RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Triangle-based serial entrepreneur and investor Scot Wingo will launch a new fund with the stated goal of supporting the Triangle’s next generation entrepreneurs and high-tech startups.
Wingo announced the Triangle Tweener Fund today, and noted in an interview with WRAL TechWire that more than 20 of the region’s most successful founders, operators, and now investors have chosen to participate in the fund.
The fund in its structure is itself an innovation in venture capital, using a new “rolling fund” subscription model that Wingo noted was pioneered by—and powered by—AngelList.
Wingo told WRAL TechWire that the platform is “beautiful” in its simplicity, allowing him to serve as the fund’s general partner.
Limited partners—investors in the fund—can join the fund through an initial minimum commitment of $20,000, allocated into the fund quarterly. After the initial one-year period, said Wingo, limited partners can continue, increase, decrease to the minimum, or pause their commitments to the fund.
“We believe the Tweener Fund can accelerate the Triangle Startup’s ‘flywheel’ by marrying successful founder/operator’s capital and advice with the next generation of entrepreneurs and ‘Tweener graduates’,” said Wingo.
What’s a ‘Tweener’?
Wingo began publishing a list of Triangle-based startups in 2015, showcasing the rapidly increasing number of startups that had reached important milestones.
Initially, there were 50 Triangle startups that met Wingo’s definition of a “Tweener,” which is a technology company (no agencies, no life science companies) in between an early-stage startup and an established company.
The 2021 list included 227 companies that had met the criteria—generating more than $1 million in annual sales, or employing at least 10 full-time non-founder employees, who have not yet reached $80 million in sales or 500 employees.
“We’re living in one of the most underrated regions for startups in the country,” said Alex Lassiter, co-founder of Gather, founder of Green Places to Work, and an investor in Kevel, among other investments.
Lassiter is among the limited partners who will participate in Wingo’s Triangle Tweener Fund, which according to Wingo, could be ready to make its first investment in a “Tweener” as early as January 2022.
“This model allows the region’s entrepreneurs and investors to subscribe to the growth of the area’s excellent startup companies,” said Lassiter. “Startup ecosystems flourish in open, startup-friendly markets where founders and investors work together to reinvest their time and money locally.”
Wingo is the fund’s sole general partner, and will be the one who selects which startups the fund will support. The fund will invest in companies that meet Tweener requirements, said Wingo, though he also noted in an interview that the fund could invest in earlier-stage companies with fewer employees or less annual revenue.
There is no limit to the number of limited partners that could invest in the fund’s rolling subscription, said Wingo, though any interested investor must be an accredited one.
An investment in a startup company is an extremely illiquid investment, noted Wingo, and the same is true for investing in a fund. Not only is the risk of losing your principle investment, it’s unlikely an investor would see a return until a minimum of about five years, Wingo noted.
Still, more than 20 Triangle-based entrepreneurs, who have exited at least one prior company and who are now accredited investors, chose to participate in the fund at its launch.
“This was an easy investment to make,” said Yasin Abbak, a co-founder of Paired Media, former CEO of Fantasy Life, and founder and CEO of Triangle-based The Convoy. “It’s an early stage index fund for an incredible region, it’s run by the person with arguably the best deal flow and highest signal amongst entrepreneurs, Scot Wingo.”
“As a Tweener List alum, you could say I believe in the quality of the list,” Abbak said.
Other initial investors in the fund include:
- Robbie Allen (Automated Insights, Infinia ML, Startomatic)
- James Avery (Tekpub, Adzerk/Kevel)
- Ryan Bethencourt (UMANA, Babel Ventures, Sustainable Food Ventures, Wild Earth)
- Brad Brinegar (McKinney, Duke, Cubist Martini)
- Michael Capps (Epic Games, Diveplane)
- Anil Chawla (ArchiveSocial)
- Michael Cristinziano (Citrix, DigitalOcean, ServiceTrade)
- Michael Doernberg (SmartPath, DoubleClick, ReverbNation, Adwerx, PlayMetrics)
- Chris Evans (Davinci, Accipiter, Tethis, Next Century Spirits, Aries USA )
- Doron Gordon (Samanage, stealth newco)
- Michael Jones (ChannelAdvisor, eBay, RetailMeNot, Zalando, Spoonflower, Shutterfly)
- Dr. Doug Kaufman ( AlleyDog, BlackBoard, clearTXT, TransLoc, Vertroos Health)
- Alex Lassiter (Gather, Green Places)
- Sharat Nagaraj (celito.net)
- David Spitz (Netsation, WindWire, ChannelAdvisor)
- Bill Spruill (CED, DataFlux, AddressDoctor, Global Data Consortium)
- Daniel Swimm (Candle Science)
- Michael Swimm (Candle Science)
- Ryan Walsh (ChannelAdvisor, RepVue)
- Ben Weinberger (Digitalsmiths, Sling TV, TBD Angels, Drive by DraftKings)
- Scot Wingo (Stingray, AuctionRover, ChannelAdvisor, Spiffy)
Wingo noted that accredited investors can still participate, and referred to the fund as an “index” of the companies that would appear on the Triangle Tweeners list.
“Hopefully we can pick the next Pendo’s, Bandwidth’s,” Wingo said.
Wingo was profiled by WRAL TechWire in December 2019 in a WRAL TechWire series “Legends – The men and women who helped create and build North Carolina’s technology and life science ecosystem.”