Flywheel’s early-stage investment and accelerator program announced today it is expanding in regions ranging from the North Carolina Core to Upstate South Carolina. New Ventures opened applications this month to four separate application pipelines and areas of focus through June 7, 2021.
The expanded accelerator program offering is coupled with a fourfold expansion of the corollary investment funds. “Our ability to replicate the New Ventures program as we expand our network of innovation centers along the I-85 corridor is based on the success of the program over its first five years,” says Peter Marsh, a cofounder of Flywheel and administrative member of the New Ventures LLCs.
“As we expand geographically, the regions we serve all find that access to inception- and early-stage capital fills a gap in the entrepreneurship ecosystems and helps stimulate formation and attraction of scalable technology companies,” he continues.
Page Castrodale, the Executive Director of Economic Development for Cabarrus County where Flywheel just opened it’s third location adds, “We believe that economic development is just as much about organic job creation as it is about recruiting new companies to our community. The expansion of the New Ventures program to our region will stimulate economic development at the earliest stages, and we know the impact of that will be immeasurable.”
Flywheel’s affiliated Foundation administers the accelerators using their Learning Management System to deliver the core curriculum and subject matter experts to deliver insights in the market verticals. The development of the hybrid developmental model was in response to the pandemic.
“The silver lining from 2020 is that it forced us to be innovative with a virtual cohort experience,” says Adrian Smith, Executive Director of the Flywheel Foundation. “That enables us to run multiple accelerators simultaneously, and the participating companies gave us the best ratings out of any year so far.”
The accelerators will run from August 3 through Demo Days on October 28-29. Companies accepted into the program also enjoy a residency at Flywheel innovation centers during the 13-week program and for 3 months following.
“The accelerator program offering is diverse and a reflection of the knowledge assets in the regions served as well as the economic and social impact mission of the Foundation,” says Adrian. Details on the four 2021 accelerators can be found at https://www.newventuresnc.com/. New Ventures is conducting information session for investors and founders throughout the application window and the dates are listed on the website.
- Health, Wellness, and Nutrition – Focus is on the regional healthcare knowledge assets and partnering with the North Carolina Research Center in Kannapolis and the NC Food Innovation Lab.
- AgTech – Greenworks of Lexington is a 64,000 sq. ft. agricultural lab and research facility with a 20,000 square foot Flywheel coworking innovation center opening in 2022. Flywheel is partnering with SouthXCapital and anchor AgTech tenants on the accelerator.
- B2B Software with focus on SaaS – This accelerator pulls participation from all of Flywheel’s innovation center locations and invites tech companies that intersect with our strongest industries and regional market verticals.
- The Come Up Accelerator – Partnering with HUSTLE Winston-Salem to offer an accelerator for Black and Brown founders. Flywheel Foundation has acted as a fiscal sponsor for HUSTLE since its inception.
This is the sixth year of the New Ventures Challenge and acceleration program which has created a portfolio of 21 companies over five cohorts starting in 2016.
“We measure our success primarily by the valuation growth in the portfolio, customer growth, and the ability of our companies to secure follow-on financing to continue to develop their organizations”, says Patrick Turner, an investor in the first three New Venture funds and a fractional CTO that advises companies in the program.
The 21 portfolio companies have grown from New Ventures’ first five years have grown in value to a combined $43,155,110, have received over $15 million in financing, and have created over 100 new jobs.
“Flywheel and the New Ventures program are critical resources that fill a gap that will be catalytic for our Upstate entrepreneurial community,” says Anthony Herrera, executive director of Furman University’s Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
New Ventures is an application-based program that invests an average of $50,000 in inception-stage startups. While the program intentionally seeks out in-state startups, it also invests throughout the Southeast and beyond.
The expanded program not only reflects Flywheel’s increased reach geographically, but has also increased diversity and inclusion as a priority, partnering with HUSTLE to run the Come Up Accelerator focused on minority founders.
“With the Flywheel Foundation’s New Ventures curriculum coupled with HUSTLE’s cultural competence and commitment to disrupting biases for Black and Brown entrepreneurs, The Come Up accelerator is well suited to help scale people, community trust, and the bottom line of minority-owned businesses”, says HUSTLE Executive Director Magalie Yacinthe.