NEXT Startup Success Program Manager, Peter Micali, highlights the key takeaways from the 2023 SCRA Summit, a state-wide event for scalable startups hosted in Columbia, SC.
While the NEXT staff loves and calls Greenville home, the entire state of South Carolina is committed to supporting tech-enabled, scalable startups. One of the best representations of this support is the South Carolina Research Authority (SCRA), a state-chartered organization charged with fueling South Carolina’s innovation economy by accelerating technology-enabled growth of academia, entrepreneurship and industry.
For nearly 40 years, SCRA has been an instrumental part of the state’s startup ecosystem, providing grand funding, supporting academic research and local entrepreneurial organizations like NEXT.
I had a blast attending SCRA’s 2023 Summit (road trip!), which had the excellent theme of “Founders First.” Truly a celebration of founders and their impact on the growth of South Carolina’s innovation economy, this year’s summit featured great keynote speakers, fireside chats and of course: founders, founders, founders!
In addition to the wonderful keynote presentation by Joseph Hanna (Chief Product Officer of Magnit Global and Founder/CEO of ENGAGE Talent), the day was thematically structured around the different stages of a startup’s growth journey: Ideation, Development, Accelerate, Scale and Funding. Featuring fireside chats between SCRA moderators and SCRA member companies (startups) from all over the state, this format provided an excellent educational opportunity for the audience, which featured more entrepreneurs than past Summits.
It was invaluable to see the myriad challenges, opportunities, and evolving strategies for startups, and how those change during the lifecycle of a venture.
Education is an important area of focus for NEXT, and it was inspiring to see a statewide organization provide the platform and educational opportunity. Plus, as an added bonus, the Upstate was strongly represented through multiple Greenville-based ventures featured on stage. Incora Health, Scopestack and 6AM City were represented in the Ideate, Scale and Fundraising sessions respectively.
In the interest of amplifying that education, we had a couple of key takeaways for founders:
- Collaboration between support organizations and communities is vital and leads to greater impact
- SCRA investments and support have led to a $1.5-billion-dollar impact on the state, and have led to the creation of over 5,300 jobs (with an average salary of over $80,000)
- For founders: metrics, data and deep knowledge of your company’s performance are crucial, particularly when fundraising
- When building software products, one approach is to start small with essential, well-executed features at launch, then adding customer-requested features from there
- There are loads of support opportunities for startups from all industries: while SCRA and NEXT skew towards tech/tech-enabled ventures, many other South Carolina ESOs and national programs support startups of all types.
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A huge thank you and congratulations to the entire SCRA team on a job well done. The NEXT team is excited about the trajectory and momentum of our state’s innovation economy and SCRA is a huge part of that. Finally, if you’re part of a scaling startup located in the Greenville area, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team to see how you can get connected to our growing ecosystem.