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Venture fellowship program to begin in February

Banking & Finance
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The S.C. Commerce Department’s Office of Innovation has partnered with Venture Carolina, a nonprofit that aims to bridge the funding gap between investors and entrepreneurs, to launch a pilot fellowship program to create more local accredited investors, expanding risk-capital accessibility for early-stage startups in South Carolina.

The Palmetto Venture Fellowship is a seven-part workshop series that exposes participants to the intricacies associated with early-stage capital formation. The program, with an inaugural class of 40 participants, begins in February and ends in October 2022. Ideal candidates include current or aspiring investors seeking the expertise necessary to be successful investing in early-stage companies, according to a news release from the Commerce Department.

“South Carolina has a proven climate for success for companies of all sizes, and the Palmetto Venture Fellowship will help develop a pool of well-equipped investors to help expand our state’s startup business environment,” Commerce Secretary Harry M. Lightsey III said in the news release. “Building a pipeline of educated investors will help diversify our local economy and keep South Carolina regionally competitive in recruiting innovative startups.”

According to 2018 data from the National Science Board, South Carolina ranked 39th in the United States for venture capital dollars disbursed per $1,000 in state gross domestic product. Historically, states that rank well in this measure possess companies that have been successful in attracting venture capital investments, according to the release. Positive trends in this measure may be predictors of new products and services, job creation and revenue growth.

“We have proven that if we educate investors on the complexities of investing in early-stage companies, they are much more willing to participate in the asset class,” Charlie Banks, executive director of Venture Carolina, said in the release. “We believe there is an important foundational proficiency that every investor needs in order to be effective at investing in early-stage companies. Topics such as term sheets, valuations, capitalization tables and how to do proper diligence are just a few of the complexities this fellowship will equip attendees with. We’re thrilled to be partnering with the S.C. Department of Commerce’s Office of Innovation and applaud their leadership on this critical component of any successful entrepreneurship ecosystem.”

The inaugural class of the Palmetto Venture Fellows will be selected by a committee of business leaders and investors throughout South Carolina. Virtual information sessions are scheduled for Dec. 14 and Jan. 6.

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