Investors Pump Millions into New Charlottesville Tech Companies

Posted: Updated: Feb 02, 2016 05:36 PM

Charlottesville techies are tapping into start-up funds at a faster rate than anywhere else in the country. The National Venture Capital Association ranks Charlottesville first in the nation for growth and rate of growth.

Jim Zuffoletti's company, Social Safeguard, is headquartered on Charlottesville's Downtown Mall. “We felt like social was exploding, but people didn't know how to protect it and secure it, and so we went after it,” said the CEO.

That meant raising money to turn an idea into a business. The cybersecurity startup attracted millions of dollars from venture capitalists.

“We brought them here, got them really excited about what we're doing, and got the funding that we've needed to grow our business,” Zuffoletti said.

Social Safeguard is one of nine Charlottesville companies that received roughly $27.7 million from these early-stage investors in 2015. That makes the Charlottesville area the fastest growing market in the country for high-tech investment.

“It's a long time in the making. You know, these are not overnight successes,” said Charlottesville Business Innovation Council Executive Director Tracey Greene.

Over the past decade, Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) Investment Director Alex Euler has guided $4.1 million in seed funding from the state to high-tech companies in Charlottesville.

“For every dollar that CIT invests in a startup company, 27 private investment dollars go into that company as well,” said Euler.

The Charlottesville Business Innovation Council credits the University of Virginia for helping lure lucrative venture capital to the area. “People are taking notice of what's happening in Charlottesville. We are a very thriving and flourishing tech hub,” Greene said.

Zuffoletti believes his fellow entrepreneurs are putting Charlottesville on the map. “The great day will be when you get the big West Coast, Silicon Valley venture capitalists who start making treks through here. That'll be pretty exciting,” he said.

Business leaders expect to see more investment from venture capitalists in the years ahead since many of these companies are still so young and will need funding to grow.

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