A new early-stage startup program is fueling the emerging tech scene in Charleston, South Carolina. Launchpeer Labs is part investment fund, part accelerator, and part startup studio geared towards idea-stage companies who haven’t yet built a product, created a team, or secured funding to bring their idea to life.
The unique hybrid program, developed by startup studio Launchpeer, provides new companies with a $50,000 investment and access to a team of developers, designers, and growth hackers who act as a co-founding team and build their MVP and MDP. These Launchpeer team members each get vested in the equity from the Labs startups, ensuring their dedication to the long-term success of Labs portfolio companies. In exchange for seed funding and talent, Launchpeer Labs takes 30% equity and requires the startups, or “Founders-in-Residence,” to relocate to Charleston for at least one year.
Launchpeer Founder Jake Hare says, “We’re thrilled to create a unique program that serves the needs of the earliest stage startups. This type of resource doesn’t readily exist in the Southeast, and it’s one that we hope will fuel new business growth, increase job creation, and bring investment attention to our startup community.”
Additionally, Launchpeer Labs has partnered with Venture South, one of the Southeast’s largest angel investment organizations, to help the Labs startups secure follow-on funding of $100-500K. The VentureSouth network invested $4.5MM in 15 companies in 2016, and will offer funding opportunities to Launchpeer Labs companies who meet their investment criteria.
“We look forward to introducing Launchpeer Labs participants to our process that connects to the capital and expertise of all 200+ members of our network across the Carolinas,” says Eric Thome, Director at VentureSouth. “This program, and our partnership, is a great opportunity to continue fostering startup success in our region.”
Entrepreneurs interested in the program will go through a competitive, two- to four-week application process with vetting by Launchpeer team members and outside investors. Once accepted, the Founders-in-Residence will work alongside Launchpeer in Charleston, SC to go from zero to fully validated, revenue generating, and seed-funded within 4-6 months.
Charleston ranks as the nation’s eighth best city for tech (outside California and New York) and Forbes’ #7 best midsize city for jobs. Launchpeer aims to boost growth of the tech scene with its startup program.
Adds Hare, “The ultimate goal of this program is to continue growing Charleston as a thriving tech hub. Until now, idea-stage entrepreneurs haven’t had this level of targeted support or direct connection to investors. We’re solving that problem, all in an effort to strengthen our region’s startup ecosystem.”
Claire Gibbons, Director of Global Marketing at Charleston Regional Development Alliance says “Home to 250+ tech companies, the Charleston metro is fast emerging as the next tech hub for smart, creative talent – ranking 11th in the U.S. for high tech GDP growth and 4th for its entrepreneurial ecosystem, according to Inc. Charleston offers an affordable, world-class lifestyle, endless environmental and architectural beauty, and a supportive, collaborative tech community that wants you to succeed. It’s a wonderful place for innovation-based businesses to grow, and Launchpeer Labs is a great example of the resources you’ll find here.”
Early-stage startups currently in residence with Launchpeer include HOBA, the Uber of Boating, with $550K in funding; and Purple Panda, a mobile app that connects homeowners and businesses to local workers for on-demand jobs, with $50K in funding.
Startups looking to join Launchpeer Labs can apply HERE.