What The Southeast Built in 2020

It’s time to look back and take stock of what we learned over the past twelve months. 

This year, that task feels more challenging than before. 2020 tested our collective patience, shuttered offices, shifted global markets, made us face loss, and left millions unemployed or underemployed. It also put an overdue spotlight on racism and structural inequities across the country. 

The year forced individuals and companies alike to pause, pivot, and restructure in preparation for what the ‘next normal’ might look like. Through the uncertainty, we saw moments of hope, of community, and of growth. 

The top headlines of 2020 on Hypepotamus tell us that the startup community is resilient and ready to build. Here are some of the most-read stories of 2020 and what they say about the overall tech startup ecosystem: 


Southeast Tech Impacts Global Trends 

Necessity is the mother of invention, so the old proverb says. The pandemic only sped up technology trends and the need for better solutions in Fintech, Medtech, and Edtech spaces. The Southeast emerged as a key player in all of these fields.

Be it Gatherly transforming how virtual conferences are run, Eventeny and Mixtroz becoming essential platforms for event planners, or StudentBridge creating virtual college tours, the Southeast enterprise software startup community found ways to connect communities even during times of physical distancing. 

Kabbage’s acquisition by American Express cemented the city’s place in the payments and consumer lending world.  

Individuals also made headlines. As large companies looked to support the next cohort of great founders, Atlanta’s own Jewel Burks Solomon was named head of Google for Startups, U.S.


The South Is Ready To Deploy Early-Stage Capital 

When Hypepotamus spoke to BIP Capital’s Mark Flickinger in the fall, the VC & Private Equity firm just released their annual report on the state of Southeast startups. Some key takeaways: The market rebounded more quickly than anticipated, as year-over-year capital deployment was up by June 2020. But the pandemic did hurt the number of smaller funding rounds seen in the first half of 2020. 

Clearly, the Southeast took note. Several early-stage funds emerged to help young entrepreneurs get off the ground. Generalist funds like Overline started to gain momentum, investing in a marketplace working to end the housing crisis and a company keeping satellites safe in orbit (and several concepts in between). 

Firms focused on supporting and funding underrepresented founders became central in the region, as Collab Capital and Zane Venture Fund built up their investments in emerging entrepreneurs.

Tech will play a central role in ensuring we not only recover from the pandemic but that we create a more just and sustainable future. Southeast VCs and accelerators are working to ensure resources are available to traditionally underrepresented founders. We’re ready to follow what that trend will look like in 2021 and beyond. 


Technology Doesn’t Have Borders, But It Needs Community 

It will take years to see the full impact of the Work From Home/Work From Anywhere model, but we are well aware that the Southeast is becoming a hub for technologists and venture capitalists looking for alternatives to SF or NYC. Even before the pandemic, smaller cities like Chattanooga had an established entrepreneurial ecosystem, due in large part to access to strong community resources. 

2020 made the word ‘pivot’ part of the lexicon for startups and Fortune 100 companies alike. Readers submitted stories to us from Kentucky to Florida about what pivoting looked like in their industries. 

Some built products to help small businesses and restaurants stay open, while others sent in tips and resources to ensure startup teams could keep working. Those resources are likely to remain lifelines for businesses for the foreseeable future, shining a spotlight on how important community is (even if it is virtual). 

Big Funding Rounds Are Still Out There

Big funding rounds no doubt make big headlines. Eight of this year’s ten largest rounds reported in the Southeast came from Atlanta-based companies. As we spoke to many of these founders throughout the course of 2020, it was clear that high-number rounds highlighted that the Southeast is able to support a more established tech scene. The biggest funding news this year included: 

OneTrust – Atlanta: Series C – $300,000,000

Bakkt – Atlanta: Series B – $300,000,000

AvidXchange – Charlotte: Series F – $260,000,000

Greenlight – Atlanta: Series C – $215,000,000

OneTrust – Atlanta: Series B – $210,000,000

Grayshift – Atlanta: Series A – $47,000,000

CallRail – Atlanta: Venture – Series Unknown – $45,594,304

Flock Safety – Atlanta: Series C – $45,000,000

Well Dot – Chapel Hill: Series A – $40,000,000

Cypress.io – Atlanta: Series B – $40,000,000

These stories by no means summarize all the trends, the hard work, and the overall climate of the Southeast tech community in 2020. But as we reflect back on a year that brought both collective pain and collective hope, we’re ready to follow how entrepreneurs continue to build on this momentum moving forward.