VentureSouth Managing Director Recognized on Business Report's List of Icons and Phenoms

Charlie Banks with award.jpg

VentureSouth is pleased to announce that one of its managing directors, Charlie Banks, has been recognized for his influence on the community and honored in Columbia Regional Business Report’s inaugural list of Icons and Phenoms.

Breaking with tradition, Business Report honored two groups of people this year: Icons and Phenoms. Banks was chosen as a Phenom, an up-and-coming, go-getter challenging the landscape. A panel of judges selected the honorees who were first nominated by Business Report readers.

Banks, along with 23 other business professionals, were honored at a luncheon on April 11 and will get a profile published in the April 22 issue of Business Report.

This is not the first time Banks has been recognized for his work; he was named one of Columbia Business Monthly’s 50 Most Influential of 2018 (for the fourth consecutive year) and one of The State newspaper’s 20 under 40 in 2016. Banks is one of three co-founders and managing directors of VentureSouth, one of the country’s largest early-stage investment firms comprised of nearly 300 private investors.

Banks also serves as the executive director of Venture Carolina, a sister nonprofit organization that provides comprehensive investor and entrepreneur education.

To read the complete list of Icons and Phenoms, visit this link.

VentureSouth Announces 2018 Record-Breaking Results

VentureSouth is pleased to announce record-setting results for a fifth consecutive year. In 2018, the South Carolina-based early stage investment firm grew its membership to nearly 300 investors and invested $7 million in 22 Southeastern startups, up from $4.5 million in 2017.

VentureSouth made first-time investments in new portfolio companies 6AM City in Greenville, Sharpen in Spartanburg, Sentio in Charleston, Threatswitch and ecomdash in Charlotte, and Emergo Therapeutics and Spiffy in the Raleigh-Durham area.

VentureSouth also made follow-on investments to help accelerate the growth of prior portfolio companies, including Atlas Organics in Spartanburg, Kwipped in Wilmington, and Brightfield Transportation in Asheville. The firm also participated in Proterra’s $155 million venture capital round led by Daimler Ventures last summer.

Managing Director Charlie Banks reflected on the investments saying, “2018 was another record-breaking year for VentureSouth. We continued to expand our investor base, support entrepreneurs just launching their companies, and stand alongside current portfolio companies who continue to make progress.”

In addition, VentureSouth returned nearly $7 million to investors in 2018 from the sale of three portfolio companies: FarmShots, an agriculture technology software company, was acquired by Syngenta; Target PharmaSolutions, a clinical trial data management company, was acquired by Norwest Venture Partners; and OBMedical, a medical device company, was acquired by Philips.  Combined, these three exits generated a nearly 4x return on investment in just over two years, yielding an annual rate of return of over 70%.

Managing Director Paul Clark added, “Of all that we achieved in 2018, the most important was to return significant capital to our investors with strong rates of return. Exits like these provide money that can be re-invested into other startups and highlight the importance of early stage investing – an asset class that has historically been underserved in our region.”

VentureSouth continued to expand its base of capital and expertise in 2018 by growing its angel investor memberships by 20% to almost 300 investors across the Carolinas. The group also also launched a “virtual” membership option for investors in smaller cities and in geographies outside the Carolinas. 

VentureSouth On Pace for Record Year in 2018

VentureSouth On Pace for Another Record Year 

Greenville, S.C.VentureSouth, one of the nation’s largest angel investment firms, is on a record-breaking pace for investments and returns in 2018.

In September, the group announced its third exit of the year when OBMedical, a wireless fetal monitoring device company was purchased by Philips.  Combined with the sale of FarmShots to Syngenta in February and another undisclosed transaction this spring, VentureSouth has returned over $6 million to investors this year, generating total returns in excess of 3.5x. 

In addition to the returns, the group has invested over $5.2 million into 15 companies this year, which surpasses the total of $4.5 million invested for all of 2017.

New companies recently receiving initial investments included Threatswitch, a Charlotte-based security and compliance software platform for heavily-regulated companies; Spiffy, the Triangle-based on-demand car care, technology, and services company; Emergo Therapeutics, a biopharmaceutical start-up based in Durham; and Ecomdash, a Charlotte-based ecommerce inventory management platform.

In addition, several existing VentureSouth portfolio companies have recently received follow-on funding from the group, including Proterra, Greenville’s electric bus manufacturer; Atlas Organics, a Spartanburg organic food collection and composting business; and Physcient, a medical device company in Durham.

VentureSouth Managing Director, Charlie Banks, commented, “This year has been a very busy and rewarding one for VentureSouth. We were pleased to return significant capital gains to our investors while deploying more capital than all of last year.  Our investor base continues to grow, and we are excited and determined to continue building upon our successes.”

Special thanks to MidlandsBiz, UpstateBizSC, LowCountryBizSC, UBJ, GSA Business and others for the coverage. And the Southern Startups newsletter - which you need to subscribe to!

UCAN Celebrates 10th Anniversary with Record Quarter

Thanks to all our friends - like Bauknight, Pietras & Stormer, the Upstate Business Journal, and others - who helped us celebrate...

Greenville, S.C. – The Upstate Carolina Angel Network (UCAN) recently celebrated its 10th anniversary with the grand opening of its new headquarters – and a record-setting month for investments and returns. 

UCAN launched in the Spring of 2008 to provide capital and expertise to early stage ventures in the Southeast, and since then the group has expanded under the VentureSouth brand to include a dozen angel groups across the Carolinas.  Over the last ten years, more than 300 investors in the group have invested over $28 million in 61 companies, with roughly half the companies and 60% of the dollars invested in South Carolina. 

UCAN’s Founding Managing Director, Matt Dunbar, added, “Over the last 10 years, we have been proud to be part of the growth of the startup ecosystem in Greenville and the region.  Our members have helped support startups tackling tough challenges across a range of industries, and those companies have gone on to raise over $350 million of additional capital, employ over 1000 people, and create strong investment returns for our investors.”  He added, “It has been rewarding to work with entrepeneurs and our investors to accomplish our objectives to make money, have fun and do good.” 

As part of UCAN’s anniversary celebration, the group announced its second portfolio company acquisition for the year, which generated a 9.5x initial return in just over two years, generating a 180% annualized rate of return. Earlier this year, FarmShots was acquired by Syngenta yielding a 50% annualized rate of return.

In addition to strong returns for investors, UCAN and VentureSouth continue to invest at a record pace.  The groups have invested $3.7 million this quarter in 8 new and existing portfolio companies.  Those investments include Proterra, the Greenville-based electric bus manufacturer, 6AM City, a Greenville-based media company and Atlas Organics, the Spartanburg-based collector and composter of food waste.   

To learn more about UCAN and how to be part of its second decade of angel investing, please visit

VentureSouth August Newsletter

We're proud of the connections being made and the work being done between angel investors and early stage companies in the VentureSouth portfolio.

Our August newsletter covered some recent portfolio updates and stories of collaboration between engaged angels and entrepreneurs. Please let us know what you think - and whether you liked our past newsletters.

Better still, sign up for future notes so you hear first about our upcoming educational workshops and VentureSouth news.

Welcoming Erin Ouzts as leader of Spartanburg Angels

We are very pleased that Erin Ouzts is joining the Spartanburg Angels team as Director of the group.

Below is more on the announcement of her appointment, and you can read more in the Upstate Business Journal. We're excited about adding her enterpreneurial and investing experience, and relationships with potential investors and early stage companies in Spartanburg, to the team.


Spartanburg Angels Announces

New Director

Spartanburg, S.C. – Spartanburg Angels is delighted to announce the appointment of Erin Ouzts as its new Director.

Spartanburg Angels is an angel investment group that invests in early stage companies in Spartanburg and across the Carolinas. It is part of the VentureSouth network of 14 affiliated angel groups and funds.

Erin has been a member of Spartanburg Angels and a driving force behind the group since its beginning in 2015. Erin agreed to become Director this summer to help continue growing the membership and increasing the number of local companies that present to the VentureSouth members.

“I’m thrilled to continue to grow Spartanburg Angels,” said Erin. “With the support of the One Spartanburg plan and our local investors, Spartanburg Angels will continue to impact our community as a key piece of the ecosystem of support for entrepreneurs. Many elements must work together to create a dynamic entrepreneurial ecosystem and capital for growing companies is a critical piece.”

Over 35 people have been part of Spartanburg Angels since it was created. These members have already invested in 15 early stage companies from across the Carolinas, including Spartanburg companies like Atlas Organics.

“We’ve enjoyed working with Erin to form and grow Spartanburg Angels over the last two years,” said Paul Clark, a Managing Director at VentureSouth. “And we’re excited about the momentum and enthusiasm she will bring to continuing to grow the group.”

“Last year’s OneSpartanburg Community Assessment noted that many communities of a similar size to Spartanburg would covet the presence of a locally-based angel investment group,” added Betsy Sikma, director of small business and entrepreneurial development for the Economic Futures Group at the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce. “The plan’s final recommendations are to work with Spartanburg Angels to expand funding options for local high-growth firms.  We’re pleased to have been able to form the group, and to continue to see it being led by experienced angel investors and entrepreneurs.”

Anyone wanting to learn more about Spartanburg Angels is encouraged to visit its website at or connect with Erin at

Announcing VentureSouth Piedmont - the new VS affiliate in the Triad

We are very excited to be working with Matt Bailey and Malay Shah on the development of VentureSouth Piedmont.

Below is the announcement sent out today; and thanks to the Triad Business Journal for their ongoing coverage and updates.

Interested in coming to an interest meeting? See our Events Page for details of dates and locations.


New Angel Investor Group Forms in Triad

VentureSouth Piedmont (VSP) today announces a series of events to organize and increase angel investing in the Piedmont Triad.

Starting with a launch meeting on September 14th, VSP will hold meetings to gauge interest in the local business and investment community for a local angel investor group. These events are open to anyone interested in investing in early stage companies and entrepreneurs in the Piedmont Triad and across the Southeast.

VSP will be a membership-based group of individual investors with local leadership. The group will meet monthly to invest in and support startup and early-stage, high-growth companies. VSP has already begun working on its first investments.

VSP is an affiliate of VentureSouth. VentureSouth operates over a dozen proven angel investment groups and funds across the Carolinas, with approximately 250 individual investors and a portfolio of over 50 companies. VSP will work closely with sister groups in Charlotte, Asheville, and across South Carolina that are having a positive impact on their communities. VSP has already begun working on its first investments with its affiliates.

VSP will invest in early stage companies in the Southeast that are seeking investments of $250,000 to $1 million to grow. These companies will span locations and industries, but share common traits: talented, committed entrepreneurs building defensible businesses that solve large, painful, and well-defined problems. VentureSouth targets investments capable of generating a 50% annual rate of return.

VSP’s first members have already joined. The group expects to be similar in size to the larger groups in the VS network. VSP plans to make its first investments this fall. To attend the interest meetings or learn more, please visit VentureSouth Piedmont at - and to learn more about Matt Bailey and Malay Shah check out our team page.

VentureSouth's AngelList syndicate

We are pleased to announce that this week we are launching the VentureSouth AngelList syndicate.

You can learn more about it here. Keep an eye out for our series of blog posts outlining how it works, why we’re doing it, and why you should consider “backing” it.

You won’t see all our investments on there, or have access to our process, due diligence materials, and expertise – you need to join a VentureSouth group for that. But by backing this syndicate, you have the opportunity to invest alongside our members in some of the most attractive companies in the southeast.

We look forward to working with you!

VentureSouth's regional and national profile

At VentureSouth, we aspire to be one of the leading early stage investment firms in the US. From humble beginnings, we now manage over 230 business and community leaders in angel groups over a 300 mile region - and invest as much capital as a small venture capital fund.

But more than that, we try to find, implement, and improve the best practices of early stage investors. This is why we are particularly pleased when our efforts receive regional and national recognition.

Matt has excelled at this recently. Last week, he participated in Bull City Ventures' Venture Outlook event in Raleigh event that was written up in Inc magazine and other local press.

To top that, today he was recognized as one of the leading early stage investor thought-leaders. The Angel Capital Association listed Matt's article in the UBJ last year as #6 among the top 25 "must reads" of 2016 for angel investors. His fellow nominees are some of the most recognized angel investors (like Dave Berkus) and leading venture capitalists (like Fred Wilson, Brad Feld, and Mark Suster).

Matt's a humble guy, but we have no qualms about saying that his knowledge of angel investing is second to none. We are pleased that others across the US agree.

To learn more about Matt's history, UCAN, and the VentureSouth story, try this profile in GreenvilleCEO.

VentureSouth announces record year

In 2016, VentureSouth's members invested over $4 million in 15 companies - a record year. Here is some news coverage and here is our press release.


VentureSouth Celebrates

Record Year in 2016

Greenville, S.C. – VentureSouth is pleased to announce it invested more than $4 million in Southeastern startups in 2016, a record for the early stage investment firm, and a 15% increase over the prior year.  

The network invested in 15 companies last year in the Carolinas, Georgia and Tennessee, bringing its total portfolio to more than $20 million invested in 55 companies. The group also distributed more than $1 million of investment returns to its investor members from exited investments.

VentureSouth began in 2008 with the launch of the Upstate Carolina Angel Network in Greenville, SC and has now grown to 11 angel groups across the Southeast. Three new groups were added in 2016: Salt Marsh Angels in Hilton Head, Grand Strand Angels in Myrtle Beach, and VentureSouth Charlotte.  

The group also launched the VentureSouth Angel Fund II last year, its second co-investment fund, which has already made its first investments. Collectively, VentureSouth includes more than 200 individual angel investors, making it one of the largest angel groups in the country.

Matt Dunbar, a Managing Director of VentureSouth, reflected on the year saying, “2016 was a pivotal year for VentureSouth as we continued to expand our investor base across the Southeast and improve our operational efficiency. We are grateful for the impressive depth of expertise we can tap into across our investor network, and we are excited about our increasing capacity to fund promising early stage companies in the Southeast.”

To close the year, VentureSouth led an investment in KWIPPED, an online B2B equipment rental marketplace in Wilmington, NC.  Earlier in the fall, it invested in Vendor Registry, a TN-based company with a software platform to improve the ability of local government agencies to procure services, as well as co-leading an investment in Durham, NC-based FarmShots, an agricultural technology company that uses advanced drone and satellite imagery to manage farms.

The group also invested additional capital to accelerate the growth of eight existing portfolio companies, including electric bus manufacturer Proterra and cancer diagnostics firm KIYATEC in Greenville; Pharmright in Charleston, makers of the Livi automated medication dispenser; and Sensory Analytics, an optical sensor technology company in Greensboro, NC.

Mac Lackey, a Managing Director of VentureSouth, added, “We are very excited about these new investments, as well as the progress of many of our portfolio companies over the last year. They are addressing significant problems across many industries and gaining national recognition for their innovative solutions. We look forward to even stronger progress in 2017.”

To learn more about VentureSouth, the new angel groups, their recent investments, and the VentureSouth portfolio please visit

CSR Angels - helping the Aiken/Augusta startup ecosystem

Enjoyable article from the Augusta Chronicle this weekend, demonstrating the importance of capital as a link in the chain of development of an early stage ecosystem.

As "every piece of the chain" improves, education on how those links work together becomes key. What better way to understand how to access the nascent angel capital in our area than by coming to the "how to pitch" workshop this week?

VentureSouth announces its fall 2016 educational events calendar

We look forward to seeing you at some of the educational events coming this year.

VentureSouth Announces Fall Education Events

Greenville, S.C. – VentureSouth, a leading early-stage investment firm that develops and manages angel investment groups and funds in the Southeast, is pleased to announce its fall schedule of educational events for early stage investors and entrepreneurs.

VentureSouth works with prominent providers of angel investment education and information, including the Angel Resource Institute (ARI) and the Angel Capital Association. Charlie Banks, Managing Director of VentureSouth, stated, “Educating entrepreneurs and investors on the intricacies of early stage capital is a critical contributor to the longterm success of our business environment.” A full schedule of these events is available on the VentureSouth website at

The highlight of the educational calendar is the ARI workshop “Executing Exits” on November 30 in Greenville, SC. The workshop was developed by nationally-renowned entrepreneur CEO and angel investor, Basil Peters. Bill Payne, founder of Tech Coast Angels and other early stage investment firms, will be in South Carolina to facilitate the workshop. The seminar is particularly aimed at early stage company leaders and investors, but will be valuable to any business owner contemplating their eventual “exit.”

Banks further stated: “To have nationally-celebrated experts sharing their strategies and insights is a tremendous opportunity for management teams and investors here in the Carolinas. Exits are what make Silicon Valley and other entrepreneurial hot-spots so powerful. We need more exits in the Carolinas to add momentum to the early stage investment community here. Knowing the best ways to create exits will be invaluable.”

VentureSouth is also providing a series of workshops to help potential entrepreneurs understand how to position their early stage company for investment. The “How to Pitch” series begins in at the NEXT Center in Greenville (November 1), continues to SC Cyber in Columbia (November 16), and then to the Zucker Family Graduate Education Center (Clemson) in Charleston (December 6).

Other events include a workshop with Asheville Angels on October 20 at the Asheville Chamber at noon that provides a comprehensive understanding of the rigorous due diligence processes a company must complete to obtain angel capital.

Finally, on the platform, Paul Clark of VentureSouth will be discussing tax issues related to angel investing with tax expert Ben Glenn of Bauknight Pietras & Stormer. If you are thinking of raising capital in South Carolina, or considering investing in a startup company in the state, you need to review the online broadcast.

VentureSouth would like to thank the partners that make these workshops possible. These include the SC Department of Commerce, Wells Fargo, The NEXT Innovation Center, SC Cyber, and Bauknight Pietras & Stormer.

For more information and a complete list of events visit


Congratulations to CSR Angels on its impressive first year

Congratulations to CSR Angels for their recognition in the Aiken Standard this week. The group has had a very impressive first year.

Starting a new angel group is no small undertaking. Being able to "plug in" to an existing infrastructure of nearby groups makes it much easier. There aren't many angel groups that were able to make 12 investments in their first year - but as part of VentureSouth new groups can hit the ground running.