Avoilan Bingham has been a staple in the local startup accelerator and startup scene over the last several years. The Atlanta native was an early-stage portfolio manager for Goodie Nation, the Atlanta-based accelerator program for diverse founders, and was Managing Partner at Atlanta’s early-stage VC fund investing and growth accelerator Vertical404. He also headed up sales at The Labz, a local B2B metaverse startup.
Now in his new position at Drive Capital, an Ohio-based VC, Bingham is poised to help even more local startups find the early capital they need to scale.
Drive Capital focuses on startups in the “Driveway,” a large swath of North America that is still underinvested when it comes to venture capital. The firm has pinpointed Chicago, Atlanta, Columbus, Denver, and Toronto as its target areas.
Bingham will lead Drive’s efforts in Atlanta as the firm’s General Manager in the city.
As of this week, Drive Capital has a lot more dry powder to push into cities like Atlanta. The firm announced the closing of its $80 million Seed Program on Wednesday, which will go towards writing $500,000 checks into pre-seed and seed companies throughout five key cities.
Drive Capital itself is no stranger to Atlanta, as it was part of the Series B round for the fintech giant Greenlight. The firm has been highly focused on fintech, AI, and HealthTech verticals and currently manages more than $2.2 billion in total assets.
How $80 million will impact seed-stage Atlanta startups
Landing seed funding has long been a pain point for Atlanta founders. Drive Capital is looking to change that narrative and help boost the up-and-coming ideas emerging in the city.
“You talk to a lot of early stage founders, they’ll tell you there’s not really a lot of capital for startups in the ideation or MVP stage. [Local founders] say they aren’t finding funds or enough of an angel network to really be able to scale and be successful. So you do see a lot of founders who may have to move to another part of the country to try to get capital,” said Bingham. “We feel like a lot of [companies] may be just a little bit outside of the traditional investment sphere that Atlanta has. We believe we can find a lot of new and emerging technologies here in Atlanta that people have been building, but just have not seen the investment,” he told Hypepotamus.
Bingham added that he is looking for Atlanta founders with “domain expertise” that are “solving a really important problem in a really big market.”
The State of Seed Stage
The startup world has been rocked recently by down rounds, layoffs, and overall turbulence hitting later-stage tech companies. But according to a Fortune Magazine analysis of Pitchbook data, seed stage startups are a “rare bright spot” for the tech sector, as valuations for early companies rose significantly over the rough year that was 2022.
Like Drive Capital, more VCs are growing to capture the energy at the seed level. This month alone seed-focused firms like TTV Capital (Atlanta) and Cofounders Capital (Raleigh) closed significant funding rounds, meaning that seed stage “bright spot” could continue to shine in the region in the coming months and years.