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VentureSouth establishes Furman angel network

Staff Report //October 12, 2020//

VentureSouth establishes Furman angel network

Staff Report //October 12, 2020//

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Charlie Banks of VentureSouth and entrepreneur Gabby Goodwin at the VentureSouth Summit at Furman in 2019. (Photo/Provided)With Furman University being ranked as one of the most innovative schools in the country according to 2021 U.S. News “Best Colleges Rankings,” Greenville-based angel investment group VentureSouth has set its sights on the well of entrepreneurial ideas fostered on the school's campus.

According to an Oct. 7 announcement, the school’s alumni, faculty, staff, donors, board members or student parents will now be able to access startup capital and mentorship through VentureSouth’s newly established Furman Angel Network.

“This is the Furman network of investors helping the Furman network of entrepreneurs,” Anthony Herrera, executive director of the network and Furman Innovation and Entrepreneurship, said in a news release.

Investors must have a Furman link, be accredited by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and pay $2,500 annual dues to participate before being able to access ventures screened by the VentureSouth due diligence team. So far 10 investors with Furman links have joined the network, which Herrera expects to grow to at least 30 or 40 members.

An investor network of any size is rare for a traditional liberal arts school, according to Herrera, as most are based at universities boasting of expansive business schools. Starting next spring, the network also will offer an angel analyst program for students of all majors to learn the skills needed for private equity, venture capital and investment banking careers, such as financial analysis, due diligence and valuation, according to Herrera.

Charlie Banks, managing director of VentureSouth, said the network will help members build diversified investment portfolios while also giving Furman-based entrepreneurs an avenue for pitching, pursuing and honing innovative ideas.

“The No. 1 reason companies fail is they run out of cash,” Banks said. Typically, Venture South invests in eight or 10 new companies every year out of the 20 or 30 deals considered each month, aside from the 10 to 20 companies already in VentureSouth’s investment portfolio.

Overall, VentureSouth has invested more than $50 million in more than 70 companies, according to a press release, with $4 million of this investment going to 17 fledgling companies this year. VentureSouth has a wide-ranging portfolio but prefers to invest in tech-enabled startups in growing markets, according to the release.

“Now more than ever, we need creative, innovative entrepreneurs coming up with new ventures, new products and new services that will enhance our lives, enhance our communities and create economic opportunity,” Herrera said in the release.