Building the Support System Southern Founders Need

When I spoke recently with an investor in a medium-sized city in the Southeast, I asked him about his tech ecosystem. He thinks his city is moving in the right direction, but it keeps running into a couple of major barriers:

  • Nontechnical founders – He comes across excellent founders regularly, but they can’t build a technical product. They struggle to find technical co-founders. If they don’t give up, they hire a development shop. His portfolio companies haven’t had great results with outside development shops, even when they have strong founders.
  • Funding – The community has wealthy individuals and families. Their wealth derives from legacy industries that have historically been economic drivers in the city (not so much anymore). Founders struggle to raise funding because people who have the means to invest don’t understand tech start‑ups. It’s gotten better, but they’ve got a long way to go. They’re actively organizing a network of angel investors so people can educate one another.

I was happy to hear that this investor is working hard to help tech start-ups succeed in his city. Our conversation reinforced something I’ve thought for a long time. The South has talented founders, but to succeed they need support. Funding is a big piece. So is community to help them connect more easily and form well-rounded founding teams. I’m looking forward to working with this investor and others across the South to help founders reach their full potential!