Click to watch the announcement of the NEXT Founders Fund.

NEXT Founders Fund to Grow Greenville-Based Startups

Two Greenville entrepreneurs, joined by Mayor Knox White, announced the creation of a multi-million dollar early-stage fund with commitments from dozens of investors in the Greenville area.

The NEXT Founders Fund will be run by General Partners Scott Millwood and Shay Houser, co-founders of Deal Strategies. Both are entrepreneurs who have successfully founded/co-founded and exited high-growth companies in Greenville.

“The fund will address gaps in the ecosystem by providing financial and business resources to scaling startup companies,” Millwood said. “Shay and I have grown multiple successful companies here in Greenville so we know it can be done. We have some great founder talent here but they often face the daunting challenge of searching far and wide for funding and guidance. This gap is pretty big here in Greenville at the moment. The NEXT Founders Fund was built to bridge that gap,” he said.

The fund, totaling $6 million, expects to make 8-10 investments over the next eighteen months in companies with capital-efficient models that call Greenville home.

For its first investment, the fund has committed to Safe Helipad, a software platform to help manage helipads, helidecks, and vertiports for safety and compliance.

“Safe Helipad was inspired by my time in the Marine Corps flying helicopters and doing aviation mission planning. I did that at the battalion level, squadron level, all the way up to flying for President Obama at HMX One,” said founder and CEO Michael Middleton. “What I found is with helipads, landing zones, and heliports there is very little technology and knowledge-sharing being applied. That creates risk. We created SafeHelipad to address that and we’re doing it from right here in Greenville, SC”

The City of Greenville and Greenville Chamber are primary investors in NEXT as part of the area’s economic development strategy to attract and grow high-impact, knowledge-based companies. NEXT identifies, engages, and provides support for high-growth entrepreneurs and companies through programming, connections, and support.

Millwood says, “As current board chair and a co-founder of NEXT, I’ve had a front-row seat at the growth of our ecosystem. The NEXT Founders Fund addresses a gap I’ve seen where scaling companies need more than just money to hit the next stage.”

i4Series asked NEXT Executive Director Eric Weissmann how entrepreneurs can get involved. He says the short answer is through networking. Eric says, “Get out there and make yourself known. Find out what you don’t know. Talk to people. It’s about connections and connectivity. There’s no wrong front door to the ecosystem. There are a lot of ways to get in and we are a pretty connected ecosystem. That allows us to bounce people around to the right resources.”

About NEXT
NEXT is a non-profit entrepreneurial support organization that attracts and helps grow high-impact, knowledge-based companies by developing the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Greenville, SC, and connecting entrepreneurs to it. Our mission is to identify, engage and provide support for high-growth entrepreneurs and their teams as they build scaling, investor-ready companies through programming, connections, and support whether just starting out or well on their way.

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Susan Durden, NEXT | 864-735-7516 |