As an entrepreneur himself, Paul Clark is passionate about improving mental health for founders across the South. Working as a venture capitalist for many years, Paul has seen countless founders experience the same struggles and stresses that he also experienced. Through VentureSouth and VentureCarolina, Paul helps founders navigate the ups and downs of the entrepreneurial journey, so they feel supported and less alone when faced with challenges.
- Tell us about VentureSouth and its history and growth. How does VS support entrepreneurs?
VentureSouth is an early-stage investor based in Greenville, South Carolina. We invest in startup companies across the southeast. We started in 2008 with our first angel group, which was called the Upstate Carolina Angel Network, based in Greenville. And over the 15 years since then, we've grown to run and manage angel groups and funds across the Carolinas and adjacent states. Our primary role is to provide capital to early-stage technology startups in the Southeast, assisting entrepreneurs in their fundraising efforts to bring their ideas to life.
- Tell us about the state of venture capital in South Carolina. Where are the strengths? Where are the gaps? What does growth look like?
While the landscape varies from state to state, generally speaking, early-stage investment in our region doesn't meet the expectations set by the abundance of talented entrepreneurs here. This has been a consistent challenge, true 15 years ago and to a slightly lesser extent today, as more people are getting involved. However, the Southeast isn't typically top-of-mind for early-stage venture capital funding.
Though numerous angel groups, including ours, have emerged and grown, and a handful of venture capital funds exist—particularly in bigger cities like Atlanta, where there's a larger population—South Carolina has limited venture capital activity. Even in places like North Carolina, despite their wealth and technical expertise, the level of funding falls short of what one might anticipate.