Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Spotlight: Richmond, VA

Richmond

Richmond may be the capital of Virginia, but it’s also growing in population and entrepreneurship activity. Find out what accelerators, investors, and makerspaces are found in Richmond’s diverse entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Richmond, VA is the state’s capital and the fourth-most populous city as well as the principal city of the nation’s 44th-largest metropolitan statistical area. Though the city ranked just 79th in WalletHub’s 2018 list of the best large cities to start a business, it finished 33rd and 15th in the “Access to Resources” and “Business Costs” categories, respectively. Additionally, the metro area ranked 19th in WalletHub’s list of the best metro areas for STEM professionals. Finally, in 2017, Rolling Out magazine ranked Richmond as the ninth-best city for African American entrepreneurs.

Based on these rankings, FundingSage has reviewed the resources that make up Richmond’s entrepreneurial ecosystem:

Entrepreneurial Meetups:

Entrepreneur Movement is a networking group that holds regular events for their diverse group of members to meet and support one another.

Richmond is home to one branch of Femworking, a network of networking groups aimed at supporting female entrepreneurs.

The Richmond Real Estate Investors Association holds regular networking events and workshops to support local real estate investors and entrepreneurs.

RVA Social Entrepreneurs is a networking group dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs that aim to make a positive social change.

With branches in cities all across the United States, S.E.V.E.N. Networking is a group dedicated to supporting all entrepreneurs and business owners.

 

Regular Entrepreneurial Events:

The National Association of Women Business Owners’ organizes a number of regular events, including an annual awards ceremony for women in business.

The Richmond Chamber of Commerce hosts an annual conference for entrepreneurs that includes networking opportunities as well as workshops and speakers.

RV Makerfest is an annual event celebrating and supporting the maker community in and around Richmond.

The Richmond Technology Council hosts a number of annual events, including Tech Week, a conference aimed at women in tech, and an awards gala.

Venture Forum RVA hosts regular networking events as well as an annual awards ceremony and Venture Summit.

 

Startup Competitions:

The Dominion Energy Innovation Center, an incubator in nearby Ashland, VA, hosts a competition in which three promising tech startups compete for $10,000.

Richmond SCORE hosts a pitch competition for startups less than one year removed from earning their first revenue.

The University of Richmond holds a number of competitions for students, including the annual Business Pitch Competition sponsored by the Entrepreneurship Club.

Virginia Commonwealth University hosts the annual Virginia Entrepreneurial Challenge, a Shark Tank-style competition for high school entrepreneurs.

 

Co-working Spaces:

In addition to offering co-working space, 804RVA is also a social club of sorts, hosting meetings, events, competitions, workshops, demo days, and other events for entrepreneurs.

The Broad is a co-working space and community specifically for women that hosts regular social events, classes, and other programs.

Gather has several locations in and around the city, all of which offer flexible plans to best meet the needs of its members.

Opening in 2018, Level Office’s location will offer both traditional co-working space and private offices for teams from one to eight people.

 

Makerspaces:

Build, RVA is a maker space and product incubator that hosts regular workshops and classes as well as open houses in which non-members can access the tools and equipment.

HackRVA offers its members access to a wide variety of tools, equipment, and electronics to support makers and entrepreneurs in the community.

Somewhere between a co-working space and a maker space, Make Warehouse offers space to work and create as well as the necessary tools to do so.

A small makerspace is one of the many resources available to students in the Virginia Commonwealth University library.

 

Incubators:

80amps is a small business incubator that provides mentorship, market analysis, financial and legal assistance, and other resources to help grow businesses.

Located at the VA Bio+Tech Park, the Bio+Tech Center incubator program is one of several resources for entrepreneurs in the Richmond area.

BizWorks is a small business incubator that supports economic development in the Richmond community by helping businesses grow.

Located in nearby Ashland, VA, the Dominion Energy Innovation Center focuses on growing early-stage technology startups.

Startup Virginia is an incubator program that aims to help high-growth startups succeed in order to build the state’s economy.

Incubators & Accelerators: Which Best Fits Your Needs?

 

Accelerators:

The Lighthouse Accelerator is one of two accelerator programs organized by Lighthouse Labs, with a focus on scalable technology startups.

Also organized by Lighthouse Labs, the Lighthouse EdTech Accelerator is specifically focused on educational technology startups.

Virginia Commonwealth University’s da Vinci Center is a collection of resources organized by the university to support students.

 

Colleges/Universities:

  1. Sargeant Reynolds Community College offers a certificate program in Entrepreneurship in Small Business.

The University of Richmond’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship provides support to students through classes and other resources and opportunities.

VCU offers its students a number of resources, both in and out of the classroom, to support their entrepreneurship.

Through partnerships with corporations and community agencies, Virginia Union University aims to provide the most expansive entrepreneurship education possible.

 

Angel Groups/VCs:

Blue Heron Capital invests in companies around the United States, with a focus on the healthcare and technology-enabled business services industries.

One of Boxwood Partners’ several functions is a private investment firm that works with companies that use the internet to generate most of their revenue.

New Dominion Angels typically aims to make seed- and Series A-stage investments in companies located throughout the Mid-Atlantic region.

NRV is a venture capital group that aims to invest in promising early-stage startups in the state of Virginia that are capitalizing on emerging trends.

Headquartered in Richmond, Trolley Ventures invests in early-stage companies located in or willing to relocate to Virginia, in all industries excluding real estate.

Screening Meeting with the Angel Group: Are You Prepared?

 

Entrepreneurial Newsletter Coverage:

The Biz Sense’s e-mail Newsfeed covers a wide variety of topics in the Richmond business and entrepreneurial worlds.

Richmond’s leading newspaper offers a number of newsletters, including one focusing on business news in the region.

Not solely focused on the Richmond area, Virginia Business offers an e-newsletter that covers business news from around the state.

Are you familiar with entrepreneurial ecosystem infrastructure in Richmond, Virginia not included in the article above?  If so, let us know via a comment below, and we will add it to the article. 

Interested in Ecosystem Spotlights of other cities in the USA?

Chattanooga, TennesseeSeattle, WATampa, FL


Quinn Pilkey

Quinn is a journalism major at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He also serves as a freelance author for Hashtag Basketball where he writes about the NBA's Charlotte Hornets and at Funding$age where he researches and writes about entrepreneurial ecosystems.