Virginia has launched a matchmaking website to connect entrepreneurs and investors in the state.
The Virginia is for Entrepreneurs (VA4E) initiative went live on Monday with hopes to broaden access to funding for Virginians looking to start businesses. Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Sen. Mark Warner, both entrepreneurs before becoming elected officials, spearheaded the project.
“The Commonwealth has long been home to innovators and entrepreneurs who make up the backbone of our new Virginia economy,” McAuliffe said in a press release. “That’s why it’s so important that we continue to expand our support for promising new ventures.”
On the VA4E website prospective entrepreneurs and potential investors can fill out applications in order to be matched with one another. The program already has more than 50 investing firms and potential funders waiting for entrepreneurs, according to the release.
“As part of a broader effort to strengthen the connective tissue between Virginia’s startup communities, this tool will help founders evaluate their product fit and maturity, and connect them with venture and angel investors across the Commonwealth,” Warner said in the release.
Officials say the online application has already been successfully tested more than 200 times by investors and entrepreneurs at TomTom, a Charlottesville, Virginia, entrepreneurship festival, and by the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council.
According to the release, one of VA4E’s focus areas will be to promote Virginia-based drone startups. Virginia launched an Unmanned Systems Commission in 2015 to bolster public and private efforts to grow the drone industry in the state. But the program is open to entrepreneurs looking to get any type of business off the ground.
“Having a single point of entry to a statewide capital network will greatly enhance the likelihood that Virginia startups will be able to secure the funding they need without having to rely on out-of-state resources,” Secretary of Technology Karen Jackson said in the release. “And for those in regions that lack an organized venture community, access to these funds will open up a myriad of entrepreneurial opportunities.”