it’s easier to raise money in this town if you have a UVa connection.
Okay, that should be enough to get you started. What did I miss? What did I get wrong? Let me know in the comments, or drop me an email. And happy fundraising!
Full disclosure of connections linked above: Shuru Law is a member of CBIC, Rahul is a volunteer mentor at the iLab, Rahul serves as part-time executive director and general counsel at CAV Angels, and Rahul is an alum of the University of Virginia and the University of Virginia School of Law.