ALEXANDRIA – Governor Terry McAuliffe and U.S. Senator Mark Warner today announced the launch of the Virginia is for Entrepreneurs (VA4E) initiative, an effort to better match entrepreneurs with potential investors across regions, backgrounds and industries. V4E’s first initiative will feature a standardized online application to better link entrepreneurs with more than 50 investment firms and potential funders to help launch or grow their Virginia-based businesses.
Partners in the network includes a number of universities including Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia’s College at Wise; angel investment groups such as 757 Angels and Shenandoah Valley Angel Investors; venture funds including Revolution and Village Capital; and statewide organizations including the Center for Innovative Technology.
“The Commonwealth has long been home to innovators and entrepreneurs who make up the backbone of our new Virginia economy,” said Governor McAuliffe. “That’s why it’s so important that we continue to expand our support for promising new ventures. The Virginia is for Entrepreneurs initiative will open new doors for local start-ups by increasing access to the capital they need to thrive and create good-paying jobs.”
“While Virginia boasts a number of innovative communities and ecosystems across the Commonwealth, a consistent problem has been connecting promising entrepreneurs with capital available to support their vision,” said Senator Mark Warner. “As part of a broader effort to strengthen the connective tissue between Virginia’s startup communities, this tool will help founders evaluate their product fit and maturity, and connect them with venture and angel investors across the Commonwealth.”
“Having a single point of entry to a statewide capital network will greatly enhance the likelihood that Virginia startups will be able to secure the funding they need without having to rely on out-of-state resources,” said Secretary of Technology Karen Jackson. “And for those in regions that lack an organized venture community, access to these funds will open up a myriad of entrepreneurial opportunities.”
“Whether you’re an agriculture entrepreneur in Abingdon or a cyber-security entrepreneur in Arlington, if you’ve got a great idea and work hard, you should be able to succeed,” said Ross Baird, founder of the venture firm Village Capital and one of the organizers of the V4E initiative. “Today, too often the best ideas don’t even get the opportunity to start because of who they are or where they come from. Virginia is for Entrepreneurs is testing ideas statewide to fix that.”
The pilot initiative announced today that the online application was successfully tested by more than 200 entrepreneurs and investors statewide at the TomTom Festival in Charlottesville and by the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council.
The initiative will help build strategic sectors in Virginia. For example, one of the initial areas of focus for the investment portfolio will be a state-led pilot program to promote the growth of early stage unmanned aerial systems companies, which has been identified as a cornerstone industry for the New Virginia Economy.