On Wednesday October 17, 2018, the Charlottesville Business Innovation Council (“CBIC”), along with co-host Presidential Precinct, held the Tech Night Takeover (“TNT”) series event titled: “Social Good Means Good Business”.
For those unfamiliar, CBIC holds periodic TNT events throughout the year covering emerging and pressing issues affecting its member base, including various issues concerning investment, founders, IT, software, biotechnology, life sciences and more. New CBIC board member, PJ Harris, moderated the subject TNT, styled as a fireside chat with subject matter experts in the for-profit “social impact” space. The experts consisted of (i) Aneesh Dhawan, Founder and CEO at PurPics, (ii) Beth Johnson, Program Director at Blue Morning, (iii) Peter McFarren, President & CEO at Global eHealth Solutions LLC and (iv) Brynne Potter, CEO & Co-Founder at Maternity Neighborhood.
Addressing our most pressing issues is often associated with the work of nonprofits. Yet the philanthropic sector is so small, even the most effective programs in the world wouldn’t solve our global challenges across sectors such as food, water, health, and education. More and more, we’re seeing how business can serve as a tool for achieving social and environmental objectives. A common myth in the business world is that integrating a social or environmental mission is a burden on the bottom line. On the contrary, aligning mission and model presents significant market opportunities for both new businesses and established enterprises alike.
On August 23, 2018, Moonlighting LLC became the first Charlottesville based company (to my knowledge) to offer investments via Title III crowdfunding, on the crowdfunding portal Republic.
Intrigued by the offering, I met with CEO Jeff Tennery & COO Roy Slater for lunch. Both Jeff & Roy updated me as to the status of prior and current financing offerings. In case you were not aware, much has changed with Moonlighting since the Daily Progress’ June 17, 2018 article related to the company’s initial coin offering announcement of “Moonbit”.
From the Daily Progress Business Hall of Fame, Tracey Greene is featured in an article describing the past, present, and future of startups in Charlottesville.
Among the many great parts of this article: "In 2017, securities filings showed area companies pulled in more than $39 million in venture funding in the first half of the year, according to Daily Progress news partner Charlottesville Tomorrow. And in the first quarter of this year, Virginia had the 12th-most venture capital activity in the nation, according to NVCA."
Learn more about The CBIC Awards Gala
The University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Science has been selected to establish a $27.5 million national center to remove a bottleneck built into computer systems 70 years ago that is increasingly hindering technological advances today.
CBIC just celebrated its 20th year. Let's take a look at what's been happening in the Charlottesville entrepreneurial scene since then. To start, numerous startup companies have launched, many have successfully raised critical seed and follow-on funding, some have been acquired, and most are on their way to great success.
In 2016, the National Venture Capital Association ranked Charlottesville #1 in Venture Capital Funding Growth. It reported that between 2010 and 2015, venture funding in Charlottesville jumped from $250,000 to $27.7 million invested in local companies.
In newer news, critical early-stage funding also increased for local startups. The Charlottesville Angel Network, established in 2015, now has a portfolio of 28 companies with 60% being local. Through CAN alone, 8 new deals closed representing $1.4MM in 2017, and, CAN has invested nearly $4.3MM total.
Established companies have also flourished providing jobs, recruiting talent to our region, and spreading economic diversity. But it's not just about the companies already here. Our region has grown in its attractiveness too. It boasts better startup and high-tech business infrastructure, including high-speed Internet options previously not available, more affordable wet lab space, and accessible collaborative and co-working spaces.
Our University and non-profits offer stellar entrepreneurial and other training and professional development, which facilitates better access to angel investment capital, tech talent, trained interns, and mentors.
Read about how Charlottesville is emerging as a mini-tech powerhouse here, and check out why entrepreneurs continue to choose Charlottesville as their home here.
Further, the community has rallied around consistent, recurring meet-ups and networking opportunities such as CBIC Tech on Taps, our co-hosted Charlottesville Entrepreneurs and Espresso events, Cville Women in Tech gatherings, and so much more. Want to learn about our region's myriad resources? Click here.
Our community has pulled together to improve our collective ecosystem. Our best and brightest consistently speak out regarding crucial issues, including our faults. We use various CBIC Tech Night Takeover events sponsored by S&P Global and collaborative Tom Tom Festival happenings as platforms for voicing our concerns, disseminating crucial information to elected officials, and sharing ideas.
It's working. How? You. That's how. And people like you:
For this, we applaud and thank you.
As we ring in this new year, CBIC is alight with the excitement of things to come. Take a look around at your colleagues, mentors, and friends, and recognize how important our actions are in shaping the world around us. Realize that it is our sense of community, rather than any one particular focus, that makes us who we are. Let's stand together and celebrate the inclusivity, diversity, and strength that make Charlottesville so great.
Thank you, all, for your contributions and may this be our best year yet!
Tracey Greene, CBIC Executive Director
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia – AgroSpheres announces the successful close of an oversubscribed seed round of $750,000 from local and international angel investors. AgroSpheres is a biotechnology company developing novel nanotechnologies aiming to set a new standard for bio-based delivery of active ingredients. The funding will be used to broaden utility of the platform, build a strong intellectual property portfolio, and outfit the company’s facilities.
AgroSpheres has made significant breakthroughs in the effective and precise delivery of high-value biomolecules and chemicals to a wide range of intended targets. Using next-generation bioengineering and industrial fermentation allow AgroSpheres to out scale competitors at a lower cost.
The platform’s focal point is a nanoscale bioparticle created from environmentally friendly microbes that can be functionalized by immobilizing and/or encapsulating active ingredients. Although the applicability of the platform is extremely versatile, the company is focused on developing their technology to innovate the fields of agriculture and industrial enzymes.
“We are excited to be developing our technology for precision agriculture applications - we want to help farmers maximize their yields while minimizing their exposure to dangerous chemicals and the off-target exposure of agrochemicals to the environment,” said Payam Pourtaheri, Co-Founder.
Ameer Shakeel, Co-Founder, said, “It is opportune timing for us to be making a cost-effective delivery vehicle for enzymes. We see growing value in using industrial enzymes as environmentally friendly, efficient alternatives to synthetic chemicals in various manufacturing industries.”
Prior to this round of funding, the company was funded by $174,000 from grants and awards from competitions, most notably Thought for Food, The Collegiate Inventor’s Competition, VentureWell, and the Virginia Wine Board. The company continues to receive strong support from the Charlottesville community and the University of Virginia, including the iLab incubator program.
“The founders of AgroSpheres have created a groundbreaking nano-delivery technology by working across disciplines and leveraging multiple departments at the University of Virginia. The AgroSpheres Interdisciplinary Model has set a new standard for translational research and development,” said Dr. Mark Kester, Co-Founder.
Kim Wilkens (aka TechKim) is passionate about transforming technology users into technology creators, collaborators & activists and proud to do this work with many collaborators and partners including Mozilla Network50, CS Educator @ St. Anne’s-Belfield School, Tech-Girls founder, Charlottesville Women in Tech outreach and CBIC Tech Tour chair.
Check out her podcast on technology's bro culture here!
Tech on Tap Tuesday, November 13, 2018, 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM Venue: Kardinal Hall