NC VC data from 1995 to 2015

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As we previously reported, North Carolina’s startups had a good third quarter in 2015—at least in terms of venture capital fundraising. North Carolina placed fifth in overall venture capital raised. North Carolina startups raised more in one quarter than in any quarter since 2000. And with 143 investment deals already inked between investors and entrepreneurs, it’s likely 2015’s final deal count will outpace 2014’s 180 deals

But how does North Carolina compare to other states? And how are North Carolina cities doing when compared to each other? 

Quarter four data won’t be out until sometime in 2016, but until then we’ve highlighted five key stats you need to know before 2016 rushes in. 

Here’s some background on the data. The National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) collaborate to track venture capital (VC) investments made in startups across the US. While their data isn’t perfect—they can’t report on undisclosed deals, for example—they are the only national entity collecting and publishing this type of data. 

Locally, the Council for Entrepreneurial Development (CED) collects and publishes aggregated data on angel and venture capital deals in a bi-annual Innovators Report. It also created an online database to peruse through previous years’ data dating back to 2013. As you’ll see, some of CED’s figures don’t match the NVCA’s and that’s because they’re measuring two different things. CED aggregates investments of all kinds (including angel investments, grants, etc.) into its deal numbers and investment figures. NVCA includes venture capital deals and dollars only.


The Numbers and What they Mean 

$363,508,700 
This is the amount of VC investment in NC companies in Q3 2015. It’s the figure that helped NC grab that 5th place spot—beating out peers like Colorado, Washington, Ohio and Georgia. Q3 investments doubled NC’s typical share of the national total investments (from 1% to 2%). And this is double the amount NC companies raised in Q2 2015. 

Biotech (or life science) companies—like Sprout Pharmaceuticals and Humacyte, Inc.—raked in a good portion of these dollars. NC Biotech companies weren’t the only ones excelling—Netflix was the only non-biotech company to crack 2015’s top 10 stocks list in the US. Half of the biggest exits in NC were biotech companies and eight of the state’s top 10 equity deals went to life science companies. Only software companies outpaced biotech companies in raising venture capital nationally. 

35% 
VC Investments in NC businesses make up 35% of all the investments in Southeast businesses so far in 2015. This is up from 18% in 2014, and 19% in 2013. This means we’re outpacing our neighbors in South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, etc. When Q4 numbers are released in 2016, this percentage could go up. The bulk of the investments in NC businesses are also coming from Southeast investors. 

CED reports that out of the 128 institutional investors that have invested in NC businesses in 2015 so far, 50 (or 39%) of those come from the Southeast. NC businesses also received investment from 29 Northeast and 21 California investors in 2015. 

71% 
This is the percent increase in total VC funding raised in 2015 (so far) compared to 2014 dollars raised. The total number of VC funding in the first three-quarters of 2015 by NC businesses is nearly $597 million while the total for all of 2014 was just shy of $349 million. 

Regardless of what happens in Q4, 2015 has significantly outpaced 2014’s raises. 

The number is even higher when you include all investor types like angel  investors, corporate investments, and grants. CED counts all investments in NC startups to be about $869 million through Q3. In 2014, the organization calculated total equity in NC businesses at nearly $533 million. 

19 
The number of NC cities or towns (or regions since RTP made this CED-compiled list) that had at least one local company raise money. Obvious cities like Charlotte, Chapel Hill, Durham, Raleigh, Wilmington and Asheville made the list. But so did small towns you might have never heard of like Castle Hayne, Horsham, Waxhaw and Zebulon. Most small towns only had one deal, but some mid-sized cities like Winston-Salem, Greensboro and Wake Forest had two. 

Of course, the number of deals speaks nothing to their size. Wilmington only had two deals, but one of them happened to be nCino, Inc.—which represented the second largest equity deal in NC in 2015. And there are 552 municipalities in NC so only 3% of them have had companies in their municipality receive any type of investment. But the fact that unknown towns have seen any type of investment is promising for the other 533 NC municipalities. 

80% 
The bulk of North Carolina’s deal activity—80% to be exact—occurred in the Research Triangle. When broken out, Chapel Hill companies snagged nine deals, Durham had 34, Raleigh 36, RTP 18 and Cary had 11. When combined with Morrisville and other surrounding towns encompassed in the Triangle, they comprise the vast majority of deals made in NC. (Researcher’s note: RTP is not technically a municipality, but CED counted it as such in its data collection so for the purposes of being consistent, we are too). 

2015 Deal Geography (through 3Q)

While seemingly high, it’s not a surprising figure given the deep bench of support organizations, accelerators, incubators, co-working spaces and investors in the region. 

Chapel Hill startups can find guidance and support from the university and organizations like Launch Chapel Hill and 1789 Venture LabDurham has the American Underground, CED, the Startup FactoryGroundwork Labs, and many others. Cary now hosts a free startup lab inside Co-Founder’s Capital as well as the Cary Innovation CenterThe Frontier and First Flight Ventures are leading the entrepreneurial efforts in the RTP region. And HQ Raleighthe Citrix Accelerator, and the City of Raleigh are heavily invested in ensuring Raleigh continues to be a go-to destination for entrepreneurs. 

Budding startup markets like Charlotte and Asheville also made the list with nine and five deals respectively. 

Even so, with the bulk of the funding and fundraising activity occurring in the Triangle in NC, entrepreneurs, economic developers and policy makers will need to devise strategies to spread entrepreneurship if they wish to see it grow in communities outside of the Triangle in 2016. This work has already started with efforts like the Institute for Emerging Issues new InnovateNC initiative and The Startup Factory’s statewide boot camps. Lessons learned from these initiatives could help others navigate how to best expand startup activity throughout the state. 

Overall, it’s been a big year for NC startups and the investment community, and all the data isn’t even in yet. What 2016 will hold is anyone’s guess, though. If investments continue to rise in the same way they did in 2015, its possible North Carolina could be another record-breaking year. Or the effect national worries over lower valuations and lackluster IPOs might have a negative impact on the local climate. Either way, we’ll be covering the ups and downs of North Carolina’s startup ecosystem. Stay tuned.