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Charleston's newest venture capital firm invests in 3 Lowcountry startups

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Good Growth Capital (copy)

The Charleston-based venture capital firm Good Growth Capital says it's made its first investments in local startups. (Provided)

Charleston's newest venture capital firm has staked out its first investments in the Lowcountry, buying shares in three local startups months after its debut earlier this year.

Good Growth Capital, which was rolled out in April, says it has invested in Dynepic, which is building a parental control platform for apps and internet-connected toys; Questis, a financial-wellness startup; and PT On Demand, a physical-therapy booking service. Outside of Charleston, it also invested in the Massachusetts biotech startup Rare Genetix.

The investment firm is targeting a gap in the landscape for technology financing in South Carolina in the Southeast. Startups increasingly have access to early stage funds like the relatively small, six-figure checks cut by S.C. Launch or angel investors. And if they catch fire, out-of-town firms are willing to pay out the big money they need to scale up.

But in between is a dearth of funding sometimes called the "valley of death," and it's a middle ground increasingly populated by Southern startups. Good Growth Capital says it wants to make at least half of its bets in the region.

"This is a great place to live and a great place to do business, but it has been a capital desert for companies seeking more than a few hundred thousand dollars. That dearth of capital has limited entrepreneurship in the region," managing partner Carolyne La Sala said in a statement. "So while we are also seeking the highest possible returns for our investors, we also think of ourselves as impact investors who can help sustainably grow the economy of South Carolina and the Southeast."

The round of investments contributed to an uptick in fundraising activity in recent months after a relatively slow start to the year, securities filings show. At least six local startups have disclosed new financing, including Questis, which appeared to post the biggest round, with $5.3 million raised from 46 investors.

'Silicon slopes'

Charleston-based Benefitfocus is opening a new office in Utah, an expansion intended to accommodate customers on the West Coast.

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The company, which builds benefits-management software, says it's setting up shop in Salt Lake City, which has dubbed itself "Silicon Slopes" as its tech sector expands. Benefitfocus says the new office will primarily house a customer service team.

Benefitfocus — Charleston's second-largest public software company — has so far had only a limited geographic footprint outside its Daniel Island headquarters. It also runs offices in Greenville and Tulsa, Oklahoma.

"We are committed to providing world-class support to all our customers, and an important part of that is having associates located in the region who can quickly travel to customer sites," Benefitfocus president and chief operating officer Ray August said in a statement. "The city boasts a strong talent pool, including a large number of multi-lingual workers, making it an ideal location for potential service center expansion."

Bio conference

SCBIO will host Gov. Henry McMaster and its global trade group's chief executive at its annual conference in Charleston this month.

The group, which represents biotech and pharmaceutical companies in South Carolina, says the governor will present a "strategic view" on growing the industry, and Jim Greenwood will discuss trends in the global industry, which he advocates as CEO of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization.

The featured speakers will give their talks on Oct. 25, but the conference runs three days at the Gaillard Auditorium, starting Oct. 24. Other speakers include the presidents of Clemson University, the Medical University of South Carolina and the University of South Carolina. Private-sector speakers include executives from Columbia-based Nephron Pharmaceuticals and Fountain Inn-based AVX.

Tickets, which start at $415, are available online at http://scbio2017.eventbrite.com.

Reach Thad Moore at 843-937-5703. Follow him on Twitter @thadmoore.

Watchdog and Public Service reporter

Thad Moore is a reporter on The Post and Courier’s Watchdog and Public Service team, a native of Columbia and a graduate of the University of South Carolina. His career at the newspaper started on the business desk in 2016.

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